Our Mission & History

State board exam in 1912 and Erin Schaffer at Moos Tower
Left: Minnesota state board exam (1912). Right: Erwin Schaffer at Moos Tower (completed in 1974).

Continuing a Rich History

Dental hygiene nurses program during early years
A two-year dental hygiene program was established in 1920.

The History of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry reaches back to 1888, when a class of 22 students started their dental education. The School of Dentistry now trains about 73 percent of Minnesota's dentists and a majority of those in neighboring states.

Twenty-two students and four faculty members composed the University of Minnesota College of Dentistry when it began in 1888 as a division of the Department of Medicine. The college became the School of Dentistry in 1932.

Early students used a dental handpiece driven by a foot pedal and made some of their own laboratory and clinical instruments in class.

By the 1938-39 academic year, the original three-year program of study had been lengthened to four years, preceded by two years of prescribed undergraduate courses. In 1976, the prerequisites were changed to include three years of undergraduate coursework.

A two-year dental hygiene program was added in 1920. A year of prerequisite coursework was added in 1990. A baccalaureate degree program was established in 1990.

A dental graduate degree program began in 1937; from 1957 to 1993, several programs were developed to give dental graduates the opportunity to earn a Ph.D. in various disciplines.

The School of Dentistry has taught 73% of Minnesota's practicing dentists, 68% of the state's licensed dental therapists, and 49% of its dental hygiene educators.

History of the School of Dentistry at 125 Years