Monday, August 6, 2012

Do I need to major in the sciences?

This is a common question for someone planning to go to dental school (or med school or any other health professions, for that matter).

The fact is that you don’t need a Bachelor’s degree to get into dental school. Some schools strongly suggest you finish your bachelor’s degree by the time you start dental school, but many others only require certain prerequisite classes.


For University of Pennsylvania, minimum prerequisites for admissions are:

- One year of biology and lab
- Three semesters of chemistry and lab
- One year of English
- One semester mathematics (calculus preferred)
- One year of physics
- One semester of biochemistry

That is about 40 credits in addition to whatever you choose to major in. These are tough classes- biochemistry kicked my butt when I took it. But it is only 40 credits. If you take one or two every semester during your four years (or have AP’d out of them), it’s not so hard.

I think you should major in whatever you want to study. What would you do if you didn’t go to dental school? Then choose the path and the degree required for that path. If you don’t have a concrete plan, find whatever your passion is and study it. Plus, the fact is that your undergraduate days will be a great chance (if not last) to brush up on classes not-dentistry-related.

You can look through the ADEA Guide to Dental Schools and see how much of each dental school’s applicants are entering dental school with a Bachelor’s degree- or a Master’s or even a PhD.

At my interviews, when we did our usual round of introductions, more than half of the people had studied something different in school: English, Psychology, Art History, Chemical Engineering… I think it’s admirable when you have a passion that reaches outside of your career.

(And the picture is cow dung pieces from Haslla hanging in the sculpture garden- I just think it’s really cool and had to share this!)