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Can I Apply to Dental School If I Haven’t Finished All My Prerequisite Classes?

Stressed student

Applying to dental school is a huge step—exciting, nerve-wracking, and a bit overwhelming all at once. You've probably been hitting the books hard, gathering experiences, and prepping for the DAT, all while trying to keep your GPA up. But what happens if you’re ready to apply and realize you haven’t checked off all those pre-requisite classes? Panic mode, right?

Take a deep breath. You’re definitely not alone in this boat.

In this post, we’re going to tackle the big question: Can you apply to dental school if you haven’t finished all your pre-requisite classes?

Here’s the good news: Most students have been exactly where you are now and have successfully navigated their way into dental programs. Whether you’re missing a class or two or still have a few more to go, we’re going to break down what you can do. We'll chat about how to strategically apply even if you haven't finished all your prereqs to maximize your efficiency in undergrad and dental school application.

So if you’re stressing over missing some pre-reqs and worried it might derail your plans, don’t sweat it! We’ve got tips, advice, and plenty of encouragement to help you move forward with confidence.

Let’s get started!

What is a Prerequisite Course?

A prerequisite course is a class that must be completed before advancing to higher-level coursework or gaining admission to programs like dental school. These courses are meticulously designed to ensure that all students possess a foundational understanding and the essential skills needed to succeed in more advanced academic settings.

Prerequisite courses function as critical building blocks in your educational journey. They lay the groundwork for future learning by equipping you with a comprehensive understanding of core concepts. This ensures a standardized level of preparedness among students, facilitating a more seamless transition to complex subject matter and a cohesive learning experience.

Appreciating the significance of these prerequisite courses is paramount for those aspiring to dental school. Dental school admission committees will review your grades from your prerequisite classes to assess if you are prepared for the rigors of dental school. They underpin your readiness for the demanding dental education curriculum and doing well in these classes is integral to a competitive application.

Why Are Prerequisite Courses Necessary for Dental School?

Understanding the necessity of prerequisite courses is crucial for aspiring dentists. These foundational classes in biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics provide essential groundwork for the complexities of dental education. They are not just about passing exams; they lay the groundwork for mastering advanced dental concepts and techniques.

Admissions committees scrutinize your performance in these courses because they indicate your readiness for the rigorous academic environment of dental school. Excelling in these prerequisites not only enhances your application but also demonstrates your capability to handle the demanding coursework and clinical training required in dental practice.

In essence, prerequisite courses serve as the cornerstone of your dental career. They cultivate the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for effective dental practice, ensuring you are well-prepared to navigate the challenges and responsibilities of professional dentistry.

DAT Masterclass

Prerequisites for Dental School

If you're considering a career in dentistry, it's important to understand the prerequisites for dental schools. These educational requirements are essential for admission to dental programs and are designed to ensure that students have a solid foundation of knowledge in preparation for the more advanced courses of dental school.

Understanding these prerequisites early on can help you plan and prepare for a successful ADEA AADSAS application to dental school. 

To see all the dental school requirements you will need to complete before dental school, check out our comprehensive guide to dental school prerequisite courses. Below is a summary of dental school prerequisite classes.

Biology Dental School Requirements

Biology classes that are typically required for dental school include:

  • General Biology I & II: 6 semester hours/credit hours (2 semester units)

  • General Biology with Lab: 1 semester hours/credit hours (1 semester unit)

  • Microbiology: 3 semester hours/credit hours (1 semester units)

  • Microbiology Lab: 1 semester hour/credit hour (1 semester unit)

Inorganic/General Chemistry Dental School Requirements

Inorganic/general chemistry classes that are typically required for dental school include:

  • General Chemistry I & II: 6-7 semester hours/credit hours (2 semester units)

  • General Chemistry Lab: 1-2 semester hours/credit hours (1 semester unit)

Organic Chemistry Dental School Requirements

Organic chemistry classes that are typically required for dental school include:

  • Organic Chemistry I & II: 6 semester hours/credit hours (2 semester units)

  • Organic Chemistry Lab: 1-2 semester hours/credit hours (1 semester unit)

Additional Science Dental School Requirements

Additional science classes that are typically required for dental school include:

  • Biochemistry I: 3 semester hours/credit hours (1 semester unit)

  • Physics: 6 semester hours/credit hours (2 semester units)

  • Physics lab: 2 semester hours/credit hours (2 semester units)

Depending on the dental school you plan to attend, you may also be required to take: 

  • Human Anatomy with Lab: 3-4 semester hours/credit hours (1 semester unit)

  • Physiology: 3 semester hours/credit hours (1 semester unit)

  • Genetics: 3 semester hours/credit hours (1 semester unit)

Additional Courses: 

Many dental schools require humanities courses and other prerequisite course requirements, such as:

  • Mathematics: 3 semester hours/credit hours (1 semester unit)

  • English: 6 semester hours/credit hours (2 semester units)

  • Psychology: 3 semester hours/credit hours (1 semester unit)

Do all the prerequisite classes have to be completed before submitting my dental school application?

When preparing to apply to dental school, many prospective students often question whether all prerequisite classes must be finished before submitting their application.

The answer is that while not all dental school prerequisites need to be completed at the time of application, they must be finished before matriculation (before you start dental school).

With that said, there are some classes that prospective dental students should prioritize to complete before their ADEA AADSAS application.

My Roadmap to Dental School

Recommended classes before starting the dental school application process

Before applying to dental school, it’s important for prospective students to strategically choose courses that will best prepare them for the challenging curriculum ahead. While a variety of classes can be beneficial, certain courses should be prioritized.

But why should certain courses be prioritized? Part of the ADEA AADSAS application includes taking in the Dental Admission Test (DAT). It’s worth noting that the DAT doesn’t cover topics from all dental school prerequisite courses. To see the complete list of topics covered on the DAT, check out this article on the topic.

In essence, pre-dental students should focus on completing courses in biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry before taking the DAT and applying to dental school. Mastering these subjects will significantly enhance readiness for the DAT, which is a critical component of the dental school application process.

Classes you can complete after applying

While pre-dental students will naturally take a range of courses besides biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry before applying, these subjects should take priority.

So, what classes can you leave to take after applying? These may include biochemistry, human anatomy, physics, English courses, or others.

Let's explore an example of how this approach has benefited current dental students and how it can work for you.

Example of When to Take Prerequisite Classes

Let's take a look at when I took each prerequisite class during college.

Freshman Year

  • General Chemistry I

  • General Chemistry II

  • General Chemistry Lab

  • Biology I

  • English I

Sophomore Year

  • Biology II

  • Biology Lab

  • Human Anatomy

  • Physiology

Junior Year

  • Organic Chemistry I

  • Organic Chemistry II

  • Organic Chemistry Lab

  • English II

  • Math

Senior Year

  • Physics I

  • Physics II

  • Physics Labs I & II

  • Biochemistry

What does all this mean?

As you can see, I prioritized the classes that would appear on the DAT before taking the DAT between my Junior and Senior years of undergrad. This was done to ensure I had created a solid foundation of knowledge before beginning his DAT study.


In conclusion, it's important to reiterate that not all dental school prerequisite classes need to be completed before applying. Students should carefully plan which courses to take before the DAT and application, seeking guidance from a dental school advisor.

Dental School Coaching

Working with an advisor can help navigate the admissions process, strategically plan when to take each prerequisite class, and ultimately improve your chances of acceptance.

Additionally, advisors can assist with crafting a compelling personal statement and preparing for interviews. This is especially beneficial for students with complex academic backgrounds. By seeking support from a dental school advisor, students can effectively plan their path to dental school and increase their chances of success.

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