Application Guide

Although most dental schools require a minimum of 2 years (60 credits) or 3 years (90 credits) of undergraduate education and specific science and non-science courses for admission, the majority of students admitted will have earned a bachelor's degree prior to starting dental school. Of all U.S. students entering dental schools in 2013, 97% had completed 4 or more years of college and 13% had graduate training. Applicants are also required to complete the Dental Admission Test (DAT) as a prerequisite for admission. Note that MSU courses required for dental schools and MSU courses recommended for preparation for the DAT may differ.

The Applying to Medical & Dental School page provides a two-year timeline to help students plan and prepare for their application year to dental schools.

Applicants seeking admission to a dental school should contact the schools that interest them for information on specific prerequisites and admission requirements.

Application Information - Primary

Centralized Application Service:

Cost: $245 for the first dental school designation. Each additional school is $99.

When to apply: Students are encouraged to apply a year in advance of when they wish to matriculate. Students are strongly encouraged to submit their primary application early in the summer. The application can be submitted starting in early June.


Coursework and Transcripts: The courses you have taken will need to be self-reported and you will also need to have official transcripts sent to the application service.

Most centralized applications will have a form to print off that will need to be attached to your transcript. You will be asked to enter information, grades and credits for every course that you have enrolled in at any U.S., U.S. Territorial, or Canadian post-secondary institution. Transcripts should be sent from the registrar’s office of all US and/or Canadian Schools attended.

You may order a transcript from the MSU registrar’s office from the registrar’s web site, There is no charge for sending transcripts. If you are taking courses during the spring semester, it is advised you wait until your spring semester grades are posted to your record as professional schools will want to see those grades.

Application Information - Secondary

The majority of AADSAS schools will require a secondary application, which are sent directly to the student by the individual school and are focused on the interests of that specific school.  Secondary applications may arrive anywhere from a few days to up to 6 weeks after submission of the primary application – the timeline varies from school to school. Secondary applications should be submitted 2-4 weeks upon receipt.


Entrance Exam

Dental Admission Test (DAT)

Length: 4 hours and 30 minutes

Sections: Four sections - Survey of the Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning. Explore individual section information by visiting our DAT page.

Cost: $445 which includes the exam and scores sent to the dental schools listed during registration. Sending scores to additional schools after the initial DAT application costs $36 each.

Scores: Scores range from 1-30. Average score accepted: 20-21

MSU Pre-Health advisors do not endorse any specific test prep resource, but we encourage you to explore each of the different options to determine which will best fit your needs.  

Personal Statement

The personal statement is a very limited in length essay that is used as a device to get a better understanding of the applicant.It is a very important element that should be prepared well in advance to the application and should be edited thoroughly by many different people, such as but not limited to, the writing center, friends and family.

Length: 4,500 character limit for AADSAS participating schools.

Prompt: Please explain why you want to pursue a dental career.

What to include:

  • Why you selected this field of health care
  • What motivates you to learn more about health care
  • Pertinent information about you not included elsewhere in the application
  • Special hardships or experiences that have influenced your educational pursuits
  • Commentary on significant fluctuations in your academic record not explained in the application.



This section gives applicants an opportunity to expand on their experiences. All of your work in leadership, clinical experiences, community service, research, publication, awards and honors are detailed in a single section.

AADSAS requests that applicants enter their experiences among the following categories:

  • Academic Enrichment: Programs sponsored by colleges, universities or other not–for–profit organizations
  • Dental Shadowing: Observation hours under the supervision of a dentist*
  • Employment: Paid work done outside of the dental care field
  • Extracurricular Activities: Sports, clubs, and other activities offered through a college or university
  • Research: Research projects completed outside of the classroom
  • Volunteer: Volunteer work completed outside of healthcare.

*Dental schools often request shadowing experience, including a minimum for shadowing hours. Students are encouraged to check with individual dental schools for shadowing requirements.

Recommendation Letters

Dental schools typically require a minimum of 3 letters and AADSAS accepts up to 4.

While you must pay careful attention to the guidelines of each school that requests your letters, we suggest you identify the following people to request letters of evaluation from:

  • Two science faculty who taught you in a class
  • One non-science faculty
  • One individual working in the profession you wish to pursue (example: an osteopathic physician, dentist, physical therapist, pharmacist, etc)
  • One or two additional individuals who know you well from a work, volunteer or research experience


After submitting the primary application, and secondary applications if required, students may receive an offer to interview. Dental schools that offer an interview have indicated an interest in selecting you, and the interview is a critical part of the application process. Remember, you are not only preparing to answer their questions, you are preparing to ask your own. While they determine whether you are the right fit for the program, you need to determine if the program is the right fit for you.

Schools use personal interviews with applicants to assess qualities such as maturity, interpersonal skills, and ability to articulate strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to discuss why you wish to pursue a career in dentistry and the experiences that have motivated you.