Top 15 Dental Schools In California 2024 (Ranked)

California has some of the finest dental schools in the United States. They offer exceptional education and training opportunities for aspiring dentists. 

Additionally, these institutions provide rigorous academic programs, state-of-the-art facilities, and valuable hands-on experience.

In this article, I have listed the top dental schools in California based on their acceptance rates, fees, academic excellence, etc. 

So, let’s get into the details!

List of Top 9 Best Dental Schools In California

Here is a quick overview of the top 9 best dental schools in California.

Best Dental Colleges in CaliforniaAcceptance Rate Tuition Aid 
(After Financial Aid)
University of the Pacific97%$17,874
University of California – Davis37%$14,920
University of California – Santa Barbara29.1%$9,691
University of California-San Diego24%$14,895
University of California – Irvine21%$9,691
University of California – Los Angeles9%$11,627
University of California – Riverside69%$13,223
University of California – Santa Cruz47.1%$12,852
University of California – Berkeley 11%$15,240

Now that you have an idea about these top schools, let us get into the details of each and understand how they work and help aspiring students. 

1. University Of the Pacific

Acceptance Rate 93%
Average Tuition Fee$17,874

This university is one of the oldest dental schools in the country and is consistently ranked among the top dental schools in the United States. 

The university is known for its academic excellence, comprehensive clinical training, and career support. They also have a commitment to community service, research opportunities, and inter-professional education. 

University of Pacific 
Source: University of Pacific 

Graduates of the University of the Pacific’s dental school are highly sought-after by dentists across the country. In 2023, the school had a 99% employment rate for its graduates.

Popular Courses: Dental Hygiene, Doctor of Dental Surgery, Pre-Dentistry, international Dental Studies

2. University Of California – Davis

Acceptance Rate 37%
Average Tuition Fee$14,920

The University of California–Davis stands out as a premier dental school in California, offering a comprehensive and exceptional dental education. 

UC Davis Dental School comes with a reputable history, top rankings, outstanding faculty, and research opportunities. 

University of California - Davis

It will provide you with an ideal environment with clinical experience, state-of-the-art facilities, vibrant student life, a strong alumni network, and a commitment to community engagement. Hence, UC Davis Dental School has made a positive impact on students in the field of dentistry.

3. University Of California – Santa Barbara

Acceptance Rate29.1%
Average Tuition Fees$9,691

The minimum GPA you require to get admission to UCSB is 3.0 in all A-G courses. 

Compared to other dental colleges on the list, Santa Barbara’s acceptance rate is pretty decent, at 29.1%. In fact, the after-aid tuition fees are also affordable. However, that is only valid for in-state students. If you do not reside in California, the after-aid tuition fee is $45,568.

UC Santa Barbara
Source: UC Santa Barbara

One perk of getting admission to UCSB is that CoE is smaller, which helps students get more comfortable with their faculty. 

4. University Of California – San Diego

Acceptance Rate 24%
Average Tuition Fee$14,895

As a top-tier dental school, the University of California-San Diego offers an outstanding academic program that will prepare you for successful careers in dentistry. 

University of California - San Diego
Source: University of California – San Diego

The curriculum is designed to provide a comprehensive education in oral health, combining rigorous coursework with hands-on clinical training.

As a student, you will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in state-of-the-art clinical facilities, working closely with experienced faculty members. By treating patients from the surrounding community, you will develop essential clinical skills while providing much-needed dental care.

5. University Of California – Irvine

Acceptance Rate21%
Average Tuition Fees$9,691

Out of the 439 National universities, Irvine has ranked number 33. UCI, with over ten campuses, is considered the Public Grant Land Research University and has been declared an “R1 Doctoral University” because of its high research activity.

Remember that to be eligible for UCI, you must have a 3.0+ GPA in the A-G subjects. 

University of California - Irvine
Source: University of California – Irvine

For every 100 applicants, 21 reserve their spots. If you consider yourself a scholar enough or are ready to put in extra hard work, then Irvine will be an ideal dental university for you!

6. University Of California – Los Angeles

Acceptance Rate 9%
Average Tuition Fee$11,627

First on my list is the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which is widely recognized as one of the best dental schools in California. 

University of California – Los Angeles
Source: UCLA

Known for its excellence in education, research, and patient care, UCLA’s School of Dentistry will offer you a comprehensive and rigorous dental program.

7.  University Of California – Riverside

Acceptance Rate69%
Average Tuition Fees$13,233

With a 76% graduation rate, UCR is a full-time program under six years. The Public Research University is ranked 76 out of 439 national universities and requires a minimum 3.0 GPA for admission. However, if you live outside the States, you must have at least a 3.4 GPA. 

Likewise, your post-aid tuition fee will be around $13,692 if you are an in-state student. On the other hand, if you live outside California, you must pay about 46K.

8. University Of California – Santa Cruz

Acceptance Rate47.1%
Average Tuition Fees$12,852

UCSC is not hard to get into, considering its 47.1% acceptance rate. 

