Certificate in Dental Assisting

Apply to the Dental Assisting Program

At the Indiana University School of Dentistry at IU Indianapolis, you can earn a certificate in dental assisting through a traditional on-campus program. Admission decisions are made by the Dental Assisting Admissions Committee. 

Each class begins in mid-August and graduates the following May.  Classes, labs and clinics are typically scheduled Monday-Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM with lunch breaks.

Admission requirements

Applicants must meet all minimum criteria to be considered for admission to the dental assisting program.  Enrollment is limited to 20 students in the campus program.  All students meeting minimum requirements are encouraged to apply.  However, meeting the minimum criteria does not guarantee admission and not all applicants will be accepted. Final selection will be based on a ranking of the applicant pool.


Four GPAs will be evaluated as part of the application process: high school cumulative GPA, college cumulative GPA (if applicable), high school life science GPA, and college life science GPA (if applicable). A minimum GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale is required in each of these areas.  Applicants are ranked based on the four GPAs and personal statement score, with one bonus point for bi/multilingual applicants, and one bonus point for applicants who have completed dental assisting coursework in high school, or who have at least 200 hours of dental assisting work experience. 

The high school cumulative GPA score will be doubled for applicants with less than 12 college credit hours. The high school life science GPA score will be doubled for applicants with less than six college credit hours in life science courses. 

Applicants with a cumulative high school GPA below 2.0 will be considered for admission, with a cumulative college GPA of 2.0 or above, with a minimum of 15 college credit hours.  Applicants with a high school life science GPA below 2.0 will be considered for admission, with a college life science GPA of 2.0 or above, with a minimum of six college credit hours.  

Applicants with 26 or more college credits are not required to submit high school transcripts.  The college cumulative and life science GPA scores will be doubled for applicants with 26 or more college credit hours.

Required coursework

Completion of at least two science courses in high school and/or college is required.

Commonly accepted courses for life science GPAs: biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and psychology as a biological science. Non–life science courses, for example earth space science or astronomy are not accepted.

English proficiency

If English is not your primary language, English proficiency must be demonstrated. The English for Academic Purposes Exam (EAP) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) may be required.

Disclosure for applicants

Applicants should be aware of the following information about bloodborne and infectious diseases:

Minimum skill standards

You must meet certain minimum skill standards to be admitted to the program.

Admission to the Indiana University School of Dentistry’s dental assisting programs is open to qualified individuals. The programs comply with all applicable state and federal nondiscrimination laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Indiana Civil Rights Law. The school will consider applicants who:

  1. Have completed the appropriate application process.
  2. Have fulfilled all prerequisites.
  3. Are capable of acquiring the necessary knowledge.
  4. Have the ability to perform or learn to perform the skills specified in these standards.

The school’s faculty have determined that the following skills are essential to the curriculum and are necessary to ensure that graduates of the program are fully prepared to practice. It is important to note that although these skills are necessary to admission and retention, successful completion of the dental assisting program will require meeting other academic and professional standards as specified in the curriculum and other institutional policies.

The school’s faculty recognizes that the award of certificate in dental assisting carries with it the full authority of the institution and communicates to the public that the individual who has earned this certificate is competent to practice dental assisting. The certificate is comprehensive, unique in that the graduate is permitted to offer dental assisting patient care. This means that every dental assisting student must acquire and demonstrate the didactic knowledge, as well as motor, sensory/observational, communication, cognitive, and behavioral skills, in order to complete the curriculum and to be fully prepared for dental assisting practice.

The school’s faculty recognizes that the dental assisting curriculum is unique and requires myriad technical, intellectual, and interpersonal skills of its graduates. The faculty is mindful that the curriculum is stressful, requiring both emotional stability and physical stamina. Applicants to the program thus must possess the skills and abilities that will allow them to successfully complete the course of study and receive the full benefit of the education.

It is important to note that during the dental assisting program, students are required to both perform and direct treatment on the school’s patients. Ultimately, the faculty has the responsibility of ensuring the safety and proper care of these patients. This includes the completion of treatment safely and within a reasonable amount of time. Because the faculty is mindful of the rigors of the curriculum, the immense responsibility for safe patient treatment, and the fact that the certificate signifies readiness for dental assisting practice, a student can be denied admission to the dental assisting program or disenrolled from the program if accommodating a student’s disability would result in undue hardship to the institution, would pose a direct threat to patients, or would compromise the academic integrity of the program or create a fundamental alteration in the certificate program.

