Would you like to know the degree needed to become a dentist? If your ultimate professional goal is to work in dentistry, it is going to take a great deal of time to earn your degree, get into dental school and then complete the dental program. It can be very intimidating to look at just at the average length of time that it takes to get licensed from the time that you enroll in your first college class to the time that you complete your residency. Instead at looking at time frames and the average amount of time students spend to become a dentist, you should focus on mapping out a path that you can take so that you can narrowly look at each leg of the journey.
Earning Your Bachelor’s Degree in the Right Field
The first step that you will take to make it to dental school is earning your undergraduate degree. As you start to sift through program brochures and course lists, it is easy to assume that you must major in a specific field before you will gain entry into a competitive dental program. While there are prerequisites that you need to know, you can really possess a bachelor’s degree in any major as long your academic history is excellent.
When you choose a major, knowing what the common educational prerequisites of a dental school are is still very important. This is because most programs will require you to have certain science courses under your belt before you can apply. Because of this, many students choose to earn the Bachelor of Science in majors like biology, chemistry, physics, and related fields to avoid complications.
Taking a Pre-dental Preparation Program
It could be helpful to see if the schools in your area offer pre-dental programs in their biology departments. If they do, you take all of the courses that prepare admissions requirements without having any gaps. You can also begin to prepare for the Dental Admissions Test early on before you even get into dental school. Some of the courses that you will take include microbiology, organic chemistry, and calculus, according to the American Dental Association.
Apply to Dental School and Complete the Program
After spending three to four years studying full-time for your bachelor’s degree, you can begin scheduling your appointment to take the Dental Admissions Test. When you take this standardized test it will show admissions councils if you are ready for the advanced coursework you will take in dental school. If you submit your application within the deadline and are accepted, you will spend four years completing curriculum in dental school. You will either earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery or a Doctor of Dental Medicine depending on your career goals. As you complete courses, you will also complete clinical practicums in the last years.
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After you are done with your dental school program, you must review the state board requirements to get licensed to practice. The exam will consist of a written portion and also a practical portion where your hands-on skills are tested. It might sound simply in writing, but the time that it takes to get all of this done can be eight or more years depending on your current progress. While there is not one degree needed to become a dentist, there are good choices that will get you into dental school faster.