Which is a Better Undergraduate Degree If I Want to Become a Dentist: Health Science or Biology?

Choosing a major to meet a career goal is always an intense process. You want to make sure you are setting yourself up for success and not wasting four years of your life on an undergraduate degree that is irrelevant. If you want to go into the field of dentistry, you may be trying to decide between a major in biology or health science. To make this decision, you need to be aware of certain facts.

What do Dental Schools Require?

No matter what major you choose, dental schools will have set requirements for gaining admission. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you will need to have a minimum of eight hours in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics and English. Biology and chemistry classes should include labs as well. There is no specific major required so long as you meet the entry requirements of your chosen dental school. Keep in mind that these requirements vary, so it is best to plan ahead and prepare for the specific school of your choice.

Biology Major

As a biology major, you will be well prepared to meet the minimum requirements recommended by the ADA. A typical curriculum will include at least eight hours in all of the sciences and English. However, you will still need to do some research to figure out exactly what your chosen dental school’s prerequisites are. If they require more hours than your degree plan outlines, you may need to select extra electives. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that while a biology degree is not required to enter dental school, it may improve your chances of acceptance. When in doubt, do some research on dental schools, print a copy of your degree plan and meet with your academic advisor to create a plan that will best meet your needs.

Health Science Major

Since the health science major is within the field of science, it is also a likely choice for dental school candidates.A major in health science can also be tailored to meet the needs of an aspiring dentist. While taking the required science courses, you can also learn about the health care industry. Again, your best plan is to focus on one or two dental schools you would like to attend and meet with your advisor to determine a degree plan that will allow you to gain acceptance.

Other Factors

The American Dental Education Association lists several other factors to gaining admittance into dental school. Along with a high GPA and a high passing score on the Dental Admission Test, there are many ways you can add to your resume and boost your application. Consider becoming involved in dental associations for students, shadowing a dentist to gain experience and valuable insight, volunteering at community health clinics, involving yourself in research projects and presenting yourself professionally. All of these aspects will make your application stand out from the crowd.

With the goal of becoming a dentist, selecting a major is an important decision. Whether you choose biology or health science, you must meet the specific requirements of the dental school to which you apply. Although biology majors may have a slight edge over health science majors in acceptance, there are other factors that contribute to the admission decision.