Preparing for a Career in Dentistry

Tiger Tracks for careers in Dentistry


  • Dentistry combines science and art. Many dentists are also businessmen who must manage their business and employees, interface with the public, and conduct marketing to grow their business.
  • Successful dentists combine exemplary work habits and time management, high performance in the classroom, and the ability to inspire trust in others to serve patients with skill and a comforting personality.


  • Students interested in applying to dental school are generally required to take one year of Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physics, each of which must include a lab component. Individual schools will require or strongly encourage additional coursework in specific segments of Biology and Chemistry, in addition to some mathematics.
  • These requirements give Hampden-Sydney students the freedom to pursue majors in nonscience fields, if they are so inclined.
  • Consider courses and hobbies which encourage you to think in three dimensions and practice high manual dexterity.

Programs and Extracurricular Activities

  • The Pre-Health Society encourages students to begin developing knowledge of pertinent issues and ethical quandaries in the medical-dental industry while also building a professional network through exposure to practitioners on trips and through speaking engagements.
  • Private-practice dentists often allow you to shadow them as they work. Dental school admissions officers are looking for proof that you enjoy general dentistry. So, keep track of whom you have worked with and how many hours you shadowed them.
  • Dental-related service trips, like Hampden-Sydney's Beyond the Hill program or faithbased mission trips, allow students to help provide emergent dental services.
  • Become a pre-dental member of American Student Dental Association. Read their publications to get a pulse of current issues and life in dental school as well as try to attend an ASDA event as a pre-dental member.
  • The Hampden-Sydney Volunteer Fire Department, in coordination with Prince Edward County, offers an opportunity to receive training as an emergency medical technician.
  • Southside Community Hospital in nearby Farmville regularly seeks volunteers from Hampden-Sydney College to shadow doctors as they treat patients.
  • The Wellness Center hires student workers and provides them direct exposure to a family medical practice while simultaneously engaging them in the confidential patient-doctor relationship.

Preparation for Employment

  • Following dental school, many graduates enter private practice or choose to complete a residency in general dentistry. Other graduates may undergo further training in one of the nine recognized specialties: dental public health, endodontics, oral pathology, oral radiology, oral surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, or prosthodontics.

  • While the majority of dentists and dental specialists are in private practice, there are many opportunities in the military, academic (research and clinical), and public health sectors.

  • Dentistry is a rapidly changing field; the science is advancing, the public is better informed of treatment options, and the business of dentistry faces significant changes from evolving legislation. Because of the evolving nature of dentistry, Hampden-Sydney continues to believe that a liberal arts education-which trains men to think critically, solve creatively, and articulate persuasively-will be the best training for aspiring dental professionals.

Graduate Study

  • Dental School is a four-year curriculum which combines classwork, laboratory work, and patient treatment. Dental schools seek well-rounded students who have excelled in the classroom while demonstrating broad intellectual curiosity and a genuine interest in helping others. The majority of dental schools award the DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) degree; however, some award a DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree. The education and degrees are the same.

  • Dual-Degree Programs - Some dentists who plan on staying within academia as clinician and/or researcher may choose to pursue a DDS/PhD (DMD/PhD) track, if available.

  • Admission to dental school is based on college transcripts, extracurricular activities, and the DAT score (the Dental Admissions Test, similar to the MCAT), and an interview. Dental education gives graduates experience in all fields of dentistry. Submit your application early (May-July) in order to increase your chances of acceptance.

Alumni with careers in dentistry