Academics

Pre-Dental Program at Wisconsin Lutheran College

The pre-dental program at WLC is right for you

As a biology major at WLC, Lauren Montoure received the broad interdisciplinary training that a professional needs to adapt to the rapidly changing field of dental medicine. "Wisconsin Lutheran really prepared me for dental school. I feel more than prepared for my current classes." Lauren recalls the importance of experiential learning and research in the WLC curriculum, "I was also able to develop great hand skills in my lab work and independent research. The professors were so helpful in guiding me and letting me focus on dental issues for various projects. For example, I got to research the biofilm that causes periodontal disease in my microbiology course and the physiology of dental caries in my advanced physiology course."

Lauren Montoure lab image
Lauren Montoure: 2009 WLC biology graduate and Marquette University Dental School Class of 2013 

A career in dentistry is rewarding in many ways

Dentistry is a rewarding and well-respected health profession that seeks to diagnose and treat disease and trauma associated with teeth and tissues of the mouth. Dentists may choose from general practice or from a variety of specialties. For example, orthodontists straighten teeth with braces or retainers, oral surgeons operate on teeth and jaws, and prosthodontists replace missing teeth with crowns or bridges.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for dental services is expected to increase as the baby-boom generation advances in age. For this reason, the job outlook for dental professionals should be strong in the foreseeable future. In contrast to most other health professions the majority of dentists own their own business or work with a few partners as associate dentists. Few career paths combine this level of autonomy with the potential for high income. According to the 2008 United States Occupational Employment Statistics Survey the annual salary for dentists in general practice is $154,270, $190,420 for oral surgeons, $194,930 for orthodontists, and $169,810 for prosthodontists.

A career in dentistry requires a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree from an accredited dental education program. Such programs nearby WLC include the Marquette University School of Dentistry, the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, and the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Dentistry.

The pre-dental curriculum at WLC

Most dental schools require or recommend two semesters of general chemistry (CHE 161, 162), two semesters of general biology (BIO 201, 202), two semesters of organic chemistry with lab (CHE 221, 222, 228), a semester of biochemistry (CHE 350), two semesters of physics (PHY 201, 202), two semesters of calculus (MAT 221, 222), and additional cousework in anatomy & physiology (BIO 225, 255), cell biology (BIO 331), microbiology (BIO341) and genetics (BIO 360). Some programs recommend or even require additional coursework in business, English or psychology.

Pre-dental students may technically major in any academic specialty, however most pre-dental students choose to obtain a bachelor of science degree with a major in biology, biochemistry or chemistry as these majors most closely align with the required pre-dental course work and provide the most complete preparation for the Dental Admission Test (DAT). Most dental schools require the submission of DAT scores for admission. The DAT is a computer-based multiple-choice exam that covers a wide range of biology, chemistry, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning skills. In addition to DAT scores, most dental schools require a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, although many competitive programs seek out applicants with 3.5 or higher GPAs.