Pursuing DDS in USA after BDS: A Guide for International Students

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Are you a BDS graduate from India looking to advance your dental career? A Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program in the USA can broaden your horizons, give you advanced expertise, and significantly boost your earning potential. 

Let’s talk numbers. Dentists in the USA with under two years of experience can earn an average of ₹11,581,549 annually, while those with two to five years of experience can increase their earnings by 29%, making around ₹14,831,049 per year.

Intrigued? Well, there’s more good news for BDS graduates like you. Pursuing DDS in the USA does not have to be a distant dream. This guide is designed to navigate the essential steps and critical differences you need to understand before taking this transformative step.

Are you ready to embark on this exciting journey with us? Let’s explore how you can transition seamlessly from BDS to DDS and take your dental career to the next level.

DDS Course Key Highlights

Course Full NameDoctor of Dental Surgery
Average Tuition Fee₹49.24 lacs
Course Duration4 years
Course CategoryPost Graduate
GPA3.5 GPA or Grade C
DAT Score22-24 Overall
English Proficiency RequirementsIELTS: 6.5 to 7.5 overall score | TOEFL iBT: 80 to 110 overall score
Annual Salary Range₹1 Crore to ₹2 Crores
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Why Study DDS in the USA after BDS in India?

Pursuing a DDS in the USA after completing BDS in India opens up a world of possibilities and benefits for aspiring dentists. Here are some compelling reasons to consider this educational pathway:

  • Advanced Education: A DDS degree from the USA provides advanced education and training in dentistry, offering a comprehensive curriculum that equips students with the latest knowledge and skills in the field.
  • Advanced Education: The DDS program in the USA provides a comprehensive curriculum that equips students with the latest knowledge and skills in dentistry. In fact, 16 US universities are ranked among the top 70 globally for dentistry, with 14 in the top 50.
  • Global Recognition: A USA DDS degree is recognized and respected globally, enhancing professional credibility and opening doors to international career opportunities.
  • Specialisation Options: The DDS program in the USA allows for specialisation in various fields, such as orthodontics, oral surgery, and endodontics, providing a pathway to expertise and career advancement.
  • High-Quality Education: Dental schools in the USA are renowned for their high-quality education, cutting-edge research facilities, and extensive clinical training. This ensures that students receive top-notch instruction and practical experience. 
  • Career Prospects: Graduating with a DDS from the USA significantly boosts career prospects, with opportunities to work as a general dentist, specialise in a specific area, pursue academic positions, or engage in research. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8.1% employment growth for dentists in the USA between 2020 and 2030, creating over 9,800 new jobs. 
  • Financial Stability: Dentists in the USA are among the highest-paid professionals, with an average annual salary ranging from ₹1 crore to ₹2 crores. This offers financial stability and a rewarding career path for those with a DDS degree.

Studying DDS in the USA after completing BDS in India not only enhances your knowledge and skills but also provides a platform for personal and professional growth, setting the stage for a successful and fulfilling career in dentistry.

Pathway for BDS Graduates to Pursue a DDS in the USA

  • Step 1: Pass the Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE), replacing the older NBDE Parts I and II
  • Step 2: Complete applications for Advanced Standing Programmes designed specifically for international dental graduates
  • Step 3: Fulfil prerequisite courses and English proficiency tests as required by various dental schools

Transitioning from BDS to DDS involves not just academic commitment but also adapting to a new healthcare system, making it a critical step for your career in dentistry.

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Pursuing DDS in USA after BDS: A Guide for International Students

Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) Course Duration

Pursuing a DDS in the USA equips international students with the comprehensive skills and in-depth knowledge the American dental industry requires. The DDS programme typically spans two to three years for international students with a BDS degree, depending on the dental school’s specific requirements and the candidate’s prior experience.

The degree involves:

  • Extensive clinical practice.
  • Ensure you are well-prepared to meet the high standards of care expected in the U.S., whether your interest lies in general dentistry or a specialised field.
  • Obtaining a DDS is your gateway to a promising career in the USA.

Understanding DDS vs. DMD: Equivalence to Indian BDS

Before exploring the academic pathways available in the U.S., BDS graduates from India must understand the equivalence between the degrees offered. 

Whether you opt for a DDS or a DMD, knowing how these credentials compare to your Indian BDS is crucial for planning your educational and professional future. Here are the similarities and distinctions to help streamline your transition to a global dental career.

