How to Get into the UCLA School of Dentistry | Step-by-Step Guide

Getting into a good dental school can be crucial to achieving your professional dental goals. One such top-tier dental school is UCLA School of Dentistry, which has established a reputation for excellence in dental education and research. 

This article will explore the importance of attending a reputable dental school like UCLA School of Dentistry and some key facts about the school’s location, reputation, and program offerings. We will also discuss some essential steps for applying to the UCLA School of Dentistry.

About UCLA School of Dentistry

The UCLA School of Dentistry was established in 1964 as part of the University of California, Los Angeles. Before its establishment, the University of Southern California and the University of California, San Francisco, provided dental education in Southern California.

Establishing the UCLA School of Dentistry was a significant dental education and research milestone. The school quickly gained a reputation for excellence in dental education and research, attracting top faculty members and students worldwide.

Over the years, the UCLA School of Dentistry has achieved many milestones and accomplishments. Some of the notable achievements include:

  • In 1969, the school established the first dental care program for children with support needs in the United States.
  • In 1972, the school established the first dental residency program in oral and maxillofacial surgery in California.
  • In 1993, the school established the first center for research in dental implants in the United States.
  • In 2003, the school opened a state-of-the-art clinical and research facility, the UCLA Dental Research and Education Center.

The UCLA School of Dentistry has also produced many notable alums and faculty members. Some of the famous alumni include:

  • Dr. Stanley Bergman, CEO of Henry Schein, Inc.
  • Dr. Shigemi Ishikawa, founder of the International College of Dentists.
  • Dr. Allan J. Formicola, former Columbia University College of Dental Medicine dean.
  • Dr. Wenyuan Shi is a world-renowned researcher in oral microbiology and founder of the UCLA Center for Oral Biology.

UCLA School of Dentistry Programs

The UCLA School of Dentistry offers several programs to students interested in pursuing a career in dentistry. These programs include:

  1. Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program: The DDS program is a four-year program that prepares students to become licensed dentists. The program includes didactic courses, clinical experiences, and community outreach activities.
  2. Specialty programs: The UCLA School of Dentistry offers several specialty programs for students who wish to specialize in a particular area of dentistry. These programs include:
  • Endodontics: A two-year program that focuses on diagnosing and treating dental pulp and related diseases.
  • Orthodontics: A three-year program that focuses on diagnosing, preventing, and correcting malocclusions and other orthodontic problems.
  • Pediatric Dentistry: A two-year program that focuses on the dental care of children, including preventive care, restorative treatment, and behavior management.
  • Periodontics: A three-year program that focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.
  • Prosthodontics: A three-year program that focuses on restoring and replacing missing teeth and other oral structures.

Dual degree programs:

The UCLA School of Dentistry offers several dual degree programs for students seeking additional education and training in related fields. These programs include:

  • DDS/Ph.D. program: A seven-year program that combines the DDS program with a Ph.D. program in oral biology or a related field.
  • DDS/MBA program: A five-year program that combines the DDS program with an MBA program from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
  • DDS/MPH program: A five-year program that combines the DDS program with a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

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Why Attend UCLA School of Dentistry

Attending a reputable dental school like UCLA School of Dentistry can provide numerous benefits, including enhanced career prospects, more significant earning potential, and cutting-edge research and technology exposure. 

The school’s location in Los Angeles, one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the United States, also offers students a unique cultural experience and numerous networking opportunities.

Applying to UCLA School of Dentistry

The application process for UCLA School of Dentistry is highly competitive, and it is crucial to follow some essential steps to increase your chances of success.

 Firstly, you should ensure that you meet the school’s admission requirements, which include a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, a competitive GPA, and a satisfactory score on the Dental Admission Test (DAT).

Secondly, you should prepare a solid personal statement highlighting your motivation for pursuing dentistry, relevant skills and experience, and future goals. The school also requires three letters of recommendation, so choosing recommenders who know you well and can speak to your academic and personal qualities is essential.

Finally, it is crucial to submit your application by the deadline and ensure that all required documents are included. Applying can also increase your chances of acceptance, as spots tend to fill up quickly.

Attending a reputable dental school like UCLA School of Dentistry can be a game-changer in your dentistry career. The school’s excellent academic programs, state-of-the-art research facilities, and vibrant location make it an attractive option for aspiring dental professionals. 

Following the essential steps outlined above can increase your chances of a successful application and help you take the first step toward achieving your professional goals.

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Meet the Admission Requirements.

To get into a good dental school like the UCLA School of Dentistry, it is essential to meet the admission requirements. Here are some key factors that the admissions committee considers while evaluating applications:

Academic Prerequisites:

To be eligible for admission, students must have a bachelor’s degree or be in the final year of their undergraduate program. 

The minimum GPA requirement is 3.0, but a higher GPA can make the applicant stand out. Students must have completed specific prerequisite courses, such as biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. 

The admissions committee also looks for scores from standardized tests, such as the Dental Admission Test (DAT), which measures an applicant’s academic ability and scientific knowledge.

