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What Kind of Bachelor's Degree Do You Need to Go Into Dentistry?

by Erica Loop

With a projected 21 percent increase in the amount of jobs between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dentistry is a field that is growing at a faster than average rate. If you have an interest in joining this profession, completing a post-bachelor's degree is a must. Although there isn't one singular degree that will get you into dental school, some college programs will provide you with the right requisites to ace your admissions application.

Biology Bachelor's Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that an undergraduate degree in biology is one way to start your road to dental school. A biology major provides the aspiring dental student with the scientific background that this professional-level school often requires. Although a biology degree won't guarantee you immediate entrance into dental school, it will show that you have an interest in the human sciences and provide you with the basics needed for a graduate program in dentistry. In the first two years of a dental school program, students study the human body and its biology, according to the American Dental Education Association. Having a firm grasp of biological concepts prior to starting school can help you in your dental school studies and give you a leg up on entry-level academics.

Chemistry Undergrads

The ADEA notes that 17.4 percent of dental school applicants in the 2010 through 2011 school year obtained chemistry -- or physical sciences -- majors. As a bachelor's degree, chemistry is only second to biology as an undergraduate major for dental students. most dental schools require at least some course work in chemistry for admissions. Earning this through a chemistry major can ensure you have met all of your physical science prerequisites. For example, East Carolina University requires all applicants to have at least eight semester hours, or one year, of inorganic chemistry along with one year of organic chemistry classes, with labs for both.

Pre-Dentistry Pre-Professionals

A pre-professional dental major in college will focus your undergraduate career on courses specific to this field. Although this major centers directly on dental topics and information, the ADEA notes that only 5.2 percent of the 2010 through 2011 school year applicants to dental school had this pre-professional degree. A pre-dental program, such as Walsh University's bachelor's degree, includes both biology and chemistry courses that are essential for dental school, such as microbiology, biochemistry and organic chemistry.

Liberal Arts

Given that there is no official undergraduate major to get into dental school, a liberal arts bachelor's degree is a general, all-purpose option. Liberal arts degrees include an array of classes from different arts and sciences areas. Getting a bachelor's degree in liberal arts means you have the freedom to take prerequisites like biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics that most dental schools require. Additionally, some dental schools -- such as East Carolina University -- also require less scientific types of study such as English. A liberal arts degree will give you the educational background to fulfill these types of non-medical requirements.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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