Dental Residency Programs for Foreign-Trained Dentists

  • dental schools accepting international students,

Ever wondered if there are available dental residency programs for foreign-trained dentists in the US? Are you curious as to how dental schools accept international students?

International dentists who plan to move to the US are curious to know different pathways for foreign-trained dentists to pursue their dental education or practice dentistry in the USA. We aim to bring clarity to the roadmap to US dental school for foreign trained dentists by providing a list of the different D.D.S. and residency programs available for international dentists. In this article, we will also share some information regarding the visa status required to pursue dental residency programs for foreign trained dentists which usually varies according to the program and the state.

dental residency programs for foreign trained dentists

The need for dentists in the USA is increasing. According to an article from the Journal of Dental Education, five thousand areas have been designated Oral Health Professionals Shortage Areas by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The aging U.S. population will increase the need for dentists in two ways: many older dentists will retire, and the larger cohort of older patients will need oral health care services. In addition, the U.S. population is becoming increasingly diverse, and individuals with limited English proficiency often have poorer health, creating the need for health care practitioners with multilingual skills. Hence, the future need for dentists in the United States creates opportunities for international dentists to pursue dental careers in this country. That is why there is a variety of the dental residency programs for foreign trained dentists.

To meet the need for more dentists, several dental schools have opened in the last five years, and existing schools are expanding their class sizes. US dental schools have become more welcoming towards international dentists as more schools are creating avenues for incorporating them through programs like D.D.S., residency, masters and fellowships. All these thing make pathways for foreign-trained dentists more diverse and easier to reach. What you need now is to get information about the roadmap to US dental school.

Different Pathways for Foreign-Trained Dentists

Different Pathways for Foreign-Trained Dentists

Dental schools accepting international students in two main types of program. The programs which an international dentist can take are the DDS program and residency program.

To earn a DDS/DMD degree in the US, international dentists must join an advanced standing program or join a traditional DDS program (the latter means they will have to start at year 1 with the rest of incoming dental students and complete the entire program (usually 4 years).

The advanced standing program for foreign trained dentists does not focus on a specialization but rather all subjects taught in a dental school. It is basically a bridge course making an international dentist equivalent to any US-trained dentist in. With this program, you will repeat two years of dental training to be eligible for dental licensure in the US.

A dental residency programs for foreign trained dentists on the other hand, provides education and training in a specific subject. This is similar to how a post-graduation program would be in your home country. Admissions to a residency program are facilitated via the National Matching Service which makes it more competitive.

Related Article: The Best 1 Year MPH Programs for International Dentists

Advanced standing program for foreign trained dentists/ D.D.S/ D.M.D.

Thirty-six dental schools out of sixty-six dental schools accepting international students, These dental schools in the US offer opportunities to foreign-trained dentists to participate in a usually 24-month long D.D.S program (advanced standing program). There are different pathways for foreign-trained dentists but students usually join the second-year class by participating in all ongoing preclinical and laboratory courses and participate in an additional, specially-designed preclinical laboratory/seminar program. 

Following the successful completion of the second year, students are fully integrated into the class where they take part in all academic and clinical experiences in the third and fourth years of dental school. In the advanced standing program for foreign trained dentists, the class size varies for each university with the highest as Boston University which admits 85 international dentists each year. Annually, there are about 500- 600 seats for 3000 applicants.  Entry requirements include passing scores on the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) Part I and/or Part II and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), graduation from a foreign dental school, and prior transcripts. Several advanced standing programs also require that applicants undergo a psychomotor bench test, case presentations, and a formal interview as part of the application process.

The acceptance into a dental school varies upon the citizenship/visa requirement.

Schools that accept candidates on B1/B2 visa and offer student visa F1 to study in the university are:

  1. University of Michigan
  2. Boston University
  3. University of California, Los Angeles
  4. University of Southern California
  5. University of Pennsylvania
  6. Indiana University
  7. Howard University
  8. University of Colorado
  9. University of Pacific
  10. Virginia Commonwealth University
  11. Rutgers University
  12. University of Washington
  13. University of Pittsburgh
  14. University of San Antonio
  15. University of Southern Illinois
  16. University of Buffalo
  17. Loma Linda University
  18. Temple University

Related Article: University of Buffalo IDP Interview Preparation

Schools that only accept candidates with Green card and Permanent resident status are:

  1. University of Illinois at  Chicago
  2. University of Alabama
  3. New York University
  4. University of Oklahoma
  5. University of Florida
  6. Tufts University

Minnesota is the only state which currently accepts licensure applications from international students without additional training. They will evaluate each application and make the decision as to who qualifies.