Students must have or be able to acquire sufficient motor function so that they are able to execute movements required to provide general care and treatment to patients, both during the dental assisting program and at completion of the curriculum. This means the student must possess motor skills necessary to directly perform palpation, bimanual manipulation, and fine tactile perception, as well as basic laboratory procedures. Such activities require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional uses of the senses of touch and vision.

Students must be able to perform basic life support procedures, including CPR, and position and reposition themselves around the patient and dental chair, either in a standing or sitting position. Students must be able to operate foot controls utilizing fine movements, operate low-speed handpieces, which require controlled intraoral and extraoral movements of less than one millimeter, and utilize hand instrumentation.

Students must be able to master a defined level of information as presented through demonstrations and experiences in the biomedical and dental sciences. Students must be able to efficiently acquire information from written documents and to visualize information presented in images on paper, film, slides, or video. Students must interpret radiographic and other graphic images, with or without the use of assistive devices. Students must have functional use of visual, auditory, and tactile sensation.

In practice, a dental assistant must be able to observe a patient accurately, both at a distance and close at hand and must notice and appreciate nonverbal communication when performing dental assisting care. Thus, students in the dental assisting program must be able to perform visual and tactile dental examinations and treatment, including the use of visual acuity, accommodation, and color vision to discern the differences and variations in color, shape, and general appearance between normal and abnormal soft and hard tissues. Use of tactile senses may be either direct palpation or indirect through instrumentation. Students must also possess the visual acuity to read charts, records, small print, and handwritten notations, and to distinguish color intraorally and extraorally.

Good communication skills are essential for any health care provider and are stressed in the dental assisting curriculum. Therefore, a student must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with patients, faculty, staff, and students in both oral and written forms.

Because successful dental practice depends on timely and efficient rendering of patient care services, students in the dental assisting program must have sufficient facility in English to obtain information from a variety of learning resources; convey concepts and knowledge on written examinations administered during a specific time period; elicit patient histories, problems, and symptoms; record in and retrieve information from patient charts; and coordinate patient care with all members of the health care team.

Students must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, interpret, integrate, and synthesize. Problem solving, a critical skill demanded of dental assistants, requires all of these intellectual abilities. Because dental assisting care must be rendered in a timely and orderly fashion, students must be able to demonstrate cognitive skills in specified time periods and settings.

Students must possess the emotional health and stability required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, for the exercise of good judgment, in the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the care of patients, and in the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients, staff, and other health care practitioners. Students must be able to tolerate physically and emotionally challenging workloads and to function effectively under stress while in the dental assisting program and at completion of the certificate. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, to function in a climate of uncertainty in health care, and to treat patients with compassion and integrity.

Step 2: Apply to the Dental Assisting Program

The priority deadline to apply for admission to the Dental Assisting Program is June 15 each year. However, applications submitted after June 15 will receive consideration until the class is full.


The dental assisting program online application and submission of all official high school and/or college transcripts to the dental assisting program is required.

Apply to the Dental Assisting Program


Dental assisting observation

All applicants must observe a dental assistant in a minimum of two different dental offices for a minimum of four hours total.  Each office will need to verify your observation hours. This document must include your name, date, time of observation, and the dental assistant’s name that you observed. The observation verification document must be on official letterhead, or equivalent, signed by the doctor or the office manager, and uploaded with your online application.

Personal statement

In 500-800 words, write a personal statement to submit with the program application. The personal statement should include responses to the content questions below.

Content Questions:

  • Describe your goals and explain why you are pursuing dental assisting education.
  • Answer only one of the two questions below:
    • Describe any leadership roles, service activities, extracurricular activities, accomplishments, and/or achievements that have influenced your personal growth.
    • Describe obstacles or challenges you have faced that impacted your life or educational goals.


Official transcripts from high school and all post-secondary programs attended are required.  If applicable, submit a copy of TASC scores or a GED certificate and scores.

