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How to become a dentist

Welcome to another, Footnotes Roundtable Discussion 

Hi Footnotes,

I want to be a dentist, but am not really sure what the path to being qualified is.

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The path Straight out of high school:

The most common path to follow to become a qualified dentist is to obtain the required ATAR to gain entry into a degree course in dentistry.

Different universities offer different degrees such as a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (B.D.S), Bachelor of Dentistry (B.Dent), Bachelor of Dental Science (B.D. Sc), or Bachelor of Oral Health in Dental Science (B.O.H.D.Sc).

Entry to dentistry degree courses is highly competitive and you need:

  • UMAT– you may need to register for and sit the Undergraduate Medical and Health Sciences Admission Test and achieve a high score
  • HSR– your high school rank at the end of school will need to be an ATAR of 99 or better, an OP 1, or an equivalent score in your state
  • Interview– often universities will use interviews as a way of selecting which students will gain entry into their dental school

Where can you study?

According to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), there are 9 schools of dentistry located in 5 states throughout Australia.

New South Wales
University of Sydney – Surry Hills (post-graduate only)
Charles Sturt University – Orange (undergraduate)

La Trobe University – Bendigo (3 year undergraduate + 2 year post-graduate)
University of Melbourne – Carlton (post-graduate only)

Griffith University – Southport – (3 year undergraduate + 2 year post-graduate)
James Cook University – Cairns (undergraduate)
University of Queensland – subjects at St Lucia and Herston (undergraduate and post-graduate)

Western Australia
University of Western Australia – Nedlands (post-graduate only)

South Australia
University of Adelaide – Northern side of Adelaide city (undergraduate)

Note: Some universities offer a 5 year undergraduate degree, while some offer a 5 year program that is made up of a 3 year undergraduate degree plus a 2 year postgraduate course.

See Also

The path as a graduate (you’ve already done a course):

You’ll still need to perform well in the three categories below, the only real change is that instead of an ATAR – you’ll be applying with your GPA (which is your grade point average from your university undergraduate).

  • GAMSAT– you may need to register for and sit the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test and achieve a high score

  • GPA– your grade point average, that is, the average of your grades in your undergraduate university degree (the highest being 7) may be used as part of the entry criteria

  • Interview– an interview may also be used by the university as a way of selecting which students will gain entry into their dental school

Note: In Australia the dentistry degree is generally 4 years when you are entering as a university graduate. Following on from an undergraduate degree that is at least 3 years, this pathway takes at least 7 years.

So, if you are considering a graduate entry dentistry program please ensure that your undergraduate subjects meet the pre-requisite requirements of the university or universities you are looking at applying to.

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