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The Application Process


While it is best to contact your programs of choice to obtain the most current and complete application instructions, most postdoctoral programs use the Postdoctoral Application Support Service (PASS) and/or the Postdoctoral Dental Matching Program (Match). The PASS and Match systems facilitate the application process and fill first year graduate program positions. Although the PASS and the Match Programs are separate and independent services, you are able to register for both services within the same PASS applicant portal. Additionally it is important to note that each advanced program may choose to participate in either PASS, Match, neither, or both programs, so make sure you verify each program's application requirements before getting started. The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) provides a helpful overview of the application process.

PASS (Postdoctoral Application Support Service)

PASS is a centralized application service for dental students applying to advanced dental education programs. The PASS service simplifies the application process by providing a standardized format, relieving applicants of the need to complete multiple applications. According to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), more than 555 U.S. postdoctoral programs participate in PASS. PASS processes applications for programs in advanced general dentistry, anesthesiology, endodontics, general practice residency, operative dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and prosthodontics.

For more information, contact the PASS customer service line at 617.612.2065 (available Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Eastern Time). You can also email or write to 1400 K Street NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC, 20005-2403.

Match (Postdoctoral Dental Matching Program)

The Match Program is an automated system for matching students to their most preferred first year residency training program based on the program's list of most desired students. Currently, select programs in advanced education in general dentistry, general practice residencies, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry and dental anesthesiology participate in Match. ADEA PASS applicants who seek positions that use the Match program must register through both organizations, using the ADEA PASS portal.

After applying to the program of choice, (either directly to the school or through PASS), applicants may be invited by individual programs to participate in the interview process. No offers are made by the programs during the interview period. For those programs who participate in Match, the next step is for both the applicants AND the programs to evaluate each other independently, resulting in a "Rank Order List," or an order of preference for both programs and potential students. This ranking is then submitted through the Match Website and a comparison of the lists are used to place students into positions. For more information about the Postdoctoral Dental Matching Program and to register for participation contact the National Matching Services, Inc at 416.977.3431, For more specific information on the Match process, visit

Stay Organized and within your Budget!

The key to a successful and effective application process is organization and attention to detail. Most programs will request official undergraduate and dental school transcripts, National Board Dental Exam scores, three or more letters of recommendation, information regarding work experience and extra-curricular activities, as well as a personal statement of career goals. This can be a lot to keep track of! Checklists and spreadsheets outlining each program's unique information will keep you on track during the application process. Examples of these organizational tools may be found in the attached document.

Additionally, the fees associated with applying to advanced education programs can be significant and must be planned for accordingly. When determining your upcoming finances, be sure to take into account potential fees associated with the PASS application, ordering transcripts, board scores, supplemental applications, and travel expenses for interviews. A sample financial tracking spreadsheet can be found in the attached spreadsheet.