11 Best Dental Schools in California-Cost & Program Details

For anyone looking to study dentistry in the US or outside of it, the state of California is home to a robust higher education sector.

How Much Does living in Hawaii cost...
How Much Does living in Hawaii cost? Best Guide 2022

It has a diverse population and very incredible weather. For many students who are considering a degree in dentistry, California is a dream destination. 

You’ll find some of the highest-paid dental professionals anywhere in the US, in California, with dental hygienists earning an average salary of more than $65,000 per year! 

Whether they love a world-renowned institution in major metropolises like Los Angeles or San Francisco, or they just want a small, but prestigious program to experience serving a much smaller community, prospective dental students will find whatever it is that they are looking for in the Sunshine State. Many of these schools aren’t just the best in California; 

they are among the very top colleges in the world for prospective dentists and aspiring researchers. 

Studying dentistry in California will provide you with a great opportunity to meet with new students of like passion, get educated in a well-supervised environment, and meet professionals who will as well aid you in achieving the best knowledge which can make you a better dentist in the future. 

Through this article, you’ll get to know the best dental schools in California for both local and international students, as well as details about eligibility, application, tuition and everything else that is important to take note of. 

Why Study Dentistry In California? 

Deciding to attend any dental school is part of the journey to becoming a dentist. Another part worth noting is choosing which dental school to go to. 

In the United States, it takes around 8 years of education before one can become a full-fledged dentist. 

A bachelor’s degree in any field is required. After that, you’ll need to obtain a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) degree. 

There are also state and national examinations that you’ll have to pass. To do this, a strong foundation is very much essential. 

A top-ranking dental school will help equip a dental student with the knowledge, skills, and expertise required to become a dentist. 

In the US, there are approximately 64 universities that offer advanced dentistry degrees; so choosing amongst them could be a tough task.

However, there are some factors to consider when choosing a dental school

  • Student body 
  • Geographical location 
  • Curriculum type 
  • Facilities 
  • Dental experiences provided (clinical or community-centric) 
  • Research or clinical focus 
  • Overall Reputation 

ShanghaiRanking’s 2021 Academic Ranking of World Universities named the following schools as the top 5 dental schools in the United States: 

  • The University of Michigan-Ann Arbour School of Dentistry 
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry
  • Harvard School of Dental Medicine 
  • The University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry 
  • The University of California Los Angeles School of Dentistry 

A few highlights from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics data include the following: 

  • There are currently 139,200 dentists in the US 
  • There’s a projected 8% growth in job outlook from 2020-2030. 
  • About 5,000 dentist jobs are expected to open up each year from 2020-2030,
  • The average annual salary for dentists is $180,8303 

Dental School Applicant Statistics 

There have been fluctuations in the number of dental school enrollments in the past 20 years. 

For example, there was a steady increase in the number of enrollments in the first 3 years of the 2020s which was followed by a decline for the next 4 years. 

The good news, however, is that since 2008, there has been a steady rise in the numbers. With a projected 8% growth in the number of dentist jobs in the next 10 years, which is an average of 5,000 dentists every year, the enrollment numbers are expected to be higher. 

Important dental school applicant statistics which were culled from the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) include: 

  • There were about 10,965 dental school applicants for first-time first-year students all over the country in the year 2020. 

  • Of this number, 57.1% enrolled in a dental school which means that there were 6,317 new first-year dental student enrollees. 

  • In 2029, 6,350 dental school students graduated. 

  • The class of 2020 had 6,609 graduates.

  • From 2029 to 2020, the number of dental school graduates increased by 4%.

Below, is a list of dental specialities which are duly recognized by the ADA. They are all approved and adopted by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards (NCRDSCB): 

  • Endodontics 
  • Dental Anesthesiology 
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology 
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology 
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 
  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopaedics 
  • Paediatric Dentistry 
  • Periodontics 
  • Prosthodontics 
  • Public Health Dentistry 

Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain are also dental specialities that are recognized by the ADA and the NCRDSCB. 

How Long is Dental School in California? 

Just like every other course in the medical field, like medicine and nursing, it takes quite a long time to get a degree in the field. 

Dental School takes about 8 years of education before someone becomes a full-fledged dentist(Four years for an undergraduate program and another four years to get a DDS or DMD in dental school.) 

How Much Would it Cost You to Study Dentistry in California? 

The tuition fee for dental schools varies from school to school and also depends on the program. We’d be using one of the schools as an example. 

