The 20 Best Doctor of Dentistry Graduate Schools

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Updated: February 28, 2024, Reading time: 43 minutes

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Do you have a life’s dream of becoming an accomplished Dentist in your area? If so, get ready to dedicate yourself to the field, which includes spending your time, money, and efforts in earning a Doctor of Dentistry degree!

Many think that dentists only pull teeth, install braces and check oral health, among other conventional services, but you would be surprised. Dentists also perform body alterations, from making teeth appear like fangs to splitting the tongue!

In the technical and legal aspects, dentists can perform virtually anything their patients request, provided that it won’t create issues with function. 

Quick audio summary:

Although memories of going to your own dentist might not have been so pleasant, nonetheless, their services are invaluable when you have tooth pain, right? The field of dentistry is a lucrative one, so if you have the time and ambition, you could become a dentist yourself by entering a Doctor of Dentistry academic degree program. Good oral care can affect the patient’s overall health, making it a critical component in the healthcare industry.

As they do provide a wide range of services, you can choose a specialization if you have an interest in a particular area. Through clinical training, you can get the feel for a concentration that suits you or can open your own general dentistry practice. You will need to pass the National Board Dental Examination.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

History of Dentistry

The history of dentistry can be traced back from 7000 BC to 5500 BC or as early as the history of human civilization itself. Among the earliest evidence are teeth drilled with flint tools as a decay removal method. Such is the early adoption of dentistry, that it’s believed to be the first specialization in medicine! 

Doctor of Dentistry

Nowadays, dentistry is an evidence-based branch of medicine covering the study and prevention, diagnosis, and new treatments of illnesses and injuries of the oral cavity. The parts covered include the teeth, gums, and temporomandibular joint and the nervous, muscular, lymphatic, and vascular structures, as well as systemic health issues that support them. The official name given to practitioners of dentistry, also known as dental medicine, is dentists. 

Most, if not all, dental treatments cannot be carried out by a dentist alone, although it’s possible but more challenging. Instead, a dentist usually works with a team of dental auxiliaries to ensure safe, effective, and efficient treatments. The dental auxiliaries include dental assistants, dental technicians, dental hygienists, and dental therapists. 

A Dentist’s Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that dentists earned $159,530 in median annual wage (May 2022), among the highest-paid occupations. General dentists earn $155,040 per year on average, while specialists, such as orthodontists, prosthodontists, and oral surgeons, earn $174,000 and more per year. 


Dental schools are a dime a dozen, but for some of the best, you should check these out. The DMD or DDS degree programs featured here are graduate dental school programs in the sense that among their primary requirements for admission is a bachelor’s degree. These aren’t post-graduate programs for specializations, a distinction that must be made.

These were chosen based on the following criteria: 

See our Methodology page for more information.

20 Best Doctor of Dentistry Graduate Schools

University of Michigan School of Dentistry 

doctor of dentistry

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Doctor of Dental Surgery

UMich School of Dentistry is a 146-year-old institution that offers the best education in oral and craniofacial health and patient care, advanced research, and community service. Such is its excellence in all these areas that it’s our #1 dentistry school! The DDS degree program welcomes individuals who want entry-level qualifications in dentistry, and it’s the best program on UMich’s roster. 

Standout Features

Students become immersed in the clinical training experiences as early as their first year in the program through a patient-family arrangement. Instead of a requirement-based curriculum, it’s a competency-based program with vertical integration (i.e., each team is composed of students from all four-year levels). 

UMich was the world’s first state university to offer an education in dentistry and the second in the United States (Harvard University was the first). The School of Dentistry houses the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry, with several odd items like silk floss. 

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – Claude A. Adams Jr. and Grace Phillips Adams School of Dentistry

doctor of dentistry

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Doctor of Dental Surgery 

The UNC Adams School of Dentistry was the only one in The Tar Heel State until 2011, a 60-year gap between its founding and when East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine was established. The DDS program’s prestigious reputation comes from its innovative curriculum and groundbreaking technology, including digital dentistry in education.

Students have learning opportunities in underserved communities, dental clinics, and other healthcare settings during their clinical rotations. 

Standout Features

Students in the four-year program are encouraged to apply the Advocate-Clinician-Thinker framework in their studies and professional practice. UNC encourages its students to become passionate advocates for quality patient care. 

UNC Adams School of Dentistry is among the top 10 recipients of National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding, and its research breakthroughs are proof that it lives up to expectations. 

