Frequently Asked Questions

Pre-requisite Courses

Do I have to complete all prerequisite courses before I apply?

Pre-requisite courses must be completed prior to matriculation (which generally occurs during the first full week of August). We recommend that applicants take a majority of the prerequisite courses prior to taking the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). Applicants should list any planned courses on the AADSAS application. An offer of admission is contingent on the successful completion of all prerequisite courses prior to enrollment.

Would upper level Biology coursework satisfy the pre-requisite?

Yes, the two semester Biology requirement, including labs, can be met with upper level Biology courses.

Would an accelerated Chemistry course fulfill the prerequisite?

At this time, applicants are required to complete two semesters of General Chemistry and two semesters of Organic Chemistry. However, students may submit a request to the Admissions Committee upon acceptance to have alternative coursework approved. Please note that pre-requisite courses do not need to be completed by the time of applying or interviewing, but rather by the time of potential matriculation, so there would be time for students to complete any outstanding pre-requisites if necessary. 

Does HSDM accept pass/fail credits?

HSDM strongly encourages applicants to complete pre-requisite courses, particularly science courses, for a letter grade. We understand that many schools offered students the option to take courses for pass/fail credit, or may have transitioned entirely to a pass/fail curriculum during the pandemic. HSDM will accept pass/fail credit for the following semesters: spring 2020, summer 2020, fall 2020, spring 2021, summer 2021.

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Will AP or IB credits fulfill the HSDM prerequisite courses?

HSDM does not accept IB credits. However, HSDM will accept AP credits provided that an applicant's undergraduate university accepts these courses for credit, and they appear on the candidate's transcript.

Would a letter of recommendation from my math professor count towards the two required science recommendations?

A letter of recommendation from a math professor would count as a non-science letter of recommendation. Two of the three required letters of recommendation must be from faculty who teach biology, chemistry or physics-related courses, or from a Principal Investigator.  Applicants may submit up to four letters of recommendations in AADSAS.<embed>
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Preparing to Apply

Do you offer tours of the school to prospective applicants?

HSDM is typically unable to provide tours given the clinical setting. However, applicants who are selected for an interview will be given a full tour of the School and will also have an opportunity to meet with current DMD students.

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What subject should I major in?

Though many candidates choose to major in the sciences, applicants may pursue any academic major of their choice as long as they demonstrate strong preparation in the sciences, including successful completion of the pre-requisite coursework. The Admissions Committee seeks candidates who will be active and involved members of the class, who are from diverse backgrounds, and who have a variety of interests, talents, skills, and knowledge as we believe that a diverse student body will contribute to a well-rounded class and a vibrant School.

If I pursue a gap year, what do you recommend I do during this time?

HSDM encourages applicants to spend their gap year/s pursuing something meaningful to them (e.g. work, travel, research, or community service). However, the Admissions Committee also recommends that applicants continue to demonstrate their interest in oral health.

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How long are DAT scores valid?

HSDM generally considers DAT scores valid for two years from the start of the application cycle.

However, for the 2022 - 2023 application cycle, Admissions will consider DAT scores valid for three years from the start of the application cycle. HSDM will accept DAT scores taken after June 1, 2019.

I have been out of school for a few years. Am I still eligible to apply?

Yes. There is no expiration date on pre-requisite courses; these may be completed at any U.S. or Canadian institution. Similarly, letters of evaluation will be accepted from faculty members at any institution where you completed courses or conducted research.

What is the cutoff for DAT scores and GPA's?

HSDM reviews completed applications holistically and makes admissions decisions based on a comprehensive review. HSDM does not have a minimum GPA or DAT score. However, a GPA of at least a 3.6 overrall and a DAT cademic Average of at least 20 is preferred.

Do I need to have a research experience in order to apply?

Research is not an admissions requirement at HSDM, and not all matriculating students will have participated in research. However, we believe acquiring the skills to effectively evaluate research and gauge it's impact on the dental field is a fundamental part of your education. All DMD students participate in some sort of scholarly project. These projects vary in scope and depth depending on the research interest of the student.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

HSDM requires three letters of recommendation, and will accept a maximum of four. At least three of these letters must be from faculty members, and at least two of the letters must be from science professors. Alternatively, a composite letter of recommendation from a Pre-Health advising committee will meet the requirement for letters of recommendation; no other letters need to be submitted if a letter is written by a committee on the applicant's behalf. All letters must be submitted through AADSAS.

Letters of recommendation should be written by professors who know the applicant in an academic setting: either they have taught a course the candidate has taken, or they have overseen the applicant's academic work as an academic advisor, research mentor, or thesis mentor. Applicants should be confident that professors are able to write a personalized letter and are in a position to assess the candidate's academic abilities, as well as personal qualities. Frequently, professors and teaching assistants will collaborate in letter writing for students in larger lecture classes; HSDM will accept co-authored letters.

