Dentistry is a highly reputable profession and dentists in the States are big earners. Dentists make on average $155,600 per annum — 3 times the average annual salary across the whole of the US — while the best paid dentists make over $200,000!
While this big salary is appealing to prospective dentistry students, it’s common knowledge that dental school fees are exorbitant. Unless you have very wealthy parents, you can expect to rack up a huge amount of student debt while at college.
The sheer cost of studying dentistry is off-putting for many. It might surprise you to know that dental tuition far exceeds that of Med school and other vocational degrees.
However, if you do your research, you can find the most affordable schools and keep expenses to a minimum. Plus, with a steady dentist’s salary in the future, you can slowly pay off your student debt and still have a very comfortable lifestyle.
In this article, we’ll go over the top 5 cheapest dental schools in the United States and the cheapest dental school in Canada.
Notes on How the List Was Compiled
Before delving into the top 5 cheapest dental schools, here are a few things to bear in mind with regards to the list’s compilation:
- The list is formulated according to tuition sum alone. However, there are a number of other costs to factor in, some of which will be referenced in the guide below. Before applying to a particular university, it’s worth researching all the additional costs you can expect to pay while studying there. This can include the cost of taking exams, buying equipment, textbooks and paying for food and accommodation.
- At the time of writing, the 5 cheapest dental schools are those listed below. However, this may change at any stage as fees are constantly increasing and altering. Be aware, that in 18 months time this list may no longer be accurate or valid.
- Tuition fees are only concretely known for academic entry in 2021. The subsequent annual fees may increase (in fact you can expect they will!). The University of Puerto Rico is the only college which provides an accurate estimate of fee increases over the duration of a four year Dental programme. The remainder of the 4-year programmes are calculated according to the price of the first year. It can be expected, therefore, that these estimates are slightly below what you can actually expect to pay.
- On account of all these variables and the difficulties in deciphering the cheapest dental school, the following list is presented in no particular order.
Top 5 Cheapest Dental Schools in the United States
1. Augusta University
Cost of Tuition:
Out of State: $64, 778 In state: $5,400
Full four years:
Out of State: $259, 112 In state: $21,600
If you’re from Georgia, then attending Augusta University as an in-state student will save you a lot of money. However, as an out of state student it’s a different story, and tuition is far higher. Nonetheless, it is still far cheaper than a number of other private school options.
While prices are on the lower end of dental school tuition, it’s important to remember that a number of other costs are involved in attending dental school. For example, you can expect to pay a number of additional fees, like a technology fee, a transportation fee, a wellness fee — to name but a few. All these mandatory extra fees come to an estimated $1, 372.50 per year.
This is before you consider the cost of room and board which can be more than $10,000 annually.
In addition, there are some optional extra fees that you might end up having to fork out for. These include student health insurance, and buying dental instruments.
For more information on tuition and fees, check out Augusta University’s website.
2. East Carolina University
Cost of Tuition:
In-state: $7,239 Out of State: $23,516
Full four years:
In-state: $28,956 Out of state: $94,064
If you live in North Carolina, then as an in-state student tuition, the cost of tuition is relatively low. For out of state students the cost is significantly elevated.
Factor in the cost of room and board (an estimated $10,136 per year) and the price of attending the school becomes higher.
For more information on tuition and fees, check out East Carolina University’s website.
3. University of Alabama
Cost of Tuition:
In state: $28,000 Out of State: $65,000
Full four years:
In state: $112,000 Out of State: $260,000
Whether you’re a resident of Alabama or not, dental school fees are a little pricey at the University of Alabama compared to other schools on this list. However, it is still cheaper compared to its private school counterparts.
In addition to the fees, you will be required to pay a number of extra fees. These include hospital insurance ($1,996) and an anatomy lab fee ($400).
For a full list of the extra fees, see the university of Alabama’s website.
4. Texas A&M University
Cost of Tuition:
In state: $4,400 Out of state: $16,200
Full four years:
In state: $21,600 Out of state: $64,800
In addition to these standard course fees, there are a number of other costs to factor in, such as instrument leasing, which comes to around $5,750 per year.
For more information on tuition and fees, check out Texas A&M University’s website.
