Dental Hygienist Schools

Dental hygienists provide preventive therapy to promote oral health, examine patients for signs of disease, and teach them to manage their oral hygiene. In addition to completing a dental hygiene program at an ADA-accredited school, aspiring dental hygienists must pass state exams on how to provide dental hygiene and education to patients and, in most states, must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. Upon receiving their license, hygienists become Registered Dental Hygienists (RDH) and qualify to enter this high-growth occupation.

Dental hygienists are in high demand, and there are many opportunities for future career growth. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that dental hygienist careers are projected to grow 6 percent from 2019 to 2029, a rate that’s faster than the national average for all occupations at 4 percent (BLS 2020).

With an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, dental hygienists can meet critical needs in metropolitan and rural communities by examining patients’ overall oral health, cleaning teeth, and providing preventative care through dentistry and public health advocacy.

While a dentist supervises most dental hygienists, many dental hygienists are pivoting into dental therapist roles by providing preventative and restorative dental procedures in underserved areas. Also known as “direct access care,” this work aims to increase healthcare access to rural and low-income areas that may not have enough dentists to serve the needs of specific populations. The dental therapist movement has full support from the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) to expand professional autonomy and provide basic healthcare needs for vulnerable communities.

Read on to learn more about on-campus and online dental hygienist schools, standard courses, accreditation, licensing, and certification for this growing career.

 

Dental Hygienist Degree & Certification Programs

Qualifications & Requirements – Becoming a Dental Hygienist

To become a dental hygienist, students must complete an accredited program through a community college, technical school, dental school, or university. Students should verify that the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) accredits their program before enrolling. Most entry-level positions require an associate’s degree, and bachelor’s and master’s degree programs are available.

Earning an associate’s degree in dental hygiene school typically takes three years to complete. The American Dental Hygienists’ Association reports that an associate degree in dental hygiene requires an average of 84 credits. For a bachelor’s degree, it’s an average of 118 credits.

Bachelor’s or master’s degree programs may take an additional two to four years to complete and are ideal for dental hygienists aspiring to pursue a career in research and teaching or management roles in clinics or public health programs.

Admission requirements for dental hygienist schools typically include completing high school courses in chemistry, biology, health, psychology, speech, and mathematics. The ADHA reports that some programs also ask candidates for interviews, dexterity tests, or essays. It’s important to check specific admission standards before applying to ensure eligibility.

Dental hygiene programs generally have two components. First, they offer science-intensive coursework. Core classes cover the fields of fundamental science (e.g., pharmacology, anatomy, physiology), dental science (e.g., oral pathology, radiology, pain control), and dental hygiene science (e.g., oral health education, preventative counseling, clinical dental hygiene). Second, these programs offer supervised patient care experiences.

The ADHA estimates that dental hygienist students will complete an average of 659 hours of supervised clinical instruction before receiving their degrees or certifications. This practical work helps students flesh out their theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience in patient care.

After completing a dental hygienist program at an accredited school, students may be eligible for licensure. Initially, students must take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE), a test comprising 350 multiple choice questions gauging both concrete knowledge, theoretical knowledge, and students’ ability to tackle case studies. After passing this exam, students must complete their state clinical board examinations. The ADHA provides a comprehensive guide to these varying regional requirements.

Students are also required to have the following before obtaining licensure:

  • Completion of a jurisprudence exam
  • Proof of CPR certification
  • Letter(s) of recommendation from dentist(s) in state of the desired licensure
  • Official transcripts from high school(s) and college(s) attended
  • Official letters from state boards of dentistry

Upon receiving licensure, dental hygienists can use the credentials “RDH” after their names to indicate their status as “Registered Dental Hygienists.”

On-Campus Dental Hygienist Schools

Here is a sampling of the CODA-accredited dental hygienist schools in the United States:

  • Seattle Central College offers a bachelor of applied science in allied health in dental hygiene. With an on-campus state-of-the-art dental education clinic in Beacon Hill, this program provides hands-on practical experience and courses in anatomy, chemistry, and pharmacology. The school includes instruction and supervision from faculty who are licensed and experienced dental professionals.
  • Salt Lake Community College in Salt Lake City offers a two-year associate of applied science (AAS) program in dental hygiene, accredited by ADA’s CODA and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, a regional accreditation body. This school boasts small class sizes and offers students interested in pursuing bachelor’s degrees the opportunity to transfer credits to four-year institutions within the Utah System of Higher Education.
  • The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in Minneapolis offers an accelerated, three-year bachelor of science program for aspiring dental hygienists. Students in this program spend four weeks in a dental outreach clinic treating patients with dental students to gain hands-on experience to prepare them for dental hygienist careers or a graduate degree. UM also has a master of science in dental hygiene (MSDH) to prepare students for careers in research or academia. For those interested in pursuing the education track of the MSDH program, UM has begun to offer flexible online coursework options as well.
  • The College of Southern Nevada offers a full slate of dental hygienist degrees: an 88-credit associate of science degree; a 123-credit bachelor of science degree; a 120-credit bachelor of science degree as an education specialist; and a 120-credit bachelor of science degree in public health. This school features state-of-the-art radiology, sterilization, and ultrasonic equipment at its Charleston Campus Health Sciences Center (HSC) in Las Vegas.
  • Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, offers a two-year associate’s degree in dental hygiene. In this program, students learn skills such as administering anesthetics, operating radiological equipment, assisting root canals, applying fluoride and sealants, and instructing patients in acceptable oral hygiene practices.
  • The University of Tennessee (UT) in Memphis offers a four-year bachelor of science degree in dental hygiene. It comprises a “2+2” format, combining two years of built-in prerequisite completion with two years of program coursework and a one-week clinical instruction. This program aims to teach its students the fundamental skills of dental hygiene and character-building with its emphasis on community service initiatives for diverse populations.

