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Pre-dental Program

Dentistry is the branch of the healing arts and sciences devoted to maintaining the health of the teeth, gums, and other hard and soft tissues of the oral cavity. In addition to general dentistry, there are nine recognized specialties. Dentists must have good manual dexterity while working in a very limited space. They also must be very meticulous in their attention to detail.

There is one dental school in Oregon -- Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry in Portland. It is common for pre-dental students to apply to this school and others across the nation. See the "Student Success" link at left for more information.

Portland State offers a strong pre-dental program wherein students complete their prerequisite coursework for dental school, earn a baccalaureate degree (in a major of their choice), and obtain extensive assistance with the dental school preparation, selection, and application process.

Academic Advising & Choosing a Major

How Advising Works: Pre-dental students at PSU have two advisers – their pre-dental adviser in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) Advising Center (503-725-3822), and a major adviser in their major department.  Pre-dental students are expected to meet with their pre-dental adviser in the CLAS Advising Center regularly and they are expected to meet with their major adviser as needed or as required by their major department. If a pre-dental student selects an Interdisciplinary Major such as Science, he/she will have just one adviser, as pre-dental advisers are also advisers for Interdisciplinary majors.

Choosing a Major: Pre-dental students can select any major from those available at PSU (majors and minors are listed in the “Programs of Study” section of the PSU Bulletin/Catalog). Dental schools do not prefer one major over another; they simply look for broadly educated individuals who perform well in the sciences. Pre-dental students at PSU represent a wide variety of majors, ranging from Biology to Psychology to Science to English, to Health Studies: Health Sciences and more.

Undecided About Your Major? Pre-dental students who have not yet selected a major will simply have one adviser (their pre-dental adviser in the CLAS Advising Center) until they select a major, at which point they will have two advisers (the pre-dental adviser and the major adviser). Selection of the major is a topic that pre-dental advisers are happy to discuss with students.

Scheduling an Advising Appointment: To schedule an appointment with a pre-dental adviser, call the CLAS Advising Center at 503-725-3822. Call a few weeks in advance of when you would like to have your appointment so that you are more likely to get the day and time that you desire. Once you meet with a pre-dental adviser, continue to schedule your appointments with that same adviser for relationship development as well as continuity and efficiency.

Drop-in Advising: Drop-in advising hours are available for quick questions, urgent needs, introductions, and short-term planning. See the Drop-in Advising Schedule for pre-dental drop-in advising hours (look for hours for Liz Shatzer or Melissa Yates).

What Do Pre-Dental Advisers Do?
Advisers work with you in one-on-one and group settings to facilitate the following:

  • Strategic course planning
  • Informed, proactive preparation
  • Integration of personal, academic, & career goals
  • Ability to evaluate options & make decisions
  • Awareness of available resources

Advisers can help you develop academic plans, understand what makes a competitive dental school candidate, and evaluate your progress in these areas. Pre-dental advisers can share ideas about where you might want to volunteer or how you can learn more about organizations you might get involved in at PSU and locally. They can serve as a sounding board when you have tough decisions to make or stressful situations at hand and they can help you determine how to proceed when you are experiencing academic difficulty.  They are also there to encourage you and celebrate your successes with you.

In addition to drop-in advising and advising appointments, pre-dental advisers facilitate group seminars and workshops on topics such as Preparing for Admission to Dental School, the Health Sciences Advising Letter Service, and the Dental School Application. Pre-dental students are also required to attend a Self-Evaluation Workshop as they near their application year in order to identify their strengths and areas for growth and develop a plan of action for the future.