Pre-Dental

About the Profession

Dentists diagnose and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of the teeth and mouth. They perform surgical procedures such as implants, tissue grafts, and extractions, and can improve a patient’s appearance by using a variety of cosmetic dental procedures. Dentists educate patients on how to better care for their teeth and prevent oral disease. Some dentists also teach dental students and dental hygienists or perform research directed to improving oral health and developing new treatment methods.

Studies in dentistry take four years to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) with additional years for a residency to specialize. There are 66 schools of dental medicine in the US and they belong to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). Most use the centralized American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS).  Information about dental admissions for all US and Canadian schools can be found in the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools.   There are five dental schools now in New York State: SUNY at Buffalo and Stony Brook are public; NYU, Columbia and Touro are private. Please visit the American Dental Education Association (ADEA)  for more information.

Your Record

From the time you begin college, you are assembling a complete dossier with which to apply to these professional schools.  Dental Schools:  To apply usually requires five achievements:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree in any major.
  • Achieve excellent grades; most recently admitted students had overall and science average GPAs in the 3.5+ range.
  • Earn a good score on the DAT (Dental Admissions Test). Averages for recently accepted applicants were in the 19-20 range.
  • Obtain a University Prehealth Committee Evaluation Letter.
  • Involve yourself in sincere, sustained dental related volunteer work.  Research is a plus.

UB Special Admission Programs

There are two special admission programs to the UB School of Dental Medicine: Early Assurance and the Combined BS/DDS Degree Program. Please see additional information regarding applying to the BS/DDS Program here.

Early Assurance

Other options for admission to UB’s School of Dental Medicine include the Early Assurance Program  to which students apply at the end of sophomore year.

BS/DDS Application Process

Please refer to our Combined Degree Program (PDF) for additional information.  More links pertaining to this program are under the Department of Biological Sciences webpage  and under the UB School of Dental Medicine webpage.

Course Requirements

Start planning as a freshman to meet the following course requirements: a minimum of one year each of Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, all with a year of lab; one year of English; and one year of Math recommended. Several require biochemistry and/or microbiology. Below are the UB courses we recommended to meet these requirements:

Chemistry (Required and on DAT) CHE 101-102 or 105-106 or 107-108 10 credits
Organic Chemistry (Required and on DAT) CHE 201-202 or 251-252 10 credits
Biology (Required and on DAT) BIO 200-201 9 credits
Physics (Required) PHY 101-102 w/labs 151-152, or
PHY 107-108 or 117-118 w/lab 158*
10 credits
English/Writing (Required) Communication Literacy 1 and 2
(If any waived take 3 or 6 credits of writing intensive, literature-based courses – check with prehealth advisor if unsure)
6 credits
Biochemistry (Highly Recommended – some schools require and on DAT) BCH 403 or BIO 305 (formerly BIO 205) with optional lab of BIO 315 (formerly BIO 215) 3-5 credits
Mathematics (Highly Recommended – some schools require) MTH 121-122 or 141-142 8 credits
Human Physiology (Highly Recommended and on DAT) PGY 300 or PGY 451-452 4-6 credits
Statistics (Highly Recommended and on DAT) STA 119 or PSY 207 or STA 427 4 credits
Microbiology (Recommended as it is required by some dental schools and frequently recommended by others) MIC 401 4 credits

*Consult with a prehealth advisor regarding additional lab requirements if taking a Physics sequence which includes only one lab.

ONLINE PREREQUISITE COURSES, INCLUDING ENGLISH, ARE STRONGLY DISCOURAGED AS MANY PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS WILL NOT ACCEPT THEM.

Some Dental schools may have additional courses required or recommended. Review the Admission Requirements of US and Canadian Dental Schools in the Preprofessional Health Advisor’s Office, the Undergraduate Library, or purchase your own copy from the ADEA. 

All required courses must be taken for a grade. Each school has its own policy about AP credit. Usually, AP credit in these areas should be followed with additional upper level work in the discipline including labs. AP credit in math is the only subject in which more advanced work is not necessarily required.

Additional Courses

To further strengthen your application, here are some additional UB courses you could take:

PAS 113 – Human Anatomy PAS 427 – Premedical Gross Anatomy
APY 345/346 – Comparative Primate Anatomy APY 348 – Forensic Anthropological Osteology
APY 448 – Human Genetics/Legal and Ethical Issues BIO 367 – Developmental Biology
BIO 319 – Genetics or BCH 310 – Biomedical Genetics BIO 303 – General Physiology

Resources

This page offers you a myriad of links to:

  • research the various ways to prepare a competitive application to a health professions program
  • educate yourself about the professions themselves

Each link has been carefully developed to share the services of our prehealth advisors, links to information sources, contacts for the various UB student prehealth organizations, links to national sites, recommended readings, and provides a number of leads to help you secure clinical shadowing, volunteering and research opportunities. There is also a section to investigate the numerous summer clinical and research opportunities available.