List of Dental Hygienist Schools

Filter by state :
School City State Website grads (2018)
University of Bridgeport Bridgeport Connecticut www.bridgeport.edu 99
University of Southern California Los Angeles California www.usc.edu 87
MCPHS University Boston Massachusetts www.mcphs.edu 81
New York University New York New York www.nyu.edu 77
West Coast University-Orange County Anaheim California westcoastuniversity.edu 74
Sinclair Community College Dayton Ohio www.sinclair.edu 73
St Petersburg College Clearwater Florida www.spcollege.edu 71
West Liberty University West Liberty West Virginia westliberty.edu 66
CUNY New York City College of Technology Brooklyn New York www.citytech.cuny.edu 66
San Joaquin Valley College-Visalia Visalia California www.sjvc.edu 64
Oregon Institute of Technology Klamath Falls Oregon www.oit.edu 58
Careers Unlimited Orem Utah www.ucdh.edu 57
Carrington College-Sacramento Sacramento California carrington.edu 56
University of New Haven West Haven Connecticut www.newhaven.edu 56
Texas Woman's University Denton Texas www.twu.edu 54
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus Pittsburgh Pennsylvania www.pitt.edu 53
Stark State College North Canton Ohio www.starkstate.edu 49
Concorde Career College-Kansas City Kansas City Missouri www.concorde.edu/campus/kansas-city-missouri 48
Concorde Career College-San Diego San Diego California www.concorde.edu/campus/san-diego-california 48
Community College of Denver Denver Colorado www.ccd.edu 47
Concorde Career College-San Bernardino San Bernardino California www.concorde.edu/campus/san-bernardino-california 47
Fox College Bedford Park Illinois www.foxcollege.edu 47
Carrington College-Boise Boise Idaho carrington.edu 46
University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center Oklahoma City Oklahoma ouhsc.edu 46
Erie Community College Buffalo New York www.ecc.edu 45
Farmingdale State College Farmingdale New York www.farmingdale.edu 45
Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus Ohio www.osu.edu 44
Weber State University Ogden Utah www.weber.edu 43
Miami Dade College Miami Florida www.mdc.edu 42
Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick New Jersey newbrunswick.rutgers.edu 42
Loma Linda University Loma Linda California home.llu.edu 41
Tyler Junior College Tyler Texas www.tjc.edu 41
Bergen Community College Paramus New Jersey www.bergen.edu 40
Missouri Southern State University Joplin Missouri www.mssu.edu 39
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Houston Texas www.uth.edu 38
University of Missouri-Kansas City Kansas City Missouri www.umkc.edu 38
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-New Orleans New Orleans Louisiana www.lsuhsc.edu 37
University of South Dakota Vermillion South Dakota www.usd.edu 37
Community College of Baltimore County Baltimore Maryland www.ccbcmd.edu 36
Grand Rapids Community College Grand Rapids Michigan www.grcc.edu 36
Madison Area Technical College Madison Wisconsin madisoncollege.edu 36
Hudson Valley Community College Troy New York www.hvcc.edu 35
Idaho State University Pocatello Idaho www.isu.edu 35
Parkland College Champaign Illinois www.parkland.edu 35
CUNY Hostos Community College Bronx New York www.hostos.cuny.edu 34
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill North Carolina www.unc.edu 34
SUNY Broome Community College Binghamton New York www.sunybroome.edu 33
Virginia Western Community College Roanoke Virginia virginiawestern.edu 33
Remington College-Nashville Campus Nashville Tennessee www.remingtoncollege.edu 32
Eastern International College-Jersey City Jersey City New Jersey www.eicollege.edu 32
Pacific University Forest Grove Oregon www.pacificu.edu 32
Tennessee State University Nashville Tennessee www.tnstate.edu 32
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Little Rock Arkansas www.uams.edu 32
University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash College Blue Ash Ohio www.ucblueash.edu 32
Baker College Flint Michigan www.baker.edu 31
Central Georgia Technical College Warner Robins Georgia www.centralgatech.edu 31
Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis Indiana www.ivytech.edu 31
Northern Virginia Community College Annandale Virginia www.nvcc.edu 31
Purdue University Fort Wayne Fort Wayne Indiana www.pfw.edu 31
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Memphis Tennessee www.uthsc.edu 31
Western Kentucky University Bowling Green Kentucky www.wku.edu 31