Professional letters of recommendation—for example, letters from a supervisor or a dentist an applicant has shadowed—may be submitted as a fourth letter of recommendation.

How many hours of shadowing are required to apply to Harvard?

HSDM does not have a minimum required number of dental shadowing hours. We expect candidates to demonstrate familiarity with the field.

What is the average GPA and DAT of students who are accepted?

The average GPA and DAT of the most recently admitted class was a 3.85 and 22 (Academic Average) respectively.  HSDM does not have a GPA or DAT minimum, however, we have a preferred GPA of 3.6 overall and a preferred DAT Academic Average of 20 and higher.  Admissions considers the entire application in making admissions decisions, and the GPA and DAT scores are just part of this holistic review.

May I retake the DAT?

Admissions is only able to review each application one time. If an applicant plans to retake the DAT, the applicant should notify Admissions by e-mail and request that their application be placed on hold pending updated DAT scores. The applicant should indicate the approximate date of the exam. It is the applicant’s obligation to notify Admissions when the hold should be removed; otherwise, the application may not be reviewed.

May I receive feedback about my application?

Due to the small size of the office, Admissions is unable able to counsel applicants about their admission potential, or provide application feedback. However, Admissions is happy to answer any application-related questions. 

Application Process

How do I pay the application fee?

Once an application has been processed, HSDM Admissions will email instructions for submitting the $80 application fee online. Please be sure to include your full name and AADSAS ID on the order so that Admissions can match submitted application fees with the appropriate application.  The application fee is waived in certain cirucmstances. If you believe you qualify, please notify us by email at

When is an application considered complete?

An application is considered complete once Admissions has received an applicant’s verified AADSAS application, a nonrefundable processing fee of $80, three letters of evaluation from faculty members (i.e. academic references) or a Pre-Health committee letter, and DAT scores.

Note: The most frequently missing application requirement is the third letter of recommendation from a non-science faculty member. Please note that a letter of evaluation from a dentist an applicant has shadowed would count as a fourth letter of recommendation, but would not fulfill our faculty recommentation requirement. Applicants who have used up their four allotted recommendation spaces in AADSAS should ask their faculty member to email their letter to Admissions.

How will I know if my application is complete?

HSDM Admissions sends applicants an email notification when the application has been received and when the application is complete. If the application is incomplete, the applicant will receive a one-time notification email outlining which pieces of the application are missing. Applicants may also refer to the WebAdmit portal for status updates.

Does HSDM have a secondary/supplemental application?

A supplemental questionnaire will be sent only to individuals who have been invited for an interview.

When can I expect to hear from HSDM about my candidacy?

The Admissions Committee begins reviewing completed applications in early July. Admissions notifies applicants who are selected for an interview between September and February. We appreciate your patience as the Admissions Committee conducts a careful review of each application.

Admitted applicants are notified beginning December 1. All applicants will receive a status update by the end of March.

May I receive feedback about my application?

Due to the small size of the office, Admissions is unable able to counsel applicants about their admission potential, or provide application feedback. However, Admissions is happy to answer any application-related questions. 

International Applicants

Do you accept international students?

Yes.  International students are eligible to apply to HSDM provided they have completed all of the prerequisite courses at a college or university in the United States or Canada. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree from another country are advised to spend at least one year at a US college or university to become familiar with the US educational system.

Do you offer an Advanced Standing program for internationally trained dentists?

HSDM does not offer an official advanced standing program. Internationally trained dentists who wish to obtain a U.S. dental degree may apply to the DMD program and are required to complete the full four-year program. Harvard’s postdoctoral programs accept internationally trained dentists. Please see the Advanced Graduate Education (AGE) Programs page for more information on applications to HSDM’s postdoctoral programs.

Will HSDM grant me a visa?

Upon acceptance to an HSDM program, applicants who are neither U.S. citizens nor Permanent Residents of the United States will receive information related to obtaining an F-1 or J-1 visa. Proof of adequate financial resources must be presented for HSDM to begin the process. Funds must be in U.S. dollars and students' (or sponsors') accounts must be in a U.S. bank. More information about the visa process is available on the Harvard International Office's website.

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Is TOEFL required for international applicants?

TOEFL is not required for international students. However, must be taken at US or Canadian institution.<embed>
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Does HSDM offer externships or elective periods?

The facilities at HSDM can only accommodate current HSDM students; unfortunately, we are not able to offer electives, externships, or exchange periods of study to non-HSDM students.