Harvard University School of Dental Medicine 

doctor of dentistry

Boston, Massachusetts

Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry

HSDM offers the DMD program and several advanced and specialty training programs, including a Ph.D. program. The DMD program is unique in that all students have dual citizenship, so to speak, in the School of Dental Medicine and the Medical School. This is because Harvard considers dental medicine to be a specialty of medicine. 

Standout Features

HSDM has several other educational options for students to choose from aside from the world-renowned DMD program. The five-year DMD program allows students to engage in advanced research or become engaged in foreign dental health projects. The Health Sciences and Technology (HST) Program welcomes Biomedical Research, Molecular Science, or Quantitative Science students. 

While Harvard’s motto emphasizes truth (Veritas), among its most popular attractions, contains lies! The Statue of Three Lies has three incorrect items – John Harvard was the university founder; Harvard was established in 1638, and the statue itself is John Harvard. 

University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry 

doctor of dentistry

San Francisco, California

Doctor of Dental Surgery 

The UCSF School of Dentistry is considered the oldest dental school in The Golden State and, with its uncontested reputation for academic excellence and research breakthroughs, it’s among the best schools! Its annual research funding is the highest among dental schools for more than 25 years, with a funding of $25.9 million in 2020.

The DDS program directly benefits from the research funding, particularly for students and faculty engaged in groundbreaking research. 

Standout Features

The UCSF School of Dentistry has remained true to its tradition of service and, thus, the DDS program has a service-oriented curriculum. Students are motivated to achieve academic and clinical excellence while also being actively engaged in community service projects. 

Student dentists work with residents and licensed dentists in consulting with more than 120,000 patient visits to the UCSF Dental Center every year. Their confidence in their abilities is developed early, resulting in the best learning and graduate outcomes. 

University of California Los Angeles – School of Dentistry

doctor of dentistry

Los Angeles, California

Doctor of Dental Surgery  

The UCLA School of Dentistry, a research-oriented school, is known for its highly selective DDS program and its dental and oral health research. Beyond its gates, the school is recognized for its outreach projects, including health fairs, dental services for underserved populations, and STEM pipeline programs.

Of course, its DDS program is among the more affordable programs, with graduates being less burdened by student loans. 

Standout Features

The UCLA School of Dentistry created a new unit known as Innovative Digital Dentistry Systems, where students learn digital dentistry and, thus, become forward-thinking individuals. 

The Wilson-Jennings-Bloomfield UCLA Venice Dental Center and UCLA Dental Clinics in Westwood are large dental clinics that serve as the training grounds for dentistry students. 

University of Washington School of Dentistry 

doctor of dentistry

Seattle, Washington

Doctor of Dental Surgery 

The UW School of Dentistry, the only one of its kind in The Evergreen State, is research-oriented, and among its research emphases are anxiety, immune response to pathogens, and orofacial pain. Endodontics, Oral Medicine, and Pediatric Dentistry are among the eight departments in the school, while the DDS program is among its most popular. 

Standout Features

The RIDE Program addresses the needs of oral healthcare professionals in rural and underserved communities in Washington State and the WWAMI region. The UW School of Dentistry partnered with the UW School of Medicine and Eastern Washington University for this program. 

UW School of Dentistry has several unique clinics that address non-traditional needs in the communities. The DECOD—Dental Education in Care of Persons with Disabilities, Autism Clinic, and Advanced General Dentistry are examples. 

University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

doctor of dentistry

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry 

Penn Dental lives up to its Ivy League reputation by offering the best dentistry education in The State of Pennsylvania and beyond. Part of the UPenn Health System, it’s an exceptional training ground for future dentists through its DMD program.

The program has a strong commitment to proficient knowledge and skill development among students but also educational flexibility. 

Standout Features

Active community involvement is the distinguishing characteristic of UPenn Dental’s DMD program. Students become part of community outreach programs that provide dental health services to communities, many of which are underserved.

More than 16,000 hours are logged in total by students every year in these community outreach projects. 

Every Honors student has the enviable opportunity of presenting their research work at the prestigious Penn Dental Research Day. The best students can win travel grants and other awards. 

SUNY University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine 

doctor of dentistry

Buffalo, Buffalo, New York

Doctor of Dental Surgery 

UB School of Dental Medicine is one of two dental schools in the SUNY system, and these are the only public dental schools in The Empire State. With its budget-friendly tuition and world-class education, it’s no wonder that UB’s DDS program is so popular among aspiring dentists both in and out of the state! 

Standout Features

UB is known for offering exceptional value in education, resulting in less student debt for its graduates. The student experience is characterized by rigorous didactic learning and clinical training complemented by service-oriented activities in the community. 

