The school is currently the only remaining institution in the United States accredited to teach an accelerated three-year program leading to a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. Students complete a full curriculum of pre-clinical and basic sciences classes in their first year of dental school, as opposed to years one and two at other universities. Despite the accelerated curriculum, students at the school experience a number of hours of clinical education well above the national average for students studying in traditional four (4) year curricula.
The school was founded in 1896 as the College of Physicians and Surgeons with programs in dentistry, medicine, and pharmacy. In 1918, the college focused its education program solely on dentistry but retained its name as the College of Physicians and Surgeons until it was incorporated into the University of the Pacific. In 2004 the school was named in honor of Arthur A. Dugoni, a former president of the American Dental Association, who served 28 years as dean.
Despite rumors in 2008 that the Advanced General Dentistry Clinic located in Stockton, California would close due to a lack of public funding, the clinic remained open. The dental school has twelve clinics open within San Francisco, Oakland, Union City and Stockton. University of the Pacific still relies heavily upon the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act funding to provide services for patients with HIV/AIDS; this funding is used to reimburse the school for services provided but has not increased in recent years despite increased costs of providing services.