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University of the Pacific Dental School: Application Requirements and How to Get In (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 September 5, 2023

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 dental 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!

University of Pacific Dental School Deadlines (2023-2024)

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 Adcom 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.

Recommend Courses

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

Note: Courses taken at a community college will be acceptable if they are transferable as equivalent to predental courses at a four-year college.

Application Requirements

  • 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.
  • 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, and the exam will need to be retaken to be considered for admission.
  • 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.

Top Tips for Getting In

1. Align Yourself With U of Pacific and the Program’s Core Values

University of Pacific Dental School cites “humanism, innovation, leadership, reflection, stewardship, collaboration, and philanthropy” as its core values. 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 in 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 Adcom is looking for: Letters of Evaluation for Dental School: Everything You Need to Know.


Q: Are my Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores competitive?

  • 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 significantly lower than our class averages (below 20), we recommend retaking the Dental Admissions Test (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: Many of our successful applicants completed three or more terms of full-time study at a college within the last three years. Full-time study is defined as four or more courses per term. In each term, three of the four 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. Our incoming class grade point averages (GPA) are 3.6 overall and 3.5 science.

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

  • A: To develop your doctor/patient relationship skills, we recommend a course in journalism, public speaking, debate, interpersonal relationships, or drama. To prepare you for managing your own business, we recommend accounting for small business, marketing for small business, consumer behavior, or economics courses. To enhance your hand skills, we recommend 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: Which DAT scores will you accept?

  • A: Your most recent DAT scores will be evaluated as part of our holistic application review process. If you are planning to retake the DAT after submitting your application, make sure to indicate a planned or future DAT date on your application. Your file will be placed on hold until we receive your new scores. If you indicated a planned or future DAT date on your application and decide later not to retake the DAT, please let us know about this change and we will remove the hold on your application. Please note that DATs must be taken within one year of when the admission cycle begins every June. Final DATs submitted to us before November 1 will be given priority for review.

Q: How can I maximize my letters of recommendation to create an impactful character assessment in my dental school application?

  • A: Choose people who know you and can speak to your character, personality and/or work ethic. Start searching for letters of recommendation at least three months in advance of submitting your application. This will allow your writers ample time to craft and submit the letter without feeling rushed.
  • Give your letter writers clear guidance:
    • The letter must be physically signed by the writer before submission (unsigned letters will not be accepted).
    • Ideally, the letter should be written on letterhead, or contain the logo of the organization or school that they work for.
    • Make sure to communicate the ADEA AADSAS letter submission guidelines to them, so they know what to expect.
    • Give them a deadline to submit the letter (allowing them at least a month to write it).
    • The letters must be submitted directly to AADSAS and should not be viewed or submitted by the applicant to maintain the confidentiality of the writing.

Q: Can I submit additional letters of recommendation?

  • A: AADSAS will let you submit up to four letters of recommendation with your application. Additional letters will not be accepted.

Q: Are interviews required for an acceptance or alternate position for the program?

  • A: Yes, interviews, by invitation, are required for any potential position in the program.


You’ve reached the end of this comprehensive guide dedicated to helping you learn about the University of Pacific Dental School! For more information and resources to assist you along the path to becoming a dentist, check out the following articles:

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