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Dental School Requirements for the University of Minnesota

by Dr. Mary Dowd, Demand Media Google

    The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry offers a rigorous four-year curriculum leading to a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Admission requires good grades and an aptitude for dentistry. For instance, admitted students in 2011 had an average grade point average of 3.5 in science and above average scores on the Dental Admission Test. Students must demonstrate technical proficiency and quality patient care to remain enrolled. Graduates are eligible to take state and national licensing examinations.

    Building a Solid Foundation

    Prior to dental school, applicants are expected to complete 87 semester credits. The University of Minnesota indicates that electives in 3-D drawing or sculpture art, cell biology, histology, human anatomy, microbiology and physiology give pre-dental students a strong foundation for dental school courses. Other recommendations include accounting, anthropology, genetics, humanities, logic, microscopic anatomy and sociology. Taking honors classes and working with professors on research projects can increase critical thinking skills, which are helpful in assessing patient needs.

    Gaining a Competitive Edge

    To be a competitive applicant at the University of Minnesota, it’s important to perform well on the Dental Admission Test, administered by the American Dental Association. Students accepted into the dental program in 2011 had an average score of 19.66; the national average was between 17 and 18, as reported in 2013. Applicants also need three compelling letters of recommendation and a well-written personal statement articulating their interest in dentistry, leadership ability and special achievements.

    Learning the Profession

    Students admitted to the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry initially spend two years studying dental techniques and applications of anatomy, histology, biochemistry and other sciences to oral healthcare. During the third and fourth year, emphasis is on hands-on clinical practice, in which students perform routine and advanced dental procedures under faculty supervision. Students also learn about legal issues and dental clinic management. To encourage social responsibility, students must participate in community outreach clinics providing dental care to underserved populations.

    Demonstrating Successful Progress

    Academic and clinical performance is evaluated throughout the program to ensure that students are a good fit for the dental profession. Dental students are required to maintain a 2.0 GPA to advance in the program each year. Before assisting with patient care, students must pass all prerequisite courses. In clinical settings, aspiring dentists must follow the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry Code of Conduct and treat patients with respect and dignity.

    Admission Interview Tips

    The University of Minnesota invites finalists to meet with admissions staff, faculty and current students. The formal interview provides an opportunity for the admissions committee to further evaluate prospective dental students. The UM highly recommends that aspiring dental students polish their interviewing skills to make a good impression. To be effective with patients, dental students need to be strong communicators who can work with people of all ages who may be anxious or in pain.

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    About the Author

    Mary Dowd holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a master's degree in counseling and student personnel from Minnesota State University, Mankato. In her 20 years of higher education experience, she has taught classes, served as interim dean of students, and worked in many areas of student affairs, including student discipline, career advising, orientation and violence prevention.

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