Becoming a Competitive Applicant

Maintain a Strong Grade Point Average (GPA)

UF College of Dentistry (UFCD) does not have a minimum GPA requirement for admission. However, good grades are important indicators of academic potential. Throughout your undergraduate or graduate school education, place yourself in a strong position by earning high grades, especially in your science courses. To view UFCD entering class GPA averages, visit: Entering Class Stats.

Our Admissions Committee understands that a GPA alone does not tell the full story. The GPA trend over time and course load are also very important to consider when evaluating a candidate for dental school. An applicant with a lower GPA may be competitive when there is a well-established upward undergraduate grade trend or a significant improvement in the GPA from a more recently attended graduate program. Conversely, an applicant with a high GPA may not be competitive if there is a downward undergraduate grade trend or a lower GPA from a more recently attended graduate program.

Select Your Major

UFCD does not give preference to any specific major. We have a strong history of admitting students with a variety of science and non-science majors. Students are free to choose a major of study in any area they find interesting. However, please be advised that it may be difficult to register for a dental school prerequisite course at your undergraduate institution if you are not a science major. Many times, science majors are given priority in registering for science classes due to limited availability. We strongly encourage that you meet with an academic advisor before you select a major to determine if you will be able to complete all dental school prerequisite courses.

Complete Prerequisite Courses

Prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade C or higher to meet the requirements for UFCD. You should complete most prerequisite courses before applying in order to demonstrate knowledge in the sciences, a strong predictor of dental school performance. You will still be considered for admission into UFCD if prerequisite courses are in progress or planned to be taken after you apply. However, all prerequisite courses must be completed prior to matriculation. Preference will be given to students who complete all prerequisite courses by the conclusion of the Spring semester of the same year they anticipate entering dental school.

AP/IB credit is accepted if the courses are listed by the undergraduate institution as course-specific credit that is applied toward a bachelor’s degree on the official transcript.

View details on the complete list of UFCD prerequisite courses. Microbiology and Biochemistry MUST be upper division courses (3000-4000 / 300-400 course numbers) taken at a 4-year institution. These courses would typically be recommended for science majors. Please note that courses listed are specific to UFCD. If you plan to apply to other dental schools, visit their website for institution-specific prerequisite courses.

Obtain Valuable Dental Experience

In order to be competitive for UFCD, it is imperative that you are familiar with the dental profession. All dental experience is valuable to help determine if dentistry is the right career for you. You should gain experience by shadowing, observing, and/or working in private dental offices, public health clinics, dental laboratories, Veteran’s Administration hospitals or in the student and resident clinics at UFCD through UF Health Shands Hospital Volunteer Office. In-person and participation experiences (e.g., dental assistant, dental lab technician) may be more beneficial for learning about dentistry and managing a dental practice. If you have a family member who is a dentist, you can certainly get experience in their office however, it should not be the only location for your experience. Clinical experience that provides care for those in underserved areas is encouraged, whenever possible, to help provide a broader perspective of the dental needs of the general population.

The DMD program leads to a doctor of dental medicine degree in general dentistry. Make sure you have a thorough knowledge of what general dentists do on a day-to-day basis. Some exposure to the various dental specialties can also be helpful as you explore what you like or dislike about dentistry. Make sure the majority of your chairside clinical exposure is in general dentistry and allow yourself to keep an open mind about a possible dental specialty in the future. Many students change their mind about dental specialties while in dental school!

In addition to the experiences already mentioned, you should read about the profession of dentistry, including important national and local issues for dentists and patients. Listen to practicing dentists speak about their profession, possibly through your predental organization. Virtual shadowing can also be a convenient way to obtain valuable information. View videos of dental procedures to augment and help clarify what you are observing during in-person shadowing. Virtual dental experiences should be documented in the appropriate section of the ADEA AADSAS application. The ADEA AASDAS application will provide guidelines for documenting all experiences.

Many students find it helpful to maintain a journal of all their dental experiences, not only for recording the dates and number of participation hours, but also for documentation of interesting dental cases and patient encounters. This record can be helpful in preparing the ADEA AADSAS application and for your dental school interviews.