UB students play hard as much as they study and work hard! With 100 inches of snow every year, students celebrate it by holding a winter festival where ice skating and other fun activities are enjoyed. UB also has its International Fiesta which celebrates the diverse UB community through dance and music. 

New York University College of Dentistry 

doctor of dentistry

New York City, New York

Doctor of Dental Surgery

The NYU College of Dentistry is the country’s largest dental school, with its alumni comprising nearly 10% of its dentists! Founded in 1865, it’s also the nation’s third oldest dental school and has evolved to become among the best, too. Here, students prepare to become the next generation of leaders in the healthcare industry, pioneers of research and education, and innovators in patient care. 

Standout Features

Students develop their competence and confidence through hands-on clinical experiences in healthcare settings and community outreach experiences. Each cohort also has ready access to exceptional student success services, including academic advising, faculty mentoring, and peer tutoring. 

NYU College of Dentistry started its best-known community outreach program in 2000 called “Smiling Faces, Going Places.” This was the first mobile dentistry facility in the State of New York, and it’s a smashing success, too! But NYU students have a sweet tooth, too, and it’s evident in its annual Strawberry Festival, where a humongous strawberry shortcake is baked and shared. 

Columbia University College of Dental Medicine 

doctor of dentistry

New York City, New York

Doctor of Dental Surgery

CDM is considered among the most selective schools of dentistry in the country, with its students achieving exceptional GPAs, DAT scores, and other qualitative factors. The acceptance rate can be as low as 4%, so candidates must meet the program’s exacting standards and pass the rigorous admission process.

The DDS program has high academic standards that its faculty members, including general dentists and board-certified specialists, uphold. 

Standout Features

CDM’s DDS program is one of only four schools of dentistry that recognize the interrelated relationship between medicine and dentistry, not just dentistry as a specialty of medicine. Thus, dentistry and medical students learn together for 18 months in their first year. 

The Havemeyer 309 lecture hall is the most used hall in Hollywood movies and, thus, the most recognizable at Columbia. Spider-man, Mona Lisa’s Smile, and Ghostbusters are among the movies filmed here. Columbia isn’t lacking in Hollywood glamour via its alumni, too – James Franco, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Julia Stiles are among its famous alumni. 

The University of Colorado – School of Dental Medicine

doctor of dentistry

Aurora, Colorado

Doctor of Dental Surgery

CU Dental is the only school of dentistry in The Centennial State, but its renown as among the best isn’t limited to state borders. Established more than 40 years ago, its DDS program has produced the best dentists known for their competence, compassion, and commitment. 

Standout Features

Students also provide community services via The Advanced Clinical Training and Service (ACTS) program. This is an 8-month program conducted in underserved communities across Colorado. By the end of their final year, students are prepared to pass the dental licensure exams.

CU Boulder is the only AAU member in the Rocky Mountain Region, and it’s proof of its excellence as a research university. Its graduate programs are among the best in research in the country, and its roster of Nobel laureates is impressive. 

University of Florida College of Dentistry

doctor of dentistry

Gainesville, Florida

Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry 

The UF College of Dentistry, the only public school of dentistry in The Sunshine State, is part of the J. Hillis Miller Health Science Center. The DMD program is a small family of about 130 faculty members, 365 students, and 148 residents, fellows, and interns (2019). 

Standout Features

The Gator Dentist Advantage comes in many forms, from UF being among the country’s best universities to diverse student experiences. Students develop their dentistry skills in and out of the classroom and outside of the university’s gates through community service. The UF Statewide Network for Community Oral Health program enables students to perform their clinical rotations in and out of the country. 

UF has two mascots – Albert and Alberta! But UF isn’t just about sports and fun either, and its land, sea, and space grants are proof of it. 

University of Maryland School of Dentistry

doctor of dentistry

Baltimore, Maryland

Doctor of Dental Surgery

The UMD School of Dentistry, the only one in The Old Line State, is considered the DDS degree’s birthplace. Through its 181-year-old history, it has become a center for excellence in dentistry education, with many of its alumni leading the charge in innovation.

The DDS program is characterized by outstanding didactic instruction and clinical education in a conducive learning environment. 

Standout Features

Students benefit from the Dentistry Today program by learning about dentistry, including its education, specialties, and career options. With UMD School of Dentistry being the largest oral health service provider in the state, students work in area hospitals, dental clinics, and community settings. 

Look under one of the benches at the UMD chapel and find a journal where many people have expressed their thoughts on it. Perhaps UMD’s famous alumni, such as Jim Henson (The Muppets creator), Kevin Plank (Under Armour CEO), and Sergey Brin (Google co-founder), have written on it, too. 

