Dentistry is the branch of the healing arts and sciences devoted to maintaining the health of teeth, gums, and other hard and soft tissues of the oral cavity. A dentist is a scientist dedicated to the highest standards of health through prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of oral diseases and conditions.

Approximately 85 percent of dentists engage in general practice. The American Dental Association currently recognizes nine dental specialties—dental public health, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics. Becoming a recognized specialist usually requires from one to four years of additional training beyond the dental degree.

Dental school is four years in length for general practice. At the end of four years, a graduate earns a D.D.S., Doctor of Dental Surgery, or a D.M.D., Doctor of Dental Medicine. The majority of dental schools award the D.D.S. degree; however, some award a D.M.D. degree. The education and degrees are the same. For more information about dental programs, visit

Since each dental school may have slightly different admissions criteria, applicants should contact all the schools and colleges in which they are interested. A complete listing of the schools and colleges of dentistry is provided by the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) at

Most schools require a minimum of two years of undergraduate work, but more that 90 percent of all U.S. students entering dental school in 2013 have completed four or more years of college according to ADEA.

The following courses are the basic requirements and must be completed before matriculation:

  • One year (8 credit hours) of general chemistry with lab
  • One year (8 credit hours) of organic chemistry with lab
  • One year (8 credit hours) of physics with lab
  • Three semesters (9-13 credit hours) of biological science, some with lab
  • One year (6 credit hours) of English—many schools will accept English 1000 and a Writing Intensive course
  • One semester (3 credit hours) biochemistry
  • One semester (3-4 credit hours) physiology
  • One semester (3-4 credit hours) human anatomy

* See Plan of Study for MU course numbers.

The list of required courses provides the general minimum requirements for the schools to which MU students usually apply. Coursework in business and finance are also recommended, as well as courses like jewelry making, pottery, etc., to enhance your manual dexterity. For details on a particular school, contact the school directly.

Please Note: Dental schools differ on their acceptance of AP credit for science and non-science course work. Check with your adviser or the schools to which you are applying. Do not make assumptions.