With 82nd rank, the University of California requires a 3.76 to 4.71 High School GPA, a 20 to 30 ACT score, a 25 to 32 ACT English language ARTS, and 590 to 690 for SAT Evidence-based Reading and Writing. 

University of California - Santa Cruz
Source: University of California – Santa Cruz

The average tuition fee before receiving financial aid at UCSC is $38,712. However, the rates are nearly half once your financial aid is confirmed. 

9. University Of California – Berkeley

Acceptance Rate 11%
Average Tuition Fee$15,240

UC Berkeley’s dental school consistently ranks among the top dental schools in California and the United States. Their programs have a comprehensive curriculum, distinguished faculty, commitment to cutting-edge research, and patient-centered care.

Berkeley Career Center
Source: Berkeley Career Center

Moreover, UC Berkeley Dental School is committed to serving the community. You can provide dental care to underserved populations through their outreach programs and partnerships with local clinics and organizations. 

10. University Of Southern California

Acceptance Rate 12%
Average Tuition Fee$25,972

USC’s dental school is known for its strong academic program, clinical training, and research facilities. The school has a state-of-the-art clinical facility to help you practice skills on real patients. The school also has a number of research centers dedicated to advancing the field of dentistry.

University of Southern California
Source: University of Southern California

USC’s dental school is a highly selective school. According to research, in 2023, the school received over 4,000 applications and admitted only 300 students. The average GPA for admitted students is 3.8, and the average DAT score is 20.

11. California Institute Of Technology

Acceptance Rate3%
Average Tuition Fees$29,379

The Private Research University in Pasadena is compared with MIT and Harvard. And why wouldn’t it? The admission process for this college is considerably high and only open for “gifted students.” 

California Institute of Technology
Source: California Institute of Technology

However, if you score 35+ on the ACT and 1535+ on the SAT, you have a high chance of entering CALTECH. I recommend this University for financially stable students, as the average tuition fee is $83,598. 

You can get financial aid, but then again, you really need to put in work to get maximum scholarship. Keep in mind that the university does not offer dental programs. Instead, you receive routine checkups to maintain your oral hygiene.

12. Naval Post Graduate School – Monterey

Acceptance Rate39%
Average Tuition Fees$26,000

Naval Post Graduate School of Monterey requires a 2.2  on 4.0 grading system. 

Out of which, the 112 quarter or 75 semester hours you dedicate are graded on a letter basis.

Naval Postgraduate School
Source: Naval Postgraduate School

The university also offers research opportunities at a Post Doctoral level. Now, you must be wondering who can join the school – no criteria exist. You can be an international student, US military student, or defense contractor and yet apply for the NPGS.

13. University Of California – San Francisco

Acceptance Rate 11.3%
Average Tuition Fee$45,698

The next one is the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is highly regarded as one of the best dental schools in California. UCSF School of Dentistry has a strong reputation for its exceptional education, innovative research, and commitment to advancing oral health care. 

University of California San Franciso
Source: University of California San Franciso

Graduates from UCSF are well-prepared to make significant contributions to the field of dentistry and oral health care.

14. Loma Linda University

Acceptance Rate 38%
Average Tuition Fee$37,332

Loma Linda University, located in Loma Linda, California, is known for its strong academic programs, commitment to service, and integration of faith and health. Loma Linda University School of Dentistry offers a comprehensive dental education. 

Loma Linda University
Source: Loma Linda University

The dental program will prepare you to be a competent and compassionate dental professional. Hence, you will serve your communities with a strong purpose and dedication.

15. Stanford University

Acceptance Rate 4%
Average Tuition Fee$7,200

The Stanford University School of Dentistry was founded in 1920 and is one of the oldest dental schools in California. It is accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA) and is a member of the Association of American Dental Schools (AADS).

StandFord University
Source: University of Stanford

The school offers a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree, as well as a Master of Science in Dentistry (MSD) degree. The DDS program is a four-year program that includes classroom instruction, clinical rotations, and research. 

The MSD program is a two-year program that is designed for dentists who want to specialize in a particular area of dentistry.

Related Reads:

Wrapping Up: UCLA Is The #1 Best Dental School In California

In my list of top 15 dental colleges in California, I have ranked the universities as per their acceptance rate, enrolment number, and post-aid tuition fees. 

However, I understand the hassle of choosing a better dental college for you. 

Therefore, to make your process simpler, check out my top 3 recommendations:-

  1. University of California – Los Angeles: 60% acceptance rate 
  2. Loma Linda University: 60% acceptance rate 
  3. University of Pacific: 79% acceptance rate 

The average tuition fees for each college I mentioned above are pricey. However, considering the acceptance rate, it’s worth the application. Besides, you can always apply for financial aid. 


What are the requirements for admission to a dental school in California?

The requirements for admission to a dental school in California vary from school to school. However, most schools require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree, a high GPA, and a good DAT score. 

What is the cost of attending a dental school in California?

The cost of attending a dental school in California varies depending on the school. However, the average cost of tuition for a dental school in California is around $150,000 per year.

What are the job prospects for dentists in California?

The state has a large population and a growing demand for dental care. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of dentists is projected to grow 13% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

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