Post-Secondary Education Required for Dentists


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the need for dentists will increase by 9 percent through 2016, resulting in the creation of 13,000 jobs for general dentists. In addition to passing the required licensing examination, prospective dentists must complete required post-secondary education.


  • In the United States, the required post-secondary education for dentists is attending one of the 56 dental program approved by the American Dental Association's (ADA's) Commission on Dental Accreditation. Most dentists receive bachelor's degrees in a field like chemistry or biology before attending dental school, but some programs admit students with only two to three years of undergraduate study, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


  • Dental programs grant either Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.D.M.) degrees. The programs incorporate both classroom work in courses like anatomy and physiology with hands-on clinical experience.

Time Frame

  • Dentists who receive bachelor's degrees typically require four years to complete their undergraduate post-secondary education. Dental programs usually require four years of study.


  • The average cost of dental school is between $20,000 and $50,000. Some dental schools offer discounted rates for students who are residents in the state in which the school is located.


  • Although dental school involves a large time and monetary investment, the financial benefits are considerable. In October 2009, the average annual salary range for dentists was between $81,962 and $191,655, according to

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