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DDS Admissions: Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs)

Academic Preparation
Letters of Recommendation
Dental Admission Test (DAT)

Academic Preparation

Do I need a Bachelor’s degree?
No. However you will need to finish all required courses/units specified under admission requirements. For your information, approximately 98% of those accepted at UCSF have completed a Bachelor’s degree upon matriculation. A degree is strongly recommended because it provides you with a broad, liberal education. A degree also provides you with a major field of study.

Does it matter what size academic load I carried in undergraduate school?
We recommend that applicants carry a full academic load (15-16 credits hours) per semester and suggest taking a minimum of 3-4 science courses each term. This gives you a chance to preview what is in store for you in dental school (i.e., a full course load which cannot be taken part time). At the same time, it gives us the opportunity to better evaluate your potential for performance in the dental school curriculum.

Does it matter which undergraduate school I attend?
Generally, no. However, be certain that the college or university is accredited. For more information on accredited schools visit:

Must I major in Biology or the sciences?
No. The choice of a major is yours. Choose a course of study that interests you. However, if you choose a non-science major, we recommend that you take additional upper division science course work beyond the prerequisites.

Do you recommend other courses?
Any course in Biology related to growth and development such Microbiology and Human Anatomy are highly recommended. Other recommendations would include- Physiology, Embryology or Histology.

What if a grade of less than a “C” is received in a prerequisite course?
We require a grade of a least a “C” in all prerequisites. Therefore, you must retake any prerequisites in which you originally earned less than a “C”.

How recent does my prerequisite course work need to be?
It is recommended that an applicant apply within 5 years of taking the science prerequisites. Although course work older than 5 years is still eligible to be submitted as part of the admissions process, it is to your advantage to retake all or part of this course work because the sciences change rapidly and the information you learned may be out of date. It is also assumed that upon entering dental school you will have a ready command of the basic sciences. Unless you have applied the material regularly since you took the courses, this is unlikely. Any applicant in this situation should do an honest self-assessment of their retention of the basic sciences and decide from that on which courses to retake.

Is there a minimum grade point average I must attain?
Yes, California residents must have at least a 2.70 GPA overall academic as well as in the sciences in order to be eligible to apply. All other applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA overall academic and in the sciences in order to be eligible to apply.

Does the UCSF School of Dentistry offer counseling to prospective students?
No. Unfortunately, the School does not have sufficient staff resources to offer this service. Prospective students should seek advice from the advisor at their undergraduate institution, or visit for information on UC, CSU, and California Community College courses approved to meet our prerequisites.
Prospective applicants who have attended school outside of California should seek advice from the advisor at their undergraduate institution.

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How do I apply to dental school?
Begin the process by submitting an application through the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS). This application is Web-based and may be accessed at

Do you give preference to California residents? If I grew up in California, but I am going to school out of state, can I still apply as a California resident?
No, we do not give a preference to California residents. To determine California residency requirements please visit the Registrar’s website at:

How early may I apply?
The AADSAS application becomes available in June.

Must I complete all required courses before I apply?
No. However, we recommend that you have completed most of the science courses prior to taking the required Dental Admission Test (DAT). All prerequisite courses must be completed by the end of the spring term of the year you wish to enroll.

How will I know when you have received my application from the application service (AADSAS)?
The School will verify receipt of your application by e-mail; typically an AADSAS application is received at our school 4-6 weeks after you submitted the application (assuming all transcripts have also been received by AADSAS). Applicants should check their status through the AADSAS website. Please note: The Office of Admissions does not provide application status updates via e-mail or over the phone.

What is the deadline for applications?
The UCSF deadline is October 15th. AADSAS applications must be electronically submitted no later than 9:00 PM (PST). All transcripts, letters of recommendation and DAT scores must also be received at AADSAS by this date. Official copies of foreign transcripts and document evaluations must be received by the Dental Admissions Office by this date.

Is a Supplemental Application required?
Yes. If you meet our minimum eligibility requirements you will need to submit a Supplemental Application. Instructions for submitting this application will only be sent to eligible applicants via e-mail.

Whom do I make the application fee payment to? Can I send it in before you receive the AADSAS application?
Do not send any payments to UCSF. Our receipt of your AADSAS application initiates the application process. If you meet our minimum eligibility requirements you will be sent information via e-mail on how to submit a Supplemental Application with the required fee.

When will I be notified of acceptance?
Admission offers are made between December and March in accordance with an agreement among dental schools.

What does “Provisional Admit” mean?
It indicates that your final admission is contingent upon (a) maintaining your GPA, (b) the receipt of your deposit, (c) the receipt of your final transcript with degree posted, and (d) other documents as required.

