The Top 25 Dental Schools – and How to Get In

Are you an aspiring dental student curious about the top dental schools in the nation? Check out the best schools and their dental programs below.

Posted March 22, 2024

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If you’ve been considering applying to dental school, you may have noticed that there are no official dental school rankings. This is because many dental schools boycotted the ranking system almost 30 years ago, citing the combination of didactic education with clinical practice being difficult for any ranking system to accurately measure. With just 80 dental schools across the United States and Canada, each accredited and offering strong education and clinical training, every dental school produces knowledgeable and prepared graduates, so you may be wondering if dental school rankings matter at all. However, it’s worth noting that some dental schools are much more competitive than others, so below we’ve estimated the 25 most competitive dental schools based on admissions statistics from the entering classes of 2022. Keep in mind that any rankings of the “best dental schools” are not cut and dry, so it’s important to choose the school that best aligns with your career goals and personal preferences.

1. Harvard School of Dental Medicine

The DMD program at Harvard School of Dental Medicine is highly integrated for students to understand the fundamentals of general and oral health, with dental students learning the fundamental medical sciences along with students from Harvard Medical School in the first year of the program. However, the dental education at HSDM becomes more specialized in the following three years, with required research projects and rotations in various dental specialties.

  • Degree: DMD
  • Applicants: 990
  • Class Size: 60
  • Acceptance Rate: 3.5%
  • Average DAT (AA): 24.7
  • Average DAT (PAT): 23.1
  • Average DAT (Science): 24.3
  • Average GPA: 3.94
  • Average Science GPA: 3.92

2. Columbia University College of Dental Medicine

Columbia University’s College of Dental Medicine also takes a highly integrated approach to dental education: its DDS curriculum emphasizes the relationship between systemic and oral health and begins with 18 months of training alongside students at Columbia’s medical school, the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Students begin providing dental care to patients in small practice groups under faculty supervision in D3.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 1,503
  • Class Size: 84
  • Acceptance Rate: 5.6%
  • Average DAT (AA): 24
  • Average DAT (PAT): 21.8
  • Average DAT (Science): 24
  • Average GPA: 3.74
  • Average Science GPA: 3.69

3. University of Michigan School of Dentistry

Located in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the top dental schools amongst public institutions. DDS students at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry begin direct patient care in D1 for maximum experience in general dentistry and various specialties. The DDS program also partners with several community clinics throughout Ann Arbor and the greater state of Michigan, where students will conduct outreach and serve underprivileged patients.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 1,675
  • Class Size: 109
  • Acceptance Rate: 6.5%
  • Average DAT (AA): 22.5
  • Average DAT (PAT): 22
  • Average DAT (Science): 22
  • Average GPA: 3.8
  • Average Science GPA: 3.75
  • MI Residents: 60

4. University of California at Los Angeles School of Dentistry

The UCLA School of Dentistry is another prestigious public dental school, known for its cutting-edge dental curriculum and training by world-class faculty. UCLA School of Dentistry students spend their first two years in foundational biomedical science and preclinical courses and care for patients in community and teaching dental clinics from D2 to D4. UCLA School of Dentistry students have a broad range of research opportunities available to them, such as the Dental Research Fellowship Program and the NIH-funded T90/R90 Training Program.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 1,489
  • Class Size: 88
  • Acceptance Rate: 5.9%
  • Average DAT (AA): 23.1
  • Average DAT (PAT): 23.2
  • Average DAT (Science): 23.1
  • Average GPA: 3.83
  • Average Science GPA: 3.81
  • CA Residents: 79

5. University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry

The UPenn School of Dentistry not only trains students to become skilled general practitioners, but also emphasizes their professional development through a three-year long Professional Practitioner Development course, in which they’ll learn to establish strong patient-practitioner relationships, the application process for residency programs, business principles, and more. UPenn dental students also have several opportunities for further academic achievement, such as dual degrees and honors in the traditional specialties, community health, and vulnerable populations.

  • Applicants: 2,211
  • Class Size: 150
  • Acceptance Rate: 6.8%
  • Average DAT (AA): 22.9
  • Average DAT (PAT): 21.8
  • Average DAT (Science): 22.4
  • Average GPA: 3.77
  • Average Science GPA: 3.71

6. University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry

Located in San Francisco, the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry emphasizes humanism throughout its DDS program. Its accelerated three-year program encourages active learning and critical thinking through small-group, case-based learning. With integration of basic and clinical sciences starting on day one, students become highly prepared general dentists.

