Top Ten Nation Search

Top 10: Things That Canadians Want to Know When Applying to Dental School in the US

Students from Canada attempting to gain admission to dental schools in the United States may be confused with what is required of them, and whether or not they should decide to pursue this route. We are here to help with this information, because Canadian students are increasingly running an uphill battle to gain admission to Canadian dental schools with admission averages hovering anywhere between 3.6 to 3.9. The United States offers many more dental schools to choose from.

Top 10 Things That Canadian Applicants Want to Know About Attending Dental School in the US

1. Equivalency
By a reciprocal agreement, programs that are accredited by the American Dental Association are recognized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada. Note that persons attending dental schools in the US and who intend to practice in Canada, should carefully investigate the requirements of the licensing jurisdiction where they wish to practice. Canadian students studying dentistry in the US should know that they are required to write the Canadian NDBE (Board Exams) to qualify to practice in Canada. Additionally, provinces in Canada generally require a jurisprudence exam before a dentist is licenced to practice in that respective province. Please check the requirements for your province before pursuing this route. Keep in mind that Canadian dental students write the exact same examinations regardless, as they need to qualify in the exact same manner.

2. DAT Exam
Canadian students can be relieved to know that most Canadian-friendly US dental schools accept the Canadian DAT examination. Also keep in mind that because the US DAT does not have a soap carving section, most US dental schools tend to overlook this section, even if you have a failing score in this section. There are some US dental schools that don't accept the Canadian DAT, in which case, Canadian students can easily write the US DAT at any Prometric Centre in Canada during any available day. Unlike the Canadian DAT, the US DAT can be written pretty much anytime. Generally, writing the US DAT for successful Canadian applicants to the US is NOT required.

3. Canadian-friendly US dental schools
Which US dental schools are Canadian-friendly, and what do we mean by this? Dental schools, like any other professional schools sometimes have quotas as to how many international applicants they can accept. Most state-sponsored dental schools heavily favor in-state applicants only and don't accept international students from Canada. So which US dental schools are the best bet for Canadian applicants? Mostly the large private dental schools. This is because private dental schools generally don't care where their students come from. They are not state-sponsored, so they have no requirements as to how many in-state applicants they need to accept. Top 10 Nation recommends applying to the following US dental schools for Canadian applicants IN THIS PRIORITY ORDER: Boston University, New York University, Tufts University, University of the Pacific, Temple University, University of Detroit Mercy, and Case Western Reserve University. There may be other schools that accept large numbers of Canadians, and we will update this list as required. Western University has not been verified but potentially accepts many Canadians as well. The downside to applying to private dental schools? The cost. We request that any Canadian dental students currently studying in the US contact us or leave a comment to verify and update this information. We appreciate everyone's input in this matter.

4. Semester hour credits
Some Canadian undergraduate universities calculate their credit systems for every course a bit oddly and when you end up converting to the US system, some students end up having 0.5 or 1 credit less than required for any given course. This can be problematic when it involves pre-requisite courses. This is a difficult topic to clarify, and this would require a personalized list for every university in Canada, so our goal here is just to bring this to your attention before it hits you as a surprise. If all of this doesn't make sense, take a look at the AADSAS website and figure out how to calculate your school's credit system to the AADSAS method.

5. F-1 Visa eligibility
Canadian students sometimes wonder how the Visa process works when attending dental school in the US. In a post-9/11 world, this is becoming increasingly a concern for everyone who constantly needs to cross the Canadian-US border. Rest assured though that most Canadian dental students in the US have no issues. Dental schools generally handle the bulk of the work required on your behalf and assist you with obtaining your Visa. Generally, a sponsor letter is required from your parents stating that they will financially support your endeavor. Additionally, a letter may be required proving that you have the financial means to afford dental school in the US. The easiest way to do this is to obtain the minimum required funds as stated, place these funds into a bank account, and to obtain a letter from the bank stating the balance.
*UPDATE:* Canadian students attending US schools under a F-1 Visa may be subjected to fingerprinting (all 10 fingerprints), and laptop searches. There has been no instances of this to our knowledge involving dental students, however, news reports reveal this to be up and coming.

6. Obtaining necessities in the US
A bank account, a cell phone, and other necessities are sometimes difficult to obtain when you are new to a foreign country. Although Canada and the US are very similar, not having a SSN or Social Security Number can cause issues while trying to obtain bank accounts and cell phones and similar necessities. The solution? Talk to the International Students Office at the dental school you eventually decide to attend. They can assist you with finding companies that are willing to help international students obtain the products they need, without all the hassle required with most companies.

7. Employment?
Thinking about working during dental school to help you pay those hefty private tuition costs? Again, refer to the International Students Office, as they can help you acquire a SSN and a job. Laws may require that you can only work at an on-campus location. Keep in mind though that the large majority of dental students are too busy to work while attending dental school, especially if they are pursuing higher grades for possible post-graduate residency spots.

8. Pre-professional committee reference letter
Certain US dental schools will state that they require a letter from a committee that deals with pre-dental or pre-medical students. Canadian universities tend not to have these committees. Don't fret. A lot of colleges in the US don't have these either. Simply substitute this requirement with a reference letter from a pure-science professor. Dental schools are aware that some undergraduate colleges don't have these committees.

9. Prestige
This issue derives from some Canadian students feel that going to the US for dental school is problematic as people in Canada may assume that international or US-trained dentists are inferior to Canadian-trained dentists. Some students can also feel that going to the US for dental school is for those students who couldn't make it into a Canadian dental school. This is a huge myth perpetuated by a competitive undergraduate culture in Canadian universities by students who don't know any better. US dental schools may be more costly, but are excellent schools and in general, the Canadian population does not care which dental school you went to, as long as you are qualified to practice dentistry. In fact, Canadian patients may prefer US-trained dentists, and certainly, a US dental training background can be a source of conversation into the future. Expect world-class education in the US that is respected world-wide.

10. Culture shock?
Not really... a lot of students wonder if studying in the US is all that different from Canada, and the answer is 'not really.' US schools have more of a sports-oriented culture with a focus on football instead of ice hockey, and a tremendous focus on fraternities and sororities in comparison to Canada. Canadians may initially find that interactions with the public in the US are slightly different. Generally it may seem as if people are not as polite and that people are in more of a rush. It's not a big deal, you'll get acclimated in no time. Just make sure to bring some Tim Horton's coffee beans or something with you, although certain northern states like Ohio do have a Timmy's here and there.

Good luck to you Canadians, eh?

Feed Shark