Comparing Dental School Costs at the 10 Top Universities

The cost of dental school is substantial. Having options and deciding which school is the best fit for you is essential. This article dives into the top 10 dental schools.

If you’re thinking about becoming a dentist, it’s a potentially lucrative career. As of 2020, the median pay for dentists was $164,010 per year. And, overall employment for dentists is expected to increase by 3% through 2029. 


However, there are some downsides to keep in mind, particularly when it comes to cost. Dental school tuition can be incredibly expensive, and you may need to borrow a significant amount of money to pay for your education. 


To help you make an informed decision, we compared the cost of dentistry school tuition at top-ranked universities. 


Dental School Tuitions at 10 Top Schools

According to the American Dental Association, the average first-year cost of dental school was $41,711 at public universities and $75,161 at private schools. 


Few students can pay dentistry school tuition and fees out of their savings, so you’ll likely have to take out student loans to cover at least some of the cost. On average, dental school graduates leave school with over $290,000 in student loan debt. 


To make sure you can manage your debt after graduating, it’s important to choose your dentistry program carefully. To help you select a program, we evaluated the cost of attending the top dental schools in the country. 


In 2020, QS Quacquarelli Symonds compiled their list of the best dentistry schools in the world and in the United States. QS Quacquarelli Symonds evaluated programs based on academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per published paper, and an “H-index” — a scoring system that looks at the productivity and impact of scientists and researchers’ work. 



Here’s how the top 10 dental schools in the U.S. measure up: 


University Name

Location

Type of University

First-Year Tuition for State Residents*

First-Year Tuition for Non-Residents*

Enrollment Rate

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Public

$38,095

$54,877

6.2%

University of California-San Francisco

San Francisco, California

Public 

$43,410

$55,655

6.3%

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Private

$63,400

$63,400

3.7%

University of Washington

Seattle, Washington

Public

$54,422

$84,926

13.7%

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Private

$76,090

$76,090

6.6%

New York University

New York City, New York

Private

$82,008

$82,008

11.5%

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Public

$40,709

$82,745

6.8%

University of Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

Public

$46,285

$74,423

9.7%

University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

Public

$45,045

$55,655

6.8%

University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Public

$38,479

$71,284

19.1%

*We used the American Dental Association's 2019-2020 Survey of Dental Education to compare prices at the top dental schools in the country because it provided a consistent measure of costs unlike individual school websites. The prices listed include tuition and mandatory fees, but do not include room and board or other expenses. 


1. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is the top ranked dental school in the country, and it’s also the least expensive school for in-state and out-of-state students. 


It offers 15 degree and certificate programs, and operates a dental clinic for Michigan residents. It also has programs for dentists looking to specialize in dental surgery. 


As a public university, the school is much cheaper for residents of Michigan than out-of-state students. The tuition for a first-year in-state student was $38,095, while the tuition for an out-of-state student was $54,877 as of the 2019-2020 academic year.

2. University of California-San Francisco

The University of California’s school of dentistry was founded in 1881. Besides its Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) programs, it also offers programs in endodontics, orthodontics, periodontology, prosthodontics, and oral medicine. 


The University of California-San Francisco is a public university and has cheaper rates for California residents. In-state students paid $43,410, while out-of-state students paid $55,655.  



3. Harvard University

A world-renowned school, Harvard is a private university. Its school of dental medicine operates a clinic that serves the local community. Students can enroll in DMD programs, earn a PhD in biological sciences in dental medicine, and take part in continuing education courses. 


Harvard charges the same rate for in-state and out-of-state students. For the 2019-2020 academic year, the tuition for first-year students was $63,400. 


If you’d like to attend Harvard, work on improving your GPA and credentials. The school has the lowest enrollment rate of the top dental schools; out of 949 applications in 2019, just 35 — 3.7% — were enrolled. 

