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Biology

Pre-Professional Programs: Pre-Dental

General Information

There is no "pre-dentistry major" at CWU, nor do dental schools require any particular major. In fact, an undergraduate degree is not absolutely necessary, although it is recommended that you complete your four-year degree prior to entering dental school. Most students interested in becoming dentists major in biology or chemistry, but you can major in any subject as long as you take the science courses required by the dental school to which you are applying. In fact, in the 2004 class at UW Dental School, 10 of the 55 students majored in Business, Philosophy, History and other non-science majors.

Schools vary in which science classes are required. A background in the social sciences and humanities is also expected; however, there are no firm expectations for coursework in these subjects beyond English. By satisfying the CWU Gen-Ed requirements you should meet dental school requirements for these subjects. Pre-dental students should learn the specific requirements for their potential schools. Check each school to which you might apply. The ADA web site provides links to individual dental schools. Students applying to dental school also must have taken the Dental Aptitude Test [DAT] (usually by mid-fall of the application year). Courses marked below with an asterisk (*) should be completed prior to attempting the DAT. Completing additional coursework in Biology should also improve DAT performance, although if you REALLY learned the material in the introductory series you would do well on the biology portion of the DAT. More information on the DAT is given below.

Required at Most Dental Schools

  • CHEM 181. 181.1, 182, 182.1, 183, 183.1, General Chemistry*
  • CHEM 361, 361.1, 362, 363, 363.1, Organic Chemistry*
  • BIOL 181, 182, 183, General Biology Sequence*
  • PHYS 181, 181.1, 182, 182.1, 183, 183.1, Physics

Required at Some Dental Schools

  • CHEM 431, 431.1, 432, Biochemistry
  • MATH 172.1, 172.2 Calculus
  • BIOL 323 Microbiology
  • One additional quarter of Microbiology, e.g., BIOL 426 Medical Microbiology

Commonly Recommended

  • BIOL 321, Genetics
  • BIOL 354, General Vertebrate Embryology
  • BIOL 355 and 356, Human Anatomy and Physiology OR BIOL 455, Zoophysiology
  • Additional coursework in biology, e.g., BIOL 441, BIOL 422, BIOL 423, BIOL 425, and/or BIOL 454

The DAT (Dental Admission Test)

All dental schools require that you submit DAT scores as part of your application packet. Although they are important, they are only one factor considered in dental school admission decisions. The DAT is composed of four parts - Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry), Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning. You should plan to take this test one year or more prior to when you plan to start Dental School. The exam is computerized now and can be taken almost any day of the week but you do need to apply and pay your fees ahead of time in order to schedule your exam and reserve your spot. Much more information about the DAT itself and its administration is available at the ADA - testing website.

Applying to Dental School

Most students use the central application service (54 dental schools participate), AADSAS. You can put together one application and they will forward your materials to the schools of your choice. The base fee ($) includes applications to X schools. Application to each additional school costs $. The application cycle usually begins in May. That is the earliest AADSAS would accept your application to attend Dental School starting 2011-12 would be in June of 2010. Applying early is much better than applying later. More information about applications and using AADSAS is available.

Pre-Dental Club at CWU

The pre-dental club is run by and for CWU students interested in pursuing a career in dentistry. Club activities include DAT practice and preparation, hosting speakers, visiting dental clinics or dental schools and engaging in service projects. 

So you want to attend UW School of Dentistry?

Many CWU students are interested in going to the University of Washington School of Dentistry (the only dental school in Washington State), which is one of the most selective dental schools. For the 2013 class, UW School of Dentistry received 1,280 applications for 63 available positions! Of the 63 successful applicants, 87% are Washington State residents and 13% are from other states (the school considers only US citizens or permanent residents). The age range at entrance was 21-36 years; 30 women and 33 men. The grade point average of that class was 3.47 for science classes (range: 2.89 - 4.0) and 3.56 overall (range: 2.22 - 4.0). The average DAT scores were 20 for both perceptual ability, reading and total science. These GPAs and DAT scores are not impossibly high but they are very solid scores, so be prepared to be a serious student in your pre-dental studies in order to be a competitive applicant. In addition to these indicators, schools will look at your dentistry experience (observe, volunteer, etc.), the impression that you make at the interview (about 10% of applicants were interviewed for the 2013 class), and whether or not you are a well-rounded person (travel, volunteer experiences, work, sports, languages, etc.). A lot of information about the admission and selection process is available on the UW School of Dentistry.

The Pre-Dentistry advisor is Dr. Blaise Dondji. 
Department of Biological Sciences
Science 338H 
(509) 963-2715 
email dondjib@cwu.edu