USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Frequently Asked Questions

Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) Program

What does the Admissions Committee look for when evaluating applications?

All applications are evaluated under a system of whole-file review. Although there is no minimum GPA requirement, strong academic performance in the sciences is critical to a successful application as evidence of potential to successfully complete the challenging dental curriculum. Beyond this, the committee looks for academic trends, documented potential for service and leadership, evidence of good character and professional potential, and a well-rounded background.

Does USC give preference to California residents?

As a private institution, USC actively seeks a geographic and cultural mix of students who are selected without regard to residency.

Do I need a bachelor’s degree to attend the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC?

A bachelor’s degree is not a prerequisite for admission. However, due to the increasing competitiveness of the applicant pool, 100% of students accepted during the past nine years had earned at least a bachelor’s degree; many had earned advanced degrees.

How many students are invited to participate in an admissions interview?

We interview approximately 500 individuals each year from an applicant pool of more than 3,000. An interview does not ensure acceptance. Unfortunately, the number of qualified applicants always exceeds the number of class positions available. Competitive applicants may need to apply several times before being invited for an interview.

Who is on the Admissions Committee?

The Admissions Committee includes faculty members, alumni, administrators, and admissions staff.

If I applied to USC previously, am I guaranteed admission next year?

All reapplying applicants must complete the entire application and review process.

Do I need to declare a science-related undergraduate major?

Students have been admitted to the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC with a variety of undergraduate majors. Applicants can declare any major as long as all of the prerequisites are completed.

What should I know about the Dental Admission Test (DAT)?

All applicants must take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). We recommend that you take the DAT prior to submitting your application.

Applicants must obtain a minimum score of 15 for each DAT category. If you have taken the exam more than once, the Admissions Committee will consider the most current scores. DAT scores that are more than three years old will not be considered.

The American Dental Education Association’s Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (ADEA AADSAS) application will automatically send your official DAT scores to dental schools via your DENTPIN.

When you register for the DAT, you are encouraged to indicate the dental schools where you would like your scores to be sent. This will ensure that each of these schools receives your DAT scores directly from the American Dental Association (ADA), in addition to your scores being reported through ADEA AADSAS. As long as you have indicated at least one ADEA AADSAS-participating dental school in your DAT registration, your official DAT scores will be imported into your ADEA AADSAS application.

The ADA allows examinees to take the DAT three times. If you need to take the exam more than three times, you must apply for special permission through the ADA.

We will accept Canadian DAT scores. If you took the Canadian DAT, you will need to submit an official score report.

You cannot report future DAT test dates in your ADEA AADSAS application. If you are planning on taking the DAT in the future, please email the Admissions Office at and we will update your application.

Can pre-dental coursework be taken as pass/no pass?

We recommend that all coursework be taken for a letter grade, particularly science and prerequisite coursework.

Can I take my prerequisites at a community college? If so, is there a limit on the number of units that can be taken at a community college?

USC does not require that all prerequisites be completed at a four-year institution. However, applicants who have taken the majority of their science coursework from a four-year institution are evaluated more favorably. We recommend that no more than 60 units be completed at a junior or community college.

Does USC accept coursework that was taken at a foreign university?

All coursework must have been taken at an accredited college or university within the United States or Canada.

Will coursework taken many years ago be accepted in fulfillment of requirements and prerequisites?

All transferable coursework will be accepted, even if taken many years ago. However, the committee recommends that applicants who have been away from school for some time refresh their knowledge by becoming familiar with contemporary scientific principles.