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Doctor of Dental Surgery

The Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree is a four-year program consisting of nine months for the first two years and eleven months for the last two clinical years. Much of the first two years is devoted to the biomedical sciences of anatomy, biochemistry, histology, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. Pre-clinical technical courses are also taught to achieve a close correlation of the basic sciences with the clinical disciplines.



Admissions Information

UTHSC College of Dentistry reviews applicants using a holistic approach and appreciates the value in having a diverse student population. The Admissions Committee is seeking applicants who demonstrate the academic ability to successfully complete the DDS program, who show compassion and concern for others, and who possess the responsibilities and integrity of a healthcare professional. The Admissions Committee attempts to select the class based on the criteria below.

Prospective Student Notice

Statement on Pass/Fail and S/NC Grades for Prospective and Newly Accepted Students: The changes COVID-19 has brought to higher education include some schools changing course grades to Pass/Fail type grading. The Admissions Committee encourages all students to choose a grade if possible–especially for prerequisites. If your school does not give you an option in the matter, please be prepared to provide documentation from your school’s Registrar or Academic Counselor that earning a grade was not possible.

Modification to face-to-face course instruction requirement: Science courses should be taken using face-to-face instruction if offered. We are aware that many applicants had their courses switched to online due to COVID19 and will certainly accept those taken in 2020 and Spring/Summer semesters of 2021. For science courses with labs taken Fall 2021 semester, be prepared to provide documentation from your school’s Registrar or Academic Counselor stating that the course and/or lab was not offered in a face-to-face format. 

Applicants are required to complete the following coursework with a grade of C or above no later than May 31 of the year they are entering the program.

  • English Composition: 6 semester hours
  • Biology (General: Lecture and Lab): 8 semester hours
  • Chemistry (General: Lecture and Lab): 8 semester hours
  • Chemistry (Organic: Lecture and Lab): 8 semester hours
  • Physics (Lecture and Lab): 8 semester hours
  • Biochemistry (Lecture): 3 semester hours

Other Biology (Applicants must take at least ONE of the following upper division biology courses):

  • Histology: 3 semester hours
  • Microbiology (Lecture and Lab): 4 semester hours
  • Comparative Anatomy: 4 semester hours (Human Anatomy may be substituted if it is taken with a lab and equals 4 semester hours)

Total number of hours taken to be considered for admission: 97

Applicants must indicate that they have taken or will take all pre-required courses on their application. All science prerequisites should be taken in face-to-face instruction format unless your institution only offers it in an online format. If your institution does not offer the prerequisite in a face-to-face format, a letter from the Registrar or an Academic Counselor stating that the course and/or lab was not offered in a face-to-face format, will be needed. We are aware that many applicants had their courses switched to online due to COVID19 and will certainly accept those taken in 2020 and Spring/Summer semesters of 2021 without documentation from the Registrar. 

Other Areas Considered in Admission Decisions:

  • A bachelor’s degree, in any major is preferred; however, it is possible for a well-qualified student to be accepted without one. This is not common and requires approval by our office in advance of application.
  • Letters of Evaluation: All evaluations must be submitted in AADSAS.  We cannot accept evaluations sent to UTHSC through mail/email.  We prefer either one committee letter and one from another source* or 3 letters of evaluation from professors (at least two of the three should be written by science professors). Additional Letters of Evaluation sent to our college will not be accepted.
    *Another source for letters of evaluation could be an employer, faculty sponsor of a club, supervisor at a volunteer/community outreach event, or dentist that you shadowed. Letters from members of the applicant’s family is discouraged.
  • Community Outreach/Volunteer Experience: Improving the health of the underserved population is an important piece of the College of Dentistry’s mission; therefore, involvement in any form of community outreach is appreciated. Any activity that allows direct interaction with the people in need is preferred. Examples: soup kitchens, meals on wheels delivery, food box distribution, toys for tots, running errands for the home bound, and much more. Activities such as this display an ability to get out of your “comfort zone” and interact with people from all cultures. 
  • Shadowing a dentist in a general dental office is requested of applicants. No less than fifty hours of helping others is acceptable.
  • Admission is restricted to citizens or permanent residents of the United States at the time of application. Residents of Tennessee are given preference for admission. Residents of Arkansas will be considered based on the Arkansas Health Education Grant guidelines. State of residency is generally determined by the applicant’s permanent address on the day your AADSAS application was submitted. Approximately 15-18 percent of our class is made up of applicants from all other states.