5. University of Puerto Rico
Cost of Tuition:
In state students: $12,759 Out of state students: $14,926
Full four years:
In state students: $56,817* Out of state students: $63,172*
*calculated with an expected annual fee increase.
As Puerto Rico is US territory and Puerto Ricans are US citizens, Americans do not need a Visa to carry out their studies in Puerto Rico. However, the main thing to bear in mind if you’re considering studying there is that the university is bilingual English-Spanish. You will therefore be expected to have a decent level of Spanish, or at least a willingness to learn!
While the in-state student fees are comparable to other dental schools in the country, the out of state university fees are significantly lower. This makes it an attractive option if you expect to encounter difficulty being accepted into your state’s Dental school, or if you’d simply rather live and study somewhere else.
For more information on tuition and fees, as well as language requirements, check out the University of Puerto Rico’s website.
Cheapest Dental School in Canada
University of Alberta
Cost of Tuition:
Canadian/Permanent Resident: $5,600 CAD ($4,377.80 USD)
International students: $8,790 CAD ($6,871.58 USD)
Full four years:
Canadian/Permanent Resident: $22,400 CAD ($17,511.20 USD)
International students: $35,160 CAD ($27,486.33 USD)
These fees are an estimate, as the exact figure will depend on which courses you take, and this will vary from year to year. As an American student or otherwise international, you will be required to pay differential fees. In addition, you need to consider the cost of health insurance, room and board.
For more information, check out The university of Alberta’s website.
Additional Dentistry Costs
As we’ve already mentioned, there are more costs involved in studying Dentistry than the tuition fees alone.
According to The University of Alabama, the estimated cost of books, equipment and supplies is $10,000 across the course of a Dental degree. This will of course vary according to your precise curriculum, and the year in which you undertake your studies.
The cost of living will also vary from state to state. Alabama, for example, has a lower cost of living than Texas. This affects the cost of things like food, drink, bills and other essentials.
You should also factor in the cost of student dorm room living or private accommodation costs. This will vary slightly from college to college, but tends to be around $10,000 per year.
Why is Dental School So Expensive?
You may have noticed that none of the schools on this list are private. This is because private school fees are astronomical. For example, The University of Pennsylvania costs $379,737 for four years of study (tuition alone).
But why is this the case? And why is Dental school getting yet more expensive year after year?
Firstly, dental schools need to raise tuition very slightly every year to account for inflation. However, that does not explain why they are so much more expensive than medical school fees.
The higher cost of dental school tuition compared to medical school tuition can be explained by the following:
- Medical students undergo a lot of their training in a teaching hospital. While primarily for teaching, these hospitals charge rates similar to ordinary private hospitals and operate in much the same way. Med students shadow ordinary doctors while they carry out their job in the usual manner. This entails that medical students earn money for the hospital while carrying out their studies. Dental students, however, work in a separate dental clinic where they are the only healthcare providers – they are no shadowing qualified dentists. This means they are slower, can waste expensive materials, and require a great deal of supervision. All of these things cost a lot of money and most of these dental clinics lose money. Dental schools have to compensate for this with high tuition.
- Again in comparison to medical school training, med students carry out their learning using the existing infrastructure of a hospital. To learn about CT machines, students will visit a functioning hospital, for example. In Dental schools, however, all the training is carried out in private labs using mannequin mouths and plastic teeth before they begin using real life patients. Each one of these dental chair set-ups costs roughly $20,000 and each and every student needs their own individual chair.
- A great deal more funding goes towards medical research compared to Dental research. This funding goes towards paying professors’ salaries. With less of this research funding, more money must be collected from students to pay professors.
Finally, as Dentists tend to go on to have stable incomes and careers, banks will happily loan prospective students the money for their studies. This readiness to loan the money means that no matter the tuition cost, students will be able to pay it. Universities therefore have an incentive to take advantage of this and increase tuition.
Scholarships and Grants
Dentists are an essential component of the healthcare industry and dental health is extremely important for overall health. Some areas of the United States have a shortage of qualified dental health professionals. In response, Federal and state governments have launched scholarship funds to encourage young people into the field of dentistry.
Obtaining a scholarship can significantly reduce the cost of dental studies, and fortunately, there are a number of them up for grabs.
