Dental Hygienist Schools

Dental hygienists provide preventive therapy to promote oral health, examine patients for signs of disease, and teach them to manage their own 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 as well. Upon receiving their license, hygienists become Registered Dental Hygienists (RDH’s) and qualify to enter this high-growth occupation.

 

Degree & certification Programs

Qualifications and Requirements

In order 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 their program is accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) prior to enrolling.

Program lengths may vary, but dental hygienist school typically takes two years to complete. The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) reports that an associate degree in dental hygiene requires an average of 84 credit hours. For a bachelor’s degree, it’s an average of 118 credit hours. Although bachelor’s or master’s degree programs may take an additional two to four years to complete, they may enable a student to pursue a career in research and teaching, including managing roles in clinics or public health programs.

Admission requirements for dental hygienist schools typically include the completion of high school courses in chemistry, biology, health, psychology, speech, and mathematics. The ADHA (2014) 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 basic 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 (2014) estimates that dental hygienist students will complete an average of 659 hours of supervised clinical instruction prior to 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 are required to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE), a test comprising 350 multiple choice questions gauging both concrete, 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 prior to obtaining licensure:

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

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

Dental Hygienist Schools

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

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California (USC) offers a bachelor of science in dental hygiene, one of only 48 such programs in the country. USC’s Ostrow School of Dentistry has been internationally renowned since opening its doors over 80 years ago. The school includes faculty who are editors and authors from some of the country’s most influential journals and textbooks in dental hygiene.

Salt Lake Community College

Salt Lake Community College offers an economical two-year program in dental hygiene, accredited by ADA’s CODA and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), a regional body of quality assurance. 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.

University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry offers an accelerated, three-year bachelor of science program for aspiring dental hygienists. UM also has a master of science in dental hygiene (MSDH) option 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.

College of Southern Nevada

The College of Southern Nevada offers a two-year, associate of science in dental hygiene program. This school features state-of-the-art radiology, sterilization, and ultrasonic equipment at its Charleston Campus Health Sciences Center (HSC).

Valencia College

Valencia College offers a two-year associates 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 good oral hygiene practices.

The University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee (UT) 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 clinical instruction. This program aims to teach its students not only the fundamental skills of dental hygiene, but also character-building with its emphasis on community service initiatives for diverse populations.