CriteriaDDS (USA)DMD (USA)
Degree FocusFocuses on dental surgery techniques Identical to DDS, with emphasis also on dental medicine alongside surgery.
CurriculumIncludes extensive clinical and theoretical training Similar curriculum to DDS, designed to cover all areas of dental health care.
DurationGenerally 2-3 years for international graduates in an Advanced Standing Program.The duration is the same as that of DDS when pursued through an Advanced Standing Program for graduates.
LicensingRequires passing the National Board Dental Examination and obtaining a state-specific license.Same licensing requirements as DDS
Global RecognitionWidely recognised and accepted for practice in the USA and other countries with similar standards.Equally recognised as DDS in the USA and internationally for dental practice.
Postgraduate OptionsOpportunities for specialisation in various fields of dentistry.Identical opportunities for further specialisation as DDS.

DDS in USA: Eligibility & Application Process

Here are the eligibility and admission requirements for pursuing a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) in the USA after completing a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) degree from outside the United States:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: A four-year bachelor’s degree from a USA or Canadian institution is required.
  • Prerequisite Courses: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and English/Writing-Intensive courses must be completed with a minimum grade of “C”.
  • Dental Admission Test (DAT): DAT scores must be submitted within 3 years of the admission year.
  • Enrol in a DDS/DMD Program: Complete a DDS/DMD program from an accredited dental school.
  • Pass the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE): Pass the NBDE for comprehensive licensure.
  • Pass State-Level Dental Licensure Exams: Pass dental licensure exams at the state level.
  • Gain Intern-Level Experience: Obtain intern-level experience by shadowing well-recognized dentists.
  • Letters of Evaluation: Submit one committee evaluation letter or three individual letters, including two from science faculty members.
  • Dental Shadowing: A minimum of 100 hours of dental shadowing is recommended.
  • International Applicants: Foreign degree holders need a course-by-course evaluation from Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) and a minimum TOEFL score of 100.

Admission Process

  1. Apply through the ADEA AADSAS: The first step to becoming a dentist in the US is to apply through the ADEA AADSAS (Associated American Dental Schools Application Service). This service collects, verifies, and processes or distributes your application information to each institution you have applied to.
  2. Complete a Four-Year Bachelor’s Degree: Before applying to dental school, you must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree from a US or Canadian institution.
  3. Pass the Dental Admission Test (DAT): All dental schools in the US require the DAT, and some will accept the Canadian DAT. You must check with the individual colleges to see if the Canadian DAT is accepted.
  4. Submit Additional Information as Requested: Some colleges may require a supplemental application to obtain additional information from applicants.
  5. Participate in Interviews: Most dental schools require an interview as part of the admissions process. The process and schedule will vary by school, and mini-interviews may be conducted one-on-one, in groups, or multiple.

Meet the Documentation Requirements

If you want to pursue a Dentistry degree in the USA, you will need to submit the following documents:

Required DocumentDescription
Application for AdmissionA completed application form for the specific DDS program.
Dental Admission Test scores are required for dental school admission.Dental Admission Test scores required for dental school admission.
Certification of Shadowing HoursDocumented hours spent shadowing a licensed dentist.
Educational RecordsTranscripts from all educational institutions attended.
Proof of English Language CompetencyTOEFL: usually minimum 90-100 overall; IELTS: typically minimum 7.0 overall.
CV/ResumeA detailed curriculum vitae or resume.
Recommendation Letters2-3 letters recommending the applicant for the program.
Proof of Sufficient FundsEvidence of financial ability to cover at least one year of study.
Passport PhotocopyA copy of the identification page of the applicant’s passport.

Note: This information is based on the search results provided and is accurate as of the search date. However, it is always best to check the official websites of dental schools and organisations for the most up-to-date information.

DDS Subjects and Specialisation

The DDS course curriculum in the USA covers a wide range of subjects and specialisations to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in dentistry. Below are the core DDS subjects and specialisations: 

Core DDS Subjects:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Operative Dentistry
  • Fixed Prosthodontics
  • Removable Prosthodontics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Endodontics
  • Occlusion
  • Radiology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Periodontics
  • Oral Surgery

Major DDS Specialisations:

  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Orthodontics
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics
  • Endodontics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Dental Public Health
  • Oral Medicine
  • Oral Pathology
  • Orofacial Pain
  • Dental Anesthesiology
  • Dental Radiology
  • Dental Genetics

DDS Fees in the USA

DDS fees in the USA generally range between ₹800,000 to ₹7,000,000. Here are some of the top dental schools in the USA for international students, along with their QS ranking, annual fees, and acceptance rate. 

