May 29, 2024
Hardest Dental Schools to Get into

Hardest Dental Schools to Get into

Last Updated on January 4, 2024 by NAMS Editor

Becoming a dentist is a noble and rewarding career choice, but getting into dental school is no easy feat. The application process is highly competitive, and some dental schools stand out as particularly challenging to gain admission. In this article, we will walk you through some of the hardest dental schools to get into, shedding light on their rigorous admission criteria, academic excellence, and reputation within the dental community. 

Hardest Dental Schools to Get into 

Below is a list of the top five hardest dental schools to get into, along with a detailed overview of each institution.

1. Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM)

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the Harvard School of Dental Medicine consistently tops the list of the most difficult dental schools to gain admission to. As one of the oldest dental schools in the United States, HSDM is renowned for its prestigious reputation and commitment to academic excellence. To be considered for acceptance, applicants must demonstrate exceptional academic achievements, a strong foundation in the sciences, and an outstanding Dental Admission Test (DAT) score.

HSDM’s curriculum is comprehensive, integrating innovative research opportunities and clinical experiences to produce competent and well-rounded dental professionals. The small student-to-faculty ratio ensures personalized attention and mentorship for students throughout their education.

2. UCLA School of Dentistry

The University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry, located in Los Angeles, California, is another highly competitive dental school that attracts applicants from across the globe. With an emphasis on diversity and community outreach, UCLA Dentistry seeks students who display academic prowess and a commitment to service and leadership.

The school’s cutting-edge facilities, advanced research programs, and diverse patient pool offer students a broad range of experiences and challenges. Admission to UCLA Dentistry requires a strong academic background, exceptional DAT scores, letters of recommendation, and a compelling personal statement.

3. Columbia University College of Dental Medicine:

Nestled in the heart of New York City, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine is renowned for its rigorous curriculum and clinical training. As one of the Ivy League institutions, Columbia attracts some of the brightest minds in the dental field.

Admission to Columbia’s dental program is fiercely competitive, with limited seats available each year. Prospective students must showcase a strong academic record, outstanding DAT scores, substantial research experience, and a passion for community service.

4. Penn Dental Medicine:

The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, situated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offers a highly sought-after dental program that challenges applicants to excel academically and clinically. The school seeks to admit students who are dedicated to advancing dental research and making a positive impact on oral health globally.

Applicants to Penn Dental Medicine must possess a well-rounded application, including a competitive GPA, impressive DAT scores, meaningful extracurricular activities, and strong letters of recommendation. The school’s holistic approach to dental education prepares students for leadership roles in dentistry. 

5. University of Michigan School of Dentistry: 

As one of the top dental schools in the country, the University of Michigan School of Dentistry is renowned for its rigorous academic programs and state-of-the-art facilities. The school is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and attracts aspiring dentists from diverse backgrounds.

To secure admission to the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, applicants must possess a solid academic background, exemplary DAT scores, relevant dental experience, and a compelling personal statement. The school also values applicants who have demonstrated leadership and a commitment to community service.

How to Prepare for Dental School Admission

Preparing for dental school admission requires a comprehensive and well-organized approach. The process can be highly competitive, but with careful planning and commitment, you can boost your chances of getting accepted into your dream dental school. Below, we’ve outlined some essential steps to prepare for dental school admission.

*Academic Excellence:

Academic performance is a critical factor in dental school admission. Dental schools seek candidates who have excelled in their undergraduate coursework. Maintain a high GPA, especially in science-related subjects like biology, chemistry, and physics, as these courses are fundamental to dentistry. Take challenging courses and demonstrate your ability to handle rigorous academic demands.

*Dental Admission Test (DAT) Preparation:

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is a standardized exam that evaluates your academic abilities and scientific knowledge relevant to dentistry. Start preparing for the DAT well in advance to maximize your score. Utilize study materials, practice tests, and online resources to understand the test format and content. Dedicate ample time to reviewing each section: natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning.

*Clinical Experience:

Dental schools value candidates who have practical experience in the dental field. Seek opportunities to shadow dentists, work as a dental assistant, or volunteer at dental clinics. Clinical experience demonstrates your genuine interest in dentistry and provides valuable insights into the profession.

*Research and Extracurricular Activities:

Participating in research projects, community service, and extracurricular activities showcases your commitment to personal growth and contribution to society. Dental schools look for well-rounded individuals who can excel academically while engaging in diverse experiences outside the classroom.

*Letters of Recommendation:

Obtain strong letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to your academic proficiency, personality, and potential as a future dentist. Choose professors, dentists you have shadowed, or employers who know you well and can provide clear examples of your strengths.

*Personal Statement:

Your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your passion for dentistry and explain why you are a strong candidate for dental school. Be genuine, eloquent, and concise in articulating your inspirations and experiences that have led you to pursue a career in dentistry.

*Interview Preparation:

If invited for an interview, thoroughly research the dental school’s program and prepare for potential interview questions. Practice answering questions confidently and professionally, highlighting your strengths and experiences.

*Apply Early and Wisely:

Submit your applications early in the admissions cycle to increase your chances of acceptance. Apply to a blend of reach, target, and safety schools that align with your academic achievements and career goals.

*Stay Organized:

Keep track of application deadlines, requirements, and any updates from dental schools. Utilize spreadsheets or organizational tools to manage your application process efficiently.

*Reapplication and Patience:

If you don’t get accepted initially, consider reapplying after gaining additional experience or improving your application. Rejection is not uncommon, so remain patient and committed to your goal of becoming a dentist. 


Gaining acceptance to a prestigious dental school is a daunting challenge that requires a combination of academic excellence, outstanding test scores, relevant experience, and a passion for dentistry. The five dental schools mentioned above, including Harvard School of Dental Medicine, UCLA Dentistry, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, and the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, are among the most competitive in the world.

Aspiring dental students must understand that rejection is common in the application process and that perseverance, dedication, and a solid commitment to personal growth will pave the way to success. While these dental schools are challenging to get into, the rewards of a dental career from such esteemed institutions are immeasurable, as they open doors to a world of opportunities and pave the path for a successful and fulfilling professional journey. 

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