What Are the Dental School Requirements in Pittsburgh, PA?

Before applying to dental school there are a few requirements that must be met by applicants. Though each school has different prerequisites, most schools will require that you have at least a four-year degree or equivalent from a valid institution. If you are applying for a Dental Assistant program, the requirements are a little less strict. Pittsburgh Career Institute’s requirements for all applicants (no matter which program they are applying to) are:

“High school diploma, certificate or other acceptable proof of graduation from an institution providing secondary education, or the equivalent of such graduation. A valid institution is one that is recognized as a provider of education by the U.S. Department of Education.”

Before you apply to your chosen dental program, it’s important that you find out what will be required of you to apply. Here at PCI, we require all applicants to pass a background check and take an exam to determine their eligibility for our Dental Assistant program. We also take the time to interview each applicant before acceptance to better help them on their path to success.

To locate your chosen school’s admission requirements, you can visit their website or call them. We have an admissions page that outlines all of our prerequisites, so just click on the corresponding dental program, then click our admissions tab. Call an administrator with any questions.

A young female dental assistant sits near a patient while smiling at camera.

Where to Get Your Prerequisites

One of the biggest questions that future students have is, “does my prior schooling count toward my dental degree?” and it’s a valid question! Depending on which dental program you apply to, they may require additional schooling such as a Bachelor’s degree, whereas dental assisting generally only requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Do your research about your school’s admissions before applying, but a general rule of thumb is to have at least your high school diploma or GED.

A simple way to check if your schooling or training applies to your chosen program is to check their website. Most schools, both GED programs and secondary education, will have dedicated a page on their website to their accreditation. If you are still unsure, call or email the school you are applying to and provide them with your schooling information. They will be able to tell you what you are missing, if anything.

How to Apply for Dental School

Once you’ve figured out all of your prerequisites and chosen the perfect school for you, it’s time to apply! Follow these steps to apply to your school:

  • Find your school’s required documents for application (this could include a copy of your diploma, transcripts, or letters of recommendation).
  • Make sure you have digital copies of each so you can submit them with your application.
    Fill out the form on the school’s website.
  • Contact their admissions office to make sure you haven’t left anything out, and to let them know you are awaiting their call.
  • Their admissions office will likely call or email you to set up a time to meet. Make sure you dress appropriately and are prepared to answer any questions!

You can fill out PCI’s dental assisting application form here. Once you get over the hurdle of getting into the school, it’s time to start figuring out your future there.

A young female dental assistant works on a female patient's teeth.

Completing Your Schooling

Congratulations! You made it into the school that will start you on your path to a future! Now it’s time to really get crackin’ and make sure you are learning everything you can in your chosen dental program.

Before you begin your classes, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Payment – during the admissions process you should have found out the total cost of your schooling. Figure out financial aid or a payment plan quickly.
  2. Your schedule – work everything out before you begin so you aren’t scrambling to make appointments and missing important classes.
  3. Transportation – it’s important to figure out the best route and mode of transportation to your school. Consider things like traffic, gas costs, and parking.
  4. Volunteer & Externship hours – most dental programs will require that you complete extra hours in your chosen field. Make sure this fits into your schedule and costs.

While you are completing your schooling, it’s important that you study hard and pay attention. Dental assisting, dental hygiene, general or pediatric dentistry are all difficult fields to obtain careers in, so why not go that extra mile and set yourself apart from your fellow students? Take the time while you are completing your program to do extracurricular, volunteer hours, and consider doing more than one intern or externship.

What to Do After Graduation

Now that you’ve completed your schooling, it’s time to find your perfect career. Before you leave school, talk to your advisor to see if your school offers job placement services. They will be able to help you find available jobs, build your resume, and even practice interviewing. From there, make sure you do your own research to ensure you will be successful in your new career.

A great way to get your name out there, and get noticed by different dental offices, is to attend career fairs, and visit the offices you’re interested in personally. For a helpful guide on job hunting, you can read this article by Careers.gov.

A young female interviews for a dental assisting position.

Your Dental Schooling at PCI

Pittsburgh Career Institute offers a dental assistant program where you can learn everything you need to obtain an entry-level career as a dental assistant. Our program can be completed in as little as ten months, and upon completion you can feel empowered and prepared to enter the dental field. You can apply for our program here, and if you have any questions about our school, feel free to call us at 412-281-2600.

Still Not Sure About Dental Assisting?

The decision of what you want to do for the rest of your life is a big one. If you’re interested in learning more about dental assisting as a profession, you can learn about their typical day here. If you’d like more information about how to become a dental assistant, check out this helpful step-by-step!

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I agree that it’s important to know what the prerequisites are when you want to go to dental school. You should figure that out before searching for the perfect school, like you suggested. This is probably important too if you are even thinking about dental assisting. You want to know if the program requires anything beforehand.