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College of Arts and Sciences

Pre-Dentistry

The Pre-Dental Curriculum 

The “pre-dental curriculum” is just a list of courses that are required for admission to dental school. It is NOT an academic major, a minor, or an emphasis area. The list of courses we describe here meet the course requirements for many dental schools; however, you should consult the specific dental schools to which you plan to apply for any variances.

Admission to dental schools is not solely determined by prerequisites. Other factors are weighed as well, such as GPA (overall and science specific), Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores, evidence of care for others through service and/or employment experiences, leadership roles, observation and shadowing experiences, manual dexterity, and other personal characteristics. Gaining entrance into dental school is highly competitive, and students who are accepted usually surpass the minimum requirements.

Dental schools do not require a particular major. Although most pre-dental students choose an academic major in one of the sciences, such as Biological Sciences or the Biochemistry emphasis of Chemistry, other majors are acceptable including those in the humanities, social sciences, or business. Students should select the major in which they feel the most comfortable and in which they would like to work if they are not accepted into dental school.

Some students already have a B.A., B.S., or above and decide to pursue becoming a dentist. It is recommended that such students visit the preprofessional office for additional advisement. It is common for these students to take their missing prerequisite science or non-science courses for dental school here at USM as post-baccalaureate students, work on the other non-course requirements while taking courses, prepare for and take the DAT, and then apply to dental school(s). 

Some students may choose to pursue a second major, while others enroll in prerequisite courses as a non-degree-seeking student. In either case, students must go through the University's Undergraduate Admissions office to be either admitted (new students) or re-admitted (former students) prior to enrollment.

 

Dental School Possibilities

Louisiana State University (New Orleans, LA / D.D.S.)

University of Mississippi Medical Center (Jackson, MS / MS Residents Only / D.M.D.)

University of Alabama (Birmingham, AL / D.M.D.)

Other DDS/DMD programs can be found listed by state at the Commission on Dental Accreditation website.

 

Applicant Expectations

Dental schools have relatively similar minimum requirements for admission, typically:

  • Completion of a series of specified courses in the natural sciences and humanities
  • Completion of a baccalaureate degree is generally required, though special exceptions will occasionally be made for students with greater than 90 hours of credit
  • competitive GPA, both overall and in the BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics) areas
  • Multiple positive traits, such as honesty, integrity, ethics, leadership ability, and motivation
  • Competitive scores from the nationally administered Dental Admission Test (DAT)
  • Ability to handle full-time study
  • Observations of dentists in practice, generally with a minimum requirement of 100 shadowing hours
  • Active participation in community service 
  • Manual dexterity, often shown by skills or hobbies that involve fine movements (i.e. playing an instrument, crocheting/knitting, painting/sculpting)

The following list of Required Courses* meets only the minimum requirements for admission to the School of Dentistry at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson. Students must consult the specific admission requirements and application deadlines for the school(s) to which they plan to apply, including UMMC.

  • Two semesters of General Chemistry (CHE 106/L & 107/L)
  • Two semesters of Organic Chemistry (CHE 255/L & 256/L)
  • Two semesters of General Biology (BIO 110/L & 111/L)
  • Two semesters of General Physics (PHY 111/L & 112/L OR 201/L & 202/L)
  • Two semesters of English Composition (ENG 101 & 102)
  • Microbiology (BSC 380/L)
  • Biochemistry (CHE 420 or 421) 
  • Two mathematics courses
  • One statistics course (PSY 360 recommended)

*Courses not accepted include courses taken by correspondence or online, physical and military science courses, dogmatic religion courses, and courses in the BCPM areas for non-majors. Advanced (300+) science courses must be taken at a four-year institution.

 

Suggested Course Sequence

The suggested course sequence below is merely a guideline for timely completion of UMMC required courses. Courses to fulfill the major must be worked into the student’s schedule; it is recommended that students work with their academic advisor to develop a detailed course plan.

It is important to begin the Chemistry sequence as early as possible. The General Biology sequence should also be taken early in the academic career, as these courses are prerequisites for advanced science courses.

