UCSF School of Dentistry: DDS Program Overview & Admissions Requirements

Discover the admissions requirements for the UCSF School of Dentistry in this comprehensive overview.

Posted February 28, 2024

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The UCSF School of Dentistry is the home of one of the top DDS programs in the United States, offering a unique educational experience that combines innovative research, rigorous coursework, hands-on clinical training, and a commitment to public service. As you consider applying to the DDS program at UCSF, it is important to understand the admissions requirements and what you can do to maximize your chances of acceptance. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of the admissions process, including general requirements, academic prerequisites, and tips for preparing a standout application, and a brief overview of the UCSF DDS program.

UCSF Class Profile (Class of 2027)

Class Size: 99

Acceptance Rate: 6.4%

Average Overall GPA: 3.76

Average Science GPA: 3.71

DAT Academic Average: 22.6

DAT Total Science Average: 22.4

Female Students: 63%

UCSF DDS Application Overview

2023-2024 Deadlines

Application OpensJune 1, 2023
Application ClosesOctober 31, 2023

All transcripts, DAT scores, and letters of recommendation must be received by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on October 31.

General Requirements

The admissions process at UCSF Dentistry is highly competitive, with only a select number of students accepted each year. Applicants must meet the following general requirements:

  • 93 semester units or 139 quarter units completed at an accredited U.S. or English-speaking Canadian institution
    • At least 29 semester units or 43 quarter units must be completed at a four-year institution
    • Up to 64 semester units or 96 quarter units can be accepted from a community college
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • A minimum science GPA of 2.7
  • A competitive score on the Dental Admission Test (DAT)

Academic Prerequisites

In addition to the general requirements, applicants must also have completed specific prerequisite courses at an accredited institution, and a grade of C- or higher must have been earned.

  • Two courses in English composition (6 semester units/8 quarter units)
    • ESL, scientific, professional, technical and creative writing classes do not fulfill this requirement
  • One year of inorganic chemistry with laboratory (8 semester units/12 quarter units)
  • One semester or two quarters of organic chemistry with laboratory (4 semester units/8 quarter units)
  • Biochemistry (3 semester units/4 quarter units)
    • This must be completed at a four-year institution
  • Two semesters or three quarters of physics with laboratory (8 semester units/12 quarter units)
  • One year of general biology or zoology with laboratory, designed for science majors (8 semester units/12 quarter units)
    • Vertebrate zoology is highly recommended
    • Anatomy, botany or elementary courses of a descriptive nature do not fulfill this requirement
  • One semester or one quarter of general psychology (3 semester units/4 quarter units)
  • Social sciences, humanities, or foreign language (11 semester units/16 quarter units)
  • Additional electives to bring the total number of units to at least 93 semester units or 139 quarter units (42 semester units/63 quarter units)
    • Recommended: embryology, comparative vertebrate anatomy, genetics, statistics

Applicants may use AP or IB exams to partially fulfill the above requirements. For the full AP and IB substitution guidelines, see the School of Dentistry (SOD) prerequisites for admissions page.

Supplemental Essay Questions

In addition to the ADEA AADSAS personal statement, UCSF Dental has three biographical statement questions.

Prompt 1: What is important to you in selecting a dental school? How will you make your decision about which school to attend? (1,500 character limit) Prompt 2: Why do you want to join the UCSF community? Please state briefly how you will contribute to the UCSF School of Dentistry. (1,500 character limit) Prompt 3: Please use this space to tell us anything additional that you believe is relevant to your application for admission. (Optional, 5,000 character limit)

Letters of Recommendation

You will need to submit three letters of recommendation for your UCSF dental application. One letter should be from a college science professor; another should be from a dentist, advisor, researcher, or mentor; and the last can be from anyone of your choice. You may also substitute all three letters of recommendation with one composite letter from a pre-professional health advisory committee.

