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Most dental schools use the Associated American Dental Schools Application centralized application service; however each school has specific application/deadline submission dates. A current list of AADSAS participating dental schools is on the ADEA website. Dental School Explorer is a good tool, but may require a paid subscription. Texas residents applying to Texas schools must utilize their own application service, Texas Medical and Dental Application Service (TMDSAS).

The ADEA provides a quick checklist to help with your application when you’re ready to apply. Note, it is also important to review the complete AADSAS instructions online when applying.

Cal students apply to about 4–10 dental programs. Processing fees for the initial application varies.  Also, most dental programs will have a supplemental application that you must complete and for every dental school, the fees for their supplemental application will vary.  For students who qualify, the ADEA AADSAS offers a Fee Assistance Program (FAP) for applicants who demonstrate extreme financial need. The fee waivers awarded are very limited, so apply for these early.

Standardized Tests

All US dental schools require applicants to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). The test is administered on computers, takes 5 hours to complete and is multiple choice.

Advanced level knowledge of biology and physics are not required for this test; however, preparation for the DAT requires the completion of pre-requisite courses in biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry. 

The DAT is composed of 4 sections: Survey of Natural Sciences (90 minutes), Perceptual Ability (60 minutes), Reading Comprehension (60 minutes), and Quantitative Reasoning (45 minutes), with optional tutorial, breaks and a post test survey in between the sections.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are critical. Letter requirements vary from school to school but generally, two to three letters of recommendation are required. Students must check individual school websites for specific letter guidelines ,as there is currently no one source with cumulative information for all programs. Some schools specifically require a letter from a science and/or a non-science professor. 

Electronic letters are strongly preferred. Using Interfolio to store your letters is an option. Follow the instructions on ADEA AADSAS on what you need to do as well as how your writers can upload your letters. AADSAS does not accept more than four letters of recommendation. Additional letters can be sent directly to the individual school, if the school accepts additional letters


A written statement of purpose is required in the admission process. In your statement, plan on addressing why you selected dentistry as your career. You are allotted 1 page or 4500 characters including spaces. Refer to the AADSAS instructions for complete details.


Interviews are offered to applicants dental schools deem competitive. Most schools require you to interview as the next step in the admission process.

The interview helps the school get to know you better. Like a job interview, schools are looking at you from a professional point of view. Prior to your interview, take time to review your application, research the school, and sign up for a mock interview.