Bs/Dds Programs

Bs/Dds Programs
I was created to create beautiful smiles

BS/DDS programs are also known as “direct dental programs” or, depending on length, “eight-year dental programs” or “seven-year dental programs.” Regardless of terminology, students in these programs most often earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) followed by a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), though sometimes a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) may be granted.

Bs/Dds Programs

Contact [email protected] if you find a dental school proram not listed.

Augusta University in Augusta

7-year joint program (3 years undergrad, 4 years dental school) with its dental school, the Dental College of Georgia

Boston University-Goldman School of Dental Medicine

Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine

Howard University College of Dentistry

Marquette University School of Dentistry

LECOM’s School of Dental Medicine

Nova Southeastern University

New York University School of Dentistry

Rutgers School of Dental Medicine

Stony Brook University – Scholars for Dental Medicine

Temple University School of Dentistry

Tufts University

University of Connecticut – UConn’s Special Program in Dental Medicine

University of Detroit Mercy

University of Florida

University of Illinois School of Dentistry

University of Louisville School of Dentistry – ULEAD program

University of the Pacific School of Dentistry

University of Pittsburgh

University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

University of Southern California School of Dentistry

DH/DDS 6 year pathway program ** Not sure if program still exsist.

Virgina Commonweath Univeristy

BS/DDS Programs: How to Get In

Learn strategies for getting into 8-year and 7-year dental programs, plus a complete list of BS/DDS programs

Bs/Dds Programs

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Is a BS/DDS program right for your child?

Part 3: How hard is it to get into a BS/DDS program?

Part 4: BS/DDS admissions strategies

Appendix: Complete list of BS/DDS programs

Part 1: Introduction

College is commonly a time of exploration during which students can delve into different interests and consider possible career paths. On the other hand, some students already know what they want to do with their futures and are itching to get started right away.

If your child falls into the latter category and has decided to pursue dentistry as a career, a BS/DDS program may be worth considering.

Students in BS/DDS programs gain acceptance to an undergraduate program and an affiliated dental school at the same time, freeing them from the eventual stress and uncertainty of the dental school application process. This allows them to concentrate solely on their studies and, in many cases, to complete their education at an accelerated pace.

While BS/DDS programs can be difficult to get into and aren’t right for every college applicant with an interest in the dental profession, they can be excellent choices for those who already have their hearts set on becoming dentists.

In this guide, we’ll go into the nitty-gritty details of BS/DDS programs and how to evaluate if they’re right for your child. We’ll also provide a complete list of BS/DDS programs and discuss admissions strategies that your child can use to put together the strongest BS/DDS application possible.

What is a BS/DDS program?

A BS/DDS program pairs an undergraduate degree and a dentistry degree, allowing your child to earn admission to both schools while still in high school.

BS/DDS programs are also known as “direct dental programs” or, depending on length, “eight-year dental programs” or “seven-year dental programs.” Regardless of terminology, students in these programs most often earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) followed by a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), though sometimes a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) may be granted.

Since the DMD and DDS are interchangeable qualifications, in this guide we’ll use “BS/DDS programs” as a blanket term for the sake of simplicity.

In most BS/DDS programs, students earn their bachelor’s degree and their dental degree from the same university. However, some programs, such as those at Case Western Reserve and the University of Pennsylvania, have agreements that allow undergraduates from certain other universities to participate as well. Another model lies in the BS/DDS program at LECOM (Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine), which has no undergraduate curriculum of its own and instead partners with 170 affiliate colleges and universities.

Most BS/DDS programs take seven or eight years to complete, though six-year and even five-year programs, such as Howard University and University of the Pacific, are not unheard of. As eight years is the amount of time that a BS and DDS typically take to earn separately, a shorter program allows students to accelerate their education and start either residency or professional life ahead of time.

Many BS/DDS programs require that your child adhere to a specific curriculum or limited range of majors. For example, BS/DDS students at NYU and UPenn must major in biology. On the flip side, certain programs, such as the University of Connecticut, allow their students the academic freedom to choose from any of the university’s 115 majors.

Regardless of major options, your child can typically expect the following requirements at most BS/DDS programs:

  • To fulfill a pre-dental course load in the sciences
  • To maintain a certain GPA in order to move on to dental school (the specific expectation will vary by program, but a 3.5 minimum is fairly common)
  • To score above a certain minimum on the DAT in order to move on to dental school (a minimum between 18 and 20 is typical)

Does acceptance into a BS/DDS program guarantee your child a spot in dental school?

You might be surprised to learn that most BS/DDS programs don’t guarantee that their undergraduate students will move on to dental school.

