How Long Do You Have to Go to School to Be a Dentist?


Becoming a dentist entails a substantial commitment to education and training. If you’re contemplating a career in dentistry, you might wonder, “How long do you have to go to school to be a dentist?” This guide will outline the stages of dental education to help you navigate your path to this rewarding career.

Undergraduate Education (4 years)

1. Pre-Dental Studies

Most dental schools require a bachelor’s degree or, at least, specific prerequisite courses. For more information on suitable undergraduate programs, visit official university websites.

Dental School Education (4 years)

1. Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) Degree

Dental school generally takes four years to complete. Here, students gain both theoretical knowledge and practical skills. For more details on dental school admission and curriculum, visit official dental school websites.

Residency or Specialization (Optional, 1-6 years)

1. Specializations and Advanced Training

Dentists who wish to specialize must complete additional training. For more information on dental specialties and requirements, refer to official dental association websites.


1. State Licensure Examination

All dentists must pass a state licensure examination to practice. For specific licensing requirements, consult official state licensing board websites.

Total Time Required

So, “how long do you have to go to school to be a dentist?” Inclusive of undergraduate studies, dental school, and optional specialization, the process can take anywhere from 8 to 14 years.


Q: What subjects should I focus on for pre-dental studies?

A: Science subjects such as biology and chemistry are essential. Check out official pre-dental course websites.

Q: How competitive is admission to dental school?

A: Admission can be very competitive. Learn about requirements at official dental school websites.

Q: Are there part-time dental programs available?

A: Some schools may offer part-time options. Visit official dental school websites for details.

Q: Can I practice as a dentist without state licensure?

A: Licensure is generally required. Consult the official state licensing board websites.


The journey to becoming a dentist is comprehensive, requiring several years of education and training. By understanding “how long do you have to go to school to be a dentist” and the different stages involved, you can plan your path to this fulfilling profession more effectively. Always refer to authentic sources such as universities, dental schools, and professional boards for precise information.