Fortis College-Phoenix Phoenix Arizona fortiscollege.edu 30
Georgia State University-Perimeter College Atlanta Georgia www.gsu.edu 30
Lincoln College of New England-Southington Southington Connecticut www.lincolncollegene.edu 30
Milwaukee Area Technical College Milwaukee Wisconsin matc.edu 30
Northcentral Technical College Wausau Wisconsin www.ntc.edu 30
Southwestern College Chula Vista California www.swccd.edu 30
Texas A & M University-College Station College Station Texas www.tamu.edu 30
University of Detroit Mercy Detroit Michigan www.udmercy.edu 30
Big Sandy Community and Technical College Prestonsburg Kentucky bigsandy.kctcs.edu 29
Lake Washington Institute of Technology Kirkland Washington www.lwtech.edu 29
Middlesex County College Edison New Jersey www.middlesexcc.edu 29
Prairie State College Chicago Heights Illinois www.prairiestate.edu 29
Saint Louis Community College Bridgeton Missouri www.stlcc.edu 29
University of Louisville Louisville Kentucky www.louisville.edu 29
West Los Angeles College Culver City California www.wlac.edu 29
Amarillo College Amarillo Texas www.actx.edu 28
Community College of Philadelphia Philadelphia Pennsylvania www.ccp.edu 28
Fresno City College Fresno California www.fresnocitycollege.edu 28
Pensacola State College Pensacola Florida www.pensacolastate.edu 28
Yakima Valley College Yakima Washington www.yvcc.edu 28
Carrington College-San Jose San Jose California carrington.edu 27
Guilford Technical Community College Jamestown North Carolina www.gtcc.edu 27
Herzing University-Minneapolis St. Louis Park Minnesota www.herzing.edu 27
Lamar Institute of Technology Beaumont Texas www.lit.edu 27
SUNY College of Technology at Canton Canton New York www.canton.edu 27
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis Minnesota twin-cities.umn.edu 27
William Rainey Harper College Palatine Illinois www.harpercollege.edu 27
Coastal Bend College Beeville Texas www.coastalbend.edu 26
College of DuPage Glen Ellyn Illinois www.cod.edu 26
Concorde Career College-Memphis Memphis Tennessee www.concorde.edu/campus/memphis-tennessee 26
Fortis College-Smyrna Smyrna Georgia fortis.edu 26
Middlesex Community College Bedford Massachusetts www.middlesex.mass.edu 26
Monroe Community College Rochester New York www.monroecc.edu 26
Mott Community College Flint Michigan www.mcc.edu 26
Carrington College-Mesa Mesa Arizona carrington.edu 25
Colorado Northwestern Community College Rangely Colorado www.cncc.edu 25
Concorde Career College-Garden Grove Garden Grove California www.concorde.edu/campus/garden-grove-california 25
Del Mar College Corpus Christi Texas www.delmar.edu 25
George C Wallace State Community College-Hanceville Hanceville Alabama www.wallacestate.edu 25
Georgia Highlands College Rome Georgia www.highlands.edu 25
Northampton County Area Community College Bethlehem Pennsylvania www.northampton.edu 25
Pima Medical Institute-Houston Houston Texas pmi.edu 25
Santa Rosa Junior College Santa Rosa California www.santarosa.edu 25
Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte North Carolina www.cpcc.edu 24
Cerritos College Norwalk California www.cerritos.edu 24
Clark College Vancouver Washington www.clark.edu 24
Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny Iowa www.dmacc.edu 24
Fortis College-Salt Lake City Salt Lake City Utah www.fortiscollege.edu 24
Greenville Technical College Greenville South Carolina www.gvltec.edu 24
Harcum College Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania www.harcum.edu 24
Johnson County Community College Overland Park Kansas www.jccc.edu 24
Lane Community College Eugene Oregon www.lanecc.edu 24
NHTI-Concord's Community College Concord New Hampshire www.nhti.edu 24
Oakland Community College Bloomfield Hills Michigan www.oaklandcc.edu 24
Sheridan College Sheridan Wyoming www.sheridan.edu 24
Shoreline Community College Shoreline Washington www.shoreline.edu 24
Texas State Technical College Waco Texas www.tstc.edu 24
University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage Alaska www.uaa.alaska.edu 24
Utah Valley University Orem Utah www.uvu.edu 24
Illinois Central College East Peoria Illinois icc.edu 23
Indiana University-Northwest Gary Indiana www.iun.edu 23
Lansing Community College Lansing Michigan www.lcc.edu 23
Pima Community College Tucson Arizona www.pima.edu 23
Pima Medical Institute-Seattle Seattle Washington pmi.edu 23
Shawnee State University Portsmouth Ohio www.shawnee.edu 23
