The Doctor of Dental Surgery is a four-year program in general dentistry leading to the D.D.S. degree and emphasizing study in three broad areas: basic sciences, clinical sciences and social sciences. The academic year begins in July and extends through May.

Student learning outcomes

As a result of successfully completing the pre-doctoral dental curriculum the new dentist will be competent in the following areas:

A. Diagnosis and treatment planning

1. Diagnosis

Assess and diagnose diseases and abnormalities of the oral cavity and head/neck region in pediatric, adult and geriatric patients. Obtain, assess and properly utilize information relative to systemic health of patients, initiating consultations and referrals to other health care professionals as appropriate. 

2. Treatment planning

Develop a comprehensive evidence-based treatment and/or referral plan(s), based on etiologic factors, current oral disease risk analyses, standards-of-care strategies and biomedical and clinical scientific knowledge. Develop evidence-based treatment plan options to present to patient involving them in the health care decision-making process and obtain informed consent. 

B. Oral health management 

3. Emergency care 

Demonstrate the ability to manage dental and in-office medical emergencies. 

4. Anxiety and pain management

Utilize pharmacological therapies and behavioral techniques to prevent or manage pain and anxiety. 

5. Oral health education

Educate patients, parents and/or caregivers with individualized instructions for improving and maintaining good oral health, monitoring and re-evaluating as necessary. 

6. Oral function

Provide treatment and/or referrals as appropriate with the goal of achieving physiologic form, oral function and health to include the following areas: 

a. prevention and management of dental caries

b. restoration of teeth

c. replacement of teeth including fixed, removable and dental implant prosthodontic therapies

d. prevention and management of periodontal diseases

e. prevention and management of pulpal and periradicular diseases

f. prevention and management of oral mucosal and osseous disorders

g. management of uncomplicated oral surgical procedures

h. recognition and management of malocclusion and space maintenance needs

7. Outcomes

Demonstrate the ability to self-assess competency and evaluate the outcomes of patient-centered dental health care. 

8. Community

Demonstrate the ability to engage in community-based disease prevention and health promotion activities. 

C. Practice and profession

9. Ethics 

Apply concepts of professional ethics, health care principles and adhere to the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct. 

10. Communication and behavioral principles

Demonstrate appropriate interpersonal skills, communication skills, psychosocial principles and behavioral principles in caring for a diverse population of patients and collaborating with other members of the health care team. 

11. Critical thinking

Integrate and synthesize information to advance knowledge and skills through critical evaluation of biomedical literature and the application of new science to patient care. 

12. Risk principles

Apply principles of risk management, quality improvement, infection control and radiation safety to patient care. 

13. Business and legal/regulatory matters

Apply the business principles and programs used in the administration of a dental practice while complying with all regulations, policies and protocols that relate to health, safety and the law. 

Admission requirements

Riki Gottlieb, D.M.D.
Assistant dean, Admissions
(804) 628-4400

A minimum pre-dental study of 90 semester credit hours (or 145 quarter credit hours) at a U.S.- or Canadian-accredited institution is required to matriculate to the School of Dentistry. A maximum of 60 semester credit hours from an accredited community college may be applied to the 90 credit hour credential. Based on the competitiveness and number of applicants, it is common for the school to seek candidates on track to receive a qualifying bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year degree-granting institution prior to the date of matriculation. Required courses are general biology, biochemistry, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, math and English. Laboratory experiences are required for those courses where applicable. Biology courses should emphasize zoology rather than botany. Courses in general microbiology or bacteriology, animal physiology, human anatomy, immunology, histology, genetics, embryology, the behavioral sciences and courses involving psychomotor skills are strongly recommended. Academic credits presented by an applicant must be acceptable for credit toward a degree at the institution in which the courses are taken. Individuals interested in pursuing a career in dentistry should schedule an appointment with the Office of Admissions for individual guidance.

In order to successfully complete the dental curriculum at VCU, students must meet non-academic criteria for motor, sensory and observation, communication, cognitive, and behavioral abilities that are listed in the document Technical Standards for Dental Education Programs for VCU School of Dentistry. Accordingly, applicants may be required to prove their proficiency in American English via standardized tests and interviews. An applicant may consider the option of postponing matriculation until such time as he/she can meet these requirements.

Participation in the Dental Admission Test of the American Dental Association is required. It is recommended that this test be taken the year before the intended matriculation year. If a candidate decides to take the examination more than one time, the best set of scores is used as the official result, taken within three years from the time of application. Information about the Dental Admission Test can be obtained from: a) the applicant’s pre-health advising office of the undergraduate institution, b) GoDental or c) the American Dental Association, Department of Testing.