University and QS Ranking 2024Acceptance RateAnnual Fees
Harvard University (11)4.70%
University of California San Francisco (7)4.70%
New York University (14)7.40%
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (18)25%
University of Pennsylvania (22)9%
University of California Los Angeles (27)14.30%₹1,583,270

DDS Cost in USA

The total cost can vary significantly based on school choice, location, and personal lifestyle. Here’s a breakdown of these costs:

Tuition Fees

Investing in a DDS program in the USA as an international student represents a significant financial commitment. As of 2024, annual tuition fees at U.S. dental schools generally range between ₹2,500,350 and ₹8,334,500. This investment in education reflects the high-quality training and advanced facilities that these programs offer.

Some schools offer advanced standing programs for international students who have completed a BDS. These programs generally last two to three years instead of four years for a traditional DDS. This can somewhat reduce the total tuition cost.

Cost of Living in USA

The cost of living can vary widely depending on the dental school’s location. Urban areas like New York City or San Francisco have much higher living costs than smaller cities or towns. Typical monthly expenses might include:

CategoryCost Range (₹)
Housing₹58,341 – ₹166,690
Utilities₹8,334 – ₹16,669
Food and groceries₹25,003 – ₹50,007
Transportation₹4,167 – ₹12,501
Health insurance₹8,334 – ₹41,672
MiscellaneousIncluding books, supplies, personal expenses, and leisure activities

Additional Costs

  • Application and testing fees: Applying for DDS programs often involves fees for taking the Dental Admission Test (DAT), application fees for each program, and costs associated with obtaining a visa.
  • Travel: Costs for interviews, such as travelling to the USA and possibly within the USA
  • Professional development: Membership fees for professional organisations, licensing exams, and other costs related to professional development.

Government Vs University Scholarships

When pursuing a DDS program in the USA after completing BDS, international students have access to a variety of scholarship opportunities to help fund their education. These scholarships can be categorized into government-funded programs and university-specific scholarships. Let’s look at these scholarships:

Government Scholarships for DDS in the USA

Scholarship NameAmount (USD)
Health Profession Scholarship Program (HPSP)Covers full tuition and fees
Indian Health Service ScholarshipsCovers full tuition and fees
National Health Service Corps ScholarshipCovers full tuition and fees, plus a monthly stipend
Students to Service Loan Repayment ProgramUp to ₹10,011,048 in loan repayment

University Scholarships for DDS in the USA

Scholarship NameAmount (USD)
Dental Trade Alliance Foundation Scholarship₹417,127 – ₹2,085,635
ADEA/Crest Oral-B Scholarship for Dental Students Pursuing Academic Careers₹458,839
ADA Foundation Dental Student Scholarship₹834,254 – ₹1,668,508
Kool Smiles Scholarship₹417,127
ADEA/GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Preventive Dentistry Scholarship₹208,563
Dean’s Scholarship (University of Pennsylvania)Varies

Note: It’s important for international students to research and apply for scholarships that align with their profile and academic goals, as financial aid options can be limited compared to domestic students

Scope after DDS in the USA

After completing a DDS degree in the USA, several career profession options are available to international students. Here are some of them:

  1. Specialised Dentistry: Pursue advanced training in orthodontics, oral surgery, endodontics, pediatric dentistry, or periodontics.
  2. Dental Academia and Research: Engage in teaching, research, and innovation within dental schools and research institutions.
  3. Dental Administration and Consulting: Utilise clinical expertise in practice management, insurance consulting, or regulatory roles.
  4. Entrepreneurship: Establish private practices, develop dental products/services, or invest in dental startups.
  5. Public Health Dentistry: Work in community health centres, government agencies, or non-profit organisations to improve oral health on a broader scale.
  6. International Dentistry: Explore opportunities to practise dentistry globally, participate in humanitarian missions, or work in international dental organisations.
  7. Teledentistry: Embrace digital technologies to provide remote dental consultations, expand access to care, and innovate in virtual dental services.
  8. Geriatric Dentistry: Focus on the oral health needs of elderly patients, addressing age-related dental issues and promoting overall well-being in ageing populations.
  9. Cosmetic Dentistry: Specialise in enhancing smiles through aesthetic treatments like teeth whitening, veneers, and cosmetic bonding.
  10. Dental Public Policy: Advocate for oral health policies, contribute to dental associations, or engage in shaping regulations that impact the dental profession.

These career options offer international students the opportunity to use their dental skills and knowledge to positively impact the dental health of patients and communities.

DDS Jobs and Salary

Let’s look at some of the job profiles with their respective salary. 