  • Prehealth Listserv

    For frequent email updates pertaining to events of interest to UB prehealth students!

    To subscribe to the prehealth listserv, send an email to listserv@buffalo.edu with the following text in the message body (not the “Subject” line – Subject should be blank):

    • subscribe prehealth-list your name (example: subscribe prehealth-list Bill Jones)

    Your email address will be automatically obtained from the email message and add you to the listserv.

    To unsubscribe from the prehealth listserv, send an email to listserv@buffalo.edu with the following text in the message body (not the “Subject” line):

    • unsubscribe prehealth-list

    Your email address will be automatically obtained from the email message and remove you from the listserv.

  • Advising

    Prospective students, freshmen, sophomores, candidates for Early Assurance Programs and the Combined BS/DDS Degree Program, juniors, seniors, alumni, and international students may schedule an appointment to see Amanda Sauter or Libby Morsheimer. Prospective students, freshmen, sophomores, and candidates for the Early Assurance Programs and the Combined BS/DDS Degree Program may schedule an appointment to see Amber Packard or Carl Lam. Please set appointments by calling 716-645-6013, or by going to 109 Norton Hall between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Students are all strongly encouraged to attend a “So You Want to be a Doctor, Dentist, Vet…” workshop before meeting with a prehealth advisor. Students are also encouraged to read the UB Freshmen and Sophomore Prehealth Handbook: A Guide for College Students Just Getting Started in Their Quest for a Professional Health Career (PDF).

    For general advising services, please see the Undergraduate Academic Advisement website.

    Because appointments are generally 30 minutes in length and are often booked back-to-back, please consider arriving no earlier than 5 minutes before your scheduled appointment. Also, please try to arrive on time so that we might be able to address all of your concerns in the time allotted.

  • Workshops/Events
    See the EVENTS tab for the current list of presentations.
  • Prehealth Organizations

    Please consider emailing any of the current presidents to be added to these organization email lists. You can also find additional information at UB Linked or under the Academic Council of UB’s Student Association.

  • Prehealth Committee

    UB students have access to the full services of our Prehealth Committee. The Committee will provide a summary appraisal letter for use during your application process to the professional schools. Candidates must apply for a letter to be written and will be interviewed by one Committee member. Your letter file is maintained for 5+ years. Eligible students include current UB undergraduates, alumni and transfer students with 30+ credits at UB. There is a four tier recommendation system based on a student’s resume, transcripts, essay, recommendations and interview. Annual Deadlines are: Spring – March 15; Fall – September 1; Winter-December 1 for the EOPIM (PDF)

    Carefully reviewing the Prehealth Committee tab on this site, watching our informational videos and attending a Prehealth Committee Information Session (listed under Events) are a must to be well informed about this process.

  • Personal Statement/Essays

    When you are approaching your application deadline, a prehealth advisor can critique your personal statement for you, though due to volume, our office will only do this for you one time.

    1. First, read and complete some of the exercises in the Essay Writing handbook available at our February workshop or in our Library Area in 108 Norton Hall. It is also helpful to read the sample statements provided. It is important to have a sense of knowing the appropriate content of your statement.
    2. Second, it is helpful to have your essay reviewed by The Center for Excellence in Writing in 209 Baldy Hall. You may also have an English professor of your choice review it if s/he is available.
    3. Third, you may email us your statement then make an appointment to meet with an advisor to review it at least 3-4 business days later. This will allow the advisor time to thoroughly review your statement before the appointment. You will then be instructed who to call to schedule your appointment.
  • Timetable
    Everything you need will be found in the Preprofessional Health Resource Area (108 Norton Hall) as well as on this site (release forms, request for recommendation forms, etc.).
    JUNIOR/SENIOR YEAR (Dependent on year you elect to apply).
    Year ONE: September-December

      1. Begin to review notes and textbooks for admissions exams.
      2. Begin or continue to collect letters of recommendation.

