For decades, dentists have helped improve the oral health of children, adults, and the elderly. Dentists have also been a driving force in public health, pushing for fluoridated water in the United States and low-cost dental care for children. Beyond simply improving oral health, cosmetic dentistry is becoming a popular and booming field.


After receiving a degree from Cornell, students enter a doctorate in dental surgery (DDS) program. Depending upon your interests, you can seek advanced certification in oral and maxillofacial surgery, endodontics, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, prosthodontics, and operative dentistry.

Cornell Courses and Other Requirements

Pre-dental coursework is similar to that of pre-medical coursework. Colleges of dentistry pay attention to a student's academic record, and seek well-rounded applicants interested in science and who can work well with people. A commitment to dentistry as demonstrated through job shadowing, research, internships, or part time employment is very important. Prerequisites include biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics, but it is not necessary to major in one of these disciplines. Upper-level coursework in these areas is also beneficial, but not always required.

Because not all dental programs require the same pre-requisites, it is best to check the pre-requisites at each school during your sophomore year. Please see the Associate Director of Dimensions for school-specific prerequisite information. For example, all schools require biology, chemistry, and physics, but only some schools require statistics, calculus, or English. 

You can check out ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools from the Dimensions Resource Center in 102 West Science. This publication contains specific pre-requisite requirements for all dental programs in the United States and Canada.

Click here to see what most schools require.
Click here to see a sample Cornell College course timeline.

Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

All dental schools require prospective students to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) administered through the American Dental Association.

University of Iowa Deferred Admit Program

Cornell has an agreement with the College of Dentistry at the University of Iowa through which students can apply for early acceptance to its program leading to the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) under the Deferred Admit Program (DAP).  The DAP program is open to residents of the state of Iowa.  Academically motivated students interested in the DAP program pursuing a DDS may apply and be admitted as early as the end of the first year at Cornell and no later than two years prior to their anticipated enrollment. Nearly all students who complete this program first earned their bachelor's degree.

Students selected for the DAP must have and maintain a 3.60 overall GPA and a 3.50 science GPA.  The Dental Admissions Test (DAT) must be taken by August prior to the year of anticipated enrollment in the College of Dentistry, and scores on the individual sections of the DAT must be at the national average (17) or above.  

At Cornell, the essential minimum preparation consists of the following courses: 

BIO 141 and 142 (Foundations:  Cellular Biology and Foundations:  Organismal Biology),
205 (Cell and Molecular Biology); CHE 121 and 122 (Chemical Principles I and II) or 161 (Accelerated General Chemistry),
CHEM 225, 326, and 327 (Organic Chemistry I, II and Laboratory),
Either PHY 101, 102, and 114 (Physics I, II and Laboratory) or PHY 111, 112, and 114 (General Physics I, II and Laboratory). 

Other relevant courses are BIO 313 (Developmental Biology), 315 (Genetics), 326 (Microbiology), 327 (Immunology), 328 (Neurobiology), and 329 and 330 (Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II). A well-rounded background in the social sciences; philosophy; psychology; history; foreign languages; business and accounting; and mathematics is also recommended.  Program Advisor: Craig Tepper

Click here to see more information on the University of Iowa Deferred Admit Program.  Please note that the University of Iowa College of Dentistry recently added a 3 semester hour Biochemistry course pre-requisite requirement.  An exemption from the dental biochemistry course will be allowed for students with assessed biochemistry competency determined by a college-administered competency exam. 

Additional information:

Application: ADEA Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (ADEA AADSAS)
American Dental Education Association (ADEA)