Pre-Professional Pathways are not offered as majors at Western, nor are they at most other universities, but they can be incorporated into or taken alongside any degree-granting major offered at Western.
Pre-Dentistry is not a major, but a specific program of study in math and science required for admission to dental school. Students should work closely with academic advisors in their major and the pre-dental advisors to assure that general university requirements, major, and Pre-Dental requirements are incorporated into their overall plan of study. Dentistry is a challenging, dynamic and rewarding profession.
What does it mean to be Pre-Dentistry at WWU?
Western does not offer a "Pre-dental" major, and there is no formula for getting into dental school. Selection committees evaluate applicants across multiple areas through a holistic review process. Important components include DAT scores, GPA (both cumulative and science), letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, community service, diversity awareness, manual dexterity, and an interview, as well as background checks (including legal, conduct, and social media records).
Dental schools emphasize the importance of a liberal arts education and do not recruit students from one specific major or discipline. This gives you flexibility in planning your educational program. Use your undergraduate years to explore many academic fields, to develop basic skills and knowledge, to demonstrate expertise and to experience a field of study (major) of your choice. Dental school admission is competitive, so make every effort to maintain high scholarship. Align with a major in which you both excel and enjoy. While Biology and Chemistry are popular choices, Pre-dental students have majored in a diverse range of disciplines including Anthropology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Business, Kinesiology, Languages (i.e. Spanish), and Sociology. Some pursue combined majors such as Anthropology/Biology, Biochemistry, and Cellular & Molecular Biology.
Beyond the Classroom
Western's Pre-Healthcare Professions Advising Office provides mentoring and advising to students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare professions. The office works with students to enhance their chances of gaining successful admission to the professional school of their choice. Services range from individual academic advisement to preparing students for the final application process.
Pre-Dental Club: Join this and other WWU Associated Students clubs at www.as.wwu.edu/clubs/.
Careers and Graduate Studies
Most dental students enter a practice after receiving their professional degree, either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.). Admission to professional schools of dentistry is competitive, so Western's Pre-Dental Pathway helps students plan their studies with care.
Most dentists are self-employed and establish a private practice alone or in partnership with other dentists. Employment opportunities also exist in the public health service, as teachers and researchers in dental education, commissioned officers in the armed services, and researchers or practitioners in industry. In addition, some dentists enter advanced education programs for training in a dental specialty.
Dental shadowing/observation in the range of 50-100 hours is commonly required by most dental schools. This helps one to gain exposure to the field and generate a professional letter of recommendation. Discuss your options with Pre-healthcare advisors.
The University of Washington requires a minimum of 50 hours. Exposure to diversity is beneficial.
Dental Admission Test (DAT)
Scheduling to take the DAT occurs with the American Dental Association. The test is conducted at Prometric Test Centers. Applicants should take the exam no later than August of the year preceding anticipated admission. DAT information is available at www.ada.org/dat.aspx.
Health Professions Advising Events
Typical programming events offered by the Health Professions Advising office (but are not limited to):
Orientation Session: Getting you from WWU to professional school (DECAY)
Health Professional School & Grad School Info Fair, October 17
Winter Registration Drop-in: Nov 13 and Nov 14, 12-2 in BI 415
Spring Registration Drop-in: Feb 26 and Feb 27, 12-2 in BI 415
The Healthcare Professional School Application: A session overviewing the process
Fall Registration Drop-in: May 20 and May 21, 12-2 in BI 415