Selection factors

VCU is a state-supported, public university and gives admission preference to Virginia state residents. All applicants are evaluated by uniform criteria without regard to age, race, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, veteran’s status, political affiliation or disability. Students are accepted by the admissions committee on the basis of excellence of pre-dental education, DAT scores, recommendations, experiences in dentistry and results of personal interviews with members of the committee. The interview process is standardized and designed to determine motivation, knowledge of and interest in the dental profession and to afford the applicant an opportunity to provide additional information pertaining to his/her application. Selection occurs on a rolling admissions basis, and once the class is complete an alternate list is created. Members of minority groups underrepresented in dentistry are especially encouraged to apply. Each year a certain number of students who are not accepted into the freshman class are invited to take selected courses with this class. Their performance in these courses plays a vital role in their being considered for the following year’s admissions process.

Admission with advanced standing

The VCU School of Dentistry International Dentist Program offers internationally trained dentists an opportunity to enter the D.D.S. program in the second year. The program is open to all foreign-trained dentists. More information can be found on the school’s website at the hyperlink above.

Application procedures

The School of Dentistry participates in the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service. All applicants are required to submit credentials through this service. Reapplicants must also reapply through the application service. 

Application to the School of Dentistry can be made through AADSAS on or after June 1. The priority deadline is Sept. 1 of the year preceding intended matriculation. The final deadline to submit applications to VCU through AADSAS is Jan. 1.

AADSAS compiles academic records and other pertinent information and forwards these with the application to the School of Dentistry. Qualified applicants are then requested to submit additional information, such as the VCU supplemental application. The VCU application fee is $80, in addition to the AADSAS application fee.

Applicants will be notified of decisions according to guidelines established by the American Dental Education Association. The first acceptances are sent out on Dec. 1; subsequent acceptances are sent out in early spring. In order to reserve a position in the class, a nonrefundable tuition deposit of $800 is required.

This offer of acceptance is contingent upon successful completion prior to admission of a qualifying bachelor's degree, if applicable, including completion of all courses in which applicants are enrolled or plan to complete to earn the degree, as well as an approved criminal background check.  All required courses must be completed (with a minimum grade of C-). Applicants must submit a final, official transcript indicating the degree, if applicable, and the date it was conferred. The act of matriculation also implies a willingness on the part of the student to comply with university rules and regulations, to take an interest in maintaining the ideals of the institution and to conduct himself/herself in a manner befitting a member of the dental profession.

For more information please visit the School of Dentistry website. Applicants may also contact ADEA AADSAS directly at (617) 612-2045 or via email at


The curriculum in the dental school is organized into a competency-based, four-year program leading to the Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degree. The academic year begins in July and extends through June. The program emphasizes study in three broad areas: biomedical sciences, clinical sciences and behavioral sciences.

The biomedical sciences include the in-depth study of human anatomy, genetics, material science, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology and physiology.

The clinical sciences prepare the student for the actual practice of dentistry and provide exposure to the various specialties in dentistry.

The behavioral sciences cover such topics as dental health needs, the system of health care delivery, practice management, professional ethics and behavioral factors.

Laboratory and clinical experiences are offered throughout the four years to develop the skills and judgment vital to the practice of general dentistry.

In general, courses offered as part of the curriculum in dentistry are not available to other students in the university. Exceptions may be granted by the dean of the School of Dentistry to students enrolled in graduate degree programs upon written request of the department chair in which the student is seeking a degree.

