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.
Director of admissions
(804) 628-4400

A minimum of 90 semester hours (or equivalent) in an accredited college or university is required and must be documented. Most acceptances have a bachelor’s degree and/or four years of college. Required courses are general biology, biochemistry, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics 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, 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 in the institution in which the courses are taken. Individuals interested in pursuing a career in dentistry should schedule an appointment in 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 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 that 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. Applicants are encouraged to take the examination more than one time, and the best set of scores is used as the official set. Information about the Dental Admission Test can be obtained from: a) your pre-health advising office of your undergraduate school, b) VCU, School of Dentistry Office of Admissions or c) the American Dental Association, Department of Testing website: ada.org/en/education-careers/dental-admission-test.

Selection factors

VCU is a state-supported, public university and gives admission preference to 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 predental 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 School of Dentistry will consider applicants for admission with advanced standing on an individual basis depending upon positions available and qualifications of the applicant. Pre-admission evaluation of skills and knowledge by performance testing is required prior to admission consideration.

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 forms can be obtained from AADSAS, 1400 K St. N.W., Suite 1100, Washington, D.C. 20005 [email to aadsas.appl@adea.org or call (202) 289-7204], predental advisers in colleges and universities, and the Office of Admissions, School of Dentistry, Virginia Commonwealth University, P.O. Box 980566, Richmond, VA 23298-0566.

Application to the School of Dentistry can be made through AADSAS on or after June 1 and must be received by AADSAS no later than Nov. 1 of the year preceding intended matriculation.

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 application fee is $80.

Applicants will be notified of decisions according to guidelines established by the American Association of Dental Schools. 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.

A letter of acceptance offers the candidate a position in the class entering for the session cited. Receipt by the Office of Admissions of the $800 nonrefundable tuition deposit within the prescribed period reserves the position in the class. Failure to reserve a position with the $800 nonrefundable deposit results in loss of that position, which is then offered to another candidate. 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 at dentistry.vcu.edu.

Curriculum

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 INTRO-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 ORTHO 3 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 ORTHO 3 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
1

Continues into second semester.

2

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.