Tallahassee Community College Tallahassee Florida www.tcc.fl.edu 23
University of Southern Indiana Evansville Indiana www.usi.edu 23
Wayne County Community College District Detroit Michigan www.wcccd.edu 23
City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College Chicago Illinois www.ccc.edu/colleges/malcolm-x 23
Concorde Career College-Dallas Dallas Texas www.concorde.edu/campus/dallas-texas 23
Concorde Career College-San Antonio San Antonio Texas www.concorde.edu/campus/san-antonio-texas 23
Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville North Carolina www.faytechcc.edu 23
Foothill College Los Altos Hills California foothill.edu 23
Bluegrass Community and Technical College Lexington Kentucky bluegrass.kctcs.edu 22
Cabrillo College Aptos California www.cabrillo.edu 22
Cape Cod Community College West Barnstable Massachusetts www.capecod.edu 22
Concorde Career College-Aurora Aurora Colorado www.concorde.edu/campus/aurora-colorado 22
Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville Florida www.fscj.edu 22
James A Rhodes State College Lima Ohio www.rhodesstate.edu 22
Lewis and Clark Community College Godfrey Illinois www.lc.edu 22
Metropolitan State University Saint Paul Minnesota www.metrostate.edu 22
Pasadena City College Pasadena California pasadena.edu 22
Rowan College at Burlington County Mount Laurel New Jersey www.rcbc.edu 22
University of Maine at Augusta Augusta Maine www.uma.edu 22
University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha Nebraska www.unmc.edu 22
University of New England Biddeford Maine www.une.edu 22
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond Virginia www.vcu.edu 22
West Virginia University Morgantown West Virginia www.wvu.edu 22
Youngstown State University Youngstown Ohio ysu.edu 22
Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland Ohio www.tri-c.edu 21
Delaware Technical Community College-Terry Dover Delaware www.dtcc.edu 21
Dixie State University Saint George Utah dixie.edu 21
Fortis Institute-Scranton Scranton Pennsylvania www.fortis.edu 21
Ilisagvik College Barrow Alaska www.ilisagvik.edu 21
Midlands Technical College West Columbia South Carolina www.midlandstech.edu 21
Palm Beach State College Lake Worth Florida www.palmbeachstate.edu 21
Pima Medical Institute-Albuquerque Albuquerque New Mexico pmi.edu 21
Pueblo Community College Pueblo Colorado www.pueblocc.edu 21
Rio Salado College Tempe Arizona www.rio.maricopa.edu 21
Savannah Technical College Savannah Georgia www.savannahtech.edu 21
College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas Nevada www.csn.edu 20
Columbus State Community College Columbus Ohio www.cscc.edu 20
Community College of Rhode Island Warwick Rhode Island www.ccri.edu 20
Lake Land College Mattoon Illinois www.lakelandcollege.edu 20
Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls Minnesota www.minnesota.edu 20
North Dakota State College of Science Wahpeton North Dakota www.ndscs.edu 20
Phoenix College Phoenix Arizona www.phoenixcollege.edu 20
Portland Community College Portland Oregon www.pcc.edu 20
Tarrant County College District Fort Worth Texas www.tccd.edu 20
University of Hawaii at Manoa Honolulu Hawaii manoa.hawaii.edu 20
Carl Sandburg College Galesburg Illinois www.sandburg.edu 19
Chabot College Hayward California www.chabotcollege.edu 19
Coastal Carolina Community College Jacksonville North Carolina www.coastalcarolina.edu 19
College of Lake County Grayslake Illinois www.clcillinois.edu 19
Delta College University Center Michigan www.delta.edu 19
Fortis College-Landover Landover Maryland www.fortiscollege.edu 19
Hawkeye Community College Waterloo Iowa www.hawkeyecollege.edu 19
Kalamazoo Valley Community College Kalamazoo Michigan www.kvcc.edu 19
Kirkwood Community College Cedar Rapids Iowa www.kirkwood.edu 19
Laramie County Community College Cheyenne Wyoming www.lccc.wy.edu 19
Sacramento City College Sacramento California www.scc.losrios.edu 19
Salt Lake Community College Salt Lake City Utah www.slcc.edu 19
Springfield Technical Community College Springfield Massachusetts www.stcc.edu 19
Taft College Taft California www.taftcollege.edu 19
University of Maryland Baltimore Baltimore Maryland www.umaryland.edu 19
Westmoreland County Community College Youngwood Pennsylvania westmoreland.edu 19
Wharton County Junior College Wharton Texas www.wcjc.edu 19
Indiana University-South Bend South Bend Indiana www.iusb.edu 18
