Deciding to become a dentist is a wise career move: the hours are good, the money is even better and, if patients are rude to you, you get to drill into their teeth and poke sharp things at their gums.
On the downside, though, the training required to become qualified can be long and rigorous. In the US, for instance, you need to complete a three-year bachelor’s degree followed by four years of dental school, while in the UK, you will spend at least five years studying. It helps, therefore, if you’re at a college or university that excels in dentistry and which can make the whole process more bearable.
In order to help you find one, we’ve compiled the most recent data from Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Times Higher Education (THE) and the Academic Rankings of World Universities (ARWU) and averaged their scores out accordingly.
These are the 10 best dental schools in the world.
9. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (tie)
Location: Leuven, Belgium
Average ranking: 20.7
Kicking off our list in joint-ninth place, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven – or KU Leuven, for short – is a renowned institution within the oral health sciences world. Unfortunately, the dentistry programme is only taught in Dutch, meaning that you’ll have to scrub up on your language skills if you want to study here. If you’re a non-EU student and your university has an exchange agreement with Leuven, meanwhile, it is possible to spend three months in the department alongside a Dutch speaker.
Luckily, many of the school’s master’s programmes are taught in English, so if further postgraduate study in the fields of forensic odontology, deglutology or algology sounds like your bag, then you could be in luck. Due to the provincial structure of Belgian higher education, meanwhile, tuition fees can vary widely depending on where you are from and what your financial background is.
9. University of Hong Kong (tie)
Location: Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong
Average ranking: 20.7
As the highest-ranking Asian university on this list (pipping both the prestigious Tokyo Medical and Dental School and the University of Melbourne), students on the University of Hong Kong’s six-year BDS undergraduate programme can expect state-of-the-art teaching facilities, a flawless graduate employment rate and an internationally renowned, student-focused education.
Luckily, the entire course is taught in English, too, although students must undertake additional Chinese and Cantonese language courses in order to interact with patients. As of 2018–2019, tuition fees for ‘non-local’ students (in other words, those requiring a visa to be in Hong Kong) is around $20,500 (£15,500) per year, including a deposit upon admission of $10,250 (£7,750).
8. University of California, Los Angeles
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Average ranking: 14.3
Given the obsession with image in Los Angeles, it’s perhaps unsurprising that dentistry opportunities there are rife. The University of California, Los Angeles – or UCLA, as it’s more commonly abbreviated – offers a four-year DDS programme that begins in the laboratory before branching out into clinical environments.
With only 88 students on the course, admission to the school is highly competitive. According to UCLA’s official admissions website, the average GPA of the current class is 3.80, with 21 students graduating Summa Cum Laude, 21 Magna Cum Laude and 17 Cum Laude (scared, yet?).
Tuition fees, meanwhile, are just over $78,500 (£59,380) per year for non-California residents, although this doesn’t include living costs and personal fees.
7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
Average ranking: 14.0
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – or UNC-Chapel Hill, for short – is a public university renowned for its dentistry and dental hygiene programmes and, in particular, its state-of-the-art facilities. Indeed, the university’s Koury Oral Health Sciences Center, which opened in 2012, is equipped with some of the finest technology in the world.
Applicants are required to have completed a four-year undergraduate degree (as well as several pre-dental courses), while tuition fees for non-North Carolina residents start at $83,790 (£63,380) per year.
6. University of Pennsylvania
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Average ranking: 13.7
As an Ivy League institution that offers academic excellence in many fields (Wharton, for instance, is one of the top business schools in the world), it’s no surprise that the University of Pennsylvania – or UPenn – makes an appearance on this list.
The university is keen to make the most of this academic diversity, too, with dual-degree options encouraged (perfect for those looking to combine their clinical training with their business goals). Throw in opportunities for hospital externships overseas, student research programmes and summer fellowships, and UPenn becomes a highly desirable destination.
Tuition fees are set at around $95,000 (£71,860) per year, although this does not account for living costs or personal costs.
5. University of Washington
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Average ranking: 11.7
Based in the trendy north-western metropolis of Seattle, the University of Washington School of Dentistry (UWSOD) offers students a world-class dental education. On the downside, though, the school is something of a closed shop.
According to the university’s admission stats, UWSOD receives around 1,000 applications per year for 63 places – a slim acceptance rate of around 6.3% – with Washington and, to a lesser extent, WICHE residents taking the very large majority of those spots.
If you’re one of the lucky few non-residents to squeeze in (and some places are reserved for international students), then you can expect to pay tuition costs of around $102,000 (£77,160) per year, not including personal and living costs.
4. University College London (UCL)
Location: London, United Kingdom
Average ranking: 10.3
While there is undoubtedly the potential for a joke here about British people and teeth, UCL represents the first of two UK entries on this list. Indeed, the University’s Eastman Dental Institute – adjacent to the Eastman Dental Hospital with which it is affiliated – is home to one of the finest dentistry research groups in the world.
Perhaps bizarrely, the school doesn’t actually offer an undergraduate course in dentistry; its array of specialist certificates, postgraduate programmes and research opportunities make it a more than worthy inclusion, though.
Tuition fees vary depending on your choice of course, where you are from and what funding you are eligible for, but on the whole, they are in line with most other UK universities.
3. University of Michigan
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Average ranking: 9.3
Despite its reputation for athletic prowess, the University of Michigan is also one of the foremost scientific research universities in the country. Unsurprisingly, its dental school, located on the picturesque campus at Ann Arbor, is a beneficiary of this success.
There are numerous postgraduate programmes available, with the main dentistry stream following the DDS curriculum, while tuition fees for non-Michigan residents are set at around $68,370 (£51,720) per year (not including living and personal costs).
2. King’s College London
Location: London, United Kingdom
Average ranking: 8.0
Amalgamated under the academic umbrella of the University of London, King’s College is a research-driven institution with the largest dental school in the UK, graduating around 150 dentists each year. Unlike UCL, it offers the five-year BDS undergraduate programme and provides students with the opportunity to gain clinical experience in several world-class hospitals as well.
Tuition fees for UK applicants are capped by the British government at £9,250 (around $12,280) per year, while international students are looking at £43,500 (around $57,720) per year. (These fees don’t include living or personal costs, nor do they account for additional costs for travel, graduation and security checks.)
1. Harvard University
Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Average ranking: 6.0
When it comes to university rankings, it seems as though that, no matter the subject, Harvard is a world leader. Dentistry is clearly no different, with the Harvard School of Dental Medicine – based in Boston – offering numerous postgraduate courses, including the DMD programme.
As part of the ongoing curriculum – which makes full use of Harvard’s unique teaching methods – students are also expected to develop and complete a research project in their second, third and fourth years, closely complementing the existing inter-disciplinary approach.
Tuition fees are set at around $85,070 (£64,350) per year, although this does not include living costs, travel and other personal allowances.
As you can see, there are top-level options for studying dentistry all over the globe, although when choosing a university, you should always look at what is the best fit for you – not everybody else.
In the meantime, where are you planning to study? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 31 July 2017.