 

Fall

  • BSC 110/L or 111/L a (4h)
  • CHE 106/L (4h)
  • MAT 101 b (3h)
  • ENG 101 (3h)
  • One other course c (3h)

Spring

  • BSC 110/L or 111/L a (4h)
  • CHE 107/L (4h)
  • MAT 103 b (3h)
  • ENG 102 (3h)
  • One other course c (3h)

a   The order in which students take the introductory Biological Sciences (BSC) courses does not matter. BSC 110/L covers molecular and cellular topics, whereas BSC 111/L covers ecology and organisms.

b   Placement in mathematics (MAT) courses depends on ACT subtest scores. Consult the prerequisites for the course you plan to take. Calculus is required for some majors in the USM College of Arts and Sciences but is not required by most medical schools.

c  “Other” courses include those to satisfy the major, minor, or General Education Curriculum, as well as supplemental or additional courses recommended by dental schools. 

Strategies for Success

  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.
  • Students should study for long-term retention of knowledge in preparation for their DAT exam, as well as for use in dental school. The DAT tests knowledge of general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, and math.
  • Students should strive to grasp the connections between courses. The early classes provide foundational knowledge to be built upon in later science courses and in dental school.
  • Students should become involved with extracurricular activities, including meaningful service learning, volunteer activities, and leadership positions that will demonstrate effective interactions with diverse people and effective time management skills. UMMC recommends volunteering with at least four different organizations. Students should maintain a record of such activities in preparation for the dental school application. The records should include supervisor names and contact information, dates and total hours spent engaging in the activities, and details of meaningful encounters or significant moments.
  • Students should start getting some hands-on exposure to dentistry (sights, sounds, smells, feel). It is important to maintain a record of these experiences, which generally relate to shadowing dentists in practice. UMMC requires a minimum of 100 hours of shadowing with at least four different dentists.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to complete the prerequisites for the Hatten Externship (BSC 392) during the first year. The focus of the course is shadowing medical professionals (physicians, dentists, and veterinarians) in practice. The externship is offered in the Fall semester, so students must fulfill the prerequisites for enrolling in the course by the end of the preceding Summer semester. Students may participate in the externship twice. Since students typically apply to dental school at the end of the Junior year, participation in the Externship as Sophomores and Juniors is recommended. Externship prerequisites include ENG 101 and 102; BSC 110/L and 111/L; CHE 106/L and 107/L; and MAT 103 or one calculus course. The GPA prerequisite is a 3.2 for both overall and BCPM (biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics) GPAs.
  • Students may join AED (Alpha Epsilon Delta), the National Health Preprofessional Honor Society, as associate members at any time even if they do not fulfill the requirements for full membership. Full members are inducted during the Spring semester. Applications and instructions for membership are available at the preprofessional office.
 

Fall

  • CHE 255/L (4h)
  • PHY 111/L or PHY 201/L d (4-5h)
  • Two to three other classes e (7-9h)

Spring

  • CHE 256/L (4h)
  • PHY 112/L or 202/L d (4-5h)
  • PSY 360 f (3h)
  • Two other classes (7-9h)

 Either physics sequence will satisfy the dental school prerequisites. Physics 201 and 202 are calculus-based, whereas Physics 111 and 112 are not.

e   Students are strongly encouraged to take the Hatten Externship course (BSC 392) in the Fall semester of the second year; the course can be repeated in the Fall of the third year. 

f   This is the recommended statistics course for dental students. Depending on the student's major, another course may be required. Many dental schools accept general, business, or scientific statistics.

Strategies for Success

  • Students should continue to follow strategies from Year 1.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to participate in the Hatten Externship (BSC 392), which is offered each Fall. Students may participate in the Externship twice. Since students typically apply to dental school at the end of the Junior year, participation in the Externship as Sophomores and Juniors is recommended.
  • Students are typically inducted into AED, the national Health Preprofessional Honor Society, in the Spring semester of the Sophomore year, but may be inducted in Junior or Senior year (must be enrolled at Southern Miss for a minimum of three semesters and meet specific course and GPA requirements).
  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.
 

