This is the first study of its kind to provide data regarding the self-reported career choice motivation and intentions after graduation of dental and dental hygiene students in Nepal. The findings of this study can be used to inform future oral health workforce planning in Nepal.A cross-sectional survey of dentistry and dental hygiene students attending a large accredited dental college in Kathmandu, Nepal. Quantitative data were analysed using IBM® SPSS® 22. The respondents were given the opportunity to provide clarifying comments to some of the questions.Two hundred questionnaires were distributed, and 171 students completed the anonymous survey (response rate 86 %). Working in health care and serving the community were the most important initial motives for career choice, with significantly more dentistry students selecting their degree course because of the possibility to work flexible working hours (p < .001) compared to dental hygiene students. A majority of the students expressed concern about finding a suitable job (58 %) after graduation. Almost a quarter (23 %) reported intent to seek a job immediately after graduation, while 46 % plan further studies. Dentistry students were more likely to report planning further studies (p = .007) compared to the dental hygiene students. Dental hygiene students express a higher interest in going abroad (p = .011) following graduation. Only 10 % of all students plan to live or work in rural areas after study. Most common preferred locations to live after graduation are urban (33 %) or abroad (38 %). Data suggest a preference to combine working in a hospital with working in their own practice (44 %) while interest in solely working in their own practice is low (<2 %).Many students, though enthusiastic about their profession and expressing the ambition to serve the community, fear unemployment or envision better chances abroad. Most of the students in this study expressed a preference to live in an urban area after graduation. Findings indicate that strong measures are required to incentivise students to consider rural work.