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Letters of Recommendation

How many letters of recommendation are required?
Three letters of recommendation are required, one of which must be from a science instructor (e.g., Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy). See Application Procedures for additional details.

Although three letters are required, what do I do if my classes were large and the professors did not know me well?
Make an appointment to talk to the professors to ask for letters of recommendation. Use your appointment to discuss your experience and your career goals with the professor. The most important part of any letter is an indication that the writer knows you reasonably well and supports your application.

Must letters be originals, or will you accept photocopies?
UCSF does not accept any letters of recommendation that are sent directly to our office. All letters of recommendation should be sent directly to AADSAS in accordance to their instructions. AADSAS prefers that letters be submitted electronically, however paper copies of letters may also be submitted. Please note that paper letters must be originals on official letter head.

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Dental Admission Test (DAT)

My DAT scores meet your minimum requirement, but I am planning on retaking the DAT. Will you hold my application until the new scores arrive?
No. If we receive your AADSAS application with valid DAT scores that meet our requirements, your file will enter the review process.

My DAT scores do not meet your minimum requirement, but I am planning on retaking the DAT. Will you hold my application until the new scores arrive?
Yes, but only if you indicate on your AADSAS application that you will be retaking the DAT prior to our October 15th deadline, and if the new scores arrive prior to the October 15th deadline.

When should I take the DAT?
No later than September 15th of the year preceding the anticipated date of entry. We recommend that you complete as many science courses as possible before taking the DAT.

How should I prepare for the DAT?
Contact the Dental Admission Testing Program for information on how to prepare for the DAT:

What is the minimum acceptable DAT score?
All applicants must have minimum DAT scores of 17 in the Total Science and Academic Average sections; however competitive applicants usually have scores greater or equal to 20 in all or most areas.

How long are my DAT scores good for?
Scores are only valid for two years from the opening date of the AADSAS application.

Are Canadian DAT scores acceptable?
No, all applicants must take the US DAT.

How many times may I take the DAT?
The ADA has implemented a life-time limit of no more than three times. An applicant who fails to achieve competitive scores in three attempts should seriously consider their suitability for dentistry.

If I have taken the DAT more than once, which score is used in the review of my application?
Your most recent scores are used in the review of your application.

Are there certain science courses I should complete before taking the DAT?
Yes. The DAT contains sections on Biology, General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry that require a substantial knowledge base.


Is an interview required of all applicants?
Interviews are by invitation only. An interview is required for admission; however, the interview does not guarantee that an applicant will be offered a place in the class.

How many applicants are interviewed per day at UCSF? How many total applicants are interviewed?
Typically 24 applicants are interviewed per day. Approximately 250-275 applicants are interviewed per year.

What time does the interview day begin and end?
Interview days begin in the morning and last through the late afternoon. The interview day includes a tour, presentations, and information sessions.

What do I need to bring on my interview day? Where do I check-in?
No additional application materials are required for the interview day. We recommend wearing comfortable shoes for the tour of the school and facilities. You will receive specific information in the interview confirmation letter sent prior to your interview via e-mail.

Will breakfast and lunch be provided at the interview?

Who will interview me?
Usually a faculty member and a dental student will interview you. You are encouraged to bring questions for your interviewers. We want this to be a two-way conversation. It is not intended to be a stressful situation.

How should I dress for the interview?
Professional or casual business attire is appropriate. Jeans, shirts without ties or low-cut blouses, shorts, skirts above the knees, tennis shoes, etc. are not appropriate. You must remember that this is a professional environment and to dress accordingly.

Can I sit in on classes or enter into the clinics?
Unfortunately, we are unable to offer this experience.

What can I do with my luggage during my interview day?
Luggage can be stored in the room where the interviews are taking place. A staff member will be present at all times to insure it does not go missing.

Do you have a student housing program for applicants during the interview period?
No, we do not have this option. For information about short term lodging you can visit:

What is the best way to travel to UCSF?
Public transportation is recommended you can find details and directions at: Parking around this area is for residents with permits or 2 hour street parking. There is a parking garage on campus, rates can be found at:

How are students selected to fill the class?
Selection is based upon academic performance, DAT scores, personal characteristics, leadership experience, community awareness, and potential for success as determined by letters of recommendation, the personal interview and the statement responses in both the AADSAS application and the UCSF Supplemental Application.

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Does UCSF require a minimum number of dental volunteer or shadowing hours?

UCSF does not have a minimum requirement for dental volunteer or shadowing hours.

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Does UCSF require research to apply?

UCSF does not require research experience.