Final, official transcripts (including spring grades) for all secondary and post-secondary academics must be received by the IUSD Dental Assisting Program before an admission decision can be made.

Mail official transcripts to:

IU School of Dentistry
Dental Assisting Program
1121 W. Michigan Street, DS 317
Indianapolis, IN 46202

Electronic official transcripts can be emailed to dast@iu.edu. Only official transcripts emailed by the institution will be accepted. Unofficial copies emailed by the applicant will not be accepted.

Note: If your current high school and college transcripts are on file with IU Indianapolis, the Dental Assisting program does not require additional copies.

Preenrollment requirements

Notification of acceptance into the program will be sent via email.  A formal acceptance letter will follow in the U.S. mail.  A response from the applicant, to accept the position in the class, is required.

Refer to this pre-enrollment checklist for the requirements needed to begin dental assisting classes, if accepted into the program.  Bring all required documents to the dental assisting program orientation.  Details about enrolling in the program and attending the mandatory program orientation will be sent with the admissions packet.

All incoming dental assisting students are required to undergo a background check. Upon acceptance into the dental assisting program, further information about the process will be sent to the student.  The background check fees are the responsibility of the student.

Read the IU policy on background checks

All dental assisting students must be certified in CPR Health Care Providers, called Basic Life Support (BLS). Upon acceptance, further information about obtaining the required certification will be sent.

(Accepred Students Only) Provide information about your emergency contact.

All dental assisting students must have health insurance. Possible options for coverage:

If you meet certain eligibility requirements, you may qualify for coverage through the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP 2.0) or Hoosier Healthwise.

Bring proof of health insurance to the dental assisting program orientation.

Immunizations must be current to attend classes at the School of Dentistry.  Upon acceptance, you will receive further information about providing documentation of your immunizations.

The School of Dentistry requires the following immunizations:

1. Flu - ONE vaccine is required after July 1, and before mid November of the current year.
2. Hepatitis B - The vaccine is administered in a series of THREE injections at 0, 1, and 6 months. Students admitted at least 6 months prior to the beginning of classes must provide documentation of completion of the series OR proof of ONE immune Hepatitis B antibody titer. Students admitted later must at least provide documentation of starting the series prior to attending class. All students must show evidence of having begun the series at the time this form is due.
3. Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) - Proof of TWO vaccinations at least 28 days apart OR proof of ONE immune antibody titer for EACH disease is required. If you have received individual vaccinations for Measles, Mumps, or Rubella, proof of TWO vaccinations for each individual disease is required.
4. Meningitis ACWY - ONE vaccine is required for NEW IUstudents under age 22.(IU Requirement)
5. Meningitis B - TWO vaccines are required for NEW IU students under age 24.(IU Requirement)
6. Tetanus/Diphtheria and Acellular Pertussis (Tdap) - ONE vaccine (first available in 2005) is required.
7.Tetanus Booster (Td) _ ONE booster is required IF your Tdap was before May 2009.
8.Varicella (Chicken Pox) - Proof of TWO vaccinations at least 28 days apart OR ONE immune Varicella antibody titer is required. Having the disease as a child is not proof of immunity unless written documentation from your treating physician is provided.
9. Tuberculosis - Prior to beginning classes, new students must have TWO completed Tuberculin Skin Tests (TST) performed in the U.S., if there is no documented proof of a positive TST in the past. The placement of the TSTs must be ≥ 10 days apart. Step 1 must be within 18 months of matriculation and step 2 must be after May 1, of the current year. ONE interferon gamma release assay (IGRA) performed in the U.S. completed after May 1, of the current year may be substituted for the TWO TSTs. Also, if there is a known history of BCG vaccination, an IGRA blood test is preferred over TST placements.

The following must be included on the TST documentation in order to be considered valid:

1. DATE and TIME of Placement
2. DATE and TIME of Reading (must be within 48-72 hours of placement)
3. Results recorded in “mm”
4. Placement/Read/Documentation signed by certified medical personnel

If history of a positive TST or IGRA:  Documentation and evidence of a chest x-ray and medical evaluation must be provided.  A TB symptom Questionnaire must also be completed and submitted with your documentation.  You can obtain the questionnaire from Campus Health.  You can contact them at healthsv@iu.edu