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Undergraduate Preparation

Preparing for Dental School

Selecting a Major

There is no “pre-dental” major. Dental schools are interested in broadly educated students who have developed excellent writing and speaking skills, possess analytic and synthetic thinking ability, and are enthusiastic, life-long learners. Understanding of the social aspects of medicine is just as important as understanding the science. Your major will not determine your success in applying to dental school.

Your interests should determine your choice of major. Majoring in an area that you enjoy is more likely to lead to academic success than pursuing a field for which you have little enthusiasm. Regardless of your major, it is necessary to demonstrate science ability; proficiency in other areas will not compensate for lack of science ability.

Undergraduate Courses

Besides the minimum science course work (two semesters each of general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics), most Dental school requires additional courses in advanced biology. The only dental school in South Carolina is at the Medical University of South Carolina. Specific admissions requirements can be found at the MUSC College of Dental Medicine website.

If you are planning to apply to other dental Schools, you should check their specific requirements sometimes during your sophomore year and discuss those with your advisor.

Requirements for MUSC College of Dental Medicine
  • Pre-requisite Courses and the courses at the College of Charleston that fulfill these requirements:


General Chemistry (Qualitative Analysis)
Chem 111+ lab, Chem 112 + lab
Organic Chemistry
Chem 231 + lab, Chem 232 +lab
Phys 101 + lab, Phys 102 + lab OR Phys 111 + lab, Phys 112 + lab
Biology or Zoology
Biol 111 + lab, Biol 112 + lab
English 6

Mathematics (Calculus)

Science Elective
(Microbiology, Biochemistry, Anatomy, Genetics, etc.)
  • Suggested Courses and the courses at the College of Charleston that fulfill these requirements:


Advanced Zoology or Botany 3 to 6
Psychology 3 to 6
Anatomy, Physiology, Histology and Pharmacology 3 to 6
English 6
Advanced Chemistry 3 to 6

These courses should be completed no later than the end of your junior year so that you will be prepared for the DAT exam during that summer/early fall.

Personal Preparation

Good grades and test scores are essential factors in determining admissions, but are not the only determinants of success. Students must demonstrate that they have a true interest in their chosen professions and the personal attributes that are highly desirable in a health professional. The applicant will need to articulate to an admissions committee why this career choice is right for them. Health professions schools expect applicants to have sought opportunities in the career in which they are interested.

  • Students should shadow a dentist and work or volunteer in health-related environments.
  • Since the health careers are service-related professions, students should also explore activities in people-oriented environments.
  • Steady, long term involvement is preferable to short bursts of unrelated activities.

This type of experience not only demonstrates social responsibility, but also helps to builds communication skills and teaches how to deal with a diversity of people. The insight and experiences gained through these activities will help a student compose an application essay that will convince an admissions committee of the worthiness of the applicant. In addition, these activities provide opportunities to acquire meaningful letters of evaluation from non-academic sources that will strengthen the student's application.