UTHSC Prerequisite Course Accreditation Requirements

If you have questions regarding prerequisite courses, please contact the Admissions Office at 901.448.6268.

UTHSC College of Dentistry participates in the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS). All applications must be submitted through this service.

Grade Point Averages are calculated in AADSAS and include all attempts at coursework (not grade forgiveness). 

A minimum grade point average of 2.75 is expected in all required subjects attempted and in cumulative course work. Due to the competition among applicants, classes are filled with those who have higher academic averages. Prospective applicants should strive to maintain a prescribed and cumulative grade point average well above a 3.00, but GPA scores are generally competitive at 3.5 or higher.

All dental school applicants must take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) that is administered by the American Dental Association. The test should be taken before applying. Dental Aptitude Text Examinees will be limited to three (3) opportunities to participate in the testing program. The Admissions Committee uses the DAT as a very important marker of applicant performance.

The DAT examines applicants in four (4) sections: natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning. Scores received in these areas will also be averaged resulting in two additional scores for Science and Academics for a total of eight scores. Scores in each area may range from 1-30 points for a maximum of 240 possible points. An applicant with a DAT score of 140 points or better will be considered for an interview.

Scores that are competitive are an Academic Average of 19 (or higher.) Any scores of 17 or below will not be competitive.

Additional information about the Dental Admissions Test can be found on the ADA website.

A personal interview at the College of Dentistry, by invitation of the Admissions Committee, is necessary prior to acceptance. The interview will include a tour of the school, the receipt of information about financial aid, and the opportunity to talk with faculty and students. During the interview, the committee looks for evidence of such personal qualities as integrity, motivation, and maturity. The committee also expects applicants to have been exposed to the delivery of dental care as properly licensed participants (dental assistant or dental hygienist, for example) or as observers.

We accept all CLEP and advanced placement credits as long as your undergraduate institution acknowledges and awards said credits. Advanced Placement credits are accepted if the courses are present on a transcript.

Applicants who have made grades of less than "C" in required courses are required to repeat those courses. (Both grades are utilized in computing grade point averages.)

Correspondence/online courses are not accepted for required course work. 
Each applicant is expected to comply with the general requirements of the college attended, including the non-academic requirements.

The Committee on Admissions reserves the right to require any candidate to complete additional course work irrespective of his or her academic average at the time of evaluation.

As of the 2022-2023 Academic year, all students enrolled in the UTHSC Doctor of Dental Surgery program are required to purchase dental kits, surgical loupes, books, and supplies. These items are mandatory and must be purchased through the vendor approved by the College of Dentistry. Scrubs are also mandatory and are purchased through a vendor vetted by the UTHSC Communications Department. 


Letters of recommendation are not mandatory but are accepted through the AADSAS application ONLY. Please do not send additional letters of recommendation to the College of Dentistry.

The Admissions Committee values letters of recommendation from the applicant's college professors or pre-professional committee (if one exists) above all others.

When considering candidates for possible admission, the Admissions Committee reviews the entire scope of information that is available on each applicant’s application. The Admissions Committee does not consider any outside material sent directly to the college. For each candidate this includes the academic record (i.e., overall GPA, science GPA and last 30 semester credit hours GPA), Dental Admissions Test scores, responses to items on the Application Survey, interview assessment, and any other information provided by the candidate (e.g., personal statement, letters of recommendation, etc.). In addition, the committee will expect evidence of the following factors in making the difficult choices among candidates.

  • Full academic loads with evidence of a broad liberal arts and sciences education (i.e., fine arts, business, mathematics, humanities, computer science, etc.)
  • Demonstrated ability to balance full academic schedules with extracurricular involvement and/or employment (i.e., effective and efficient management of time)
  • Evidence of critical thinking and problem solving ability (e.g., performance in courses requiring this skill, such as laboratory segments or formal logic or research experiences)
  • Demonstrated exploration of the profession of dentistry
  • Demonstrated commitment to community service
  • A range of extracurricular activities, especially those demanding a significant leadership role

It is the policy of the College of Dentistry that in matters of admission, the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs communicates only with the applicant.

Jul 5, 2023