Skip to main content

Sign into the Catawba College community portal:

Login to CatLink

Future Students

Apply online or check the status of your Admissions application:

Admission Portal

REMAIN AT CATAWBA  |  Take the Pledge  |  Ask a Question


Pre-Professional Advising

Advising to Meet Dental School Requirements

PREPARE TO make the world a brighter place WITH A CAREER IN dental MEDICINE

Colleges and universities do not have “Pre-Dental” majors. However, dental schools require that you complete the prerequisite coursework for admission. Because much of the required coursework is in the sciences, most Pre-Dental students select Biology, Biochemistry, or Chemistry as their majors. As long as the required prerequisite courses are taken, any major can be pursued. Be sure to check each of your prospective Dental program's prerequisite course requirements, as they can vary from institution to institution.

You should let your academic advisor know as soon as possible that admission to dental school is your post-graduation goal. Your advisor will work with you to ensure that you take the required prerequisite coursework, complete the required hours of clinical experience if necessary,  and mentor you towards research experiences that will broaden your training and make your application stand out. 

Pre-Dentistry students at Catawba College should take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) at least a year prior to seeking admission to dentistry school. The DAT measures a student's general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability. Students pursuing a career in dentistry should complete at least one year of courses at Catawba in Biology and general and organic Chemistry before taking the DAT.


Catawba students who wish to enter dental school are not required to major in a science-related field. However, since completion of the predental requirements is necessary for admission to dental school, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that students earn an undergraduate college degree in preparation for dentistry school. In fact, most dental students have completed at least four years of college.

The DAT score ranges from 1 to 30, with 18 being the average on a national scale.  The average DAT score for students accepted into dental school is 19.9 and the average GPA is 3.50. 

We highly recommend that students planning to attend dental school call the admissions offices at the institutions at which they wish to apply and ask for the average GPA and DAT scores for their most recent admitted class. Those scores should be the goal!


While it is important to have good GPA and DAT scores, most dental schools want to know that they are admitting well-rounded individuals that have such qualities as the desire to help people, self-confidence, the ability to meet challenges, the ability to get along with people and the capacity to work independently. There are many experiences that students can have while at Catawba College to demonstrate their commitment in these areas: 

Student at Catawba College using a microscope
Clinical Experience.

Catawba students can get some of the best clinical experience by shadowing a dentist, or completing a dental medicine internship. We recommend students seek out opportunities as early and often as possible, keeping an accurate and detailed journal of your experiences including dates, locations, contact information, and if it was paid or volunteer-based. The number of hours and a synopsis of the work involved should also be recorded. 

Catawba College Student Interning

Students at Catawba College have the option of doing an Independent Study with a faculty member. Look into summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) through the National Science Foundation (NSF) and internships at the North Carolina Research Campus.

Catawba College Student Networking

Network and make connections with professionals that can write good letters of recommendation. Most programs require multiple letters, some of which should be from dentists or scientists that can comment on your specific abilities and personal qualities that would make you an excellent dentist. Your goal should be to have at least one practicing dentist write a letter of strong recommendation on your behalf.

Catawba College Students working together
Team and Leadership Experience.

Get experience working well with others by becoming an active participant in one or more of the many clubs and organizations at Catawba College.



The Preparation You Need.



Most dental schools use the following as selection criteria for admission:

    • Completion of Prerequisite Coursework
    • Overall GPA and GPA of Required Courses
    • Score on the DAT
    • Dental Office Shadowing Experiences
    • Letter of Recommendation
    • Application through the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS)
    • Interview





Ideally, Catawba College students planning to attend dental school should take the DAT in the spring semester of their junior year. 

Many practices tests are available online and at bookstores.
Try a DAT preparation test, such as those offered by Kaplan. They are expensive but tend to result in higher scores.
Prepare for the DAT, but also be sure to relax the day you take your exam. If you have a positive mental attitude while taking the test, you can often do better on the test!


"It's as simple as doing what you're supposed to do. Work your tail off and you will get into the best schools for med, vet, PA, dentistry, pharm, bio, chem! There is absolutely no substitute for hard work. Don't let it fly by wishing you had worked harder.

"Professors [at Catawba] are so welcoming and patient, willing to meet with the students one-on-one. Furthermore, the students are not competing against each other, but rather encouraging and helping each other. I realized life in the sciences couldn't possibly be that hard when you have the right people encouraging you every step of the way."

Israel Santiago Suarez '17
Biology Graduate; Currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry at Wake Forest University



Get connected with the Pre-Health Club at Catawba College. In this organization, you’ll have the opportunity to meet alumni that have walked your same path towards a health career, as well meet other students with similar goals.

Pre-Health Advisory Committee 

The Catawba College Pre-Health Advisory Committee provides advisement on preparing for admission to dental school. These faculty advisors also write "Committee Letters" of recommendation and offer students mock interviews to help practice for the real thing. We are here to help you!


Prerequisite Courses for Admission to Dental School
Prerequisite Courses for Admission to Dental School

NOTE: The exact prerequisite courses vary from one dentistry school to the next. You should always refer to the admission requirements for the dental school to which you are interested in applying, and follow those guidelines.

  • 8 hours Biology with lab
  • 8 hours Physics
  • 8 hours English
  • 8 hours General Chemistry with lab
  • 8 hours Organic Chemistry with lab

Majoring in a science field is not a must, but completion of predental requirements is necessary for admission to dental school.