This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. Courses that expose students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning may be added and notification of additional program approvals may be received prior to finalization. General education program content is also subject to change. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

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 and adult 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/parent involving them in the health care decision-making process and obtain informed consent. 

B. Oral health management 

3. Emergency care 

Manage dental 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

Self-assess competency and evaluate the outcomes of patient-centered dental health care. 

8. Community

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

Utilize 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

Mary T. Pettiette, D.D.S.
Associate 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, immunology, 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, recognition of health care disparities, patient-centered care, 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.

Curriculum requirements

Course Title Hours
DEBS 501Dental Gross Anatomy6.5
DEBS 502Dental Neuroanatomy1
DEBS 503Infection and Immunology3.5
DEBS 511Microscopic Anatomy5
DEBS 512Physiology and Pathophysiology 5
DEBS 513Dental General Pathology6
DEBS 601Dental Pharmacology and Pain Control I4
DEBS 701Dental Pharmacology and Pain Control II2
DENS 503Introduction to Behavioral Science in Dentistry1.5
DENS 508Dental Materials I1
DENS 513Foundations of Effective Interpersonal Skills During Patient Interactions I2
DENS 515Clinical Skills I1
DENS 516Clinical Skills II3.5
DENS 522Preclinical Restorative Lecture I4
DENS 523Preclinical Restorative Lab I4.5
DENS 524Evidence-based Dentistry and Critical Thinking I1
DENS 532Preclinical Restorative Lecture II1.5
DENS 533Preclinical Restorative Lab II1.5
DENS 603Foundations of Effective Interpersonal Skills During Patient Interactions II2
DENS 607D2 Clinical Dentistry I1
DENS 608Dental Materials II1
DENS 611Introduction to Professionalism, Ethics and Ethical Decision-making1
DENS 617D2 Clinical Dentistry II2
DENS 619Evidence-based Dentistry and Critical Thinking II1
DENS 621Dental Occlusion1
DENS 622Dental Occlusion Lab1.5
DENS 627D2 Clinical Dentistry III6.5
DENS 628Introduction to Dental Public Health1
DENS 632Preclinical Restorative Lecture III1
DENS 633Preclinical Restorative Lab III1
DENS 642Fundamentals of Treatment Planning1
DENS 662Advanced Restorative and Digital Dentistry Lecture1
DENS 663Advanced Restorative and Digital Dentistry Lab1
DENS 708Dental Materials III0.5
DENS 718Dental Materials IV0.5
DENS 727D3 Clinical Dentistry8
DENS 730Dental Practice Management III1
DENS 735Patient Management and Professional Conduct I5
DENS 740Dental Practice Management IV1
DENS 745Patient Management and Professional Conduct II5
DENS 752Clinical General Practice Dentistry13
DENS 753D4 Treatment Planning Seminar1
DENS 762Clinical Service-learning4
ENDO 622Principles of Endodontics1
ENDO 623Principles of Endodontics Lab1.5
ENDO 731Endodontic Therapy1
ENDO 739Clinical Endodontics III1.5
ENDO 749Clinical Endodontics IV1.5
GENP 511Dental Anatomy2.5
GENP 514Fundamentals of Occlusion2
GENP 521Dental Anatomy Lab1.5
GENP 620Cariology2
GENP 739Clinical Operative III5
GENP 742Treatment Planning Seminar2
IPEC 501Foundations of Interprofessional Practice1
ORPT 620Oral Radiology I1
ORPT 621Dental Radiology1
ORPT 622Oral Pathology3
ORPT 623Temporomandibular Disorders and Orofacial Pain1
ORPT 732Clinical Oral Pathology and Oral Medicine1
ORPT 737D3 Radiology Rotation1
ORSG 622Introduction to Oral Surgery1
ORSG 731Medical Management of Emergency Care Dental Patients2
ORSG 733Principles of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery1.5
ORSG 739Clinical Oral Surgery III2.5
ORSG 749Clinical Oral Surgery IV2
ORTH 623Orthodontics Lecture2
ORTH 733Orthodontic Therapy1
ORTH 739Clinical Orthodontics III1
PEDD 622Introduction to Pediatric Dentistry2
PEDD 730Special Care Dentistry1
PEDD 733Advanced Pediatric Dentistry1
PEDD 739Clinical Pediatric Dentistry III.5
PEDD 749Clinical Pediatric Dentistry IV1
PERI 525Diagnosis of Periodontal Diseases1
PERI 526Etiology and Pathogenesis of Periodontal Diseases1.5
PERI 627Non-Surgical Periodontal Therapy1.5
PERI 733Surgical Periodontal Therapy1
PERI 739Clinical Periodontics III5
PERI 749Clinical Periodontics IV1
PROS 624Preclinical Removable Prosthodontics2
PROS 625Preclinical Removable Prosthodontics Lab4
PROS 626Clinical Principles of Dental Implantology Lecture1
PROS 628Clinical Principles of Implantology Lab1
PROS 731Complete Denture Prosthodontics1.5
PROS 735Removable Prosthodontics Diagnosis and Treatment1.5
PROS 739Clinical Fixed Prosthodontics III2
PROS 740Clinical Removable Prosthodontics3.5
PROS 749Clinical Prosthodontics IV2
Total Hours195

The minimum number of credit hours required for this degree is 195

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.

D.D.S.-Ph.D. opportunity

Students with an interest in academic and research careers are afforded the opportunity to undertake advanced degree training while in dental school by combining doctoral study in oral health research with a professional degree in dentistry. The program seeks to train students interested in translating oral research to the clinic. These clinician-scientists will help bridge the gap between basic and clinical science in the field of dentistry. For more information, see the dual degree program page.