  • Dental Program: DDS
  • 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

7. University of California at San Francisco School of Dentistry

UCSF is one of the best schools for health professions, and its dental school is no exception. The DDS program at the UCSF School of Dentistry emphasizes physical evaluation of patients, prevention of oral and dental disorders, disease diagnosis, and therapy. UCSF School of Dentistry students participate in community service at externship sites, clinical training at the well-known UCSF Dental Center, and oral health research opportunities with its prestigious laboratories. UCSF is the highest ranking dental school for NIH funding, making it a great option for students pursuing research-oriented careers.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 1,417
  • Class Size: 60
  • Acceptance Rate: 4.3%
  • Average DAT (AA): 23.3
  • Average DAT (PAT): 22.2
  • Average DAT (Science): 23.3
  • Average GPA: 3.68
  • Average Science GPA: 3.61
  • CA Residents: 47

8. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry

The Adams School of Dentistry at UNC Chapel Hill is another prestigious public dental school with strong research opportunities for students interested in clinical, basic, and translational research and health policy. The DDS program at UNC Chapel Hill uses an Advocate-Clinician-Technician framework, training students to advocate for patients, provide general dentistry care as a clinician, and think critically to determine a course of care.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Acceptance Rate: 5.9%
  • Class Size: 82
  • Applicants: 1,382
  • Average DAT (AA): 22.5
  • Average DAT (PAT): 21.5
  • Average DAT (Science): 22
  • Average GPA: 3.65
  • Average Science GPA: 3.59
  • NC Residents: 62

9. University of Washington School of Dentistry

The University of Washington School of Dentistry is the only dental school in the state of Washington, so it has a strong commitment to providing high-quality dental care to patients in the region. As such, its clinical education includes a service learning rotation in reduced-cost and free clinics in rural, tribal, and other underserved communities. The UW School of Dentistry also partners with the UW School of Medicine and Eastern Washington University for the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education, a dental program training students committed to practicing in rural and underserved Washington communities.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 681
  • Class Size: 63
  • Acceptance Rate: 9.3%
  • Average DAT (AA): 21
  • Average DAT (PAT): 21
  • Average DAT (Science): 20.9
  • Average GPA: 3.61
  • Average Science GPA: 3.53
  • WA Residents: 49

10. New York University College of Dentistry

The College of Dentistry at New York University is the largest dental school in the United States, training about ten percent of dentists in the nation. NYU dental students start rotations in comprehensive care clinics in their first year, providing early exposure to patient interactions that continues through all four years of their dental degree. NYU has a strong emphasis on cultivating the next generation of leaders in the dental field, offering leadership development opportunities through the NYU Dentistry Dental Student Leadership Institute, the Global Health Care Leaders program, and the Leadership Track.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 2,994
  • Class Size: 371
  • Acceptance Rate: 12.4%
  • Average DAT (AA): 21.1
  • Average DAT (PAT): 20.4
  • Average DAT (Science): 20.7
  • Average GPA: 3.51
  • Average Science GPA: 3.41

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11. University of Texas Health Houston School of Dentistry

The School of Dentistry at UT Health Houston is considered the best of the four dental schools in the state of Texas, offering a rigorous education in the world’s largest medical complex. The first two years of the DDS program focuses on basic and preclinical sciences with introductory clinical experiences, with a stronger focus on clinical sciences and patient interactions in the last two years. Keep in mind that if you are a Texas resident applying for any public dental schools in the state, you’ll need to submit your dental school application through the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Services instead of the American Dental Education Association AADSAS.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 1,011
  • Class Size: 106
  • Acceptance Rate: 10.5%
  • Average DAT (AA): 22
  • Average DAT (PAT): 21
  • Average DAT (Science): 21.8
  • Average GPA: 3.83
  • Average Science GPA: 3.8
  • TX Residents: 99

12. University of Florida College of Dentistry

Located in sunny Gainesville, Florida, the University of Florida College of Dentistry ranks No. 6 in NIH funding among all dental schools, making its DMD program an attractive option for students interested in oral health research. Its DMD program prepares students to become humanistic and effective practitioners, with a 100% INBDE pass rate last year.

