The quick guide to excel in asking the right questions and
choosing the perfect program for you
written by a Dental School Coach Admission Consultant
First and foremost, I would like to tell you a little bit about my journey. I graduated from undergrad with a low science and overall GPA – both sub 3.0. Even though I had a stellar resume, I knew I wasn’t competitive to apply to dental school, and that I would need to do a post-bac/master’s program. I spent hours and hours researching programs, applying, speaking to program directors about their respective programs, and even speaking to admissions counselors at different dental schools about their opinions on the different programs I was considering. Within 2 years of graduating from undergrad, I was accepted to my top-choice dental school, and I have since been able to thrive in the dental school coursework.
Why did I write this guide?
I have seen many of my friends, with GPAs and DAT scores higher than mine, complete a post-bac/master’s program, apply a few application cycles in a row, and not be able to get interviews. Many people think that simply doing a post-bac/master’s program will make them competitive for dental school admissions. However, while there is no right or wrong way of completing a post-bac/master’s program, it is crucial to be strategic in the decisions you make in order to enhance your competitiveness.
Those who could potentially benefit from doing a post-bac/master’s program, include, though not limited to:
1) You majored in a science, and have a low science GPA
2) You majored in a non-science, and have a low science GPA
3) You have been out of school for a while
4) You have a decent science GPA, but you want to get a strengthen your foundation on the basic sciences before starting dental school
General tips to consider:
1. Average GPA:
You want to make sure that your time, energy, and money is going to be well spent in completing the program, and that it will increase your competitiveness for dental school admissions. It is important that the GPA you come out with from the post-bac/master’s program is between 3.5-4.0, in order for the competitiveness of completing the post-bac/master’s program to not be lost. While 3.5 is not a cut-off and admissions varies from school to school, the higher the GPA obtained, the easier it is to prove to dental school admissions that you can handle the course load of dental school.
How do you find out the average GPA?
Check the website of the program, or call the program. The program director will know the answer, if all else fails.
2. Completion Time:
Many programs vary in the amount of time it takes to complete them, even if the total credits needed to graduate is the same: some require just 9 months, while others can take up to 2 years to complete 30 credits.
Certain dental schools will require you to complete the post-bac/master’s program before matriculating, however many do not. Keep in mind that dental schools have varying start dates – some start in June while others start in August. If you are planning to apply to dental schools during the duration of the post-bac/master’s program, consider the end date of the program (especially if a summer is required for the program), and the potential restrictions the date can have on which dental schools you can matriculate into based on the different start dates of the dental schools you are applying to.
How do you find out the completion time?
Check the website of the program to see how long is advertised to complete the program or call the program. You can also check with the program director to see if there can be any flexibility in program completion time.
3. Coursework Selection:
You don’t want to repeat too many courses that you have already taken. You may want to spend your time and energy on taking courses that you previously did not do as well in (you want to improve upon your knowledge of the subject or obtain a higher grade) or on courses that you may later encounter during your first year of dental school. You want to be strategic in choosing which classes to take in the program. Several post-bac/master’s programs have required classes that you must take to complete the program. If you have already taken many of the required/elective options of courses in the past, or if the required/elective courses of a particular program don’t emphasize the first year dental school curriculum as much as you’d like, this is something to consider.
Another thing to consider is that some programs offer dental school classes to be taken by the master’s program students. You may want to weigh its rigor, the potential outcome of it on your GPA, and the positive addition that taking the dental school course may have to your application.
Key tip: A program that offers Gross Anatomy with Human Cadaver Lab is a huge plus, and though not required, I would highly recommend taking the course in your post-bac/master’s program to help ease into taking the course in dental school
4. Linkage Programs:
Few post-bac/master’s programs do offer a linkage to dental schools. If you obtain a certain GPA in their program and have a certain DAT score, you may quality for an early review or a guaranteed interview at their school. You may want to inquire about how many people that qualified for the linkage were accepted to their dental school.
Here is a list of some programs and some highlights for each on things to consider:
1. Boston University, Master’s of Science in Oral Health Sciences
· Option of 1, 1.5, or 2 year completion time
o 12 months option goes from August to July of the next year
· Completed applications are due earlier than other programs, on May 1
· Program size is 35-40 students
· Application requires the submission of a DAT score
· Average DAT and GPA of the incoming class is a 19.5 and a 3.05
· Program allows students to take dental school coursework
· 90 percent of graduates matriculate into a U.S. dental school
· Requires a thesis/capstone
2. Case Western University, Master’s of Science in Physiology
· Program can be completed in 12 months, however on a much more rigorous pace than if completed in 1.5 or 2 years
o Program can be completed in 9 months, however it is not recommended by the program directors
· A portion of or the entire program can be completed on campus or online
· Program size is about 150-175 students total
· Successful completion of the program requires passing the National Board of Medical Examiner’s Shelf-Exams in Physiology and Neurophysiology
· Core physiology curriculum of human systems is completed in a block format throughout the first year
· 30 credits are required to complete the program, out of which a minimum of 20 are required in physiology courses
3. Tulane University, Master’s of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology
· 2 semesters; 9 months completion time
· Average test scores and GPA of the incoming students in the dental track: 20 academic average, 20 total science, and a 3.5 GPA
· Program size is 30 students total in the medical, research, and dental track combined
· Key elective courses offered to consider taking: Gross Anatomy with Human Cadaver Lab and Head and Neck Anatomy with Human Cadaver Lab
· There is a vast variety of elective course options to choose from
4. Rutgers University, Masters in Biomedical Sciences, Dental Scholars Track
· Offers a guaranteed interview to their dental school if you obtain a 3.7 GPA in the program, 20 academic average, and a 20 total science
· Program allows students to take dental school coursework
· Can obtain a concentration in Oral Biology as part of your master’s degree that is awarded
· Key elective courses offered to consider taking: Fundamentals in Dental Materials Science and Sensory Physiology of Masticatory System
· There are 30 credits required to complete the program, out of which 6 can be transferred from another program, including dental schools. This may allow you to matriculate into dental school, after finishing 24 credits in the master’s program, and complete the master’s degree while in dental school.
o Disclaimer: This may only be done if your dental school doesn’t require you to complete the degree before matriculating. You may also need to check with both programs for final confirmation that it can be done.
· Over 55 percent of graduating dental scholars program students are accepted to one or more dental schools
5. Barry University, Masters in Biomedical Sciences
· Successful completion of the program requires passing the comprehensive biomedical sciences exam at the end of the program
· Students in the program utilize an Anatomage table (in replacement of human cadavers) for gross anatomy coursework
· Your acceptance letter to the program will tell you how long you can complete the program in – it can vary from 1, 1.5, or 2 years, depending on your previous test scores and GPA
6. University of South Florida, Master’s of Science in Medical Sciences
· Program can be completed in 12 months
· Key elective courses offered to consider taking: Gross Anatomy Lab with human cadavers
· Required coursework entails a solid list of courses that are applicable and similar to the first year dental school curriculum