Typically, at the end of the BS portion of most programs, students are presented to the dental school’s admissions committee who then determine if each student is eligible for acceptance. Many programs also require that students interview with the dental school committee as part of this process.

As noted earlier, BS/DDS programs nearly always have GPA and DAT minimums that students must meet. But some programs also have other requirements or expectations on top of these academic standards.

For example, University of Pittsburgh students must participate in dental-related experiences, research, and community service. Case Western students must “have an outstanding record of leadership, scholarship, and service.”

BS/DDS students in good academic standing who fulfill these requirements and receive enthusiastic recommendations from the undergraduate program’s advisor or committee usually have a high likelihood of moving on to dental school. However, it’s worth noting that, in most programs, acceptances technically aren’t guaranteed.

Part 2: Is a BS/DDS program right for your child?

Pros of BS/DDS programs

BS/DDS programs offer several benefits that may make them worthwhile options for your child. Most significantly, they allow students to bypass the dental school application process, which can be advantageous for a few reasons.

As mentioned, BS/DDS students will need to maintain a good academic performance in order to remain eligible for dental school. So while acceptance into a BS/DDS program won’t allow your child to skate by for the rest of college, it will spare them the considerable stress and time investment of working on dental school applications while finishing their bachelor’s degree. In turn, they can keep their focus on excelling in their pre-dental studies while resting assured that they most likely have a spot in dental school.

Though the exception rather than the rule, some BS/DDS programs, like the University of Pittsburgh, also allow students to avoid taking the DAT. This can save your child the additional headache of studying for the exam.

Many programs also provide students with special opportunities for volunteering, clinical exposure, research, and other extracurriculars. In addition, students often take classes as a cohort beginning in freshman year, allowing them to form a small, tight-knit community of future dentists.

The condensed timelines of seven-year or six-year programs may provide further incentives for some. Not only do they allow your child to begin the next phase of their dentistry career sooner than usual, they can also shave tens of thousands of dollars off of the total tuition paid.

Cons of BS/DDS programs

On the other hand, one of the primary downsides that BS/DDS students report is the limitations that such a compressed, highly focused curriculum present. Some rue missing out on campus social life and extracurriculars—i.e. “the college experience”—due to always carrying a full course load and attending classes over the summer. In addition, the tight schedules of BS/DDS programs often mean that repeating classes is impossible, so there is little room for any large-scale mishaps that would result in failing a class.

On top of this, while a program like UConn will allow your child to major in art history or political science without hurting their chances at dental school, this is fairly unusual. Instead, most BS/DDS students note that they’re unable to explore other academic interests, even through minors, or take advantage of options like study abroad.

The intense focus on dentistry that a BS/DDS program demands is why applicants must be sure that they are 100 percent committed to a career as a dentist. To be able to make this commitment at such a young age requires applicants to have a high level of maturity, self-knowledge, and certainty that they’re ready to embark on a lifelong career.

If your child is among the vast majority of high school students who don’t yet know what they want to do with their lives, a BS/DDS program isn’t the right choice for them. Instead, they would benefit from attending a traditional four-year undergraduate program in which they can explore various interests and career options. Bear in mind that they’ll still have the option of applying to dental school later!

Even if your child is set on a career in dentistry, there are other reasons why they might wish to follow a traditional path into dental school rather than attend a BS/DDS program.

Given the limited number of BS/DDS programs in the country, a traditional path will not only allow your child to select from a much wider range of undergraduate institutions and dental schools, they’ll also be able to choose these schools separately, taking cultural and academic fit, resources, and prestige into account each time. Conversely, by attending a BS/DDS program, your child will have to choose two schools at once, which may result in making compromises.

For instance, the majority of the country’s top dental schools do not offer BS/DDS programs, which might be a deterrent if your child hopes to specialize by going on to a dental residency (or if they’ve always dreamed of attending Harvard or Michigan Dental).

If your child does enter a BS/DDS program and later changes their mind, they may be able to walk away with their BS and apply to other dental schools, though sometimes this means giving up the assurance of their existing spot. Your child will want to check on the policies for “applying out” at each program they’re interested in.

To determine if a career in dentistry is right for your child, they should seek out as many shadowing and other clinical experiences as possible. Not only will these experiences strengthen their applications, which we’ll discuss more later, they’ll also provide your child with insight into the field. This can help your child decide if they are ready to commit to becoming a dentist.

Part 3: How hard is it to get into a BS/DDS program?

Generally speaking, BS/DDS programs are moderately to fairly competitive. Though none of the programs on our list below publish their acceptance rates or application numbers, we can make a few observations based on our years of experience advising applicants to these programs.