Non-academic Requirements:

In addition to academic prerequisites, applicants must fulfill non-academic requirements, such as submitting letters of recommendation, personal statements, and demonstrating dental experience. 

Letters of recommendation from faculty, employers, or dental professionals can provide insights into an applicant’s character, academic potential, and clinical skills. 

A personal statement allows the applicant to describe their interest in dentistry and explain how they can contribute to the school’s community. 

Dental experience, such as shadowing or volunteering in a dental clinic, demonstrates the applicant’s commitment to the field.

DDS curriculum 

The DDS curriculum at the UCLA School of Dentistry is designed to provide students with a comprehensive education in all aspects of dentistry. 

The program includes didactic coursework, laboratory experiences, and clinical training, focusing on evidence-based practice and interdisciplinary education.


The DDS program at the UCLA School of Dentistry covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Oral biology and Histology
  • Pathology and microbiology
  • Pharmacology and pain management
  • Dental materials and biomaterials
  • Diagnosis and treatment planning
  • Restorative dentistry
  • Endodontics
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics
  • Orthodontics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery.

UCLA School of Dentistry Ranking

The UCLA School of Dentistry has consistently been ranked among the top dental schools in the United States and internationally. In the 2022 U.S. News & World Report rankings, the school was ranked #4 in the United States for dental education and #1 in the world for dentistry and oral sciences by the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

The school has also received numerous awards and recognitions for its contributions to dentistry. In 2020, the school was awarded the William J. Gies Award for Outstanding Innovation in Dental Education by the American Dental Education Association, recognizing its innovative and practical approach to dental education. The school has also been recognized for its commitment to diversity and inclusion in dental education and healthcare.

Faculty members at the UCLA School of Dentistry have also received numerous awards and honors for their contributions to dental research and clinical practice. Several faculty members have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, and the school has produced numerous leaders in the dental profession and academic medicine.

The UCLA School of Dentistry has contributed significantly to dentistry through its research programs and clinical practice. Faculty members and students have been involved in groundbreaking research in biomaterials, oral microbiology, and pain management. 

The school’s clinical programs provide high-quality, patient-centered care to individuals in the Los Angeles area and beyond. The school’s commitment to interdisciplinary education and collaboration has also contributed to advances in healthcare and the dental profession more broadly.

UCLA School of Dentistry Admissions Process

The UCLA School of Dentistry admissions process is highly competitive and selective. Applicants are evaluated based on various factors, including academic performance, test scores, letters of recommendation, and personal qualities.

Requirements for admission:

  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Completion of specific pre-dental coursework, including biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics
  • Competitive scores on the Dental Admission Test (DAT)
  • Strong letters of recommendation from faculty members or dental professionals
  • Personal statement describing the applicant’s motivation for pursuing a career in dentistry
  • Experience in dental or healthcare-related fields, such as volunteering or shadowing

Application process and deadlines:

Prospective students can apply to the UCLA School of Dentistry through the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS). The application typically opens in May and closes in February of the following year.

Selection criteria and factors:

The UCLA School of Dentistry considers a range of factors when evaluating applicants, including:

  • Academic performance: The school considers an applicant’s undergraduate GPA and grades in specific pre-dental coursework.
  • Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores: The DAT measures an applicant’s academic and scientific knowledge and is an important factor in the admissions process.
  • Letters of recommendation: The school requires at least two letters of recommendation from faculty members or dental professionals who can attest to the applicant’s academic ability, clinical experience, and personal qualities.
  • Personal statement: The school evaluates an applicant’s personal statement to assess their motivation for pursuing a career in dentistry and their ability to communicate effectively.
  • Experience in dental or healthcare-related fields: The school values applicants who have demonstrated a commitment to healthcare and dentistry through volunteering, shadowing, or other experiences.

The UCLA School of Dentistry seeks to admit students who are academically prepared, motivated, and committed to making a positive impact in dentistry.

To know more about the admission process and requirements, click below:

Tips on How to get into the UCLA School of Dentistry

To stand out from other applicants, showing passion for dentistry and a clear understanding of the profession is crucial. 

Applicants can do this by highlighting their research or clinical experiences in dentistry, participating in extracurricular activities related to dentistry, or explaining how their personal experiences have influenced their desire to pursue dentistry. 

Being involved in leadership roles or community service can also demonstrate an applicant’s leadership potential and commitment to serving others.

In conclusion, meeting the admission requirements and standing out from other applicants is essential to get into a good dental school like UCLA School of Dentistry. 

How to get into the UCLA School of Dentistry: 

Step 1: Meet the Prerequisites

Before considering applying to the UCLA School of Dentistry, you must meet all the prerequisites. These requirements include:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
    • Completion of the following prerequisite courses with a grade of “C” or better:
    • General Chemistry (with lab)
    • Organic Chemistry (with lab)
    • Biology (with lab)
    • Physics (with lab)
    • English
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 (both overall and in the prerequisite courses)
  • A minimum DAT score of 17 (academic average)

If you still need to complete all of these prerequisites, you’ll need to complete them before applying. Remember that simply meeting these requirements doesn’t guarantee admission, but they are a necessary first step.

