We’re glad you asked. In fact, many dental schools across the country have partnerships with undergraduate programs, meaning that it’s possible to secure admission to both as a senior in high school. These are called combined or “early assurance” programs, and they are similar in many ways to the combined BS/MD programs you may have heard about.
A BS/DDS program (Bachelor’s of science/Doctorate in dental science) takes between 6-7 years to complete. This is an accelerated track, as a typical prospective dentist would spend 4 years as an undergraduate and 4 years in a traditional dental school. If you’re sure of your plans and want to complete dental school as soon as possible to get a head start on your future career, then you might want to consider applying to a combined or early assurance program. There are a couple of things to keep in behind before you do, though:
1. Your grades still matter.
Having a conditional acceptance to dental school before you’ve even started your undergraduate studies will certainly help to lessen some of the pressure. However, don’t think that a BS/DDS program is a golden ticket that will make your GPA and test scores completely irrelevant. Plenty of these programs require students to maintain certain standards of academic achievement; if you fail to meet these standards, you may be dropped from the program entirely. For example, Penn reviews all combined degree students at the conclusion of their sophomore year and reserves the right to deny underperforming students admission to the dental school.
2. These programs are intense.
If you’re strongly considering dental school (but think there are other career paths that you might enjoy as well), then a combined program is not for you. Before embarking on a combined or early assurance program, you should be completely confident in your choice and ready to commit to 6 or 7 years of hard work. As many BS/DDS programs move at an accelerated pace, you can expect that the workload will be even more challenging than it would be at a typical 4 year-long dental school.
3. The payoff can be great.
Though the BS/DDS path isn’t an easy one, it offers clear benefits for students who are certain they want to attend dental school immediately after finishing college. If admitted, you won’t have to worry about the stress of applying to dental school later on, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a dentist that much sooner. The financial benefits should not be overlooked. Not only will you save on schooling, but you’ll also start earning a dentist’s salary a year or two earlier.
We’ve developed a comprehensive curriculum to help craft students into compelling applicants for these competitive BS/DDS programs. Working with our director, who was admitted to Brown’s dual BS/MD, you’ll develop the skills and confidence necessary to gain admission…and to thrive once you’re on campus. Contact us today to talk more about your future plans and how we can help, or check out our Command Med webpage.