    January-February

    1. Look for announcements regarding registration for spring exams (MCAT, DAT, OAT). All computerized with multiple dates of administration.
    2. Discuss your application with Libby Morsheimer or Amanda Sauter. Make an appointment in 109 Norton Hall or by calling 716-645-6013.
    3. Begin or continue to review for admissions exams.
    4. Determine if you are eligible for fee waivers. Apply early for them! Check relevant websites for details. Many of them are available in early January.

    February

    1. Review for admissions exams.
    2. Check in 109 Norton Hall or through your online application, if started, to see if letters have arrived. Follow up where necessary.

    March

    1. Begin to research schools: check the internet. Use resources like the Medical Schools Admission Requirement Guide (MSAR) for MD, College Information Book (CIB) for DO and American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Guide to Dental Schools for DDS.
    2. File your application for the Prehealth Committee Letter by MARCH 15.
    3. Applicants to US MD and DDS schools can now only use the spring cycle with a deadline of MARCH 15.

    April

    1. Complete review and consider taking MCAT, DAT or OAT exams in April-May.
    2. Be sure 4-7 letters are in by April 15 for the Prehealth Committee. You need a MINIMUM of 4 letters by April 15.

    May

    1. Complete your Committee interview in later April or May.
    2. Contact non-service schools for their applications (e.g., offshore medical schools).
    3. Start filling out applications for both service and non-service schools. Consider submitting by early June. Early applications are strongly recommended.

    June-July

    1. Submit application to the centralized application services (June 1-June 30 is a good time). Applying EARLY is essential!
    2. Send out applications to non-service schools. Most have online applications. Promptly complete secondary applications as they come in (1-3 weeks).
    3. File MCAT/DAT/OAT exam applications even if you will be taking or retaking an exam. Taking the MCAT and DAT before July is strongly recommended. If you have questions, please discuss them with your advisor.

    July-August

    1. ALL applicants submit Release Form to 109 Norton for Committee Letter and letters of recommendation to be electronically transmitted to professional schools. MOST schools accept electronically. For DDS schools, indicate we will send the letters electronically not via paper.
    2. Obtain and complete Committee application if you are using the Committee’s September cycle. The Committee application opens July 1.
    3. Check to see if your letters of recommendation have arrived. Follow up on any missing letters.

    Year TWO: September

    1. September 1 deadline to file an application for the Committee letter.
    2. Complete your committee interview.
    3. Turn in any envelopes (if necessary) and Release Form to have letters sent. If applying US MD schools, submit AMCAS Letter Request Form as well.
    4. You may begin to have interviews schedule for this month and later. Do interview prep! Consult our office for information as well as Career Services in 259 Capen to schedule a practice interview session. Attend our Interview Prep Workshop scheduled each fall. Check the Events tab for the next session.

    October

    1. Begin to think of possible alternatives, just in case.
    2. Notify us of any and all acceptances. Please speak with an advisor regarding our Winter Prehealth Committee cycle (deadline Dec 1) if you intend on applying EOPIM (PDF).
  • Acquiring Clinical Exposure (Shadowing and Volunteering) and Research
  • Exploring Health Careers
    There are numerous health programs to explore that may be a great fit for you! Please read Resources for Exploring Careers in Health Care (PDF) to learn more. Also check out Explore Health Careers.
  • Important Application Links
  • UB Health Related Links
  • Prehealth Library
    Please be sure to stop into 108 Norton Hall during our normal business hours (Mon-Fri from 8:30-5:00 fall and spring) and peruse all the print materials we have available! We have resources pertaining to these professional health school programs and more! You will see announcements regarding relevant educational programs, materials on public health programs, on how to finance a medical or dental education, and workshop materials from events you may have been unable to attend.
  • Recommended Prehealth Reading
    • After Harm: Medical Error and The Ethics of Forgiveness by Nancy Berlinger
    • Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside by Katrina Firlik
    • Better by Atul Gawande
    • Body of Work by Christine Montross
    • Complications: A Surgeons Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande
    • Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
    • Demographic changes, a view from California (report of the Institute of Medicine)
    • Every Patient Tells a Story by Lisa Sanders
    • Final Exam by Pauline W. Chen
    • Healing Hearts: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon by Kathy E. Magliato
    • How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
    • How We Die by Sherwin Nuland, MD
    • How We Live by Sherwin Nuland, MD
    • Informed Consent: The US Medical Education System Explained by Benjamin Brown
    • Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation by Sanddep Jauhar
    • Match Day: One Day and One Dramatic Year in the Lives of Three New Doctors by Brian Eule
    • Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington
    • Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
    • Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer by Tracy Kidder
    • My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story by Abraham Verghese
    • On Becoming a Doctor by Tania Heller
    • On Call: A Doctor’s Days and Nights in Residency by Emily R. Transue
    • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
    • Parasite Rex : Inside the Bizarre World of Nature’s Most Dangerous Creatures by Carl Zimmer
    • Patient by Patient: Lessons in Love, Loss, Hope and Healing from a Doctor’s Practice by Emily R. Transue
    • Something for the Pain: Compassion and Burnout in the ER by Paul Austin
    • The Anatomy of Hope by Jerome Groopman
    • The Citadel by A.J. Cronin
    • The Doctor Stories by William Carlos Williams
    • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
    • The Scalpel and the Silver Bear by Lori Arviso Alvord
    • The Soul of a Doctor: Harvard Medical Students Face Life and Death edited by Susan Pories, Sachin Jain, and Gordon Harper
    • The Soul of Medicine by Sherwin Nuland, MD
    • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
    • The Woman Who Decided to Die by Ronald Munson
    • Uncommon Wisdom: True Tales of What Our Lives as Doctors Have Taught Us About Love, Faith and Healing by John Castaldo MD and Lawrence Levitt MD
    • What Patients Taught Me: A Medical Student’s Journey by Audrey Young
    • Who Shall Live? by Victor Fuchs
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    What is “prehealth”?
    This jargon is short hand for: premed, predentistry, prevet, preoptometry, prepodiatry, and prechiropractic students. There is no prehealth major, rather a curricular program students follow to complete the requirements for entry into these professional schools upon graduation.