Step 2: Gain Relevant Experience

In addition to meeting the prerequisites, the UCLA School of Dentistry also looks for applicants who have gained relevant experience in dentistry. This can include:

  • Shadowing or working with a dentist
  • Volunteering in a dental setting
  • Participating in research related to dentistry
  • Serving in leadership positions in dental organizations

By gaining experience in these areas, you’ll not only demonstrate your commitment to the field of dentistry, but you’ll also gain valuable insights and skills that will prepare you for dental school.

Step 3: Prepare for the DAT

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is a standardized exam that all applicants to dental school must take. The exam consists of four sections: natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning.

Preparing for the DAT is a crucial step in the application process, as your score will play a significant role in determining your eligibility for admission. Some tips for preparing for the DAT include:

  • Using study materials, such as prep books or online courses
  • Taking practice tests to gauge your progress
  • Studying consistently over several months
  • Seeking help from a tutor or study group if needed

It’s also important to note that the DAT is just one factor that admissions committees consider when evaluating applicants. While a high score can certainly help your chances of admission, it’s not the only thing that matters.

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Step 4: Submit Your Application

Once you’ve met the prerequisites, gained relevant experience, and prepared for the DAT, it’s time to submit your application to the UCLA School of Dentistry. The application process includes several components, including:

  • A centralized application through AADSAS (American Association of Dental Schools Application Service)
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • Three letters of recommendation (at least one from a science professor)
  • A personal statement
  • The DAT scores

Step 5: Prepare for the Interview

After submitting your application, you may be invited to interview with the UCLA School of Dentistry. This is an opportunity for the admissions committee to get to know you better and evaluate your communication skills, professionalism, and suitability for the program.

To prepare for the interview, consider the following tips:

  • Research the school and its values
  • Practice answering common interview questions
  • Dress professionally and arrive early
  • Bring a copy of your application materials and a list of questions to ask the interviewer

Remember, the interview is just as much about you evaluating the school as it is about the school considering you. Use the opportunity to ask questions and determine if the program fits your goals and aspirations.

Common interview questions

Here are some common interview questions and tips on how to answer them effectively:

  1. Why do you want to pursue a career in dentistry?
  2. This question is asked to assess your motivation and passion for the field. Be honest and specific about what inspired you to pursue dentistry, and demonstrate your knowledge of the profession by discussing current issues and trends.
  3. What experiences have you had that have prepared you for dental school?
  4. Use this question to showcase your relevant experiences, such as shadowing dentists, volunteering at clinics, or conducting research. Emphasize how these experiences have taught you essential skills and prepared you for dental school’s rigors.
  5. How do you handle stress and pressure?
  6. This question is designed to assess your ability to handle the demanding workload of dental school. Be honest about your coping strategies, and provide specific examples of how you have previously managed stress.
  7. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  8. When answering this question, highlight your strengths and how they will make you a successful dental student and future dentist. Be honest about your weaknesses, but frame them as opportunities for growth and improvement.

How to Prepare for an Interview

When preparing for your interview, it is important to dress professionally, behaves courteously, and communicate clearly and confidently. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable and appropriate professional attire for the interview setting.
  2. Be on time: Arrive early to the interview and be prepared to wait patiently if necessary.
  3. Show interest and enthusiasm: Show the interviewer that you are interested in the school and passionate about pursuing a career in dentistry.
  4. Practice good communication skills: Speak, listen actively, and maintain eye contact.
  5. Be respectful: Show respect for the interviewer and other individuals you encounter during your visit, such as administrative staff and current students.

Following these tips and being well-prepared for your interview can increase your chances of admission to the UCLA School of Dentistry.

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Q: What is the acceptance rate for the UCLA School of Dentistry?

A: The acceptance rate varies yearly but is typically around 5-7%.

Q: Is getting into the UCLA School of Dentistry with a lower GPA or DAT score possible?

A: While meeting the prerequisites and having a competitive GPA and DAT score is essential, admissions committees also consider other factors, such as relevant experience and extracurricular activities. If you have a lower GPA or DAT score, consider highlighting your strengths in these areas.

Q: What makes the UCLA School of Dentistry unique?

A: The UCLA School of Dentistry is known for its commitment to research and innovation and its dedication to serving diverse and underserved populations. Additionally, the school offers many programs and opportunities for students to gain hands-on clinical experience.

In conclusion

The UCLA School of Dentistry is a world-renowned institution that offers a comprehensive education in dentistry and prepares students for successful careers in clinical practice, research, and academia. The school’s rigorous curriculum, emphasis on clinical training and research, and commitment to interdisciplinary education and diversity have contributed to its recognition as one of the top dental schools in the world.

The school’s contributions to dentistry through research, clinical practice, and leadership have positioned it as a dental education and healthcare leader. As dentistry continues to evolve, the UCLA School of Dentistry is well-positioned to continue to innovate and contribute to advances in oral health and patient care.



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