Allegany College of Maryland Cumberland Maryland www.allegany.edu 18
Diablo Valley College Pleasant Hill California www.dvc.edu 18
El Paso Community College El Paso Texas www.epcc.edu 18
Florida SouthWestern State College Fort Myers Florida www.fsw.edu 18
Hagerstown Community College Hagerstown Maryland www.hagerstowncc.edu 18
Harrisburg Area Community College Harrisburg Pennsylvania www.hacc.edu 18
Iowa Western Community College Council Bluffs Iowa www.iwcc.edu 18
Mesa Community College Mesa Arizona www.mesacc.edu 18
Normandale Community College Bloomington Minnesota www.normandale.edu 18
Northeast Mississippi Community College Booneville Mississippi www.nemcc.edu 18
Ozarks Technical Community College Springfield Missouri www.otc.edu 18
Rock Valley College Rockford Illinois www.rockvalleycollege.edu 18
University of Wyoming Laramie Wyoming www.uwyo.edu 18
Orange County Community College Middletown New York sunyorange.edu 17
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College Asheville North Carolina www.abtech.edu 17
Baltimore City Community College Baltimore Maryland www.bccc.edu 17
Broward College Fort Lauderdale Florida www.broward.edu 17
Camden County College Blackwood New Jersey www.camdencc.edu 17
Fortis Institute-Birmingham Birmingham Alabama www.fortis.edu 17
Hiwassee College Madisonville Tennessee www.hiwassee.edu 17
Horry-Georgetown Technical College Conway South Carolina www.hgtc.edu 17
Kellogg Community College Battle Creek Michigan www.kellogg.edu 17
Mohave Community College Kingman Arizona www.mohave.edu 17
Thomas Nelson Community College Hampton Virginia tncc.edu 17
Trident Technical College Charleston South Carolina www.tridenttech.edu 17
Tunxis Community College Farmington Connecticut www.tunxis.edu 17
Valencia College Orlando Florida valenciacollege.edu 17
Wayne Community College Goldsboro North Carolina www.waynecc.edu 17
Gulf Coast State College Panama City Florida www.gulfcoast.edu 16
Austin Community College District Austin Texas www.austincc.edu 16
BridgeValley Community & Technical College South Charleston West Virginia www.bridgevalley.edu 16
Catawba Valley Community College Hickory North Carolina www.cvcc.edu 16
Chattanooga State Community College Chattanooga Tennessee www.chattanoogastate.edu 16
Flint Hills Technical College Emporia Kansas www.fhtc.edu 16
Halifax Community College Weldon North Carolina www.halifaxcc.edu 16
Midwestern State University Wichita Falls Texas www.mwsu.edu 16
Montgomery County Community College Blue Bell Pennsylvania www.mc3.edu 16
Owens Community College Perrysburg Ohio www.owens.edu 16
Oxnard College Oxnard California www.oxnardcollege.edu 16
Pearl River Community College Poplarville Mississippi www.prcc.edu 16
Blinn College Brenham Texas www.blinn.edu 15
Bristol Community College Fall River Massachusetts www.bristolcc.edu 15
Central Carolina Community College Sanford North Carolina www.cccc.edu 15
Collin County Community College District McKinney Texas www.collin.edu 15
Columbia Basin College Pasco Washington www.columbiabasin.edu 15
Columbus Technical College Columbus Georgia www.columbustech.edu 15
Daytona State College Daytona Beach Florida www.daytonastate.edu 15
Fox Valley Technical College Appleton Wisconsin www.fvtc.edu 15
Great Falls College Montana State University Great Falls Montana www.gfcmsu.edu 15
Hillsborough Community College Tampa Florida www.hccfl.edu 15
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis Indianapolis Indiana www.iupui.edu 15
Iowa Central Community College Fort Dodge Iowa www.iowacentral.edu 15
Lake Superior College Duluth Minnesota www.lsc.edu 15
Lone Star College System The Woodlands Texas www.lonestar.edu 15
Mt Hood Community College Gresham Oregon www.mhcc.edu 15
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Green Bay Wisconsin www.nwtc.edu 15
Rochester Community and Technical College Rochester Minnesota www.rctc.edu 15
Central Community College Grand Island Nebraska www.cccneb.edu 14
Goodwin College East Hartford Connecticut www.goodwin.edu 14
Howard College Big Spring Texas www.howardcollege.edu 14
Lakeland Community College Kirtland Ohio www.lakelandcc.edu 14
Lanier Technical College Gainesville Georgia www.laniertech.edu 14
Quinsigamond Community College Worcester Massachusetts www.qcc.edu 14
Waukesha County Technical College Pewaukee Wisconsin www.wctc.edu 14
Wytheville Community College Wytheville Virginia www.wcc.vccs.edu 14
