University of the Pacific Dental School: Application Requirements and Program Overview (2023-2024)

Considering applying to the University of Pacific Dental School? Familiarize yourself with the application requirements and understand how to increase your chances of securing admission.

Posted March 20, 2024

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If you're considering a career in dentistry and eyeing the University of the Pacific Dental School, also known as the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, you've come to the right place! In this article, we delve into everything you need to know about applying to the DDS program, including its application process, key deadlines, and how to set yourself up for success. Join us as we navigate the essential details to help you make informed decisions and pave the way toward your dental aspirations!

UOP Dental Class Profile (DDS Class of 2026)

  • Applicants: 2,142
  • Class Size: 146
  • Acceptance Rate: 6.8%
  • Average DAT (AA): 22.5
  • Average DAT (PAT): 22
  • Average DAT (Science): 22
  • Average GPA: 3.61
  • Average Science GPA: 3.55
  • Female Students: 47.9%

University of Pacific DDS Application Overview

Deadlines (2023-2024)

Application OpensJune 1, 2023
Academic Update Period 1August 15-September 30, 2023
Academic Update Period 2December 1, 2023-February 2, 2024
Application ClosesFebruary 2, 2024
Last Day to Submit Official Documents for VerificationFebruary 9, 2024

Application Requirements

Minimum Course Requirements

  • Biological Sciences* (with laboratory) – 4 semesters/6 quarters
  • Inorganic Chemistry (with laboratory) – 2 semesters/3 quarters
  • Organic Chemistry (with laboratory) – 2 semesters/3 quarters
  • Physics (with laboratory) – 2 semesters/3 quarters
  • English, Speech, or Communication** – 2 semesters/3 quarters

*The Admissions Committee requires that applicants complete either two semesters of organic chemistry or one semester each of organic chemistry and biochemistry.

**One course in composition or technical writing is required. Other courses should develop written or verbal communication skills. English as a Second Language (ESL) coursework does not meet this requirement.

Recommended Courses

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Histology/Cell Biology

Note: These courses can be used to count toward the Biological Sciences requirement. Courses taken at a community college will be acceptable if they are transferable as equivalent to predental courses at a four-year college.

  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
    • Two of the letters must be from science professors and one letter should be from someone of your choice (e.g., dentist, research, or work manager/supervisor). If your undergraduate institution has a pre-health advisory committee, a committee evaluation is recommended as an alternative.
    • Your letters should be physically signed by your recommenders and ideally be written on letterhead or contain the logo of the organization or school that they work for.
  • GPA
    • Your overall and science GPA, the schools attended, and the difficulty of your course load are all assessed on an individual basis.
  • DAT
    • Preference is given to students who provide Dental Admissions Test scores no later than November of each cycle. The committee will only review the most recent DAT scores in the application.
    • For the 2023-2024 cycle, DATs taken before June of 2021 will not be accepted.
  • Dental Shadowing Experience
    • 40 hours minimum (minimum hours must be completed with a general dentist).
    • Dental assisting experience cannot be counted towards shadowing. There is a section of the AADSAS application that asks for “Dental Experience,” where Dental Assisting can be listed.
  • Research Experience — Practical or Theory
    • Research experience is not a requirement but is highly recommended.
  • Application Fee
    • The application fee is $75.
  • Interview
    • Interviews are required for any potential position in the DDS program, although an interview is not a guarantee of admission.
    • Interviews are held between September and March in-person at the San Francisco campus, with the possibility of virtual interview options.

Top Tips for Getting In

1. Align Yourself With the Dugoni School Core Values

The Dugoni School of Dentistry cites “courage, empowerment, excellence, innovation, integrity, and leadership” as its core values supporting its defining characteristic, humanism. By taking steps to showcase open-mindedness, diversity, a desire to give back, and other similar characteristics in your application materials (particularly in your letters of recommendation and interviews), you can set yourself up for success.

2. Excel Academically

Focus on maintaining a strong academic record throughout your undergraduate studies. Aim for a high GPA, especially in prerequisite science courses, as this demonstrates your ability to handle the rigorous coursework of dental school.

Excelling academically will have the side benefit of making it easier for you to develop great relationships with your professors, who will make future evaluators for your letters of recommendation. The best recommenders are those who can speak to your growth and development, as well as your commitment to the industry and work quality. Developing relationships with potential recommenders early on will greatly benefit you when the time to apply arrives.

3. Adequately Prepare for the DAT

Dedicating ample time to prepare for the DAT in order to get a competitive score is a crucial factor in the admissions process. Utilize study materials, practice exams, and consider getting expert coaching. We encourage you to check out these resources to help you compile study strategies, timeline tips, and more:

4. Gain Clinical/Shadowing Experience

Seek opportunities to gain hands-on experience in the field of dentistry. Not only is it required for Pacific’s application but shadowing dentists, volunteering at dental clinics, or participating in dental research projects can also provide valuable insights and demonstrate your commitment to the profession. Your experience will also be an important part of the holistic review of your application and allow you to share your passion for dentistry.

