Dental students looking for a tropical backdrop to their education have several options in the Caribbean region. The island schools offer everything from certificates in dental hygiene to doctor of dental surgery degrees. Not only can you study under the sun, you can put your education to use bringing dental care to many disadvantaged islanders.

University of Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico

The University of Puerto Rico’s School of Dental Medicine in San Juan offers a doctor of dental medicine degree as well as a combined DMD/Ph.D. if you want to become a dentist, a dental researcher or teacher. The school offers advanced programs in general dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry and prosthodontics. The DMD program requires a minimum of 144 hours of electives and core curriculum classes in biomedical science, dental diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental conditions, and professional development. Among the school facilities is a maternal infant oral health center. The program is accredited by the American Dental Association.

The University of the West Indies

Island of Trinidad.
Island of Trinidad.

You can earn a doctor of dental surgery degree in five years at the University of the West Indies’ dental school in Trinidad and Tobago. You take undergraduate courses in anatomy, biochemistry and pathology in the first two years, then dental courses over the final three. You also attend summer courses in the three final years to complete the program. The school also offers a bachelor's degree program for dental hygienists, according to dental school instructor William A.J. Smith. After you graduate from the doctor of dental medicine program, you can become a dentist in Trinidad and Tobago with an additional year of vocational training. International dentists can practice in the United States if they meet individual state licensing requirements.

Eastern Central University

Buildings in the Dominican Republic.
Buildings in the Dominican Republic.

Eastern Central University in San Pedro de Macorís in the Dominican Republic offers a six-year dental program. The terminal degree is a doctor of dental medicine degree. The program, founded in 1976, has 12 semesters. Instruction is in Spanish, the national language of the island. Students who want to practice in the United States need to pass individual state license requirements. The process is complex and could require additional coursework in the United States. In addition to the DMD degree, the school offers a five-semester postgraduate specialization program covering oral implants. The school offers continuing education courses for dentists over the Internet.

University of Haiti

Mountains outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Mountains outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The dental program at the University of Haiti dates back to 1928. The school admits about 30 students a year. French, the national language, is spoken in the dental school. Some of the dental division departments include prosthodontics, surgery, operative dentistry and basic sciences. The first three years cover basic studies and the final two address dentistry specifically. When you graduate, you are able to serve as a dentist in Haiti. Many graduates leave to practice in the United States, however. The Haitian population is in desperate need of dental care, with only one dentist for 10,000 people in 2013, but few can afford even to pay a few dollars for a filling.

University of Technology

Kingston, Jamaica.
Kingston, Jamaica.

The University of Technology in Kingston, Jamaica, offers a doctor of dental medicine degree, as well as bachelor’s degrees in dental hygiene, laboratory technology and nursing. The hygiene program fits three years of school into two years by running in the summer. It’s based on a Canadian curriculum, and graduates are trained to take the National Dental Hygiene Certification Examination of Canada. The school also offers a one-year dental assistant diploma program. All the bachelor’s level courses require prerequisite courses in English, math and biology.