Below is a list of the most notable scholarship programs available for dental students:
The National Health Service Corps Scholarship
This scholarship is open to students pursuing degrees in general and paediatric dentistry. Eligible students will receive full tuition funds and a stipend for housing and books. In exchange, students must perform community service in a medical facility.
The Indian Health Services Scholarship
This scholarship is only open to students who belong to a recognized tribal nation. There are 3 scholarships within this programme applicable for prospective dentistry students:
- The Preparatory Scholarship for Native American students completing undergraduate courses with the aim of entering graduate dental school.
- The Pre-Graduate Scholarship for American Indian and Native Alaskan students completing a bachelor’s degree in pre-dentistry.
- The Health Professions Scholarship for Native American and Native Alaskan students enrolled in medical dentistry.
In exchange for receiving the scholarship, students must complete community service in a dental care facility which caters to Native Americans.
The American Dental Association Foundation
The ADA provides an array of scholarships and fellowships for dental students. These include:
- The ADA Predoctoral scholarship for students in their second year. There are 54 scholarships of the amount $2500 awarded on the basis of academic achievement in conjunction with financial need.
- The Dr. Bessie Eizabeth Delaney Scholarship for Women, which awards $10,000 to a nominated female student completing a predoctoral dental program.
The American Dental Education Association
- The ADEA/JOhnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Preventive Dentistry Scholarship for predoctoral dental students who demonstrate academic excellence. They are awarded $2500.
- The ADEA/Oral-B Scholarship for Dental Hygiene Students. Two $2000 scholarships are awarded annually.
The Chinese American Medical Society
CAMS provides a number of scholarships and fellowships for Chinese-American students who pursue degrees in either medicine or dentistry. Scholarships are awarded based on financial need and academic performance.
The California Dental Association
THE CDA sponsors a scholarship for students with excellent academic standing at a Californian dental school. To be eligible, candidates must demonstrate a financial need and have a record of community service. The maximum award is $5,000.
The CDA also presents an award for Latinos for Dental Careers Scholarship, which offers funding to Hispanic-American students pursuing a degree in Dental Hygiene in a Californian dental institution.
College Specific Scholarships
Many dental schools, including those featured on the list above, also offer scholarships for their students. These awards will usually be based on academic performance, but can be influenced by financial need.
If financial qualms are stopping you pursuing your dream degree in Dentistry, then it is well worth looking into different scholarship options to help you fund your studies. For a full list of scholarships available to dental students see here.
Study Abroad Options
The United States and Canada are countries with some of the highest dental school tuition fees in the world. Because of this, many young people are looking abroad for affordable education. Studying abroad will provide you with a unique cultural learning experience, and many universities will offer courses in English language.
Below is a list of some of the cheapest dentals schools outside of North America:
1. The University of Zurich, Switzerland
Founded in 1833, The University of Zurich is considered one of the finest schools in Europe for Dentistry.
Tuition costs around $2,000 USD per year.
For more information, check out The University of Zurich’s website.
2. The University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Another world renowned university, Amsterdam is particularly well known for its research. The city is also famously English-friendly.
The school of dentistry charges €4,166 to €4,387 USD annually.
For more information, check out The University of Amsterdam’s website.
3. KU Leuvan (The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), Belgium
This Belgian school offers one of the cheapest Dentistry courses in the world.
Tuition fees are around $922 per year.
For more information, check out KU Leuvan’s website.
4. Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil
The University of Sao Paulo is considered one of the most prestigious education institutions in Latin America.
The School of Dentistry charges around $1,000 USD per year.
For more information, check out The University of Sao Paulo’s website.
5. Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU), Japan
This Japanese Medical and Dental School has ranked within the top 10 of QS World University rankings for Dentistry.
In this top institution, you can expect to pay $5,092 per year in tuition.
For more information, check out The University of Tokyo’s website.
Attending dental school can be a daunting financial prospect, but there are a number of more affordable public school options in the United States and Canada.
With the help of scholarships, grants and loans it is certainly possible to obtain a Doctorate of Dentistry and go on to have a fruitful, stable career.
For those looking for a little adventure and even lower tuition costs can also seek out dental degree options abroad.