First, as a whole, BS/DDS programs are less competitive than BS/MD programs or traditional undergraduate programs at Ivy+ schools, which typically have acceptance rates in the single digits.

However, selectivity does range among BS/DDS programs and will generally correlate with an institution’s overall selectivity. For instance, you can expect that acceptance into the University of Pennsylvania’s Bio-Dental Program will be much more difficult as an applicant to Penn, an Ivy League university with an overall acceptance rate of 6 percent, than as an applicant to Muhlenberg College, which accepts 68 percent of applicants.

That said, Muhlenberg’s SAT and ACT minimum requirements for its BS/DDS program are 1360 and 32, which are significantly higher than the average test scores of their general student body (around 1280 and 29). So, as this example illustrates, a strong academic record will be needed to gain acceptance to most BS/DDS programs, regardless of a school’s overall selectivity.

Many BS/DDS programs do publish minimum GPAs and test scores needed to gain admission or averages for successful applicants. As a rule of thumb, to be a competitive candidate, your child should have at least a 3.7 GPA and rank in the top 10–20 percent of their high school class.

Standardized test requirements vary more and can give us a better sense of which BS/DDS programs are harder or easier to get into.

On the lower end:

  • University of Colorado: 1185 SAT or 27 ACT
  • LECOM: 1240 SAT or 26 ACT
  • University of Nevada: 1270 SAT or 29 ACT

On the higher end:

  • Augusta University: 1450 SAT or 32 ACT
  • University of Pittsburgh: 1470 SAT or 33 ACT
  • Stony Brook University: Minimum scores are not given, but successful applicants (defined as the middle 50th percentile) typically score 1490–1590 on the SATs

Part 4: BS/DDS admissions strategies

What can your child do to have the best chances of acceptance into a BS/DDS program?

A strong academic performance, including science and math coursework at the highest level their school offers, will be the foundation of their application. Excellent letters of recommendation will also make a difference. Beyond this, here are three other admissions factors that will help your child stand out from the crowd.

BS/DDS extracurriculars

One of the most important things that BS/DDS applicants should demonstrate is a well-founded commitment to the dental profession. In order to do this, your child should aim to have a variety of extracurricular experiences in the dental field. In addition, extracurriculars through which your child displays initiative and leadership are valued as an indication of their maturity.

One extracurricular that your child should consider a “must” is shadowing a dentist, which will show that they have a realistic idea of what a dentist’s day-to-day work consists of. To learn more about shadowing, review our guide to shadowing physicians as its advice applies equally to arranging shadowing hours with a dentist.

While experiences closely related to dentistry are, of course, most relevant and should be prioritized, other clinical, research, or community service experiences having to do with healthcare or science will also support your child’s application, demonstrating that they are generally passionate about science and caring for others. For instance, they might work as a biology research assistant and volunteer at a nursing home in addition to completing dentist shadowing hours and volunteering at a dental health clinic for the underserved.

BS/DDS supplemental essays

Most BS/DDS programs will require your child to complete a supplemental application in addition to the regular college application that all applicants fill out. This means writing extra essays that specifically address their interest in each program on top of their main Common App essay.

While supplemental essay prompts will vary between programs, there is one ubiquitous question that your child can anticipate: some version of “Why are you interested in dentistry?” Variations on this question are used by nearly all BS/DDS programs that require supplemental essays, including Stony Brook, UConn, Marquette, Case Western Reserve, and more.

Here’s how one applicant, Jina, handled this question for her BS/DDS application to Virginia Commonwealth University.

Here’s Jina’s response:

My family’s home is filled with hand-built sculptures and pottery thrown on wheels. My parents aren’t art collectors, but we joke that our house is my museum. Ever since childhood, I’ve loved making things from clay, and over time I’ve developed dexterous hands and an eye for form in the name of self-expression.

Simultaneously, I’ve always felt drawn towards—and excelled in—math and science. The intricacy of anatomy and the thrill of solving complex equations have compelled me in different but equal ways from art. In considering future paths, I’ve wondered what careers exist in which both callings could thrive. I’ve asked myself: Could I be an architect? An engineer?

Freshman year, I got to know a dentist when her family moved in next door. When our new neighbors came over for dinner, I was surprised when Dr. Im complimented my sculptures in detail and confessed to being an art lover herself. In speaking with her about her work, I realized that dentistry fit what I was looking for.

Since then, I’ve sought ways to explore dentistry, such as shadowing Dr. Im and volunteering at a community dental clinic. These experiences have confirmed that dentistry combines my passions for science, design, and hands-on work. They’ve also shown me other sides of dentistry that speak to me, like the ability to help others while developing long-term patient relationships. For these reasons, I know that dentistry is the career for me and one I’m excited to pursue at VCU.

