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Dentistry Schools and Colleges

Unlike the dental assisting profession where educational and licensing requirements vary drastically from state to state, the field of dentistry is highly regulated in all states. All dentists practicing in the United States must be licensed. To receive a dental license, applicants must pass a written and practical exam after graduating from an accredited dental school.

High school students who plan on becoming dentists should prepare themselves by taking classes in biology, anatomy, chemistry, physics, and mathematics.

Most dental schools require that applicants have a bachelor's degree (preferrably in a related discipline such as biology, chemistry, etc.) from an accredited college or university. All applicants at minimum must have completed college level courses in biology and chemistry. While no specific major is required, admission to dental school is very competitive. Earning a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry, zoology or a related science field may improve your chances of being accepted.

In addition to earning a bachelor's degree, dental school applicants must take the Dental Acceptance Test (DAT) during their junior year of college. When evaluating potential candidates, dental schools look at DAT scores, grade point average, and letters of recommendation from professors.

Once accepted to dental school, you can expect to take courses in anatomy, local anesthesia, periodontology, and radiology. In addition to classroom lectures and textbook study, students spend a substantial amount of time in labs or working directly with patients in a clinical setting under the watchful eye of a licensed dentist.

Students interested in pursuing one of nine dental specialties will be required to complete a specialized 1- to 2-year residency program once they've completed there general dentistry requirements.

Some dentists decide that they want to be involved fulltime in teaching and research, instead of running a dental practice or working for a medical facility. Dental educators and researchers typically are required to complete an additional 2 to 5 years of advanced dental training.

While all states require licensing for dentists, requirements still vary by state. The general licensing requirements in most states include a degree from an accredited dental program and passing state administered practical and written exam. For dentists who are specializing, there are additional education requirements and some states may require that applicants pass an additional exam designed to test their specialized knowledge and complete a postgraduate residency program in their field of specialization.

Below you'll find a list of colleges and universities that provide accredited dentistry programs.

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