Freshman year
Semester 1Hours
ANAT 501 Dental Gross Anatomy 6.5
ANAT 503 Dental Neuroanatomy 1
DENS 503 Introduction to Behavioral Science in Dentistry 1
DENS 515 Clinical Skills I 1
GENP 511 Dental Anatomy 4
GENP 512 Operative Dentistry Lecture 1
IPEC 501 Foundations of Interprofessional Practice 1
MICR 513 Infection and Immunity (Dentistry) 4
PERI 525 Diagnosis of Periodontal Diseases 1
 Term Hours: 19.5
Semester 2
ANAT 502 Microscopic Anatomy (Dentistry) 5
DENS 513 Foundations of Effective Interpersonal Skills During Patient Interactions I 1.5
DENS 516 Clinical Skills II 3.5
DENS 524 Evidence-based Dentistry and Critical Thinking I 1
GENP 512 Operative Dentistry Lecture 4
GENP 513 Operative Dentistry Laboratory 4.5
GENP 514 Fundamentals of Occlusion 2
PATH 601 General Pathology (Dentistry) 6
PERI 526 Etiology and Pathogenesis of Periodontal Diseases 1.5
PHIS 502 Physiology and Pathophysiology (Dentistry) 5
 Term Hours: 34
Sophomore year
Semester 1
DENS 603 Foundations of Effective Interpersonal Skills During Patient Interactions II 1
DENS 619 Evidence-based Dentistry and Critical Thinking II 1
DENS 621 Dental Occlusion 2
DENS 625 Clinical Skills III 5
ENDO 622 Principles of Endodontics 1 1
GENP 620 Cariology 2
ORPT 621 Dental Radiology 1
ORPT 622 Oral Pathology 1
ORTH 623 Orthodontics Lecture 2
PERI 627 Non-Surgical Periodontal Therapy 1.5
PHTX 609 General Pharmacology and Pain Control 1
PROS 622 Preclinical Fixed Prosthodontics 1
PROS 623 Preclinical Fixed Prosthodontics Laboratory 1
PROS 624 Preclinical Removable Prosthodontics 1
 Term Hours: 15.5
Semester 2
DENS 603 Foundations of Effective Interpersonal Skills During Patient Interactions II 1
DENS 611 Introduction to Professionalism, Ethics and Ethical Decision-making 1
DENS 623 Clinical Skills IV 7
DENS 628 Evidence-based Patient Care I 1
DENS 642 Fundamentals of Treatment Planning 1
ENDO 622 Principles of Endodontics 1.5
HGEN 631 Advanced Dental Genetics 1
ORPT 622 Oral Pathology 3
ORSG 622 Introduction to Oral Surgery 1
PEDD 622 Introduction to Pediatric Dentistry 2
PHTX 609 General Pharmacology and Pain Control 4
PROS 622 Preclinical Fixed Prosthodontics 2
PROS 623 Preclinical Fixed Prosthodontics Laboratory 4
PROS 624 Preclinical Removable Prosthodontics 6
PROS 626 Clinical Principles of Dental Implantology Lecture 1
PROS 628 Clinical Principles of Implantology Lab 1
 Term Hours: 37.5
Junior year
Semester 1
DENS 703 Advanced Interpersonal Communications I 1
DENS 730 Dental Practice Management III 1
DENS 735 Patient Management and Professional Conduct 2.5
ENDO 731 Endodontic Therapy 1
ENDO 739 Clinical Endodontics III 1
GENP 739 Clinical Operative III 1
ORPT 737 Radiology Rotation 1
ORSG 731 Medical Management of Emergency Care Dental Patients 2
ORSG 739 Clinical Oral Surgery III 1
ORTH 739 Clinical Orthodontics III 1 1
PEDD 733 Advanced Pediatric Dentistry 1
PEDD 739 Clinical Pediatric Dentistry III 1
PERI 733 Surgical Periodontal Therapy 1
PERI 739 Clinical Periodontics III 1
PHTX 611 Dental Pharmacology and Pain Control 2
PROS 731 Complete Denture Prosthodontics 1.5
PROS 735 Removable Prosthodontics Diagnosis and Treatment 1.5
PROS 739 Clinical Fixed Prosthodontics III 1
PROS 739 Clinical Fixed Prosthodontics III 1
 Term Hours: 14.5
Semester 2
DENS 703 Advanced Interpersonal Communications I 1
DENS 735 Patient Management and Professional Conduct 2.5
ENDO 739 Clinical Endodontics III 1.5
GENP 739 Clinical Operative III 5
GENP 742 Treatment Planning Seminar 2
ORPT 732 Clinical Oral Pathology and Oral Medicine 1
ORPT 737 Radiology Rotation 2
ORSG 733 Principles of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 1.5
ORSG 739 Clinical Oral Surgery III 2.5
ORTH 733 Orthodontic Therapy 1
ORTH 739 Clinical Orthodontics III 1
PEDD 730 Special Care Dentistry 1
PEDD 739 Clinical Pediatric Dentistry III 1
PERI 739 Clinical Periodontics III 5
PROS 739 Clinical Fixed Prosthodontics III 3.5
PROS 739 Clinical Fixed Prosthodontics III 2
 Term Hours: 31.5
Senior year
Semester 1
DENS 713 Advanced Interpersonal Communications II 1
DENS 740 Dental Practice Management IV 1
DENS 745 Patient Management and Professional Conduct 2.5
DENS 752 Clinical General Practice Dentistry 1 12
DENS 762 Clinical Service-learning 1
ORPT 747 Radiology Rotation (continuation of ORPT 737) 1.5
ORSG 749 Clinical Oral Surgery IV 1
PEDD 749 Clinical Pediatric Dentistry IV 1
 Term Hours: 17
Semester 2
DENS 713 Advanced Interpersonal Communications II 1
DENS 745 Patient Management and Professional Conduct 2.5
DENS 752 Clinical General Practice Dentistry 12
DENS 762 Clinical Service-learning 6
ORSG 749 Clinical Oral Surgery IV 2
PEDD 749 Clinical Pediatric Dentistry IV 2
 Term Hours: 25.5
 Total Hours: 195

Continues into second semester.


Completed first semester senior year.


Academic performance evaluation

The faculty of the VCU School of Dentistry has the responsibility for evaluating the student’s academic performance. It is incumbent on the course directors or their designees to specify, at the time that courses first convene, the criteria to be used in student assessment and the standards by which they will be judged.

The VCU School of Dentistry Guidelines for the Evaluation of Student Performance and Academic Status are distributed to all students at the beginning of their study. They are available upon request from the Office of Academic Affairs, School of Dentistry.