Other Application Items

  • Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended
  • Research experience (optional)
  • Dental volunteering or shadowing experience (optional, but at least 100 hours is recommended)
  • $75 application fee
    • You automatically qualify for a fee waiver if you are participating in the ADEA Fee Assistance Program
    • If you are at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines for gross annual income, you may apply for a fee waiver

UCSF Dental Interview Process: What to Expect

After submitting your application, you may be invited to participate in interviews with members of the admissions committee. Approximately 200 applicants are invited for virtual and in-person interviews in San Francisco each year. You will be assessed on the core competencies of motivation, self-awareness, problem-solving/critical thinking, and collaboration/teamwork/leadership by faculty members and current students on the UCSF dental admissions committee in two rounds:

  • One-on-one Zoom interview with a faculty member
  • One-on-one interview with a current student on the San Francisco campus
    • You will also participate in a campus tour, a 30 minute writing exercise, and a lunch with student club leaders
    • If you cannot attend in person, the Office of Admissions & Outreach will make arrangements for you to complete the interview and writing exercise virtually

Tips for Preparing for Your Interview

  • Anticipate possible questions your interviewers may ask and prepare authentic answers
  • Come with a list of questions for your interviewers. This shows enthusiasm on your part and will help you learn more about the UCSF School of Dentistry
  • If you are traveling far from campus to participate in the student interview, the Student National Dental Association offers limited housing slots through the DentStay program, which you will receive more information about if you are invited to interview
  • Be yourself! This is your chance to demonstrate how you will fit into the community of UCSF student dentists

Student Life at UCSF School of Dentistry

Cost of Attendance

Like most dental programs, UCSF’s DDS program can be a significant financial burden, especially with the high cost of living in San Francisco. However, as a public institution, UCSF has a relatively more affordable tuition, especially for California residents. UCSF automatically considers all DDS applicants for School of Dentistry scholarships, but only about 10 students receive these each year, so students are encouraged to apply for external scholarships using their database, work-study positions, loan forgiveness programs, and subsidized housing.

D1 Tuition & FeesD2Tuition & FeesD3 Tuition & FeesD4 Tuition & Fees
California Residents$72,625$72,289$69,914$73,362
Non-residents$84,870$84,534$82,159$85,607

Campus Life

With dozens of student organizations and a leading dental center, SOD students have plenty of outreach, volunteer, academic, cultural, and social opportunities on the main Parnassus Heights campus and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including:

  • Patient care at community-based externship sites and the UCSF Dental Center
  • The Dental Student Research Fellowship Program: students work closely with faculty members to conduct research over the summer before D1, the summer after D1, or during D2
  • Clinical Research and Excellence Day: students and research trainees present their work, with speaking engagements and award ceremonies throughout the day
  • Give Kids a Smile: annual free clinic in February for Bay Area children
  • CDA Cares: two-day free clinics in April and October alternating between Northern and Southern California
  • John C. Greene Society: student-run dental research organization connecting SOD students with research and professional development opportunities

DDS Curriculum Overview

UCSF’s DDS program is divided into four years with three to four quarters each and focuses on physical evaluation of patients, prevention of oral and dental disorders, disease diagnosis, and therapy. Students gain clinical exposure in structured rotations in general dentistry (community-based clinical education), prosthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, pediatrics, orthodontics, oral medicine, and oral and maxillofacial surgery. For the full course schedule, see the UCSF SOD curriculum page.

Key Takeaways

  • The School of Dentistry at UCSF is undoubtedly a top dental school, with a rigorous education, hands-on clinical experience, and a dedication to research and community service
  • To apply, you’ll need to meet the academic requirements and submit a DAT score, your transcripts, two to three supplemental essays, and three letters of recommendation
  • In your application, consider how you align with the SOD’s core competencies: motivation, self-awareness, problem-solving/critical thinking, and collaboration/teamwork/leadership

Here are a few other articles you may find helpful as you research and apply to dental school:

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