Fall

  • Advanced Science Elective g (3-4h)
  • Other courses (12-14h)

Spring

  • Advanced Science Elective g (3-4h)
  • Other courses h (12-14h)

g   UMMC requires students to take either Microbiology (BSC 380/L), Comparative Anatomy (BSC 361), or Biochemistry (CHE 420 or 421) for one of the advanced science electives.  Other advanced science electives include Cellular Biology (BSC 360), Genetics (BSC 370), Physiology [BSC 451 (Human Physiology), BSC 450 (Comparative Animal Physiology)], Immunology (BSC 486), Biochemistry II (CHE 422), Biochemistry III (CHE 424), Analytical Chemistry (CHE 311/L), Analytical Biochemistry (CHE 423), Physical Chemistry (CHE 461/L, CHE 462/L), and others.

  Students may take BSC 399 (MCAT Preparation) during the Spring semester of the Junior year if they would like to review Biology, Chemistry, and Physics in a formal class. Otherwise, students need to prepare on their own before attempting the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) for the first time.  

Strategies for Success 

  • Students continue to apply strategies from Year 1 and Year 2. It is important to make an effort to understand the relationship between core courses to try to form a deeper understanding of critical material - especially DAT material.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to participate again in the Hatten Externship, which is offered each Fall. Students may participate in the Externship twice. Since students typically apply to dental school at the end of the Junior year, participation in the Externship as Sophomores and Juniors is recommended.
  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.
  • Students should begin the dental school application process during Junior year.
 

Fall

  • Classes to fulfill major, minor (15-18h)

Spring

  • Classes to fulfill major, minor (15-18h)

Strategies for Success

  • Students should be continuing with the application process and strategies for success from previous years. If the application was not begun in Junior year, applications should begin early Senior year for delayed entry.
  • UMMC interviews begin in September. Students should sign up in the summer for mock interviews through Career Services or talk to the preprofessional advisors, Jeffrey Evans and Destiny DeLancey, about setting up mock interviews.
  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.


The Application Process 

  • Fall and Spring:  Students should begin DAT preparation by reviewing relevant content, seeking tutoring if necessary, and taking practice tests online.
  • Spring:  Students should take the DAT for the first time. Students should not take the official exam as a practice attempt.
  • Spring: Students should request official transcripts and letters of evaluation from faculty. Students should begin work on their personal statement.
  • June 1 after Junior Year:  This is the earliest receipt date for a complete AADSAS application. It is recommended that applications be submitted as soon as possible due to rolling admissions policies at many dental schools (this means that interview spots may not be left open by the application deadline).
  • Summer after Junior Year:  Students should repeat the DAT, if needed, after studying hard and taking additional practice tests

Students are strongly encouraged to take an online practice DAT before taking the DAT they will use on their application. There are a number of websites, including the DAT site, that have practice questions or practice tests. The DAT contains the following sections:

  • Survey of Natural Sciences (biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry content)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (mathematics problems involving algebraic equations, statistical analysis, and data interpretation)  
  • Perceptual Ability (six subtests – apertures, view recognition, angle discrimination, paper folding, cube counting, and 3D form development)
  • Reading Comprehension (three passages of scientific information – testing ability to read, comprehend, and analyze basic scientific information)

The DAT has a partial fee waiver program to lessen the cost of the exam. Applications for the 2018 fee waiver program began on January 1, and funds are typically depleted within three months. The American Dental Association has published a guide to the DAT with information about the scope and scoring of the test, exam fees and fee waivers, retesting, and regulations.  

Applications for most dental schools are centralized through AADSAS. Under this system, students fill out one application with all pertinent information, upload their transcripts and letters of evaluation, and designate which schools they would like their application to be sent to. Not every dental school has an application process that goes through AADSAS. 

It is important to note that dental schools set their own deadlines, separate from the application system deadlines. Students should check with their desired schools for specific deadline information, as well as information about possible secondary applications.

Students are advised to practice their interview skills BEFORE attending their first interview. UMMC uses the Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI) process for their interviews. For interview preparation at USM you may use the online Perfect Interview TM resource. You can also sign up for mock interviews through Career Services or the preprofessional office (contact information below).  

 

 Pre-Professional Advisor Contact Information

Dr. Jeffrey Evans

Destiny DeLancey

 

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