    What do students need to do to qualify for admission into these professional schools?

    To be a qualified, competitive applicant, students must do the following:

    • Successfully complete their degree and major with an excellent record
    • Complete prerequisite courses with superior grades
    • Perform very well on admission tests
    • Compile a strong record of references and a Prehealth Committee Letter
    • Participate in sincere and sustained health related and service activities

    Should a student major in biology or at least a science?
    Maybe! Students should major in the disciplines they truly enjoy. If it includes the prerequisite courses fine, if not they will take those courses in addition to their major. Professional schools want students skilled in science, but not exclusively.

    What’s a prerequisite?

    These are courses required for admission and also may be the basic preparation for the admission tests. Common to all these professions are four sciences and a year of English. The science courses include the following with a year of lab in each:

    • Biology
    • General Chemistry
    • Organic Chemistry
    • Physics

    What if a student is waived out of the UB English requirements?
    Students should take other higher level English courses of their choice to equal 2 semesters.

    Which UB courses meet these prerequisite requirements?

    • Chemistry CHE 101-102, 105-106, or 107-108 10 credits
    • Organic Chemistry CHE 201-202 or 251-252 10 credits
    • Biology BIO 200-201 8 credits
    • Physics PHY 101-102 w/labs 151-152
    • PHY 107-108 or 117-118 w/lab 158 9-10 credits
    • English ENG 101-201
    • (If any waived take 3 or 6 credits of English literature) 6 credits
    • Mathematics MTH 121-122 OR 141-142 8 credits

    Is this all?

    For medicine, dentistry, and podiatry individual schools may have additional prerequisites that are required or strongly recommended. Optometry, veterinary, and chiropractic have additional requirements depending on the school:

    • Chiropractic: one course in psychology
    • Optometry: psychology, biochemistry, biomedical microbiology, statistics, calculus and others
    • Veterinary: biochemistry, biomedical microbiology, genetics, nutrition and others

    Couldn’t a student take BIO 129/130?
    It is not recommended as sufficient preparation for admission tests or entrance into the professional schools.

    When do students apply to these schools and what is early assurance?
    Students hoping to attend after graduation usually apply in the spring and summer of their junior year, but senior year and later is appropriate for others. Very talented sophomores may apply to the Early Assurance in Dentistry if they have the following:
    Dentistry: 3.5 overall and science, 3 of 4 prerequisites & English; Prehealth Letter; strong record of dental volunteer experience

    When do students take admissions tests?
    They can take them as soon as they have the basic prerequisites done, but the real answer is when they feel best prepared. Students hoping to start professional school the fall after graduation should plan to be ready for the tests by the spring of their junior year.

    How many references do students need?
    Students will need a minimum of 4 references, mostly academic and at least 2 in science. This is one of the requirements to apply for a Prehealth Committee Letter of evaluation. References can be obtained when a class is completed and need not wait till junior year when applying for the Letter. The Prehealth Advising Services office retains references for 5 years until a student applies for a letter.

