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Majors for Aspiring Orthodontists

Get the facts about training programs that can prepare you for dental school and a career as an orthodontist. Find out licensure requirements and employment outlook for this field.

What Kind of Education Do I Need to Become an Orthodontist?

If you want to become an orthodontist, you'll need to start by completing a bachelor's degree, followed by dental school, which will grant you a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM). After dental school, you'll need to complete a specialized post-doctorate degree in orthodontics.

While dental schools don't require a specific bachelor's degree major for entry, pre-dentistry degrees are available to help you fill the math and science requirements for admission into dental school. While you'll still have to pass the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), you'll have a solid background in science, and access to dental professionals and advisers who can help you along your career path.

Education RequirementsWhile applicants can be accepted to dental school to complete a DDS or DDM regardless of undergraduate major, pre-dentistry degrees may be helpful
Common Courses in Pre-DentistryBiology, chemistry, physics, organic chemistry
Career Outlook (2016-2026) 19% growth (for all orthodontists)
Online AvailabilityPre-dentistry programs may be offered in a hybrid format, allowing students to complete some classes online

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are Pre-Dentistry Degree Programs?

Pre-dentistry degree programs are pre-professional programs that offer you the opportunity to major in any subject you choose, while including in the curriculum the prerequisite courses needed to apply to a dental program. You'll also be required to complete general education courses along with electives in your areas of interest. In addition to English and math courses, required courses typically include:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Organic chemistry

What Is the Job Outlook for Aspiring Orthodontists?

After you've completed your post-doctoral degree in orthodontics, you may begin looking for jobs in healthcare or with private practices. Job growth for dentists is expected to be around 19% from 2016-2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (www.bls.gov). As of May 2018, the mean salary for orthodontists was $225,760, according to the BLS.

Are Programs Available Online?

While pre-dentistry degrees aren't specifically available online, you may have a few distance learning options available. Admission requirements at the time of applying to dental school usually consist of at least 90 credits or three years of undergraduate coursework from an accredited school. Prerequisite courses for dental school usually include biology, chemistry, physics and math, along with non-science courses.

You may be able to complete a portion of your undergraduate prerequisites online in the form of a distance learning associate's degree program. You may also find bachelor's degrees in science-related majors that are offered as hybrid programs, requiring a few visits to campus to complete labs or other in-person fulfillment.