Getting into any dental school is no walk in the park. First, you have to complete your undergraduate studies while simultaneously gain research and voluntary experience. Then you have to sit for the DAT and score well on it while maintaining a stellar GPA. A combination of all of this can be overwhelming for many students, resulting in low GPA or low DAT scores. In case you find yourself in a place where your DAT Score or GPA is low, here are a few alternative routes to dental school.
The good thing about the DAT is that you can give it thrice, and they’ll report your best score. But the fact that you couldn’t get a satisfactory score on the first try may negatively reflect on your Dental school application. To learn more about how the DAT is scored, check out this article on What is a Good, Great, Perfect DAT Score?
To give you an overview, to earn good enough DAT scores, you need to get-
Even with these DAT Scores, you may face difficulties getting into certain Dental Schools, especially if your GPA is also low. Most dental schools have a cut-off GPA for both an overall and science GPA of 2.75. But this is just an “official” cut off. If your GPA is anywhere near 3.0, you will face trouble getting interviews for Dental Schools.
Most students who have successfully applied to and have gotten accepted in dental schools usually have a 3.6 or higher GPA.
There are several alternative options to Dental school, and there are alternative routes to dental school. Some of these options are superior to others, but they all depend on how low your GPA is.
If your GPA is lower than 2.75, you will have to sign up for a post-baccalaureate program because your current GPA is lower than the cut-off grade for most dental schools. This is a recommended option for anyone with a 3.0 GPA or below. Credits earned in these programs will directly affect your undergrad grade, giving it a chance to improve.
You should aim and make it a priority to get an A in every course in your post-baccalaureate program. This way, there’ll be a chance for you to bring your GPA above 3.0. Not only will you qualify to apply to dental schools, but the upward trend in your GPA will indicate that with a little dedication, you’re capable of earning high grades.
However, note that only post-baccalaureate directly affect your undergrad GPA. Post-graduation programs such as masters or dental hygiene school will not affect your GPA or your chances of getting into a dental school.
If your GPA above 3.0 is still unsatisfactory and not good enough for dental school, you can consider getting into a master’s program. Your GPA is crucial for your dental school application, but it isn’t the only thing that can convince dental schools to accept you. You can make up for a low GPA with good DAT scores or other experiences such as a Master’s Program.
We recommend finding a 1-year Master’s Program. This was you can add weight to your application within a short period. A master’s program also showcases that you are capable of doing and excelling at advanced level classes. If your first attempt at dental school results in rejection, go for a master’s program. The acceptance number of students in dental school with master’s degrees is increasing every year.
Dental hygiene school and a master’s program are quite similar, minus the fact that dental hygiene is a 2-year program. In contrast, some master’s programs are just a year long. Going to dental hygiene school means you’ll have to delay two years before applying to dental school. This is a good option if you want to forgo the dental route entirely. However, if you do plan on attending dental school, we recommend opting for a faster way.
PhDs are long, long affairs. They can take anywhere between 4-6 years to complete and, therefore, isn’t a recommended way of getting into dental school. So, keep this in mind if you do decide to sign up for a Ph.D. program. This certainly isn’t an ergonomic option.
If your DAT score and GPA renders you ineligible for dental schools in the USA and Canada, you can look into foreign options. However, mind you, foreign dental schools are just as competitive, usually cost a lot, and the whole process of getting admitted is very long and tiresome. Then comes the issue of legitimizing a foreign degree in the USA, granted that you eventually want to practice in America.
While this is an option to compensate for a low GPA and fulfill your dreams of becoming a dentist, it isn’t ideal by any means. If you decide to go down this route, do thorough research to prepare for all the possible pitfalls.
Out of all the other alternative routes to dental school, this is perhaps the most feasible. So far, everything we have written in this article was based on the assumption that both your GPA and DAT score is less than ideal, making you incapable of getting into a dental school. However, if your GPA is low, but you have outstanding DAT scores, there is a fair chance that you might get into a dental school (unless your GPA is below the cut-off limit). So if your GPA is above 2.75 but still pretty low, work hard on your DAT. You can check out this article on DAT Study Tips to Score a perfect 30 to get some ideas on successfully preparing for the DAT. To learn more about the DAT exam, check out this other article.