Academics and Advising 

What's the best major for dental school?

Students can apply to dental school with any major, as long as the required courses are taken. You should choose a major which interests you. Common choices are Biology, BioHealth Sciences, Microbiology, or Biochemistry/Biophysics.

What are the required courses for dental school?

Generally these include a year each of General Chemistry, General Biology, General Physics and Organic Chemistry; OHSU also requires a year of Anatomy and Physiology and a course in Biochemistry.

Will I have a pre-dental advisor?

Yes. There are pre-dental advisors at OSU.

Pre-Dental Advisors
BioHealth Sciences majors Barbara Kessel Nash 225 online appts.
Biology majors Cody Duncan Cord 3029 online appts.
For all other majors with no specific pre-dental advisor, please email

How can I learn more about dental school and dentistry as a career?

Enroll in BI 107 - Pre-dental Orientation. This is a one-credit course offered winter term that is graded P/NP. The course covers information about the field of dentistry and the application process; guest speakers visit throughout the term and there are office visits and special activities involving manual dexterity.

Where are the dental schools in Oregon?

Oregon Health and Sciences University, located in Portland, is the only dental school in the state.

What GPA is required to get into dental school?

Dental school is becoming more competitive. The average GPA of admitted students for 2010 was 3.53. For OHSU, it was 3.6.

What about retaking a class? How will dental schools view repeats?

Dental schools do not replace grades, so they will look at everything you took. You must have at least a C in all required pre-dental classes. It can be a good idea to retake a course in which you earned a C in order to earn an excellent grade (preferably an A) and to show mastery of the material. Check with your advisor.

Can someone from a disadvantaged background gain admission to dental school? What if no one from my family was a dentist? What if I came from a high school where there were no advanced classes?

Dental schools are very committed to admitting a broad and diverse class in order to meet the healthcare needs of our changing population. There are a lot of resources at OSU that can help you strengthen your academics. There are also summer programs at dental schools that are designed to help support rural, disadvantaged and underrepresented minority students to gain entrance to professional school. An example of one is the Summer Health Professions Education Program at Check with a pre-dental advisor for more ideas.

Involvement and Healthcare Experience

Does OSU have a Pre-dental Club?

Yes. You can join the listserve to get information on meeting times, guest speakers, volunteer opportunities, etc. Using your official OSU email account, send a blank email to and reply to the email response. 

How can I get experience in the healthcare field?

Students can gain experience through volunteer work, part-time jobs, internships, and job shadowing. The local dental community has been very supportive and has welcomed OSU students into their offices to observe. You may contact them directly.

Where can I do volunteer work?

There are many organizations on campus and in the community which need volunteer help. A list of dental volunteer opportunities is available through the Pre-dental Society.

Letters of Recommendation

From whom should I request letters of recommendation?

Ask people who know you well. Of the four letters required, one must be from a dentist, and 3 must be from basic science professors (such as a Biological science, Chemistry, etc; applied science such as Engineering, Nutrition etc do not count as basic science). Letters from Anatomy/Physiology lab instructors work well for dental school. Additional letters can also be from supervisors, volunteer coordinators, nonscience professors, etc. It is extremely important to build a relationship with your professors so that they can get to know you.

When can I have letters of recommendation sent?

Letters on your behalf can be submitted for you via a pre-dental advisor, and we will keep them until you apply. The best time to ask for a letter is right after the class ends. Do not wait until you are in the application process to start asking. Dental schools prefer confidential letters. 

NOTE: We are currently updating our letter intake system, so please stay tuned for more details.

Can I use my pre-dental letters for another purpose?

Letters collected for your pre-dental file may not be used for any other purpose including a different health profession or graduate school. These letters may only be used for dental school applications or military dental school scholarships.

The Application Process

How can I get help during the application process?

Please meet with your pre-dental advisor. If you have general questions, please email

How do I open my pre-dental file?

During the year in which you are applying, you must complete the paperwork to open your pre-dental file. See the Procedures and Deadlines for Applying.

When should I take the DAT?

Take the DAT when you are most ready for it, preferably by the end of July. Never take it just to see what it's like, or before you have completed the coursework! It's a computer-based test offered at Thomson Prometric Centers .
It's important to be well prepared for this exam- it is an important component of your application.
OHSU requires a minimum of 15 on each section, and their average scores are about 19-20.

My DAT score was lower than I expected. Can I retake it?

You must wait 90 days to retake the DAT. Talk with your advisor before retaking it.

When should I submit my transcripts to AADSAS, and do I need all of them - even those from that high school band class I got credit for?

You must submit ALL transcripts, even if the credit from a class taken in high school appears on your OSU transcript. Community colleges can be especially slow so be sure to request those early (allow 6 weeks). You should request OSU transcripts as soon as spring quarter is over.

When should I submit my application?

Apply early. Actual deadlines vary; the earliest deadline is Oct. 15 (Nov. 1 for OHSU) Early is best, and it really makes a difference to submit your application by mid summer (preferably by Aug. 1). Most schools have rolling admissions and will have fewer openings as the cycle progresses, so you are at a serious disadvantage if you apply later.

Do I need to wait to submit my application until my letters are ready?

No. The letters are completely separate from your application.

How can I prepare for my dental school interview?

You can ask your dentist to help with this. Career Services (Kerr Building) also offers mock interviews and can be tailored to meet the needs of dental school applicants. Dr. Kevin Ahern also teaches a popular class, Science in the Public Eye, where interviewing and writing skills are stressed. Sample interview questions are also available from the Pre-dental Society.

How can I pay for dental school?
Dental school training is vey expensive, and most students take out loans to pay for it. The average payback time is around 10 years. There are other options such as the military Health Professions Scholarship programs
and programs such as the National Health Services Corps
More information is available at

What are my options if I don't get admitted to dental school?
Please do not reapply if nothing has changed. Meet with your pre-dental advisor to discuss a possible reapplication before making any decisions. You can usually get some advice from the dental schools about how to improve your application. There are a number of options to consider.

What are some other dental careers?
Dental Hygiene: There are a number of dental hygiene programs in the state, at Pacific University, OIT, ODS in La Grande, and the following community colleges: Portland, Mt. Hood and Lane. Dental Lab Technician and Dental Assisting have also worked well for some students.