Atlanta Technical College Atlanta Georgia atlantatech.edu 13
Moreno Valley College Moreno Valley California www.mvc.edu 13
El Centro College Dallas Texas www.elcentrocollege.edu 13
Howard Community College Columbia Maryland www.howardcc.edu 13
Lorain County Community College Elyria Ohio www.lorainccc.edu 13
Pierce College-Fort Steilacoom Lakewood Washington www.pierce.ctc.edu 13
Tulsa Community College Tulsa Oklahoma www.tulsacc.edu 13
Wake Technical Community College Raleigh North Carolina www.waketech.edu 13
West Georgia Technical College Waco Georgia www.westgatech.edu 13
Athens Technical College Athens Georgia www.athenstech.edu 12
Bellingham Technical College Bellingham Washington www.btc.edu 12
Century College White Bear Lake Minnesota www.century.edu 12
Forsyth Technical Community College Winston-Salem North Carolina www.forsythtech.edu 12
Henderson Community College Henderson Kentucky henderson.kctcs.edu 12
Houston Community College Houston Texas www.hccs.edu 12
Manor College Jenkintown Pennsylvania www.manor.edu 12
Mount Wachusett Community College Gardner Massachusetts mwcc.edu 12
New Mexico State University-Dona Ana Las Cruces New Mexico dacc.nmsu.edu 12
Pasco-Hernando State College New Port Richey Florida www.phsc.edu 12
Rose State College Midwest City Oklahoma www.rose.edu 12
Shasta College Redding California www.shastacollege.edu 12
South Florida State College Avon Park Florida www.southflorida.edu 12
Temple College Temple Texas www.templejc.edu 12
Chippewa Valley Technical College Eau Claire Wisconsin www.cvtc.edu 11
Eastern Florida State College Cocoa Florida www.easternflorida.edu 11
Essex County College Newark New Jersey www.essex.edu 11
Florence-Darlington Technical College Florence South Carolina www.fdtc.edu 11
Meridian Community College Meridian Mississippi www.meridiancc.edu 11
Mississippi Delta Community College Moorhead Mississippi www.msdelta.edu 11
Roane State Community College Harriman Tennessee www.roanestate.edu 11
San Juan College Farmington New Mexico www.sanjuancollege.edu 11
St Cloud Technical and Community College Saint Cloud Minnesota www.sctcc.edu 11
University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Fort Smith Arkansas uafs.edu 11
University of California-San Francisco San Francisco California www.ucsf.edu 11
Brookdale Community College Lincroft New Jersey www.brookdalecc.edu 10
College of Southern Idaho Twin Falls Idaho www.csi.edu 10
Cypress College Cypress California www.cypresscollege.edu 10
Indian River State College Fort Pierce Florida www.irsc.edu 10
State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota Bradenton Florida www.scf.edu 10
Truckee Meadows Community College Reno Nevada www.tmcc.edu 10
West Kentucky Community and Technical College Paducah Kentucky westkentucky.kctcs.edu 10
John A Logan College Carterville Illinois www.jalc.edu 9
State Fair Community College Sedalia Missouri www.sfccmo.edu 9
Albany State University Albany Georgia www.asurams.edu 8
Hillyard Technical Center Saint Joseph Missouri www.hillyardtech.com 8
Manhattan Area Technical College Manhattan Kansas manhattantech.edu 8
North Central Missouri College Trenton Missouri www.ncmissouri.edu 8
York Technical College Rock Hill South Carolina www.yorktech.edu 8
Cape Fear Community College Wilmington North Carolina www.cfcc.edu 7
Howard University Washington District of Columbia www.howard.edu 7
Raritan Valley Community College Branchburg New Jersey www.raritanval.edu 7
Southern University at Shreveport Shreveport Louisiana www.susla.edu 7
Indian Hills Community College Ottumwa Iowa www.indianhills.edu 6
Ocean County College Toms River New Jersey www.ocean.edu 6
Union County College Cranford New Jersey www.ucc.edu 6
University of the Pacific Stockton California www.pacific.edu 5
Nicolet Area Technical College Rhinelander Wisconsin www.nicoletcollege.edu 4
Southeastern Technical College Vidalia Georgia www.southeasterntech.edu 3
Lewis University Romeoville Illinois www.lewisu.edu 2
City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King College Chicago Illinois www.ccc.edu/colleges/kennedy 1
La Sierra University Riverside California lasierra.edu 1
Rhode Island College Providence Rhode Island www.ric.edu 1
Southern Adventist University Collegedale Tennessee www.southern.edu 1
Western Nebraska Community College Scottsbluff Nebraska www.wncc.edu 1
2017-2018 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in November, 2019)