UFCD does not require a minimum number of dental experience hours. However, you do need a substantial amount of first-hand dental observation and other profession-specific knowledge so that you become very familiar with the career you plan to have for the next several decades. Shadowing should not just be another box to check off on your application. Dental experiences directly benefit you as you prepare for a career in the dental field. There is no such thing as too much dental experience but as in anything you do, you must develop good time-management skills to accomplish this goal while maintaining academic competitiveness.

Visit Shadowing on the ADEA website for examples.

Additional Expectations and Guidance for International Experiences

Establish Relationships with Potential Writers of Letters of Evaluation

UFCD requires three letters of evaluation or one Committee letter. There is no requirement that letters be written by a specific individual. You should not have a family member or personal friend write a letter for you. Any other person who knows you well and has observed you in a professional environment is recommended. Letters are often written by research mentors, dentists with whom you have observed, advisors, employers or other persons of authority that you know well. For more information, see Soon Before You Apply

Develop Hand Skills

Exercise fine motor skills by performing hands-on activities such as making jewelry, drawing, woodworking, tying fishing lures, sewing or sculpting. Choose something you will enjoy that requires a posture similar to a practicing dentist. Dentists perform many of their duties using their hands and fingers while keeping the rest of their body still. Working on fine motor skills is important not only to develop manual dexterity, but also to determine if you would enjoy a profession where working with your hands is the primary activity.

Visit The Importance of Manual Dexterity on the ADEA website for examples.

Participate in Extracurricular / Volunteer / Community Service

Providing evidence of leadership and service is important in becoming a competitive applicant. In fact, service is a big part of the mission and vision of UFCD. Dental students are required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of community service while they are in dental school. As a dental school, we want to foster volunteerism and leadership in our students so that once they graduate, they will serve all people in their community.

Documenting your extracurricular and volunteer experiences is important to help the admissions committee learn more about who you are, beyond grades and test scores. We want to know what you do in your free time, if you have a passion for helping others and how you positively impact the world around you.

Valuable activities can include those that were organized by official student, religious, community or state organizations. Volunteer efforts should be geared toward something for which you enjoy and have passionate . They do not have to be dental-related.

There are a number of activities that can help prepare applicants for an education and career in dentistry. Aspiring dental students are encouraged to explore predental student organizations at their institutions. Check out the ASDA website to find ASDA chapters in your area and other resources for predental student organizations.

Visit Community Service on the ADEA website for examples.

Gain Research Experience, if available

Research is not required for acceptance into UFCD but can be very beneficial to an applicant. Experiencing the practical application and execution of what you learned in a text book can be very rewarding. Depending on the lab and the research you conduct, you may also develop some fine motor skills. Research can also help one to learn discipline, attention to detail, working on a team, critical thinking and evaluating data – all import aspects of practicing dentistry!

The research you do does not need to be dental-related. However, there are some opportunities for University of Florida undergraduate students to get involved with research at UFCD.

Visit Research on the ADEA website for examples.

Decide What to Do in a Gap (Growth) Year

If you decide to take a year after graduation to “regroup” before applying to dental school, what should you accomplish during that year? No one can answer that for you because it depends on what you want to accomplish. If you want to improve your position in becoming a competitive applicant, then you must assess all aspects of a future application (grades, DAT scores, dental experiences, volunteer experiences, extracurricular experiences, research, etc.) and determine your strengths and weaknesses. You should devise a plan to strengthen your weak areas and also devote time and effort in the areas which you are strong. Don’t put all of your effort in one area and neglect the others. The Admissions Committee wants to know that you can juggle more than one thing at a time, as you would need to do in dental school.

If your academics are not competitive, then you may need to improve your basic science foundation by completing a master’s program with concentration in a science. UFCD needs at least two semesters of grades on a master’s program transcript to determine a student’s potential for navigating the intense rigors of our dental school curriculum. If your DAT scores are below UFCD’s average, it may be beneficial for you to take advantage of the knowledge acquired in the master’s program to improve your DAT scores.


The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) created an incredibly helpful website just for pre-dental students:

We strongly encourage you to become familiar with everything available on GoDental as well as the GoDental YouTube channel. Here are some of our favorites:

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