Applying to Dental School
Dentistry (DDS or DMD) Application Timeline
The application process is divided into three phases:
- The Pre-Application Phase starts approximately 20 months prior to a student's expected matriculation to dental school and lasts for 5-6 months. Students must participate in all aspects of the Pre-Application Phase if they want to access to the resources of UMBC's Health Professions Evaluation Committee (HPEC), which includes a recommendation letter credentialing service.
- The DAT Study Phase can start as early as 15 months prior to a student's expected matriculation to optometry school and typically lasts for 3 months. Individual pathways and study times vary per student. Students should strive to only have to take the DAT, once. If a student scores poorly on the first exam attempt, then a re-test is recommended and thus DAT study time would exceed the aforementioned 3 months.
- The Centralized Application Service Phase (AADSAS) starts approximately 15 months prior to a student's expected matriculation to dental school and ends about 7 months (February 1 of the matriculation year) prior to the beginning of dental school.
Every individual student follows a different and unique pathway as they prepare themselves to become competitive applicants for dental school. Students should only enter the application process if they are at their most competitive stage and do not possess overt weaknesses such as a weak GPA, poor DAT scores, are missing clinical related experience, or lack strong letters of recommendation.
To gain insight into the competitiveness of the dental school admissions’ process, please review the dental school class profiles contained in each edition of the Official Guide to Dental Schools book, an annual publication of the American Dental Education Association. Copies of ADEA’s Official Guide to Dental Schools are available at UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library. Students may also purchase their own copy from ADEA or log onto each individual dental school’s website for detailed information about each school’s acceptee and matriculant characteristics.
The Pre-Application Phase
Approximately 21-20 months prior to expected matriculation to dental school
Almost 20 months prior to expected matriculation to dental school, current UMBC students, including any UMBC post-baccalaureate students, are required to attend the mandatory cohort kick-off workshop which is held annually in November or December. This cohort kick-off workshop is advertised on the PreMedical and PreDental Advising Office website and via the Pre-Dental Society listserv. UMBC alumni who are not taking classes at UMBC during the Fall semester during which the cohort kick-off workshop is offered, are not required to attend the workshop but should email Ms. Roelke between November 1 and Thanksgiving to express their interest in joining the next application cohort.
UMBC students who expect to start classes at dental school in Fall 2013, are required to attend the mandatory cohort kick-off workshop that will occur in November or December of 2011; thus students start the pre-application process almost 20 months prior to expected matriculation to dental school.
The DAT Study Phase
Approximately 15-12 months prior to expected matriculation to dental school
The DAT Study Phase begins when students are completely finished with the prerequisite biology, general, and organic chemistry courses required by dental schools. Students should be mastering the content of courses as they are taking the classes, so DAT study technically begins with the first science prerequisite course. To keep the timeline as uncomplicated as possible, the DAT Study Phase deals with the time frame after students are finished with the science prerequisite coursework.
Most pre-dental students completely finish the science prerequisites in the Fall or Spring semesters, 21–16 months prior to expected matriculation to dental school. This allows students sufficient DAT study time prior to sitting for the exam. UMBC students who posted competitive DAT scores reported that they studied 8–10 hours per week for a minimum of 15 weeks (the equivalent of one semester) prior to taking the DAT. Individual pathways and study times vary per student. Some students preferred 30 weeks of study time especially if they had a history of difficulty with standardized tests. Each student should approach DAT study with an individualized strategy based on their academic record, mastery of the tested content, and overall test confidence. “Trialing” the DAT is never recommended, leads to poor scores, and makes it very difficult for an applicant to gain admission.
If a student is applying for matriculation to dental school in September 2013, their pathway would resemble one of the examples below:
Centralized Application Service Phase
June (14 months prior to expected matriculation to dental school)
June marks the end of the Pre-Application phase and the beginning of the Centralized Application Service phase. Each year, the Associated American Dental Schools Application Services (AADSAS) typically opens for registration during the first week of June. AADSAS is the centralized application service for applicants applying to dental schools. AADSAS is also known as the “common application” and the “primary application.” Students complete one common application which is then sent to all of the dental schools to which the student is applying.
June–September (14–11 months prior to expected matriculation to dental school)
Students complete their AADSAS centralized “common” applications, along with their secondary applications (additional questions sent directly to the applicants from the dental schools). It is best to apply as early as possible and therefore students should strive to complete all of their primary and secondary applications before the end of September.
Deadlines are determined by the individual dental schools, not by AADSAS. Each dental school determines what is required by their deadline date. It is the applicant’s responsibility to research each program’s deadline requirements before submitting their AADSAS application. For a list of individual dental school deadlines, please go to the AADSAS applicant page and then click “Dental School Deadline Dates” on the right column.