Dental student debt rises $233K+ since 1980 & 10 other ways US dental education has changed

From costs and demographics to advanced education programs and clock hours, dental education in the U.S. continues to rapidly change.

Below are 11 stats regarding the evolution of U.S. dental schools, per the American Dental Association:

Editor's note: Monetary values were adjusted for inflation.

Average cost of four years of dental school
Public schools 1969-70: $42,618
Public schools 2019-20: $205,019

Private schools 1969-70: $84,768
Private schools 2019-20: $335,536

Average student debt
1980: $58,603
2019: $292,169

Number of dental students
1969-70: 16,555 enrolled
2020-21: 25,995 enrolled

Female graduates
1980: 13.6 percent of dental school graduates
2020: 51.4 percent of dental school graduates

Gender breakdown of dentists pursuing advanced dental education programs
1983-84: 83 percent male dentists; 17 percent female dentists
2019-20: 52.4 percent male dentists; 47.5 percent female dentists

Racial diversity
1990 graduate class demographics
White: 74.8 percent
Asian: 12.4 percent
Hispanic: 7.6 percent
Black: 5.1 percent
Native American: 0.2 percent

2020 graduate class demographics
White: 50.3 percent
Asian: 24.3 percent
Hispanic: 8.6 percent
Non-resident: 6.4 percent
Black: 4.7 percent
Two or more races: 2.6 percent
Unknown: 2.3 percent
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: 0.7 percent

Number of dental schools
1950: 42 accredited dental schools
2021: 67 accredited U.S. dental schools

Number of international dental graduates admitted to U.S. dental schools
1985-86: 113 international students
2019-20: 708 international students

Mean GPA of dental school applicants
2000: 3.20 GPA
2020: 3.44 GPA

Clock hours
1999-2000 school year: 267,318 total hours, an average of 4,860 per program.
2018-19 school year: 339,728 total hours, an average of 5,308 per program.

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