Hybrid & Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Dental Hygienist Online Program Overview

According to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, many CODA-accredited programs offer online and hybrid options for prospective dental hygienists seeking both quality and flexibility in course completion.

The ADHA reports that the fully online options are typically for students who already have associate degrees or certificates in dental hygiene and are interested in degree completion programs to earn a bachelor of science in dental hygiene (BSDH). These accredited degree-completion programs, such as one at Wichita State University, offer all classes online, including dental hygiene practice management, advanced clinical concepts, and statistical reasoning.

However, most entry-level dental hygienist programs require a classroom or clinical component due to the hands-on nature of the profession. Students may be required to return to campus for laboratory or clinical practicums.

Here is a sampling of accredited, online programs at dental hygienist schools:

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Please note that the following programs require prior completion of an associate degree or certificate in dental hygiene. Students in these programs are generally practicing dental hygiene and looking to advance their qualifications.

  • Northern Arizona University offers a bachelor of science (BS) in dental hygiene degree completion program (BSDHCP) geared toward students who want to further their professional development. The BSDHCP enhances students’ clinical knowledge with courses in management, education, and public health. All classes are offered online under the guidance of Northern Arizona University’s faculty and at the convenience of students. This university also provides exciting summer externship opportunities to serve diverse populations in Guatemala, Peru, and Hawaii.
  • The University of Louisiana at Monroe has an online associate’s of science to bachelors of science program that helps push students’ core competencies to new heights. This 100 percent online program imparts the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for dental hygienists in positions of responsibility. This program may better prepare students to take on management roles in healthcare, research, and community settings. To be admitted, applicants must have completed the Dental Hygiene National Board Exam, earned licensure in at least one state, and graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program with a 2.5 GPA.
  • Minnesota State University offers a two-year, accredited, online BSDH program provided by the department of dental hygiene in the college of allied health and nursing at Minnesota State University, Mankato. It’s ideal for students working full- or part-time who require flexibility in their course-completion schedules. The curriculum is tailored to students’ level of college experience but generally requires students to complete 11 dental hygiene courses (32 credits) and two to four general education courses.
School City State Website grads (2018)
University of Bridgeport Bridgeport Connecticut www.bridgeport.edu 99
MCPHS University Boston Massachusetts www.mcphs.edu 81
St Petersburg College Clearwater Florida www.spcollege.edu 71
Eastern Washington University Cheney Washington www.ewu.edu 64
Ferris State University Big Rapids Michigan www.ferris.edu 58
Northern Arizona University Flagstaff Arizona nau.edu 58
Pennsylvania College of Technology Williamsport Pennsylvania www.pct.edu 55
Minnesota State University-Mankato Mankato Minnesota mankato.mnsu.edu 53
Wichita State University Wichita Kansas www.wichita.edu 50
Community College of Denver Denver Colorado www.ccd.edu 47
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Michigan www.umich.edu 47
Old Dominion University Norfolk Virginia www.odu.edu 46
Farmingdale State College Farmingdale New York www.farmingdale.edu 45
Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus Ohio www.osu.edu 44
Loma Linda University Loma Linda California home.llu.edu 41
Augusta University Augusta Georgia www.augusta.edu 37
University of South Dakota Vermillion South Dakota www.usd.edu 37
Idaho State University Pocatello Idaho www.isu.edu 35
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio San Antonio Texas www.uthscsa.edu 34
University of New Mexico-Main Campus Albuquerque New Mexico www.unm.edu 34
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Carbondale Illinois www.siu.edu 32
University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe Louisiana www.ulm.edu 32
Clayton State University Morrow Georgia www.clayton.edu 31
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Memphis Tennessee www.uthsc.edu 31
East Tennessee State University Johnson City Tennessee www.etsu.edu 29
SUNY College of Technology at Canton Canton New York www.canton.edu 27
Georgia Highlands College Rome Georgia www.highlands.edu 25
Luzerne County Community College Nanticoke Pennsylvania www.luzerne.edu 24
Vermont Technical College Randolph Vermont www.vtc.edu 23
Pueblo Community College Pueblo Colorado www.pueblocc.edu 21
Santa Fe College Gainesville Florida www.sfcollege.edu 21
College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas Nevada www.csn.edu 20
University of Mississippi University Mississippi www.olemiss.edu 18
Siena Heights University Adrian Michigan www.sienaheights.edu 14
East Mississippi Community College Scooba Mississippi www.eastms.edu 9
2017-2018 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in November, 2019)

Dental Hygienist Core & Elective Courses

Core Courses

To become a dental hygienist, students must complete a program at an accredited dental hygienist school. These programs combine standard coursework with a hands-on, clinical laboratory component. According to the American Dental Hygienists' Association, core classes typically include:

  • Dental anatomy
  • Head and neck anatomy
  • Oral embryology and histology
  • Oral pathology
  • Radiography
  • Periodontology
  • Pain control (anesthetics)
  • Dental materials
  • Microbiology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • General education courses (e.g., psychology, English, speech)

