Dentistry dentistry

Dentists are responsible for preventing, treating, and maintaing the oral health of their patients. The ADEA describes a successful dentist as someone who is artistic, easy to talk to, a leader, and likes to work with their hands. It is a lucarative and flexible career. 

Quick Facts:

  • 80% of dentists go into private practice
  • 85% of UC San Diego students get accepted to dental school
  • Drawing, painting, sewing, or playing an instrument can help with manual dexterity

NEW! Pre-Req Course List

EXPLORE Dentistry


Discover whether a dental career matches your interests, skills and abilities and meets your lifestyle expectations:


PREPARE for Dental School

Confirm your interest in dentistry, prepare academically and develop the necessary skills and experience:

Timeline to Dental School

Academic Pre-Requisites

  • Complete the pre-requisite courses
  • One year of biology with lab (BILD 1, 2, 3 or upper-division Bio courses + 4 unit Bio lab)
  • One year of general chemistry with lab (Chem 6A, B, C and 7L)
  • One year of organic chemistry with lab (Chem 40A, B, C and 43A)
  • One year of physics with lab (Physics 1A, 1AL, 1B, 1BL, 1C, 1CL or 2A, 2B, 2BL, 2C, 2CL) *calculus is a pre-requisite



Click to learn more about gaining experience - clinical, service, leadership, and research.


APPLY to Dental School

You typically apply to dental school about one year before you want to start the program.  You will need to identify programs that match your interests and complete an application.  Some steps take time so plan ahead!

dental graphic
Application Steps Printable Version

Schools & Programs



Personal Essay

  • Explain a defining moment that compelled you to pursue dentistry
  • Tell YOUR story
  • 4500 characters


Click here for more info and resources on your personal essay, interview tips, letters of evaluation, and taking a gap year.

Paying for School

Student Organizations

Students are encouraged to explore any student organization of interest, not necessarily limited to dental-related groups.  A comprehensive list can be found at the Center for Student Involvement.

Dental-related student groups include the following:

The Pre-Dental Society at UCSD provides excellent opportunities to meet other pre-dental students, local dentists, and visiting dental school deans. The also run Free Dental Clinics in the San Diego area which provide excellent clinical observation experiences and potential letters of rec for dental school.