5. Secure Strong Letters of Recommendation

Choose individuals who can provide detailed and positive letters of recommendation. Select professors, dentists, or professionals who know you well and can speak to your abilities, character, and potential as a future dentist. We encourage you to check out this article to help you better understand how to go about choosing recommenders and what the admissions committee is looking for: Letters of Evaluation for Dental School: Everything You Need to Know.

DDS Program Overview

The Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program at the Dugoni School of Dentistry is one of the most prestigious and rigorous in the nation. Known for its student-centered, humanistic educational approach and its accelerated three-year, year-round program, the Dugoni School’s Pacific Dental Helix Curriculum is divided into 12 10-week long quarters with a focus on active learning and critical thinking through small-group, case-based learning.

In their first quarter, students learn the use of dental instruments and materials, working position and posture, and basic dental laboratory procedures. Throughout their first two years, students take courses covering biomedical sciences and clinical topics, such as human anatomy, physiology, tissue aging, and infection control.

Clinical Experience

Preclinical instruction takes place in the first year, during which students learn to work in a preclinical simulation laboratory with a chair-side assistant in conjunction with a pediatric dental practice. Students begin working with patients in their second year.

Student Life

The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry is located at the University of the Pacific’s San Francisco campus in the SoMa (South of Market) neighborhood. Due to its enviable location, students have access to a broad range of research opportunities in collaboration with San Francisco-based companies and foundations, as well as community involvement through health fairs and outreach events across the San Francisco Bay Area.

Notable student events include the First-Year Retreat, a one-day orientation event; the White Coat Ceremony marking students’ transition into the clinical portion of the DDS program; and Excellence Day, which celebrates the research, community service, and clinical achievements of the Dugoni School students and faculty.


Q: What DAT scores do I need to get into the Dugoni School of Dentistry?

  • A: Incoming class averages are:
    • Academic average: 22
    • Perceptual ability: 21
    • Quantitative Reasoning: 22
    • Reading comprehension: 22
    • Biology: 22
    • General chemistry: 21
    • Organic chemistry: 22
    • Total science: 21
  • Competitive scores this year were 22 and higher. If your scores are below 20, the Dugoni School recommends retaking the DAT. There is no deadline to take the DAT, but preference for admission is given to students who provide final DAT scores no later than November for any given admissions cycle. The committee reviews only the most recent DAT scores provided.

Q: What level of performance is the Admissions Committee looking for in my academic history?

  • A: In each term of full-time study (4 or more courses per term), at least 3 courses should be predental science courses approved for biology majors. Applicants should achieve a B or better in each course; no D, W, F, or I grades.

Q: Are there elective courses that would help prepare me to be a good dentist?

  • A: To develop your doctor/patient relationship skills, the Dugoni School recommends a course in journalism, public speaking, debate, interpersonal relationships, or drama. To prepare you for managing your own business, accounting for small business, marketing for small business, consumer behavior, or economics courses are recommended. To enhance your hand skills, the Dugoni School recommends coursework in mechanical drafting/drawing, jewelry making, sculpting, or ceramics.

Q: Does Pacific require a secondary application?

Q: What are the selection factors for an interview at Pacific?

  • A: The Admissions Committee carefully considers each applicant's scholastic record, scores on the DAT, AADSAS essay, letters of evaluation, evidence of manual dexterity (including the perceptual ability portion of the DAT), and other personal attributes and qualities as well as a demonstration of his or her understanding about a career in the dental profession.
  • Applicants who appear to meet the requirements will be invited to the dental school in San Francisco for an interview with one or more members of the Admissions Committee. During the interview, the applicant's interest in dentistry, future plans, maturity, and other personal qualities needed for successful work with patients are assessed. In addition, applicants will participate in an orientation seminar, meet informally with current dental students, and tour the school. Applicants who are offered the opportunity to enroll must complete planned coursework at a specified performance level.

Q: What is the cost of attendance?

  • A: Tuition is $124,185 per year for all three years of the DDS program. Students will also be required to pay for dental kits, rental kits, and various fees, bringing direct costs up to $134,782 to $146,654 per year. San Francisco also has a high cost of living, so students should prepare to spend about $37,000 a year on living expenses.
  • All admitted students are automatically considered for the Dean’s scholarship; however, most students’ scholarships come from external foundations and organizations. For more information about financing your dental education, check the Dugoni School of Dentistry’s financial aid page and these resources:

Key Takeaways

  • The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry at the University of the Pacific offers one of the best DDS programs in the nation, so the application process is highly competitive.
  • The DDS program at the Dugoni School of Dentistry is unique in its year-round schedule, so students have earlier opportunities for clinical learning and graduate in three years instead of the usual four.
  • To apply to the University of the Pacific DDS program, you will need to submit the following: a high DAT score, strong overall and science GPAs, evidence of completion of the required courses, 3 letters of recommendation, at least 40 hours of shadowing experience, and an application fee. If you are extended an invitation, you will also need to participate in an in-person interview at the San Francisco campus.
  • When completing your application, particularly the essay, recommendation letters, and interview portions, consider how you align with the core values of the Dugoni School of Dentistry: humanism through courage, empowerment, excellence, innovation, integrity, and leadership.

For more information and resources to assist you along the path to becoming a dentist, check out the following articles:

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