What works about this essay?

  • Jina uses vivid anecdotes, including a unique opening hook, to illustrate how she is passionate about both science and art. Not only do these anecdotes add texture to her essay, they also set up a dilemma: how can Jina satisfy both of her interests?
  • Towards the end of the essay, Jina conveys that dentistry relies on the skills she’s already shown us she has, and she demonstrates that she’s made a point to thoroughly explore the field. As such, her conclusion that dentistry is the right career for her feels convincing and earned.
  • With a longer word count, Jina might add more details on her extracurricular experiences or elaborate on how dentistry combines her various interests. However, given that she only has space for 250 words, she does an excellent job of memorably making the case that she and dentistry are made for each other.

BS/DDS interviews

Some BS/DDS programs require interviews for candidates who make it past the initial rounds of application review. An invitation to interview means that your child’s grades, test scores, essays, and other application materials have already proven them to be a qualified candidate. That’s why, in preparing for interviews, your child doesn’t need to anticipate being quizzed on their knowledge of dentistry or science.

The purpose of an interview is to get a better sense of important qualities that may not be evident on paper, like your child’s personality, interpersonal skills, and maturity—and to determine if they are a fit for the program.

While there’s no way of knowing what questions your child will be asked, having answers ready for the following standard questions will help them prepare for a successful interview.

Common BS/DDS interview questions

  • Why do you want to become a dentist? There are many different reasons why your child might want to become a dentist, from caring for others to independence in the workplace. In answering this question, they should focus on the reasons that are relevant to them while conveying genuine passion for the field. They shouldn’t discuss a desire to earn a high salary.
  • Why are you interested in dentistry rather than medicine? Many applicants find this question difficult but your child should remember that nearly any reason can be valid as long as it’s presented in a positive light. For example, your child might prefer the gratification of easily fixing patients’ issues over the uncertainty of treating long-term diseases. Their response should focus on the unique aspects of dentistry that compel them and not on comparisons between the two fields that paint dentistry in a negative light, such as “it’s harder to get into medical school.”
  • What previous dental or healthcare experiences have you had? Your child should discuss their past experiences while emphasizing how those experiences influenced their decision to go into dentistry.
  • What interests you about BS/DDS programs? While your child might be motivated by the thought of completing their schooling early or saving a year’s worth of tuition, they shouldn’t mention that here. Rather, a strong answer will focus on their commitment to becoming a dentist and how a concentrated course of study will help them accomplish this goal.
  • What interests you about this specific program? Your child should thoroughly research the program in advance so they can speak fluently about its resources, curriculum, and ethos. They should be able to give specific examples that illustrate why the program is an excellent match for them and their aspirations.

Which BS/DDS programs should your child apply to?

To determine which BS/DDS programs your child should apply to, we recommend first evaluating each program’s admissions requirements in light of your child’s academic and extracurricular profile. Admissions offices may also be able to provide you with information regarding their acceptance rates.

Because BS/DDS programs vary in their selectivity, your child should plan on applying to a range of programs; an ideal mix would include “reach,” “target,” and “safety” programs.

We also suggest that your child apply to traditional undergraduate programs that boast strong science and pre-health curriculums alongside BS/DDS programs. This strategy ensures that, even if they are not accepted into a BS/DDS program, they will have an excellent foundation for applying to dental school in four years’ time.

Final thoughts

High school students with strong academic and extracurricular records who are 100 percent committed to becoming dentists have much to gain from attending a BS/DDS program. The most notable benefits are a focused and sometimes accelerated curriculum and the ability to avoid the stress and uncertainty of the dental school application process.

That said, BS/DDS programs are not the right choice for every aspiring dentist, such as those who want to keep other career choices open and those who desire the flexibility to follow other academic interests or participate in campus life during college.

If your child hopes to attend a BS/DDS program, they should focus on earning excellent grades and test scores, participate in extracurriculars that will give them experience in the dental field, and work hard on assembling top-notch application materials that demonstrate maturity and a well-founded commitment to dentistry.

Dr. Shirag Shemmassian is the Founder of Shemmassian Academic Consulting and one of the world’s foremost experts on college admissions. For nearly 20 years, he and his team have helped thousands of students get into top programs like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT using his exclusive approach.

Maddie Otto

By Maddie Otto

Maddie is a second-year medical student at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney and one of Level Medicine’s workshop project managers. Prior to studying medicine, she worked and studied as a musician in Melbourne. She has a background in community arts, which combined her love for both the arts and disability support. She is an advocate for intersectional gender equity, and is passionate about accessibility and inclusive practice within the healthcare system.