4. University of Washington

Along with its DMD program, the University of Washington also offers specialty programs in endodontics, orthodontics, oral medicine, and prosthodontics. This public university operates a dental clinic for the community. Patients can receive dental care that is typically 30% to 40% lower than they’d pay at other Seattle-area dental offices. 


The University of Washington charges residents lower tuition rates than non-residents. Washington residents paid $54,422, while out-of-state students paid $84,926. 

5. University of Pennsylvania

At the Penn Dental Medicine Department at the University of Pennsylvania, students can enroll in DMD programs as well as complete postgraduate training in eight specialty areas. Through the Penn Dental Medicine Department, students can also pursue a Master of Science in Oral Biology. It operates dental care clinics that serve the local community as well. 


As a private university, in-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rates. As of the 2019-2020 academic year, the cost was $76,090. 




6. New York University (NYU)

According to NYU, the university is responsible for educating approximately 10% of the country’s dentists. A larger dental school, it educates about 1,800 students per year. The dental school includes predoctoral and postdoctoral programs, as well as master’s degrees in oral biology. 


Through NYU Dentistry, the university provides general and specialty dental care services to the community. Services include cleaning, cavity fillings, surgical extractions, pediatric dentistry, implant dentistry, and more. 


NYU is a private university; it’s tuition cost was $82,008 for all students. 



7. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

At the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the Adams School of Dentistry has been in operation since 1950. It has 16 different education programs, including oral and maxillofacial surgery, endodontics, and periodontics. 


The university also has a dental clinic called Carolina Dentistry where students can learn and faculty provide dental care. 


The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is a public school, and its cost is significantly less for in-state students. The in-state tuition was $40,709, while out-of-state students paid $82,745. 


8. University of Iowa

The University of Iowa operates a rigorous dental school program. In 2020, it had 871 DDS applicants, and the average GPA of applicants was 3.7. In the program, students can utilize a simulation clinic to refine their skills. 


There is also a patient clinic that can serve up to 165,000 patients per year. Students begin working in the clinic toward the end of their first year. 


The University of Iowa is a public university. The tuition for in-state students was $46,285, and the rate for out-of-state students was $74,423. 


9. University of California-Los Angeles

The University of California-Los Angeles operates separately from the San Francisco school. It is a relatively small program, with just 88 students enrolled in the class of 2024. It has 13 unique residency programs, allowing students to enhance their education in orthodontics, maxillofacial prosthetics, endodontics, and more. 


There is a dental care clinic where students are supervised by faculty. And, patients can get quality care at much lower rates than they could get elsewhere. 


The University of California-Los Angeles is a public university. The tuition for in-state students was $45,045, while the out-of-state rate was $55,655. 


10. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities reported that it educated 73% of the state’s practicing dentists. It has programs for general dentists, specialists, dental therapists, hygienists, educators, and research-scientists. It also offers specialty training in six areas: endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics. 


The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has a dental care clinic. Each year, over 100,000 patients visit the clinic and outreach sites. 


As a public university, tuition at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is significantly cheaper if you live within the state. The tuition for in-state students was $38,479, while out-of-state students were charged $71,284. 


The University of Minnesota has the highest enrollment rate out of the top 10 dental schools. In 2019, 564 people applied and 108 — 19.1% — were enrolled. 


Paying for Your Dentistry Program

If you’re concerned about paying for dental school tuition, keep in mind that there may be financial aid opportunities you can use to reduce your costs. As a dental student, you could be eligible for grants, scholarships, and student loans. And, after you graduate, you may be eligible for federal forgiveness programs or student loan repayment assistance programs that make your debt more manageable. 


You can see what programs are available through the American Dental Association’s resource guide. If you’re thinking about private student loans, join Juno today to find out more about your options for affordable private student loans to help fund your degree.


Kat Tretina
Written By
Kat Tretina

Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, FL. She specializes in helping people finance their education and manage debt. Her work has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, MarketWatch, and many other publications.