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Does Dental School Cost Too Much?

84 votes from over 7 countries and the results are in.  I asked you how much debt you owed when you graduated dental school and the numbers were shocking:

Click to see full results.

Almost half of the voters (41 votes) claimed they owed more than $250,000 when they graduated.  That is simply astounding.  Second and third place were nearely a tie with dentists owing between $150-200 K and $200-250 K.

What are we to conclude from this?  I received a e-mail from a friend and fellow Curious Dentist who wrote:

“Good survey…I feel like the followup poll should be…do you feel satisfied with the amount of knowledge you acquired from the monster investment you needed to make in your dental education…personally I’m 250K+ in the hole…for that I could’ve gotten a decent house, maybe with a nice little yard and a pool…I don’t feel like my school provided me with updated information/updated clinical space/enough instructors to charge me that…”

She raises some great points.  Let’s ask if the cost is too high by breaking the question down into it’s elements:

(1) Is the cost too high for the quality?

Some of you may feel that your education was deficient compared with other dental schools.  Perhaps your clincal requirements were very low or you had to fight for a chair?  If that’s the case, you might be pretty upset if your school had a higher tuition than others.

(2) Why are some dental schools more affordable?

There’s a clear distinction between private schools and those which receive funds from the state.  And we can also consider the cost of living between urban, suburban, and rural settings.  But what are the other major factors that explain the difference in tuition between schools?

(3) Is there a correlation between cost and quality?

I think we can safely say that the cost of education is not directly proportional to the quality.  Just because you pay more doesn’t mean you are getting better academic preparation and will have more experience performing clinical procedures.  But do we see any trends between cost and quality?  Do more expensive schools tend to offer something that others don’t?


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