  • Degree: DMD
  • Applicants: 1,684
  • Class Size: 93
  • Acceptance Rate: 5.5%
  • Average DAT (AA): 22.1
  • Average DAT (PAT): 21.4
  • Average DAT (Science): 21.9
  • Average GPA: 3.82
  • Average Science GPA: 3.76
  • FL Residents: 80

13. Texas A&M University School of Dentistry

Another strong dental school in Texas is the School of Dentistry at Texas A&M, which trains about one-third of all dentists in the state and serves as the largest dental health provider in North Texas. The school conducts outreach to more than 200,000 patients each year, providing services ranging from oral screenings to educational programs.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 1,001
  • Class Size: 90
  • Acceptance Rate: 9.0%
  • Average DAT (AA): 21.8
  • Average DAT (PAT): 21.5
  • Average DAT (Science): 21.4
  • Average GPA: 3.77
  • Average Science GPA: 3.69
  • TX Residents: 81

14. Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine

The School of Dental Medicine at Stony Brook University, also known as the State University of New York at Stony Brook, emphasizes the importance of hands-on clinical training throughout its DDS program: D3 and D4 students are responsible for the complete care of their assigned patients. D4 students also simulate the general dental private practices they may enter after graduation.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 1,068
  • Class Size: 44
  • Acceptance Rate: 4.1%
  • Average DAT (AA): 22.1
  • Average DAT (PAT): 20.6
  • Average DAT (Science): 21.6
  • Average GPA: 3.71
  • Average Science GPA: 3.64
  • NY Residents: 37

15. University of Texas Health San Antonio School of Dentistry

UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry is another excellent dental school in the University of Texas Health system. Its DDS curriculum is divided into three tracks: Human Health and Disease, Foundations of Restorative Dentistry, and Introduction to Patient Care, with over 2,000 hours of patient care learning experiences in general dentistry and specialties such as pediatric dentistry, oral surgery, and oral medicine at the Center for Oral Healthcare and Research and clinics throughout the South Texas region.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 1,022
  • Class Size: 101
  • Acceptance Rate: 9.9%
  • Average DAT (AA): 21.6
  • Average DAT (PAT): 20.8
  • Average DAT (Science): 21.3
  • Average GPA: 3.77
  • Average Science GPA: 3.69
  • TX Residents: 95

16. Temple University Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry

The Kornberg School of Dentistry is the second-oldest dental school in the United States, with a longstanding commitment to humanistic, patient-centered care and innovation in the dental field. DMD students practice in small groups called clusters simulating private practices at the GPHA Inc. Medical Suite, Henry Schein Digital Center of Excellence, the Kornberg Sedation Center, and the Pediatric Clinic.

  • Degree: DMD
  • Applicants: 2,783
  • Class Size: 132
  • Acceptance Rate: 4.7%
  • Average DAT (AA): 21.3
  • Average DAT (PAT): 20.2
  • Average DAT (Science): 21
  • Average GPA: 3.59
  • Average Science GPA: 3.52

17. University of Iowa College of Dentistry & Dental Clinics

The University of Iowa College of Dentistry offers a rigorous education and more than 25 community programs, training more than three-fourths of Iowa dentists. Its DDS curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, professionalism, health promotion, interpersonal skills, cultural competency, interprofessional practice, and practice management, with clinic experiences beginning in D1.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 844
  • Class Size: 80
  • Acceptance Rate: 9.8%
  • Average DAT (AA): 21.3
  • Average DAT (PAT): 21.3
  • Average DAT (Science): 20.9
  • Average GPA: 3.73
  • Average Science GPA: 3.66
  • IA Residents: 51

18. University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine

With more than 30,000 patient visits each year, the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine has extensive and early opportunities for clinical training: its DDS students begin clinical training in D1, culminating in close to full-time patient care in D4. The school offers a unique micro-credential, which is rewarded after dental students collaborate with other health care students from medicine, pharmacy, nursing, and social work to create a total patient treatment plan.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 2,273
  • Class Size: 93
  • Acceptance Rate: 4.1%
  • Average DAT (AA): 21.4
  • Average DAT (PAT): 20.9
  • Average DAT (Science): 21.1
  • Average GPA: 3.71
  • Average Science GPA: 3.64
  • NY Residents: 67

19. Rutgers School of Dental Medicine

As the only dental school and the largest dental care provider in New Jersey, Rutgers School of Dental Medicine is another highly competitive public dental school in the Mid-Atlantic region. It is committed to outreach and patient care in the Newark area: students participate in clinics every day and begin assisting in caring for patients in the first year, providing services such as free and reduced cost screenings and preventive treatments.