For a four-year DDS program offered by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the registration fee costs $16,380 a year for a total of $67,320. The university also charges a professional school fee of US$25,368 every year or $101,472 for the entire four years. 

Again, the university’s projected cost of books, supplies, and instruments runs into about $20,614 for the first year, $13,432 for the second year, $3,460 for the third year, and $3,795 for the fourth year, which is a total of $41,301. 

When all these costs are added up, we’ll be having a total price of $210,093 for a four-year DDS program at UCLA. 

Apart from these costs, others things to consider are the fees for room and boarding, transportation, as well as personal expenses. If these fees are factored in, an off-campus.

Student would spend about $305,399 for the four-year program while a commuter student, living with his or her family would pay about $258,705. 

If you are a non-resident of California, you would need to add $12,245 to the registration fee per year.

On the other hand, the professional school fee will cost $29,718 each year which is higher compared to how much residents pay. 

How Much Do Dentists Earn in California? 

The average annual salary for dentists is $180,8303 

The average Dentist’s salary in California is $196,761 as of July 26, 2022, but the range is typically between $171,458 and $>227,179.

Dentist salary ranges vary widely depending on several important factors like certifications, education, additional skills, as well as years of experience 

How Do I Apply to Study Dentistry in California? 

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree.

  • Job shadow dentists for about 100 hours.

  • Get involved in extracurriculars.

  • Join the Student National Dental Association.

  • Take the Dental Admission Test (DAT): Passing this exam is a dental school requirement and it encompasses the following sections: 

    Survey of the natural sciences: 100-question section on biology and chemistry 

    Perceptual ability: 90-question section on spatial reasoning 

    Reading comprehension: 50-question section on general topics 

    Quantitative reasoning: 40-question section on statistics, data analysis, algebra and probability 
  • Create a competitive dental school application: Here are the necessary things you’ll need to include in your application: 

    The application form 

    An official college transcript 

    A personal essay 

    Four letters of recommendation 

    A resume or CV 

    Your DAT scores 

    Proof of your job shadowing hours 

    An application fee, in addition to possible supplemental fees 
  • Complete an admissions interview 

The List of Dental Schools In California

  • Loma Linda School of Dentistry 
  • University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry (San Francisco, CA)
  • UCLA School of Dentistry (Los Angeles, CA) 
  • UCSF School of Dentistry (San Francisco, CA) 
  • University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry (Los Angeles, CA) 
  • Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine (Pomona, CA)
  • Stanford University 
  • University of California – Davis 
  • University of California-San Diego 
  • University of California – Irvine 
  • University of California – Berkeley 

Best Dental Schools In California 

Below are the best eight dental schools in California and details about them: 

University of California – San Francisco [UCSF School of Dentistry (San Francisco, CA)]

  • Address: 500 Parnassus Ave 
    San Francisco, California, 94143-0244 
    United States

The University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry is the oldest dental school in the western United States and also the only dental school in the United States which is affiliated with a major teaching hospital.

UCSF dentistry students attend lectures at the UCSF Medical Centre, which provides state-of-the-art clinical training in every single speciality area, offering unparalleled opportunities for students to learn from world-renowned faculty and researchers. 

The University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry is home to over 1,300 students and 100 faculties and has an international reputation for excellence in education and research. 

The School of Dentistry, UCSF, offers a four-year program leading to the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree.

Additional two years are required for the completion of an accredited residency program or qualifying examination 

This School of Dentistry has several special programs that enhance the educational experience for its students: 

  • Pre-dental track program that provides students with an excellent foundation in the sciences before matriculation into dental school.
  • Summer research program for new freshmen.
  • Summer clinical skills program for new freshmen. 
  • Summer research experience for upperclassmen. 
  • Postdoctoral studies program for recent graduates. 
  • Acceptance rate: 18% 
  • Graduates: 3,201 
  • Control:Public 
  • Highest Degree: Doctor’s degree 
  • Academic Calendar: September to June. Also Summer Session (June to September) 

For further information concerning the Tuition and other requirements, check their website

University of California – Los Angeles [UCLA School of Dentistry (Los Angeles, CA)] 

  • Address: 405 Hilgard Ave 
    Los Angeles, California, 90095-1405 
    United States 

Prospective students who have a desire to practice dentistry and become true leaders in their field will see rich opportunities to learn and grow at the UCLA School of Dentistry.