Roadmap to US Dental School for Foreign Trained Dentists

University of Michigan Dental School 

Dental residency programs for foreign trained dentists

An international dentist could join an accredited post-graduate program and apply a license thereafter instead of going back to school. This is not an option for most states however, as most of the states require international dentists to graduate from an accredited US dental school.

Pathways for foreign-trained dentists: Listed below are the states to which an internationally-trained dentist may apply for licensure after completion of an ADA accredited residency program, as per specific requirements of each state:

Program types for Dental Specialities and General Dentistry

  1. Dental Public Health
  2. Endodontics
  3. Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
  4. Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
  5. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  6. Oral Medicine
  7. Orthodontics
  8. Pediatric Dentistry
  9. Periodontics
  10. Prosthodontics
  11. Maxillofacial Prosthetics
  12. Advanced Education in General Dentistry
  13. General Practice Residency

Disadvantages of dental residency programs for foreign trained dentists

  • License to practice dentistry is limited to only a few states
  • It is difficult to get accustomed to the US ways of practicing dentistry since you weren’t educated here
  • There is no salary for internationally-trained residents in most universities.
dental schools accepting international students,

dental schools accepting international students

 Universities that accept non-US residents international dentists


Dental Public Health


Related Article: Loma Linda University Bench Test Course


Geriatric Dentistry


Operative Dentistry

Oral Medicine

Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery


Pediatric Dentistry


Periodontics Prosthesis


pathways for foreign-trained dentists

The upside of residency programs is that they are usually a cheaper option than going to school, and depending on the program, you might actually get paid a stipend. Also if you go for a specialty, you’ll be a specialist when you complete the program and more likely to start at higher pay when you begin to work.

All information on pathways for foreign-trained dentists is subject to change, so please verify all information before putting it to use. Make sure you look into any specific requirements of the particular school of interest before applying. Have a question about dental schools accepting international students or the roadmap to US dental school? Do let us know in the comments section and we will be happy to help you! Good luck!

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  1. Vindhya March 10, 2020 at 8:43 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for this informative article….could you please explain that license to practice dentistry after residency program limited to those 8 states is for how long?

    • Sherry Astorga March 10, 2020 at 6:59 pm - Reply

      Hi Vindhya! Thank you and we are happy you found our article helpful. We cannot confirm on this as it’s the state discretions, you can contact the state directly for more information on their process. Thanks!

  2. Jennn March 5, 2020 at 6:11 am - Reply

    Wow, truly an amazing summary! I’m so grateful for the information you shared. Thanks a lot!
    I was just wondering if there have been any changes in residency programs from 2020.
    I was actually hoping to apply for residency program in WA and practice in the state, but as it‘s not listed one of those 8 states that allow int’l dentists completing residency programs to acquire license, I would have no choice but IDP to practice dentists in the WA. Am I clear? Where can I possibly check the eligibility for this? 🙂 Thank you!

    • Sherry Astorga March 6, 2020 at 5:59 am - Reply

      Hi Jenn! Thank you and we are happy you found our article helpful. We do not have an updated list of states that offers residency programs but you can check it through the ADEA PASS page. Please visit the link below to check available programs in University of Washington:

      Just select the University of Washington for the program name and Washington for the state, from there you can check the school’s page and their application requirements.

  3. Jenn March 5, 2020 at 6:04 am - Reply

    Wow, truly an amazing summary! I’m so grateful for all the information you shared. Thanks a lot.
    I was just wondering if there have been any changes in residency programs from 2020.
    Other than the 8 states listed above, are there really no other states that allow the int’l dentists who completed their residency programs to practice as a dentist in the States? So we’ll have no choice other than IDP, or residency in those 8 states?

  4. PennyB February 11, 2020 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    Does washington state let you work after a CODA accredited residency program? I heard that it does, but also that there are rule changes

  5. Irina January 28, 2020 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    Hi !! I would like to know if it is possible to work with a limited license in some states?