Job TitleAverage Salary (per annum)
Dental Assistant₹3,500,490
Dental Front Office Manager₹4,195,503
Dental Hygienist₹6,500,910
Dental Laboratory Technician₹3,750,525
Dental Receptionist₹2,667,040
Dental Sales Rep₹3,333,800

Top Recruiters

Dental PracticeAnnual Salary (USD)
Rewards Dental₹27,920,575
Bear Creek Family Dentistry₹24,670,120
Risas Dental and Braces₹23,669,980

Preparing for DDS in the USA: Tips and Suggestions

Embarking on a journey to pursue a DDS in the USA after completing a BDS from India requires meticulous planning and preparation. Here are some essential tips and suggestions to enhance your chances of securing admission to a dental school in the USA:


By following these tips and suggestions, you can better prepare yourself for the competitive process of pursuing a DDS in the USA after completing your BDS in India.


Earning a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) in the USA after your BDS in India opens doors to a world of opportunity. You’ll gain coveted skills, work alongside esteemed professionals, and potentially earn a highly competitive salary.

This path requires dedication and planning, but the rewards are substantial. By following the steps outlined in this guide and leveraging the valuable resources available, you can successfully navigate the admissions process and embark on your journey to becoming a dentist in the USA.

Financing your DDS education in the USA shouldn’t be a hurdle. LeapFinance, a leading provider of education loans for international students, is here to help make your dream a reality.

Frequently Asked Question

  • Q. What is the minimum GPA requirement for dentistry school?

    A. A. The minimum GPA requirement for consideration into USA dentistry programs typically starts at 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. However, to be competitive, applicants should have a higher GPA. Most schools calculate both an overall GPA and a science-specific GPA, emphasising your performance in science courses relevant to the field of dentistry. It’s crucial to check specific requirements for each school as they can vary slightly.

  • Q. What are the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and other mandatory tests for admission?

    A. The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is a fundamental component of the application process for dental schools in the U.S. Dental schools usually expect the DAT scores to be recent, generally within the last two to three years. To meet the admission requirements, it’s recommended that candidates take the DAT no later than December before the application deadline. This allows adequate time for scores to be processed and included in your application​.

  • Q. What factors must be kept in mind when selecting a dental school?

    A. When selecting a dental school, consider factors such as accreditation, curriculum relevance, faculty expertise, facilities and technology available, location, cost, and opportunities for clinical experience. Additionally, evaluate the school’s support services for international students, especially those coming from a BDS background in India. Prospective students should also look at the pass rates of graduates on licensure exams and the school’s reputation in the dentistry community.

  • Q. What qualifications are needed to become a dentist?

    A. To become a dentist in the USA, one must complete an accredited dental program and earn either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry/Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. This is followed by passing the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) for licensure. Some states may require additional state-specific exams or an ethics exam. Continuous education is also necessary to maintain licensure.

  • Q. Which course is better – DDS or DMD?

    A. Both DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) and DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine) degrees are equivalent and involve the same scope of practice. The difference in naming is dependent on what the issuing institution prefers, but both degrees meet the same curriculum requirements and prepare students for a career in dentistry.

  • Q. Is the BDS program from India recognised in the USA?

    A. The BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) degree from India is not directly recognized in the USA for clinical practice. Indian graduates must complete an advanced standing or international dentist program (typically 2-3 years) to earn a DDS or DMD degree from an accredited U.S. dental school before they can practice dentistry in the USA.

  • Q. Is dentistry a good career in the USA?

    A. Dentistry is considered a rewarding and well-compensated career in the USA. It offers job stability, a high earning potential, and the opportunity to help improve patients’ oral health and overall well-being. Dentists consistently rank high in job satisfaction surveys and are among the top earners in the healthcare sector.

  • Q. What is the duration of the dentistry course in the USA?

    A. The typical course duration for a DDS or DMD program in the USA is four years for students entering from a relevant pre-dental undergraduate program. However, for international students with a BDS degree from India, transitioning through an advanced standing program usually requires an additional 2-3 years of study.

  • Q. How much is the DDS fee in the USA for Indian students?

    A. The fees for a DDS program in the USA vary significantly depending on whether the institution is public or private. For international students, including those from India, fees can range from approximately ₹2,499,810 to over ₹5,832,890 per year. It’s advisable to seek detailed fee structures directly from the respective dental schools.

  • Q. How much does a dentist earn in the USA?

    A. Dentists in the USA are among the highest earners in the healthcare sector. The median annual wage for dentists is typically around ₹13,332,320, but this can vary widely by specialisation and region. Experienced specialists can earn substantially more, particularly in areas like orthodontics or oral surgery.

  • Q. How can students manage the cost of living in the USA while preparing for DDS?

    A. Students can manage the cost of living through various means such as scholarships, part-time jobs, student loans, and budget management strategies. Many dental schools also offer financial aid programs specifically for international students. Additionally, living in areas with a lower cost of living and sharing accommodations can help manage expenses effectively.


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