    How can they get them in these big science classes?
    By asking!! We receive hundreds of letter each year, the majority from UB professors of large science courses. Students must take the steps to meet faculty at office hours and get to know them. This can feel pretty awkward at first, but it is part of the process and a measure of a student’s initiative.

    What is the Prehealth Committee?
    It is a very hard working 12-member faculty committee sponsored by the Vice Provost’s Office that assists students in gathering their references and providing a letter of evaluation. This letter and the individual references meet the professional school requirements for references.

    Must a student have a Committee Letter?
    Technically, no! However, professional schools usually know which schools have committees and will ask a student why they do not have one.

    Should a student give up on a professional health school if they got a bad grade in a prerequisite or had a really bad semester?
    Not necessarily. It depends on why, how often, and what they have done since. Obviously, it doesn’t help to have such a record, but it is recoverable depending on the circumstances and the rest of the record. However, lots of good volunteering or references will not balance out a weak or so-so overall record.

    Is it true that prehealth students should never resign a class?
    No, but several will be a problem. A resignation, especially early in the student’s career, is not fatal. However students unable to do two sciences in one semester will not be as competitive.

    What are the required GPAs to get into professional health schools?

    For better or worse there are no cut offs. The national average GPAs for admitted students:

    • Medicine MD: 3.7 Overall/3.7 Science, DO: 3.5 Overall/3.4 Science
    • Dentistry 3.5 Overall/3.5 Science
    • Optometry 3. 4+
    • Podiatry 3.2
    • Veterinary 3.6+ (3.8 Cornell)
    • Physician Assistant 3.5+
    • Chiropractic 3.0

    What should prehealth students remember?

    • Everything you do is a part of your permanent record so compile the record with which you will be proud to apply. Freshman year counts!
    • Pick a realistic program that will prepare you for your major and complete the prehealth prereqs. Not every student can do this in four years. Don’t get caught in the “I don’t want to get behind” syndrome. Speed won’t make up for weak grades.
    • Learn strategies to approach professors for references. Don’t wait until your junior year.
    • Participate in service and health related volunteer work or research from early on at UB. This cannot be done authentically in the semester before your application.
    • It is your job to become educated about your intended profession and how to qualify.
    • Attend at least one Prehealth Workshop each semester.

    Where can a student find help with these questions?
    See your academic advisor today to talk about your program at UB.

Sophomore – Senior Students

Sophomore students are also highly encouraged to read the UB Freshmen and Sophomore Prehealth Handbook: A Guide for College Students Just Getting Started in Their Quest for a Professional Health Career (PDF)

Also, please explore this site thoroughly and be sure to look under the “Events” tab for relevant workshops for you!  Sophomores intended toward Early Assurance Programs and juniors and seniors need to be especially vigilant if you are preparing your application. The “Prehealth Committee” tab is essential for those collecting letters of recommendation in support of an application.

Freshmen who have attended a “Prehealth 101” session, sophomores, candidates for special admission programs (e.g., Early Assurance Programs and the Combined BS/DDS Degree Program), juniors, seniors, alumni, and international students may request an appointment to see Amanda Sauter or Libby Morsheimer by calling 716-645-6013. Prospective students, freshmen who have attended a “Prehealth 101” session, sophomores, and candidates for the Early Assurance Programs and the Combined BS/DDS Degree Program may schedule an appointment to see Amber Packard or Carl Lam by also calling 716-645-6013.

You may consult with the prehealth assistant in regards to the general Prehealth Committee process and your letter file. The phone number is 716-645-6012.

Juniors/Seniors: Gap/Glide Year Option

Applying to any professional health school is a long and daunting process. We want to assist you in your preparation so that you are a strong candidate.

First, please know that there is no “right time” to apply. Many myths abound, but the reality is that the application process is competitive and nuanced. The best time to apply is when your application is most competitive. Due to the application process stretching out over 12 months time, many students find that they need to take a “gap year” to be truly ready. This is common for applicants and does not look bad to the professional health schools. On the contrary, professional health schools view it as a mature decision to take a more thoughtful process with your application.

One typically applies to a professional health school once the prerequisite courses are completed, which is around the time a student is typically ready to sit for an admission test (MCAT, DAT, OAT, GRE, etc.).  However, please meet with a Prehealth Advisor to discuss the right time for you. Think of your application to professional health school as a puzzle: each piece must be in its place for the puzzle to be complete. It is not enough to have a 4.0 GPA if you are lacking in clinical exposure, in the same way that an exorbitant amount of volunteering and shadowing cannot make up for a GPA that is not competitive.