The path to dentistry in the USA is long, multi-staged, and complex! It differs a lot from careers in other fields of study, as well as from the systems of education in other countries. Today I would like to talk about the basics of this process by describing the main steps towards achieving the goal of becoming a professional dentist in the USA.Step 1. Collecting information, identifying your path towards your goal of becoming a dentist. Read and collect as much information as possible. Look at the American Student Dental Association and American Dental Association websites to get an idea about the path to a degree in dentistry, as well as some specifics on the procedure for international students. There are two main options: starting your career in the U.S. or getting a dentistry degree in your native country and then receiving advanced dental training for foreign dental graduates in the U.S. If you already have a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) degree, you could also obtain licensure to practice dentistry in the U.S. If you think the first option suits you best, go on to the next step described below. Step 2. Getting an undergraduate degree There is no undergraduate degree in dentistry in the U.S. However, you can not apply to dental school right after graduation from a high school. Your first step towards your goal is entering an undergraduate program at a U.S. college or university, taking courses in such disciplines as mathematics, zoology, biology, chemistry, physics, and English, and getting a bachelor’s degree. Be aware that admission officers appreciate a liberal arts background in candidates’ education. They welcome those interested not only in natural sciences but also in sociology, humanity, and arts. Check the entrance requirements of the school to which you want to apply upon completion of undergraduate programs. You need to be sure your undergraduate program offers all courses you need to enter a dental school. Step 3. Making a list of schools that accept international students, preparing and passing the Dental Admission Test (DAT). There are only 68 Dental Schools https://www.ada.org/en/science-research/health-policy-institute/dental-statistics/education that offer the two degrees in dentistry: Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) or the Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.), and not all of them accept international students. The education is costly, varying from $50,000 to $70,000 for tuition only! Private dental schools tend to be more favorable towards international students in comparison with public ones, which usually give preference to state residents. Make a list of schools you want to apply to and thoroughly study each school’s website to learn about the application procedure, cost of study, and timeline. The admission requirements will range from school to school, but in general, they will include the following items:
- Completed application form. There are several types: applications made by individual schools, applications provided by Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS), or Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS) which are centralized application processing services sending a single application form to the dental schools specified by the student for a fee;
- Results of Dental admission Test (DAT) and TOEFL
- Personal statement;
- Letters of recommendation (from undergraduate faculty, dentists, community leaders, etc;
- Interview with faculty and other members of the admissions committee;
- Application fee.