UCLA is ranked the #6 dental school anywhere globally, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, boasting a best-in-class academic program and faculty members recognized worldwide for their research, leadership, and teaching acumen. 

With 15 academic divisions and 13 accredited postgraduate programs, students will find expert faculty and a top-notch learning environment no matter their specialized interests.

The Section of Dental Anesthesiology offers education, research, and clinical practice in the field of pain management while the Section of Restorative Dentistry trains students in the restoration of the function and appearance of teeth that have been malformed or damaged. 

Students who are interested in how dental care and communities come together will have plenty to learn and get opportunities to engage with local organizations within the UCLA School of Dentistry’s Division of Public Health and Community Dentistry. 

  • Acceptance rate: 14% 
  • Aid receiving: 73% 
  • Undergraduates: 31,636 
  • Graduates: 12,953 
  • Control: Public 
  • Highest Degree: Doctor’s degree
  • Academic Calendar: September to June. Also Summer Session.Quarters. 

For further details concerning the school, tuition and other requirements, check their website.

3: University of Southern California: [University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry (Los Angeles, CA)] 

  • Address: University Park 
    Los Angeles, California, 90089 
    United States 

The University of Southern California (USC) is a private, non-profit, and nonsectarian research university which was founded in 1880 with its main campus in Los Angeles.

As the oldest private research university in California, USC has grown to become a very large university with a diverse student body of almost 44,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

The university is organised into 20 schools, which includes the USC School of Dentistry. 

The School of Dentistry at USC, being one of the nation’s leading dental schools, offers a full-time program which leads to the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree as well as a part-time evening program leading to the Master of Science in Oral Biology (MSB).

There’s also an accelerated three-year program offered by the school which leads to both degrees. 

Training and aiding future oral health professionals to succeed in their area, the University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry is a top-notch private university which is known for its clinical education, research activities, and outreach initiatives to the local community.

While many students usually opt to study for their doctorate of dental surgery, Herman Ostrow also offers distinctive speciality degree programs like the master of biomaterials and digital dentistry and the master of science in biomedical implants and tissue engineering. 

  • Acceptance rate: 16% 
  • Undergraduates: 19,786 
  • Control: Private not-for-profit 
  • Highest Degree: Doctor’s degree 

Academic Calendar: August to May (August – December; January-May) To know more, concerning the school and its requirements, check their website.

4: Loma Linda University: [Loma Linda School of Dentistry, Loma Linda, CA]

  • Address: 11139 Anderson Street 
    Loma Linda, California, 92350 
    United States 

 

Loma Linda University School of Dentistry is a private dental school which is situated in Loma Linda, California. It has an affiliation with the Seventh-day Adventist Church and is one of the only two schools in the United States which is operated by the denomination (the other is Andrews University). 

The school is a private, non-profit institution which was founded in 1908 as a department within the College of Medical Evangelists, now known as Loma Linda University.

The mission of the school is to provide students with quality dental education that emphasizes both research and clinical training. 

Loma Linda University School of Dentistry consists of two components namely; the School of Basic Sciences and the School of Clinical Sciences.

The Basic Sciences Program includes courses in Oral Histology, Oral Anatomy, Biochemistry, and Physiology, while the Clinical Sciences Program includes courses in Restorative Dentistry, Operative Dentistry, and Prosthetic Dentistry. 

It offers seven different programs, which include an associate degree program in Dental Hygiene; a Baccalaureate of Science degree in General Dentistry; a Master of Science in Endodontics; an Advanced Certificate in Periodontics; a Master of Science in Orthodontics (MSO); and two Doctorate degrees: one in Oral Biology (PhD) and another in Oral Biology/Dentistry (DSC). 

Added to its successful four-year program, the school also offers two postdoctoral residency programs and they are: 

  • The Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) program leads to board certification as a general dentist after completion of the two-year program.

  • The Comprehensive Specialty Training Program (CSTP) is for students who wish to receive speciality training before entering dental school.

    This CSTP provides training in endodontics, paediatrics, orthodontics, and prosthodontics. 

  • Acceptance rate: 38%*(Estimated) 
  • Religion: Seventh Day Adventist 
  • Undergraduates: 1,168 
  • Graduates: 3,300 
  • Control: Private not-for-profit
  • Highest Degree: Doctor’s degree 
  • Academic Calendar: September to June (September – December; January-March; March-June). Also Summer Session (June-September) 

Check the website for further details. 

