Scholarships For Dental Students

Forget About Costly College Bills for Dental Programs

Students pursuing degrees, and careers, in dentistry will find that the field offers a wide range of lucrative employment possibilities. Dentists, as well as dental assistants and dental hygienists, are always in demand. But the education required to work in the dental field is extensive, and the college costs are significant.

Fortunately, a wide range of scholarships are available to help students pursuing careers in dentistry to meet the rising costs of their college tuition. These scholarship programs are sponsored by Federal and state governments, professional dental associations, and colleges and universities across the country.

dental scholarships

With the aid of these scholarship programs, many dental students have found the financial assistance they need to pursue their educational and professional goals.

Scholarships from the Government

Dentists are a vital component of the healthcare industry, and the role of dental health in the prevention of disease and the maintaining of general good health can not be overestimated. Many areas of the country, particularly rural and urban communities, are experiencing a shortage of qualified dentists and dental related professionals.

To address these shortages, Federal and state governments offer scholarship incentives for students interested in pursuing dentistry as a professional career. Some of the most notable Federal scholarship programs for dental students include:

  • The National Health Service Corps Scholarship – This program is open to students pursuing degrees in any primary healthcare field, including general and pediatric dentistry. This is an award-for-service program, and eligible students will receive a full tuition scholarship, including stipends for books and housing, in exchange for a service commitment working in an under-served community or under-staffed medical facility. Scholarship recipients who fail to discharge their service commitment will be responsible for the full repayment of their award, plus interest.
  • The Indian Health Services Scholarship – This program is only open to students who are documented members of a Federally recognized tribal nation. Three scholarships are available which can be applied to students studying dentistry. The Preparatory Scholarship is available to Native American students enrolled in prerequisite undergraduate courses in preparation for entry into a health professional school. The Pre-Graduate Scholarship is available to qualifying American Indian and Native Alaskan students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree granting program in pre-dentistry. The Health Professions Scholarship is open to Native American and Native Alaskan students enrolled in an accredited medical dentistry program. It is an award-for-service program, and recipients must agree to a predetermined term of service providing dental care in a Native American healthcare facility.

Students pursuing degrees and careers in dentistry should also look to their state governments for possible scholarships and loan forgiveness programs dedicated to the needs of dental students at all stages of their college careers. State sponsored scholarships are typically award-for-service programs, and recipients will be required to complete a predetermined term of service providing dental care in a designated critical need facility or under-served community.

Scholarships From National Associations

Professional dental associations routinely offer scholarships as a way of encouraging and developing the next generation of dentists and dentistry professionals. These programs are often student-specific, targeting women and minorities who have been historically underrepresented in the dental profession. In many cases, scholarship applicants will be required to be student members of the association in order to be eligible for any awards.

The following are examples of general and student-specific scholarships offered by professional associations for students pursuing degrees and careers in dentistry.

  • The American Dental Association Foundation sponsors a wide range of scholarships and fellowships for dental students, including the ADA Predoctoral Scholarship for students in their second year of study in an accredited dental program. Fifty-four $2500 scholarships are awarded every year to eligible students. Awards are determined on the basis of academic achievement and financial need. The ADAF also sponsors a number of scholarships for minority dental students, including the Dr. Bessie Elizabeth Delaney Scholarship for Women, which awards $10,000 to a female student enrolled in an accredited predoctoral dental program.
  • The American Dental Education Association administers a variety of scholarships for dental students. The ADEA/Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Preventive Dentistry Scholarship is available to predoctoral dental students who have demonstrated a high level of academic excellence in the field of preventative dentistry. The annual award is $2500. The ADEA/Oral-B Scholarship for Dental Hygiene Students is open to students pursuing a baccalaureate degree in dental hygiene. Two $2000 scholarships are awarded every year.
  • The Chinese American Medical Society sponsors a wide range of scholarships and fellowships for Chinese-American students pursuing degrees in medicine or dentistry. Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, including a letter from the Dean of Students at their college or university, in order to be considered for any award. Final award determinations are based academic merit and financial need.
  • The California Dental Association sponsors an annual scholarship for students in good academic standing at an accredited California dental school. Applicants must demonstrate the requisite level of financial need, and must have a history of community service. The maximum award amount is $5000. The CDA also administers the Latinos for Dental Careers Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to Hispanic-American students enrolled in a dental hygiene program at an accredited California dental school.

School-Specific Scholarships

Many dental schools offer scholarships for their attending students. These awards are typically merit-based, though some schools do offer dental scholarships to students with extreme financial need.

Campus-based dental scholarship programs vary greatly, and each school will have its own award criteria. Students should check with their school’s office of financial aid for information on available scholarships, grants and fellowships for which they may be eligible.

The following campus-based scholarships for dental students should provide a good example of the financial aid available from dental schools around the country.

  • The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine administers a wide range of scholarships for its attending students. The Alpha Kappa Alpha Scholarship is open to students who have completed at least one year of study at the University of Pennsylvania. Awards range from $500 to $2000, and are determined on the basis of academic merit. The Herbert Lehman Scholarship is open to African-American students currently enrolled in the university’s School of Dental Medicine. Award amounts vary, and are decided on the basis of academic merit and community service.
  • The University of Kentucky College of Dentistry offers more than a dozen scholarships for its attending students. The Dorothy Cavins Scholarship is offered to students in their second year who rank in the top 29% of their class and demonstrate exceptional financial need. The Dean’s Scholarship is awarded to first year dental students with strong academic histories. Awards range from $500 to $1000. The University of Kentucky College of Dentistry Scholarship for Underrepresented Minorities is awarded to first year dental students from an historically underrepresented ethnic background. Awards vary, and are determined on the basis of merit and financial need.

Students pursuing careers in dental healthcare have launched themselves onto a very rewarding path. As the connection between dental health and general health becomes more apparent, the need for qualified dentists, dental assistants and dental hygienists will continue to grow. With drive, determination, and the right scholarships, students can take their place at the forefront of family healthcare.


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