Dental School FAQs

Which major should I choose?

While the practice of dentistry is grounded in scientific principles, there are no specific majors you must choose in order to be admitted to a professional program.

However, majoring in a science field helps complete the required classes and prepare you for the Dental Admission Test (DAT). Some of the most common such majors at SUNY Cortland include:

What classes are prerequisites for dental school admissions?

Most dental schools require the following courses:

  • Biological Sciences I and II with labs (BIO 201 and BIO 202)
  • General Chemistry I and II with labs (CHE 221 and CHE 222)
  • Organic Chemistry I and II with labs (CHE 301, CHE 302, and CHE 304)
  • Physics I and II with labs (PHY 105 and PHY 106)
  • Mathematics - full year of Calculus (MAT 121 and 122) or one semester of Calculus and one semester of Statistics (MAT 201)
  • Most require that you take a year of English (CPN 100 and CPN 101)

Some also require the courses below, while others simply suggest them as beneficial:

  • Cellular Biology (BIO 210)
  • Genetics (BIO 312)
  • Microbiology (BIO 304)
  • Human Anatomy (BIO 324) and Human Physiology (BIO 514)
  • Biochemistry (CHE 451)
  • Psychology (PSY 101)
  • Sociology (SOC 150)

Most dental schools also note that the following courses can be advantageous:

  • Basic business courses. Many dentists end up in private practice.
  • Applied art courses. Sculpture (ATS 106) to develop manual dexterity; drawing, painting and ceramics courses also help.
  • Foreign Language

* Consult the American Dental Education Association website for additional information on individual schools.

What are other requirements for dental school admissions?

  • GPA of 3.4 or higher to be considered a competitive applicant
  • Shadowing experience with a dentist
  • Score of 18 or higher on each section of the DAT

What are some other tips?

  • Outstanding grades and an excellent DAT score are essential, but it is also important that you are a well-rounded student with other interests and activities on your application, both dental-related and otherwise.

  • Increasingly, professional schools value applicants with demonstrated cultural and social competency – namely a recognition of and training in understanding cultural differences, biases and inequities in the profession.
  • Taking on leadership roles and participating in activities outside of the classroom demonstrates that you can effectively interact with people, which is necessary for success in dentistry.

  • Some leadership roles that exist at SUNY Cortland: participation in a student organization such as SUNY Cortland Emergency Medical Services; tutor or teaching assistant; supplemental instructor; resident assistant; student justice; or participation on a sports team.

Is there a timeline to make sure I stay on track for dental school?

First year and sophomore year

  • Work with your pre-dental advisor to plan courses and experiences that will help your dental school application.
  • Begin to complete biology, chemistry and physics requirements. Early academic success is a must.
  • Attend health-related events on campus. These are hosted by groups such as Alumni Engagement, Career Services, various student clubs and academic departments.
  • Get involved on campus and off of it through undergraduate research, volunteer work, clinical experience or other areas that excite you.

Junior year

  • Complete medical school prerequisite requirements by the end of spring semester.
  • Prepare extensively and then take the DAT.
  • Gather letters of evaluation from faculty members and others.
  • Prepare your personal statement and admissions essay. Be sure to have it proofread by another source including faculty members and Career Services.
  • Apply for admission at least a year in advance.
  • Review dental school resources such as the Official Guide to Dental Schools, the American Student Dental Association website and the American Dental Association careers website.
  • Continue activities inside and outside of the classroom.

Senior year

  • Practice mock interviews with the College’s Pre-Dental Advisory Committee before medical school admission interviews.
  • Complete forms for financial aid.
  • Send thank-you notes to evaluators and mentors.


Christian Nelson
Pre-Medical/Dental Advisor
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Bowers Hall, Room 1314

Advisory Committee

Jacqueline Augustine, Kinesiology
Christa ChatfieldBiological Sciences
Theresa Curtis, Biological Sciences

Katherine Hicks, Chemistry

Christian NelsonBiological Sciences
Frank Rossi, Chemistry
Jacob Wright, Career Services

Contact us

Admissions Office
Phone: 607-753-4711

Biological Sciences Department
Phone: 607-753-2715

Chemistry Department
Phone: 607-753-4323

Psychology Department
Phone: 607-753-4218