Cornell College students pursuing dental school are considered part of the Pre-Dentistry program. Pre-Dentistry is coordinated by Dimensions Program for Health Professions. Students pursuing dental school are interested in becoming dentists, are interested in dental research and/or technology, or are interested in pursuing a dental specialty like orthodontics.  

The Dimensions Guide to Pre-Dentistry includes information on dental school prerequisites, a sample course timeline, and other tips and resources helping you navigate your pre-dentistry career at Cornell College. 

The Co-Curricular Activity Journal is a resource aiding students in reflection and meaning making throughout their experiences leading to a healthcare career. The Dimensions Co-Curricular Activity Journal helps students keep an active record of co-curricular activities contributing to a strong application to Dental school.

What is a Dentist?

Dentists diagnose and treat problems with a patient’s teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of teeth and gums, and on diet choices affecting oral health (Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015). Dentists have helped improve the oral health of children, adults, and the elderly for decades. 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.

Dentist must complete dental school to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree and pass a series of board examinations in order to practice as a licensed dentist. Dental Hygienists and Dental Assistants work alongside dentists in the medical field. 

Preparing for Dental School at Cornell College

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.

Choosing a Major

Most Pre-Dentistry students at Cornell College major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB), Chemistry, or Biology

Prerequisite Coursework

Dental schools pay attention to a student's academic record and seek well-rounded applicants interested in science and who can work well with people. Prerequisites include biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics. Additional upper-level coursework in these areas is beneficial, but not always required.

Because not all dental programs require the same prerequisites, it is best to meet with the Associate Director of Dimensions to review school-specific prerequisites beginning in your second year. For example, all schools require biology, chemistry, and physics, but only some schools require statistics, calculus, or English. 

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

Admissions Examination

Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

 All dental schools require the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) administered through the American Dental Association for admission.

Application Process

Students applying to dental school nationwide utilize the American Dental Education Association Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (ADEA AADSAS).

Dimensions is your primary source for information when you reach the planning stage for your dental school application. Cornell students are expected to utilize the Health Professions Committee before the start of their intended application cycle. 

University of Iowa Deferred Admit Program

Program Advisor: Craig Tepper, PhD, Professor of Biology

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 (DDS) 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 earn 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)
  • BIO 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), BIO 315 (Genetics), BIO 326 (Microbiology), BIO 327 (Immunology), BIO 328 (Neurobiology), and BIO 329 and BIO 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.

Please note that the University of Iowa College of Dentistry recently added a 3 semester hour Biochemistry course prerequisite 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 Resources

American Dental Education Association (ADEA)
Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook