Dental education

Findings from the ADA Health Policy Institute on demographic trends among dental students, the impact of student debt, and more.
American Dental Association Health Policy Institute Trends in U.S. Dental Schools infographic first year enrollment graph
Trends in U.S. dental schools

See data on shifting student demographics,  and the growth of U.S. dental schools over time.

Survey of Dental Education Series

Report 1: Programs, Enrollment, and Graduates

National and program-level survey information on accredited programs, admission requirements, financial assistance, instruction methods, patient care, and support personnel at U.S. dental schools. Also features trends in applications, enrollment, and graduates by gender and race/ethnicity.

Report 2: Tuition, Admission, and Attrition

Program-level and national data on tuition and fees as well as admissions criteria and policies of dental schools, including academic qualifications of first-year students, advanced placement and international dental school graduates, and student attrition and withdrawal information.

Report 3: Finances

Financial information from the previous fiscal year from accredited U.S. dental school. , including revenue and expenditures per student and comparisons between public and private schools. School-level data is presented anonymously.

Report 4: Curriculum

The curriculum survey conducted every other year offers an internal benchmarking tool monitoring compliance to CODA. The report features national-level data on instructional methods, evaluation methods, curriculum format, clock hours of instruction, and data on patient care in dental schools.

Survey of Advanced Dental Education

Advanced Dental Education

Survey of accredited advanced dental education programs, including advanced education in general dentistry (AEGD), general practice residency (GPR), dental anesthesiology, orofacial pain, oral medicine, dental public health (DPH), endodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics.

Features data on program directors; student enrollment and graduates by gender, race/ethnicity, and program type; tuition and stipends; instruction methods; international dental school graduates; off-campus training; and non-accredited programs offered by dental schools.

Survey of Allied Dental Education

Dental Hygiene

Survey of accredited dental assisting, dental hygiene, and dental laboratory technology education programs. Includes program-level data on admission requirements, applications, student costs, enrollment and graduate levels, student and faculty characteristics, and curriculum. The report also features trend data on program capacity, applications, enrollment, graduates, and student costs.


Trends in advanced dental education programs in the U.S. (January 2022):

Dental education FAQs

How many dental schools are there in the U.S. and Canada?

There are 68 accredited dental schools in the U.S. and 10 in Canada.

Some of the most recent predoctoral dental education programs to gain accreditation by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) are California Northstate University College of Dental Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Touro College of Dental Medicine at New York Medical College, A.T. Still University-Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health, University of New England, and University of Utah.

In August 2019, CODA granted accreditation to the predoctoral dental education program sponsored by King Abdulaziz University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is the first time an international predoctoral dental education program based outside the United States has been accredited by CODA.


Related item: Visit the CODA Search DDS/DMD Programs page.

How many students are enrolled in/graduate from dental schools?

During the 2020-21 academic year, there were 25,995 students enrolled in predoctoral dental education programs, up from 25,807 the prior year. The class of 2020 had 6,609 graduates, up from 6,350 in 2019.

Source: 2020-21 Survey of Dental Education – Report 1: Academic Programs, Enrollment, and Graduates (XLSX).

How many dental students/graduates are female?

In 2020-21, 13,680 predoctoral dental students were female (52.6%), and 51.4% (3,395) of graduates of the class of 2020 were female. In comparison, the percentage of graduates who were female was 45.0% in 2010, 39.5% in 2000, 30.8% in 1990, and 13.6% in 1980.

Source: 2020-21 Survey of Dental Education – Report 1: Academic Programs, Enrollment, and Graduates (XLSX).

Is dental school enrollment increasing or declining?

Total predoctoral enrollment is currently at its highest level historically, with 25,995 students enrolled in the 2020-21 academic year. Prior to this recent surge, dental student enrollment was at its highest level during the late 1970s and early 1980s, with peak enrollment of 22,842 in the 1980-81 academic year.

Source: 2020-21 Survey of Dental Education – Report 1: Academic Programs, Enrollment, and Graduates (XLSX).

What is the average first-year cost of dental school?
In 2020-21, the average first-year cost of dental school (including tuition and mandatory general fees) was $55,521 for residents and $71,916 for non-residents. Results also vary by institution type. In 2020-21, the average resident first-year cost of public dental school programs was $41,003 while the cost of private dental school programs was $76,447.

Source: 2020-21 Survey of Dental Education – Report 2: Tuition, Admission and Attrition (XLSX).

What is the average debt carried by dental school graduates?

Visit the American Dental Education Association's (ADEA) page for free data reports on dental graduate debt.

How many international students attend or graduate from U.S. dental schools?
In 2020-21, 655 graduates of international dental schools were admitted to U.S. dental schools with advanced standing, down from 708 the previous year.

In 2020-21, non-resident aliens made up 3.4% of first-year students and 6.4% of graduates.

Source: International Students in U.S. Dental Schools (PDF) (HPI Infographic).