Pre-Dentistry Advising


Advisor: Dr. Holly Boettger-Tong

Career Description

Dentists are devoted to maintaining oral health as well as a patient’s overall health. In their practices, dentists treat and work with people from all age groups. They diagnose and treat conditions of the oral cavity and associated structures using advanced technologies including radiography and computer generated imaging. Dentists restore and replace teeth damaged from decay, trauma, or disease. They help patients improve chewing, speech, digestion of food, sleep patterns, and physical appearance. Specialties available within dentistry with further training following dental school include endodontics (nerves), oral surgery, orthodontics, prosthodontics (appliances), public health, and others. 

Becoming a Dentist

To become a dentist, one must complete a bachelor’s degree in any major, along with requisite courses (see “Coursework” below). Thereafter, completion of a 4 year professional degee dental program is required. The terminal degree is either a DDS (doctor of dental surgery) or DMD (doctor of medical dentistry). Upon completion of dental school, passing a professional licensing exam is required. 


The general requirements for dental school include the following courses. Dental schools have different requirements for coursework, so make sure to check with the dental school of your choice. You do not have to major in biology or chemistry, but you must have the requisite biology/chemistry courses in order to fulfill the requirements for admission. Consult the pre-Dental Advisor, Dr. Holly Boettger-Tong, for assistance with coursework and timeline. 

Course and Semester Hours

  • General Biology  8 hours
  • General Chemistry 8 hours
  • English 6 hours
  • Organic Chemistry 8 hours
  • Physics 8 hours

Science Courses Suggested: biochemistry, comparative anatomy, microbiology, genetics, molecular cell biology

Other Courses Suggested: marketing, management, psychology, art  (esp. sculpture, ceramics)


Sample Coursework Plan*
YEAR ONE Fall Semester YEAR ONE Spring Semester
BIO 110 BIO 112
CHM 101 CHM 102
Gen Ed Electives/PSY 101 Gen Ed Electives/ART 108
WISE 101 MAT 220
YEAR TWO Fall Semester YEAR TWO Spring Semester
CHM 221 CHM 222
BIO 203 BIO 245
Gen Ed Electives/ENG 111 Gen Ed Electives/ART 231
Major Coursework/Foreign Language Major Coursework/Foreign Language
YEAR THREE Fall Semester YEAR THREE Spring Semester
PHY 115 PHY 116
BIO 311 or BIO 320 BIO 318
Major Coursework/ Gen Ed Electives Major Coursework/ Gen Ed Electives
YEAR FOUR Fall Semester YEAR FOUR Spring Semester
Major Coursework Major Coursework
Gen Ed Electives Gen Ed Electives
BUS 106 BIO 340

*This plan presumes a minimum SAT score of 600 MAT/CR, entering as a first year traditional student

Four Year Timeline

First Year  
  • Discuss with first year seminar advisor the courses to be taken during the first year. 
  • Attend meeting with pre-dent advisor to obtain needed materials and ask questions
  • Make draft of coursework and internship plans for next four years
Second Year
  • FALL: Finalize coursework plan and internship plan with dental advisor
  • SPRING: Inquire about internship opportunities with local dentists/inquire about summer internship/work with local dentists
  • Consult ADA website, which has a complete listing of accredited dental schools and other useful information
Third Year
  • FALL: Take DAT prep course (if unable to do so in spring)
  • Engage in dental internship
  • SPRING: Take DAT prep course 
  • Take DAT 
  • Obtain application from dental school (usually in May or June). 
  • Familiarize yourself with all requirements and deadlines for each school to which you are applying
  • Identify prospective references, begin work on essay, begin work on application
Fourth Year
  • Apply Early - Deadline for applications are usually early in fall. DAT scores should be sent to dental schools, along with appropriate materials, fees, etc. Most schools require application through the Associated Dental Schools Application Service
  • Finish Strong 




Dental School Evaluation Criteria 

Please note that as mentioned above, schools differ in their criteria, and in the weight given to each of the following. Make sure that you are familiar with the criteria used by the school to which you are applying. The following is a general consensus of what most schools are using to evaluate applicants, listed in the order of importance. 

  • Science GPA, overall GPA
  • DAT scores
  • Dental experience (in a couple of specialties)
  • Personal Interview
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal essay
  • Extracurricular activities



Additional Resources for Pre-Dental Students

The resources below are helpful for students preparing for a career in dentistry. Wesleyan's Center for Career Development can help students with deciding if this path fits them, as well as with strategic career planning, creating resumes/CVs, writing personal statements, and more.

American Dental Education Association

This association provides resources for students interested in the profession, as well as runs the centralized application service for all U.S. dental schools. Website

ADEA GoDental

The official resource for students on a path to a career in dentistry or dental hygiene. Website


This site is designed to help students begin their journey towards a career in the health professions. It provides exploration tools and career information on fields including dentistry, medicine, allied health, veterinary medicine, and more. Website


Gaining Relevant Experience as a Pre-Dental Student

It’s important to gain work or volunteer experience in a dentistry setting. The Center for Career Development can help you prepare a resume and practice your professional introduction as you get ready to contact organizations about shadowing, volunteer, or internship opportunities.

Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP)

A free summer enrichment program focused on improving access to information and resources for college students interested in the health professions. SHPEP is exclusively for freshman and sophomore college students. Applications are usually due in early February for the summer program. Website


Other helpful links


Local/Statewide Opportunities


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