Skip to main content

Pre-Dental Pathways

Public & Rural Expansive Conditional Acceptance Program

PRE-CAP at the School of the Dentistry aims to recruit and train post-baccalaureate students from or who have an interest in rural, tribal, and/or medically-underserved communities with the goal to increase access to dental care in these communities. 

After completing three semesters of coursework with the support of direct mentorship and academic counseling, students who meet the academic standards gain admittance into the DDS program. Afterwards, successful graduates will continue their work in regions of the state for which there is limited access to oral healthcare services. 

Program Overview

PRE-CAP is a pre-matriculation program which offers conditional acceptance to the School of Dentistry. The program is preparatory for both dental school and for providing rural and underserved dental care, with the ultimate goal of providing underserved communities with qualified, skilled clinicians who know and understand the lived experiences of the communities they will one day serve. 

Admission to the program places students on a five-year path to earning their DDS degree as long as conditions of acceptance and academic expectations are met.  

    • Applicants must qualify as part of a rural, tribal, and/or medically-underserved community (RTMU).
      • Rural
        • Either the student's high school address, current address, or childhood address must be located in a Utah zip code, city, or region defined by USDA as rural (RUCA score of 7 to 10). RUCA scores are available for review from the USDA website
      • Tribal
        • Recognized membership in a federally-recognized Tribal/Indigenous Nation or demonstration of strong interest in caring for tribal communities
      • Medically-underserved
        • Either the student's high school address, current address, or childhood address must be located in a Utah zip code, city, or region defined by HRSA as a medically-underserved area (MUA) or as a health professions shortage area (HPSA). MUAs and HPSAs can be review from the Utah Department of Health website
    • Priority consideration for PRE-CAP will be given to applications who meet certain socioeconomic indicators, such as historical and present utilization of federal and state programs, first-generation status, and commitment to practice dentistry in their home communities. 
    • A complete dental school application must be first submitted for the University of Utah School of Dentistry via AADSAS. For more information, please visit the DDS admissions section of our website
    • While there is no minimum GPA required for PRE-CAP, admission to the School of Dentistry requires a 3.00 GPA average on at least the last 60 credit hours of coursework. Coursework completed during PRE-CAP counts towards this GPA minimum.
    • Students must enter the program with a bachelor's degree from a regionally-accredited institution in the United States and Canada.
    • Interested students may also qualify through demonstration of a particularly strong interest in caring for RTMU communities.
    • Enhanced understanding of RTMU healthcare developed with a guided curriculum and close faculty-student mentorship
    • Conditional acceptance into the University of Utah School of Dentistry if academic expectations are met
    • A full tuition scholarship and cost-of-living stipend is provided for the duration of PRE-CAP
    • Academic skill development specifically targeted to our dental school curriculum
    • Completion of three semesters of coursework at the University of Utah beginning in the fall semester subsequent to your application period
    • Demonstration of academic success by earning no lower than a "B" letter grade in all courses you take as part of the program, satisfactory engagement in all courses (as determined by the program director), and maintaining at least 90% attendance with no unexcused absences
    • Participation in a long-term extracurricular project, the details of which will be agreed upon with the program director
    • Submission of an academic success plan, developed with support from the program director
    • Completion of a fall and spring performance review


    1. Submit a complete application to the University of Utah School of Dentistry via AADSAS by October 1.
    2. If you believe you would be a good fit for PRE-CAP, you can contact the program director by email to declare your interest. This will not affect your dental school application and due consideration for your admission into the traditional four-year DDS program will be given. 
    3. Admissions decisions will be released in accordance with AADSAS policy in December. 
    4. If you receive a rejection from or are waitlisted for the traditional four-year DDS program, and we determine you may be eligible for PRE-CAP, we will contact you with further instructions by March 1. You may be asked to complete an interview even if you already were interviewed by the admissions committee, and you will be asked to submit additional information for review. 
    5. All slots for the program will be filled by May 1.
    6. The program starts in August with the fall semester. 
    • The PRE-CAP curriculum blends in-person, online, and hybrid courses over three semesters at the University of Utah campus. Approximately 60 credit hours are completed by the end of the program.
    • Five key domains are targeted for skill development and growth: biomedical sciences, foundations of clinical dentistry, structural competency, personal wellness, and academic success strategies. 
    • Each domain is supported by a series of courses from multiple departments across the University, providing an interdisciplinary experience.
    • Courses specific to providing patient-centered healthcare in RTMU communities are a significant focus of the curriculum. This includes instruction in the social determinants of health, effective interpersonal communication, and outreach training. Strategies for addressing barriers to healthcare access is covered in particular depth.
    • Clinical shadowing and assisting anchors coursework in practice while development of an outreach project allows students practical experience in outreach.
    Sample Curriculum Structure
    • The program includes a cost-of-living stipend and tuition grant for the duration of the program. Additional scholarships may become available upon successful matriculation into the dental school. 
    • The University of Utah has both historical and contemporary relationships with indigenous peoples. 
    • We acknowledge that land in the Salt Lake Valley, which is named for the Ute Tribe, is the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute, and Ute tribes and is a crossroad for indigenous peoples. 
      • The University of Utah recognizes the enduring relationship between itself, indigenous peoples, and their traditional homelands. 
      • We are grateful for the territory upon which we gather; we respect Utah's indigenous people, who are the original stewards of this land, and we value the sovereign relationship that exist between tribal governments, state and federal governments.
      • Today, approximately 60,000 American Indian and Alaska Native peoples live in Utah. As a state institution, the University of Utah is committed to serving and partnering with indigenous communities throughout Utah through research, education, and community research. 
    PRE-CAP program director

    Carter Bruett, DDS

    PRE-CAP Program Director