Boston University Henry M. Goldman – School of Dental Medicine

doctor of dentistry

Boston, Massachusetts

Doctor of Dental Medicine 

BU’s Goldman School of Dental Medicine is among the young ones with a 1958 founding date. But it was only in 1996 that its name reflected both its increased scope and one of its leaders.  Nowadays, it’s a nationally recognized program known for its excellence in education and research, as well as in quality patient care and community service. 

Standout Features

Considered the first of its kind, the Applied Professional Experience (APEX) Program provides students with hands-on dental education through the integration of didactic coursework with dental internships. Clinical skills are gained alongside business and professional skills that strengthen their skill set for successful dentistry. 

BU has had multiple name changes over the years, such as Newbury Biblical Institute and Boston Theological School, reflecting its religion-based roots. The BU Bridge is one of only three places worldwide where a plane can fly over a car running over a speeding train traveling over a boat. 

University of Iowa College of Dentistry

doctor of dentistry

Iowa City, Iowa

Doctor of Dental Surgery

The University of Iowa College of Dentistry has more than a few things going for it! Not only is it the only dental school in Hawkeye State, but it’s also one of only two schools of dentistry in the country with all ADA dental specialty programs. No wonder it’s a consistently top-ranked program with alumni in leadership positions in dentistry and education. 

Standout Features

Equal access to education is guaranteed for every student, particularly for students with disabilities. The program makes reasonable accommodations through the  Associate Dean for Student Affairs. 

The Master of Fine Arts degree was first offered at UIowa! The university even runs the famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop, which has 17 Pulitzer Prize winners as alumni. UIowa is also the first co-educational public university in the United States and offers the first co-educational medical programs. 

University of Minnesota School of Dentistry

doctor of dentistry

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Doctor of Dental Surgery 

The UofM School of Dentistry is part of the nationally-recognized University Academic Health Center alongside its College of Pharmacy, Medical School, School of Public Health, and School of Nursing. Due to the Center’s organizational structure, dentistry students receive comprehensive education and research opportunities. 

There’s also the fact that the School of Dentistry is the only one in Minnesota with accreditation to teach dentistry procedures. With its strategic location – it’s the only one between Seattle, Washington, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin – the DDS program attracts students from out of state, too. 

Standout Features

The UofM School of Dentistry has made significant contributions to our understanding of oral cancer, periodontal disease prevention, and fluoride and decay prevention through research.

Students work with faculty members and research teams to further deepen their knowledge of dental health issues. The school also offers numerous clinical specialties. 

UofM has underground tunnels and hallways known as the Gopher Way that can escape the cold during winter days! Sherlock Holmes fans will find the largest collection of materials on the fictional detectives at the university’s libraries. 

Tufts University School of Dental Medicine

doctor of dentistry

Kneeland Street, Boston, Massachusetts

Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry  

TUSDM started as the Boston Dental College in 1868 and, thus, it’s Boston’s second-oldest dental school and among the oldest in the United States. Throughout its 153-year history, it has become the second-largest dental school in the country, too, with about 190 students in every class. But don’t be fooled by the fairly large classes, as the rigorous curriculum ensures that students stay on their toes, academically speaking. 

Standout Features

Students start their research exposures through the Introduction to Research course and work on their projects during their first and second years. The best projects are presented at national meetings, too. The school also offers international experiences through global health initiatives in South America, the Caribbean, and Africa. 

The Naked Quad Run may have been banned in 2011, but students have started the Excessively Overdressed Quad Stroll! Instead of running naked through the snow, students wear absurd outfits and stroll around the quad. 

The Ohio State University College of Dentistry

doctor of dentistry

Columbus, Ohio

Doctor of Dental Surgery

The OSU College of Dentistry offers a range of undergraduate, graduate, and specialty training programs considered among the country’s best. With nine academic divisions, it’s the country’s fourth-largest public school of dentistry, too. The DDS program is underlined by OSU’s pursuit of academic excellence and breakthrough research with a bit of fun. 

Standout Features

The College is a top recipient of the National Science Foundation and the NIH, with faculty members and students participating in basic and applied research. The research topics include gum disease, tooth decay, and oral pain. 

Did you know?

The Buckeye Battle Cry is OSU’s fight song, and it’s more than 100 years old! Such is the Buckeye pride that a bell at the Ohio Stadium is rung for 15-30 minutes after every game victory, and the ringing can be heard for five miles. 

