Accreditation Status Definitions

Keys to Accreditation Status, Abbreviations and Special Footnote Descriptions

Abbreviation symbols used in designating the accreditation status are as follows:

A1 Approval (without reporting requirements)
A2 Approval (with reporting requirements)
IA Initial accreditation
DIS Accreditation voluntarily discontinued at most recent Commission meeting
WDRN Accreditation withdrawn at most recent Commission meeting
X Intent to withdraw accreditation at upcoming Commission meeting
* Program is being voluntarily phased out by institution

Programs Which Are Fully Operational

Approval (without reporting requirements): An accreditation classification granted to an educational program indicating that the program achieves or exceeds the basic requirements for accreditation.

Approval (with reporting requirements): An accreditation classification granted to an educational program indicating that specific deficiencies or weaknesses exist in one or more areas of the program. Evidence of compliance with the cited standards must be demonstrated within 18 months if the program is between one and two years in length or two years if the program is at least two years in length. If the deficiencies are not corrected within the specified time period, accreditation will be withdrawn, unless the Commission extends the period for achieving compliance for good cause.

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Programs Which Are Not Fully Operational

Initial Accreditation: Initial Accreditation is the accreditation classification granted to any dental, advanced dental or allied dental education program which is in the planning and early stages of development or an intermediate stage of program implementation and not yet fully operational. This accreditation classification provides evidence to educational institutions, licensing bodies, government or other granting agencies that, at the time of initial evaluation(s), the developing education program has the potential for meeting the standards set forth in the requirements for an accredited educational program for the specific occupational area. The classification "initial accreditation" is granted based upon one or more site evaluation visit(s) and until the program is fully operational.

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Other Accreditation Terms

Discontinued: An action taken by the Commission when a program voluntarily discontinues its participation in the accreditation program and no longer enrolls a first year class.

Intent To Withdraw: A formal warning utilized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation to notify an accredited program and the communities of interest that the program's accreditation will be withdrawn if compliance with accreditation standards and/or policies cannot be demonstrated by a specified date. The warning is usually for a six-month period, unless the Commission extends for good cause.

Withdrawn: An action taken by the Commission when a program has been unable to demonstrate compliance with the accreditation standards and/or policies within the time period specified. A final action to withdraw accreditation is communicated to the program and announced to the communities of interest. A statement summarizing the reasons for the Commission's decision and comments, if any, that the affected program has made with regard to this decision, is available upon request from the Commission office. In the event the Commission withdraws accreditation from a program, students currently enrolled in the program at the time accreditation is withdrawn and who successfully complete the program, will be considered graduates of an accredited program. Students who enroll in a program after the accreditation has been withdrawn will not be considered graduates of a Commission-accredited program.

Phaseout: A program scheduled to be phased out is identified by a * following the accreditation status.

Combined Programs: A combined residency program is one that contains education and training in more than one specialty. For questions related to curriculum content, structure and length, contact the program directly.

OMS Fellowships: A fellowship in oral and maxillofacial surgery is a planned post-residency program that contains education and training in a focused area of the specialty. The focused areas include, but are not limited to, esthetic oral and maxillofacial surgery; oral and maxillofacial oncology; pediatric oral and maxillofacial surgery; maxillofacial trauma; and craniofacial surgery.

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Application Information

Applicants seeking placement in an accredited program should request admission requirements and application procedures by contacting directly the institutions of their choice.

When contacting an accredited educational programs, please incorporate in the address the specific program of interest, e.g., "Dental Assisting Program."

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DDS — doctor of dental surgery
DMD — doctor of dental medicine

Indicates the degree awarded upon graduation from dental school to become a general dentist. There is no difference between the two degrees; dentists who have a DMD or DDS have the same education. Universities have the prerogative to determine what degree is awarded. Both degrees use the same curriculum requirements set by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation. Generally, three or more years of undergraduate education plus four years of dental school is required to graduate and become a general dentist. State licensing boards accept either degree as equivalent, and both degrees allow licensed individuals to practice the same scope of general dentistry. Additional post-graduate training is required to become a dental specialist, such as an orthodontist, periodontist or oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

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Dental School Rankings

Dental school applicants should be aware that there are proprietary publications available that purport to rank dental schools according to the quality of their programs. The American Dental Education Association and the American Dental Association advise applicants to view these rankings with caution. The basis for the rankings are questionable, and even those individuals most knowledgeable about dental education would admit to the difficulty of establishing criteria for, and achieving consensus on, such rankings.

All U.S. dental schools are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, and all have their relative strengths. A dental school ideally suited to one applicant might not be appropriate for another. The American Dental Education Association and the American Dental Association recommend that applicants investigate on their own the relative merits of the dental schools they might wish to attend.

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Periodic Program Reviews

The Commission on Dental Accreditation formally evaluates programs at regular intervals. Comprehensive site visits based on a self-study are routinely conducted every seven years for all accredited programs with the exception of a five-year cycle for oral and maxillofacial surgery programs. The years appearing with each accredited program indicate the last regularly scheduled evaluation visit by the Commission and the projected date for the next regularly scheduled visit. This identification does not preclude the Commission from authorizing a site evaluation prior to the designated year.

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Adverse Accreditation Actions

The following education programs have been notified of the Commission’s “Intent to Withdraw Accreditation” in February 2010, if these programs do not achieve compliance with accreditation standards or policy:

General Practice Residency Education Programs:

  • St. Elizabeth Hospitals’ Department of Mental Health, Washington, DC
  • Summa Health System, Akron, OH

Advanced Education in General Dentistry Education Program:

  • Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Toppenish, Washington

Dental Assisting Education Programs:

  • Berdan Institute, Wayne, New Jersey
  • Kaplan College, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Kaplan College, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Fortis College, Mobile, Alabama
  • Cape May County Technical Institute, Cape May Court House, New Jersey
  • Ozarks Technical College Community College, Springfield, Missouri
  • Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Moorhead, Minnesota

Dental Hygiene Education Program:

  • Northwest Health Careers, Las Vegas, NV

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Education Program:

  • The MetroHealth System Administration, Cleveland, Ohio (accreditation extended for good cause, from July 2009)

Endodontic Education Program:

  • SUNY, Stony Brook, New York

Pediatric Dentistry Education Program:

  • Temple University/Episcopal Division, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Discontinued Programs

The following programs were discontinued in July 2009:

Dental Assisting Education Program:

  • Northwest Health Careers, Las Vegas, Nevada

Oral and Maxillofacial Prosthetics Education Program:

  • Louisiana State University, New Orleans, Louisiana

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