The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects faster than average growth in dentistry, particularly as more links are identified between oral health and overall health. Students can expect to spend four years in dental school after the completion of four years of college.

If you are considering dental school, UWM will provide you with a solid foundation to help you reach your goal. There are 72 dental schools in the United States, only one of which is in Wisconsin at Marquette University. The application process is competitive so it is important that pre-dental students begin careful planning of their academic career during the freshman year. Requirements vary among dental schools, making early planning in consultation with a pre-dental advisor vital.

Dental schools require a minimum of 90 completed college credits. It is possible, though highly rare, to enter dental school without earning a bachelor's degree. The vast majority of students complete their bachelor's degree before proceeding to dental school.

It is recommended that students obtain some hand-on exposure to the dental profession prior to dental school, either through volunteer or internship opportunities, or paid work at a dental practice or community dental clinic.

Pre-Dental is not a major, and students must still choose a major. Since most of the pre-requisites necessary for application to dental school are in the sciences, many students choose a science major, though it is not required. Our specialized pre-dental advisor works with students to ensure they understand all of the milestones that must be met in college in order to be a competitive applicant to dental school. A significant number of volunteer or work hours is often a requirement for application to dental school so it is important to work with this advisor beginning in freshman year in order to plan all needed activities into your college career.

A suggested timeline is also available from the advisor to help you plan preparatory activities throughout your four years in college.


Most schools of dentistry require a minimum of three years of undergraduate work, however, it is becoming less common for students to leave college without finishing their bachelor's degree. 

The 90 credits required for admission to most schools of dentistry include the following courses:

  • 1 year of English;
  • 2-2.5 years of chemistry, including inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry;
  • 1 year of biology (more is advised); and
  • 1 year of physics.

Most dental schools require mathematics at least through pre-calculus. All science courses must include laboratory work. In addition, students are advised to take elective credits to ensure a broad liberal arts education.

Students must achieve satisfactory scores on the Dental Admission Test (DAT) to be a competitive applicant for dental school. The Pre-Dental Advisor can provide information regarding the administration of this test.

Science Courses That Satisfy Dental School Admission Requirements

Biological Sciences
BIO SCI 150Foundations of Biological Sciences I4
BIO SCI 152Foundations of Biological Sciences II4
Select one of the following:3-4
Cell Biology
General Microbiology
CHEM 102General Chemistry5
CHEM 104General Chemistry and Qualitative Analysis5
CHEM 343Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 344Organic Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 345Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 501Introduction to Biochemistry3
Select one of the following options:10
Option 1:
General Physics I (Non-Calculus Treatment)
and General Physics Laboratory I (Non-Calculus Treatment)
General Physics II (Non-Calculus Treatment)
and General Physics Laboratory II (Non-Calculus Treatment)
Option 2:
Physics I (Calculus Treatment)
and Lab Physics I (Calculus Treatment)
Physics II (Calculus Treatment)
and Lab Physics II (Calculus Treatment)
Option 3:
Physics I: Calculus-Based, Studio Format
Physics II: Calculus-Based, Studio Format
Total Credits42-43

Additional Resources

Pre-Professional Programs

Pre-professional programs are not majors, and students must still choose a major. The most common ones to prepare for a graduate program in healthcare are biology, biochemistry, chemistry or neuroscience since many of the required preparatory classes come from those subject areas.

By choosing a pre-professional designation, students are assigned to a specialty advisor who will provide guidance in becoming the most competitive applicant possible for a graduate healthcare program.