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.

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.

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

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



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!

Read also: The Most Common Dental School Interview Questions

About the Author:


  1. 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!

  2. 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?

  3. 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.


Leave A Comment

Can an Online Bench Test Preparatory Course be as Effective As An In-Person Course?
Absolutely, Learn Why.