  • Degree: DMD
  • Applicants: 2,317
  • Class Size: 89
  • Acceptance Rate: 3.8%
  • Average DAT (AA): 21.2
  • Average DAT (PAT): 20.6
  • Average DAT (Science): 21.4
  • Average GPA: 3.65
  • Average Science GPA: 3.59
  • NJ Residents: 56

20. University of Minnesota School of Dentistry

As the only dental school in the state of Minnesota, the School of Dentistry at the University of Minnesota educates almost three-fourths of Minnesota’s dentists and treats about 1,000 new patients each month. Its DDS curriculum emphasizes collaborative practice between DDS, dental hygiene, and dental therapy students to deliver comprehensive care at teaching clinics and outreach sites.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 1,068
  • Class Size: 103
  • Acceptance Rate: 9.6%
  • Average DAT (AA): 20.7
  • Average DAT (PAT): 20.9
  • Average DAT (Science): 20.1
  • Average GPA: 3.62
  • Average Science GPA: 3.54
  • MN Residents: 65

21. University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine

Located in Farmington, Connecticut, the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine offers a strong dental medicine program training students in the basic medical sciences and dental sciences through integrated team-based learning and exploration through global health programs and research projects involving dentistry. As the only public dental school in New England, it is committed to providing a high quality doctoral education in dentistry and serving patients through its dental clinics and affiliated community clinics.

  • Degree: DMD
  • Applicants: 1,288
  • Class Size: 52
  • Acceptance Rate: 4.0%
  • Average DAT (AA): 21
  • Average DAT (PAT): 19.8
  • Average DAT (Science): 20.9
  • Average GPA: 3.64
  • Average Science GPA: 3.55
  • CT Residents: 29

22. Ohio State University College of Dentistry

The College of Dentistry at the Ohio State University is one of the largest public dental schools in the United States, with strong academic offerings for DDS students interested in research. Each year, students work alongside faculty members on new research projects on dental materials science, oral and maxillofacial pathology, hard tissue biology, microbiology, neuroscience, and immunology.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 1,140
  • Class Size: 120
  • Acceptance Rate: 10.5%
  • Average DAT (AA): 21
  • Average DAT (PAT): 21.3
  • Average DAT (Science): 20.5
  • Average GPA: 3.63
  • Average Science GPA: 3.57
  • OH Residents: 102

23. University of Maryland School of Dentistry

The University of Maryland School of Dentistry has an illustrious history: it is recognized as the first dental school in the world and the birthplace of the DDS degree and is committed to remaining at the forefront of the dental field. The school offers several unique courses in its curriculum that make it stand out from other dental schools, including Drug Abuse & Chemical Dependency, Clinical Research Conferences, and clerkships in serving patients with HIV and survivors of domestic violence.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 2,504
  • Class Size: 133
  • Acceptance Rate: 5.3%
  • Average DAT (AA): 21.1
  • Average DAT (PAT): 20.2
  • Average DAT (Science): 20.7
  • Average GPA: 3.6
  • Average Science GPA: 3.52
  • MD Residents: 70

24. Virginia Commonwealth University

The dental program at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry combines the basic, clinical, and behavioral sciences with cutting-edge dentistry technology, preparing graduates for practicing in a constantly evolving field. With more than 100,000 patient visits a year, VCU dental students have plenty of opportunities to develop their clinical skills.

  • Degree: DDS
  • Applicants: 1,986
  • Class Size: 95
  • Acceptance Rate: 4.8%
  • Average DAT (AA): 21.3
  • Average DAT (PAT): 20.9
  • Average DAT (Science): 20.9
  • Average GPA: 3.64
  • Average Science GPA: 3.56
  • VA Residents: 61

25. Augusta University Dental College of Georgia

The DMD curriculum at the Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University prepares students to become capable and confident dental practitioners through both theoretical knowledge and clinical training. DMD students also have the opportunity to participate in research by pursuing a distinction in research and participating in the Student Training and Research program.

  • Degree: DMD
  • Applicants: 1,038
  • Class Size: 95
  • Acceptance Rate: 9.2%
  • Average DAT (AA): 20.9
  • Average DAT (PAT): 21.1
  • Average DAT (Science): 20.5
  • Average GPA: 3.73
  • Average Science GPA: 3.67
  • GA Residents: 85

Key Takeaways

  • Our list of the top 25 dental schools in the United States includes the most competitive dental programs at both private and state schools based on data from the 2021-2022 application cycle from the American Dental Education Association.
  • Keep in mind that due to the strong classroom and clinical education offered at all accredited dental schools, it is difficult to say for sure what the best dental schools are.
  • When choosing the right dental school for you, it’s important to consider your own career aspirations and financial situation. For example, if the cost of attendance is a priority for you, you may want to explore state schools in your home state or in other states partnering with your state to offer reduced out-of-state tuition.
  • If you’re thinking of continuing your education in dental residency programs or post-doctoral fellowships, dental schools with opportunities to explore residency programs through shadowing at specialty clinics and specialty-based student organizations may be right for you.
  • While the lack of consensus about the best dental schools may be frustrating, it really means that you’ll receive a strong education no matter which dental school you attend, giving you more flexibility in your application process and career.

For more resources as you apply to dental school, check out these resources:

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