Electives & Specializations

Dental hygiene students may have the opportunity to complete electives in various specializations. This flexibility allows students to tailor coursework to their interests. Additionally, this instruction may enhance an individual's candidacy for jobs that specialize in different dental procedures. Some of these course electives may include:

  • Medical and dental emergencies
  • Nutrition in dentistry
  • Community dental health
  • Patient management
  • Legal responsibility in dentistry
  • Oral biology

Accreditation of Dental Hygienist Schools & Programs

Accreditation aims to protect students of dental hygienist programs. Seeking an accredited school is essential to ensure quality in coursework, training, and exam preparation. Typically, only students enrolled in accredited programs are eligible for government funding. Furthermore, graduation from an accredited program is also a standard requirement for licensure and certification examinations in dental hygiene. Before applying to a school, students should verify a program’s accreditation status.

Programmatic Accreditation

The American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation has continually developed and administered high accreditation standards for dental hygiene educational programs. CODA also offers a list of approved programs organized by state to prospective students. In most states, students must graduate from a CODA-accredited program to be eligible for state licensure.

Institutional Accreditation

In addition to programmatic accreditation, an institution should hold accreditation as an institution. For instance, four-year universities may have earned regional accreditation from an organization such as the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC). In contrast, a two-year program may have earned accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).

As with programmatic accreditation, institutional accreditation considers faculty, facilities, and curricula to determine the viability of an institution as a whole in its educational mission.

Career Outlook

Occupational Growth & Demand

The BLS shows that in May 2019, 221,560 dental hygienists were employed in the United States. As with careers in healthcare, openings for dental hygienists are predicted to grow faster than average by 6 percent from 2019 to 2029 (BLS 2020).

Expanded access to medical and dental care through the Affordable Health Care Act, in tandem with ongoing research that links good general health to good oral health, will likely increase the demand for dental hygienists.

Top Employers for Dental Hygienists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019), dental offices employ 93 percent of the dental hygienists’ workforce. Other industries with the highest levels of employment for dental hygienists are as follows:

  • Total number of employed dental hygienists: 221,560 employed
  • Offices of dentists: 209,510 employed
  • Employment services: 3,270
  • Offices of physicians: 2,410
  • Outpatient care centers: 1,600
  • Federal executive branch (OES designation): 810

Top Paying Industries for Dental Hygienists

Curiously enough, when it comes to paying dental hygienists the most money, dental offices fell fourth on the list. Here’s a list of the five top-paying industries for dental hygienists (BLS May 2019):

  • Average annual salary for dental hygienists: $77,230 per year
  • Agencies, brokerages, and other insurance-related activities: $86,460
  • Offices of other health practitioners: $81,400
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $79,040
  • Offices of dentists: $77,540
  • Outpatient care centers: $77,300

Top Employing States for Dental Hygienists

Unsurprisingly, the states that hire the most dental hygienists are also some of the most populous. Here are the top five states with the highest levels of employment and the annual wages they earn (BLS May 2019):

  • California: 23,320 employed ($106,240 per year)
  • Texas: 14,310 ($76,490)
  • New York: 11,620 ($76,960)
  • Florida: 11.310 ($66,170)
  • Ohio: 9,670 ($67,900)
Career Facts Dental Hygienist
Related CareersDental Assistant, Medical Assistant, Radiation Therapist
Common Job TitlesDental Hygienist
Technology & EquipmentHand Scalers and Curettes, Ultrasonic Scalers, Polishers, X-Ray Machines
Sourced from BLS, March 2021

Dental Hygienist Licensure & Certification

State Licensure

After graduating from an accredited dental hygienist program, individuals become eligible for professional licensure. State governments grant licenses, and therefore, requirements vary from state to state. Aspiring dental hygienists should investigate the requirements in the state where they want to practice.

However, according to the ADHA, there are a few steps that are common across virtually every state:

  • Completion of an accredited dental hygiene program
  • Passing the written National Board Dental Hygiene Examination
  • Passing a regional or state clinical board exam
  • Completion of continuing education credits (to maintain licensure)

Once these steps are complete, the applicant must contact the state’s licensing authority where he or she wishes to practice and submit their required documentation and fees to become legally eligible for employment.

Certification Organizations

Several certifying bodies for the dental hygienist profession may be relevant for those entering the field. The proper certifying body will depend on the geographic location of the individual becoming licensed.

  • Council of Interstate Testing Agencies
  • Central Regional Dental Testing Service
  • Commission on Dental Competency Assessments
  • Southern Regional Testing Agency
  • Western Regional Examining Board

Each certification body administers exams in many states. For example, a hygienist who wants to become licensed in Kansas would be able to take the ADEX, CDCA, CITA, CRDTS, SRTA, or WREB board exams. To determine what licensing exam to take, new hygienists should contact their state licensing board.