5. University of the Pacific: [University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry (San Francisco, CA)] 

  • Address: 3601 Pacific Ave 
    Stockton, California, 95211-0197 
    United States 

The University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry is, no doubt, one of the best dental schools in California and one of the only few dental schools in the United States that offers all four speciality training programs: General Practice, Orthodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, and Paediatric Dentistry.

The university also offers a Post-Baccalaureate Dental Hygiene Program as well as an Advanced Standing Dental Hygiene Program. 

The University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry was founded in 1883 and as such, is one of the oldest dental schools in California.

They are committed to providing high-quality education which combines academic excellence with clinical training. 

The school has received accreditation by the American Dental Association since 1923 and by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges since 1937.

They offer an innovative curriculum which integrates science with clinical practice early on so that the students will learn how to think like dentists whilst still learning about dentistry. 

Degrees Offered in the school: 

  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) – 6 years 
  • Master of Science in Oral Biology (MSO) – 2 years 
  • Master of Science in Prosthodontics (MSP) – 1 year 

  • Acceptance rate: 71% 
  • Aid receiving: 96% 
  • Undergraduates: 3,524 
  • Control: Private not-for-profit 
  • Highest Degree: Doctor’s degree

Academic Calendar: August to May. Also Summer Session (May-August) Click the link to the website for further details 

6: University of California-San Diego: [California Western School of Dentistry, San Diego, CA] 

  • Address: 9500 Gilman Dr 
    La Jolla, California, 92093 
    United States

The California Western School of Dentistry is a private, non-profit institution of higher learning, established in the year, 1872 and situated in the beautiful city of San Diego, California 

The school offers a range of programs including DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) and DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery), and a student can earn his or her degree through full-time studies or part-time studies. 

Incoming students have to meet specific requirements as well as have a minimum GPA to be considered.

Students also need to submit their application forms and pay the required fees before they can be considered for admission. 

The University of California-San Diego offers a wide range of degrees like Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD), Advanced Standing Dental Hygiene Program, Master of Science in Orthodontics/Periodontics, and Master of Science in Prosthodontics, and Master of Science in Periodontics. They also have a Continuing Education Program for dentists who are already practicing. 

The university also offers a residency program where the third-year students have a chance to enhance their clinical skills further under the mentorship of a faculty member or a practicing dentist who has agreed to be their preceptor during the first year of their residency training. 

 

  • Acceptance rate: 37% 
  • Undergraduates: 31,842 
  • Control: Public 
  • Highest Degree: Doctor’s degree 
  • Academic Calendar: September to June 

Click the link to visit their website for further information.

7: Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine (Pomona, CA) 

Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine is situated in the heart of downtown Pomona, California. The university offers a four-year program which leads to the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. 

WesternU’s College of Dental Medicine is regarded as one of the best dental schools in California and this excellent university is one of just two private dental schools in California. It is accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA) and the curriculum is based on the scientific principles and clinical practice standards established by the ADA. 

Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine is a private, for-profit institution which offers subjects such as dental hygienist, dental assisting, and dental assistant. 

The WesternU College of Dental Medicine offers an outstanding education which prepares graduates to enter practice with a wide range of expertise in general dentistry as well as oral surgery. The curriculum emphasises clinical experience with an average clinical time commitment of more than 40 hours per week. 

Students also get very rigorous didactic preparation in the classroom and laboratory settings.

In addition to that, students are also exposed to a variety of speciality areas during their clinical experiences including endodontics, paediatric, orthodontics, periodontics, dentistry, oral surgery, and implant dentistry. 

Visit their website by clicking on the link for further details. 

FAQs

What is the number 1 dental school in the USA? 

The University of Michigan, Ann Arbour 

Is UCLA a good dental school? 

The UCLA School of Dentistry has been consistently ranked as one of the best dental schools in the nation for more than 50 years. 

Is dental school harder than med school? 

Both schools have the same level of difficulty when it comes to courses and disciplines but dental schools offer practical courses a lot earlier in the schooling, unlike medical schools which offer only classroom learning during the first 2 years.

Is dental school Hard? 

Dental school has its series of ups and downs. Much like undergrad, some semesters are tougher than others.

Unlike undergrad, however, all of your classmates will have the same coursework each semester, so you’ll never be the only one who’s overloaded with tough classes.

Was This Article Helpful? Tell Us What You Think.