    • Sherry Astorga January 28, 2020 at 10:37 pm - Reply

      Hi! Please check your inbox, I responded to your FB message. 🙂

  6. Leandro Petrella January 23, 2020 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    Hi. I’m a Brazilian dentist and I’d like to know if after concluded MSD in Orthodontics or Endodontics made in US accredited make me eligible to practice or work as an university assistant professor.

    • Sherry Astorga January 23, 2020 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      Hi Leandro! Yes, you will be eligible to become a university assistant professor after MSD.

      • rosana February 2, 2020 at 5:56 am - Reply

        Good morning, I was wondering if you can tell the AEGD and GPR program in Florida(more specific Orlando) that accept international students. thank you

        • Sherry Astorga February 3, 2020 at 6:37 am - Reply

          Hi Rosana! Unfortunately, we do not have the list of schools that offer AEGD and GPR in Florida. However, in this article, you will also see the list of other states that offers AEGD or GPR program.

      • ALEXANDRA MADALINA February 8, 2020 at 4:35 pm - Reply

        If you choose to do a residency program as a foreign dentist can you practice as a teacher in any state or is it restricted too?

        • Sherry Astorga February 9, 2020 at 6:51 pm - Reply

          Hi! For foreign-trained dentists pursuing advanced standing or specialty training in the United States, academic dentistry is one of the options to consider upon graduation. Academic dentistry provides opportunities to teach dental students in didactic, clinical, and laboratory settings.

          To learn more, please feel free to read this article under Academic Career section:

  7. Kirti Anand Patil January 18, 2020 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    What visa would I require if I’m an Australian citizen, to get a USA Dental Licensure but have completed BDS in India?

    • Kevinruess January 19, 2020 at 12:17 am - Reply

      Hi Kirti,

      Being an Australian citizen won’t really have an impact on the type of visa you’ll need for enrolling in a 2 year advanced standing dental program here in the US (Required for US dental license). You’ll effectively need a student visa, no matter which country you’re from. Hope this helps and let us know if you have any other questions!

  8. Nathalia December 18, 2019 at 10:03 am - Reply

    I thought it was possible to work in Flórida after the residence to! Its not?

  9. Elora December 12, 2019 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    Hi. Is NBDE/GRE compulsory for residency program? If these exams aren’t required, and I don’t take them, does that mean that I have a slimmer chance to gain entry into the program?

    • Sherry Astorga December 13, 2019 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      Hello there! NDBE is always required in applying and you also have to take TOEFL. The GRE is a test from ETS (like TOEFL) for graduate school admission. It is required for many residency programs, but not for pre-doctoral schools.

  10. b December 4, 2019 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    What is the difference between AEGD and GPR ? Is one more competitive than the other for an international dentist?

  11. Svetlana Lerner November 29, 2019 at 6:33 am - Reply

    link for the Wisconsin residency programs does not work 🙁

    • Sherry Astorga November 29, 2019 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      Thank you for letting us know about this. I have updated the link here in our backend system. Please try it out and update us if it is already working on your end.

  12. Marcia November 22, 2019 at 11:55 am - Reply

    Hello ,
    I am not sure that if you do a residency program here in California they will let you have a license. When I email the CDA they told me that the only way to have my license is going back to the international dental program. So can you clarify me if after finishing the residency I will be able to take the regional and have my license?

    • Sherry Astorga November 24, 2019 at 4:15 pm - Reply

      In order to get a license to California, you need to go through the International Dentist Program so you will unable to get your license by just doing a residency program alone. You can do the international dentist program first and then decide to specialized and do the residency program.

  13. Heba September 30, 2019 at 9:17 am - Reply

    I know that texas accepts international students for residency programs at it’s universities..can you confirm?

    • Christ Barcenas October 1, 2019 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      Yes, you can learn more information by clicking on the programs offered by Texas above.


  14. Sree September 20, 2019 at 8:08 am - Reply

    I have heard after 5 years of practice in limited number of states (post residency), we can sit for licensure in any state. Is that true?

  15. Bernadette September 19, 2019 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much.many blessings

    • Christ Barcenas September 20, 2019 at 3:41 am - Reply

      We hope you found this helpful Bernadette!

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