University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry

doctor of dentistry

Los Angeles, California

Doctor of Dental Surgery

USC’s Ostrow School of Dentistry has on-campus and online degrees in dentistry, including its highly acclaimed DDS program. The curriculum provides comprehensive training in line with up-to-date teaching methodologies and technologies. Students benefit from the learner-centered education but must successfully achieve the 25 competencies for completion. 

Standout Features

The learner-centered program equips students with the best possible technical and transferable skills that will result in their professional success. The competencies include effective communication skills, assessment, diagnosis and treatment, and teamwork with other health professionals. Students are also encouraged to contribute groundbreaking research in dental science. 

Tommy Trojan isn’t the USC mascot! While Tommy is well-loved by the USC community, Traveller the Horse is the official mascot. George Lucas, Forest Whitaker, and Will Ferrell are among its alumni. USC is also proud of its overachieving sportsmen with the most Olympians – 423 as of the last count – of any university. 

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry

doctor of dentistry

Birmingham, Alabama

Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry 

The UAB School of Dentistry offers a vibrant learning environment for its students along with its cutting-edge education and research programs. Founded in 1948, the school has seven academic departments with numerous educational programs, including the DMD program. 

Standout Features

UAB pioneered four-handed dentistry, and it’s known to introduce many dentistry innovations every year through its research projects. Community projects provide students with the opportunity to make career decisions based on their varied interactions. 

Such is the huge space that UAB students enjoy that it isn’t possible to tour the campus in a couple of days! The campus covers 100 city blocks, not to mention that there is more green space for every person than in any other city its size. Plus, there are over 4,400 trees on campus.  

What's the typical educational path toward becoming a Dentist? 

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the typical educational path toward becoming a Dentist? 

The typical post-bachelor’s degree requirement for dentists is the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) from a post-secondary institution accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). There are no significant differences between the DDS and DMD degrees, and both are acceptable for state licensure purposes. 

Most DDS and DMD programs require dental student applicants to possess a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. While there are no specific degrees, applicants with a science-related degree may have an edge in admission. The more important academic aspect is completing at least one year of science courses, particularly chemistry, biology, and physics. 

Applicants must also have satisfactory scores on the Dental Admission Test (DAT) for consideration in a DDS or DMD program. Academic records (minimum GPA), letters of recommendation, personal statements, and interview results are also considered for admission. Note that many programs have highly selective admissions, so putting careful thought into the contents of the application packet is recommended. 

Like medical school, the rigorous didactic coursework and clinical training in dental school will challenge every student. A full-time commitment is recommended, if not required, in dental programs. The coursework covers foundational science and anatomy and physiology, microbiology, anesthesia, physiology, and radiology for the oral cavity.

The clinical training is done in dental clinics and the like under the supervision of licensed dentists and their teams. 

After earning the DDS or DMD degree, dental student graduates must seek licensure from the state where they work. While the specific requirements vary among states, the common requirements are passing the written National Board Dental Examinations and the state/regional clinical exam. 

Note that dentists who want to pursue a specialization must also gain additional training and licensure in the said specialization. Check out the American Dental Association (ADA).

Dentists must possess important qualities that enable them to deliver competent and compassionate patient care, including: 

What are the typical duties of Dentists? 

The specific duties of general dentists include but aren’t limited to: 

Many dentists are also involved, either full-time or part-time, in education and research. Dentists with specializations, such as oral pathologists, pediatric dentistry, and periodontists, have specialized duties. 

What’s the typical work environment for Dentists? 

Through clinical training, admitted students get a feel for the work environment and what you can expect in your practice. Most dentists work in private dental offices, while the rest are self-employed professionals. Many also work in government agencies, offices of physicians, and outpatient care centers.

Dentists who own their businesses may work independently or with a small staff, while many will also have practices or associates. 

The work schedule varies, but it’s common for dentists to work 40 hours a week, a regular schedule, although working in the evenings and weekends also happens. 

Since dentists consult with a wide range of people and use tools, there are risks associated with their profession. The risk of infection, particularly in COVID-19, is relatively high, while injuries to the eyes and extremities are also possible. Dentists also experience psychological strain and stress, and radiation exposure.

Work environments may also depend on a dentist’s specialization. For example, a dentist who specializes in pediatric dentistry can expect a lively, loud, and sometimes slightly terrified clientele. In this field, it is safe to say you must love children!

What kind of dental specialties should I consider?

Besides becoming a general dentist, you may want to explore a dental specialty; therefore, allowing you to focus your attention on a specific type of dentistry you prefer. Here are some dental specialties to consider:

What can I expect to learn in a Doctor of Dentistry degree program?

Dental schools offer various types of coursework to dental students. Here are some common courses to expect:

Key Takeaways

Before you go, check this out:

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