List of Dental Hygienist Schools

Filter by state :
SchoolCityStateWebsiteTotal grads (2013)
Sinclair Community CollegeDaytonOhiohttp://www.sinclair.edu72
West Coast University-Orange CountyAnaheimCaliforniahttp://westcoastuniversity.edu/campuses/orange-county.html64
West Liberty UniversityWest LibertyWest Virginiahttp://westliberty.edu/ 63
Minnesota State University-MankatoMankatoMinnesotahttp://www.mnsu.edu63
Carrington College-PortlandPortlandOregonhttp://carrington.edu/ 59
University of New EnglandBiddefordMainehttp://www.une.edu/58
New York UniversityNew YorkNew Yorkhttp://www.nyu.edu58
Careers UnlimitedOremUtahhttp://www.ucdh.edu58
Bluegrass Community and Technical CollegeLexingtonKentuckyhttp://www.bluegrass.kctcs.edu/55
Herzing University-MinneapolisMinneapolisMinnesotahttps://www.herzing.edu/ 54
University of Detroit MercyDetroitMichiganhttp://www.udmercy.edu53
University of New HavenWest HavenConnecticuthttp://www.newhaven.edu52
Farmingdale State CollegeFarmingdaleNew Yorkhttp://WWW.FARMINGDALE.EDU52
Carrington College California-San JoseSan JoseCaliforniahttp://carrington.edu/ 49
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh CampusPittsburghPennsylvaniahttp://www.pitt.edu50
University of Maryland-BaltimoreBaltimoreMarylandhttp://www.umaryland.edu50
CUNY New York City College of TechnologyBrooklynNew Yorkhttp://www.citytech.cuny.edu50
Miami Dade CollegeMiamiFloridahttp://www.mdc.edu/main/48
CUNY Hostos Community CollegeBronxNew Yorkhttp://www.hostos.cuny.edu46
University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityOklahomahttp://www.ouhsc.edu/ 45
Erie Community CollegeBuffaloNew Yorkhttps://www.ecc.edu/ 45
Pueblo Community CollegePuebloColoradohttp://www.pueblocc.edu44
Indiana University-South BendSouth BendIndianahttps://www.iusb.edu/ 43
Dixie State UniversitySaint GeorgeUtahhttp://www.dixie.edu/42
Concorde Career College-Garden GroveGarden GroveCaliforniahttp://www.concorde.edu41
Argosy University-Twin CitiesEaganMinnesotahttps://www.argosy.edu/locations/twin-cities 41
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-New OrleansNew OrleansLouisianahttp://www.lsuhsc.edu/40
Indiana University-Purdue University-IndianapolisIndianapolisIndianahttp://www.iupui.edu40
Concorde Career College-MemphisMemphisTennesseehttp://www.concorde.edu40
Carrington College-BoiseBoiseIdahohttp://carrington.edu/ 40
University of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockArkansashttp://www.uams.edu39
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillNorth Carolinahttp://www.unc.edu38
Remington College-Nashville CampusNashvilleTennesseehttp://www.remingtoncollege.edu/nashville-tennessee-career-colleges-overview/ 38
The University of Tennessee-KnoxvilleKnoxvilleTennesseehttp://www.tennessee.edu37
University of South DakotaVermillionSouth Dakotahttp://WWW.USD.EDU36
Sanford-Brown Institute-OrlandoOrlandoFloridahttp://www.sanfordbrown.edu/orlando 36
Bergen Community CollegeParamusNew Jerseyhttp://www.bergen.edu36
Wichita State UniversityWichitaKansashttp://www.wichita.edu/thisis/ 36
The University of Texas Health Science Center at HoustonHoustonTexashttps://www.uth.edu/ 35
SUNY Broome Community CollegeBinghamtonNew Yorkhttp://WWW.SUNYBROOME.EDU35
Owens Community CollegePerrysburgOhiohttps://www.owens.edu35
Madison Area Technical CollegeMadisonWisconsinhttp://madisoncollege.edu35
Taft CollegeTaftCaliforniahttp://www.taftcollege.edu34
Sanford-Brown College-DallasDallasTexashttp://www.sanfordbrown.edu/dallas 34
Parkland CollegeChampaignIllinoishttp://www.parkland.edu34
Mount Ida CollegeNewtonMassachusettshttp://www.mountida.edu34
Grand Rapids Community CollegeGrand RapidsMichiganhttp://www.grcc.edu34
Allegany College of MarylandCumberlandMarylandhttp://www.allegany.edu34
University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesCaliforniahttp://www.usc.edu/33
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New JerseyNewarkNew Jerseyhttp://www.umdnj.edu/33
Tennessee State UniversityNashvilleTennesseehttp://www.tnstate.edu33
Milwaukee Area Technical CollegeMilwaukeeWisconsinhttp://www.matc.edu/ 33
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondVirginiahttp://www.vcu.edu/32
University of New Mexico-Main CampusAlbuquerqueNew Mexicohttp://www.unm.edu32
Community College of Rhode IslandWarwickRhode Islandhttp://www.ccri.edu32
College of Southern NevadaLas VegasNevadahttp://www.csn.edu32
Diablo Valley CollegePleasant HillCaliforniahttp://www.dvc.edu31
Coastal Bend CollegeBeevilleTexashttp://www.coastalbend.edu31
Southern Illinois University-CarbondaleCarbondaleIllinoishttp://siu.edu/ 31
San Joaquin Valley College-VisaliaVisaliaCaliforniahttp://www.sjvc.edu31
Pacific UniversityForest GroveOregonhttp://www.pacificu.edu31
Northern Virginia Community CollegeAnnandaleVirginiahttp://www.nvcc.edu31
Weber State UniversityOgdenUtahhttp://www.weber.edu30
Northampton County Area Community CollegeBethlehemPennsylvaniahttp://www.northampton.edu30
Middlesex Community CollegeBedfordMassachusettshttps://www.middlesex.mass.edu/ 30
Lake Washington Institute of TechnologyKirklandWashingtonhttp://www.lwtech.edu30
Indiana University-NorthwestGaryIndianahttp://www.iun.edu30
Hudson Valley Community CollegeTroyNew Yorkhttps://www.hvcc.edu/ 30
University of LouisvilleLouisvilleKentuckyhttp://louisville.edu/ 29
The Community College of Baltimore CountyBaltimoreMarylandhttp://www.ccbcmd.edu29
Southwestern CollegeChula VistaCaliforniahttp://www.swccd.edu/29
NHTI-Concord's Community CollegeConcordNew Hampshirehttps://www.nhti.edu/ 29
Monroe Community CollegeRochesterNew Yorkhttp://www.monroecc.edu/29
Greenville Technical CollegeGreenvilleSouth Carolinahttp://www.gvltec.edu/index.aspx 29
Clayton State UniversityMorrowGeorgiahttp://www.clayton.edu29
University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash CollegeBlue AshOhiohttp://www.ucblueash.edu/28
Texas State Technical College-HarlingenHarlingenTexashttp://www.tstc.edu/ 28
Texas A & M University Health Science CenterBryanTexashttp://tamhsc.edu/28
Northcentral Technical CollegeWausauWisconsinhttp://www.ntc.edu28
George C Wallace State Community College-HancevilleHancevilleAlabamahttp://www.wallacestate.edu28
Amarillo CollegeAmarilloTexashttps://www.actx.edu/ 28
Middlesex County CollegeEdisonNew Jerseyhttp://www.middlesexcc.edu27
Fayetteville Technical Community CollegeFayettevilleNorth Carolinahttp://www.faytechcc.edu27
Colorado Northwestern Community CollegeRangelyColoradohttp://www.cncc.edu27
College of DuPageGlen EllynIllinoishttp://www.cod.edu27
Central Georgia Technical CollegeWarner RobinsGeorgiahttp://www.centralgatech.edu27
Carrington College California-SacramentoSacramentoCaliforniahttp://carrington.edu/ 27
Wytheville Community CollegeWythevilleVirginiahttp://www.wcc.vccs.edu26
University of Alaska AnchorageAnchorageAlaskahttp://www.uaa.alaska.edu26
Tallahassee Community CollegeTallahasseeFloridahttps://www.tcc.fl.edu/Pages/default.aspx 26
Saint Louis Community CollegeSaint LouisMissourihttp://www.stlcc.edu26
Pima Medical Institute-AlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueNew Mexicohttp://pmi.edu26
Ivy Tech Community CollegeIndianapolisIndianahttp://www.ivytech.edu26
Tunxis Community CollegeFarmingtonConnecticuthttp://www.tunxis.edu25
Shoreline Community CollegeShorelineWashingtonhttp://www.shoreline.edu25
San Joaquin Valley College-OntarioOntarioCaliforniahttp://www.sjvc.edu/ 25
Prairie State CollegeChicago HeightsIllinoishttp://prairiestate.edu/ 25
Lamar Institute of TechnologyBeaumontTexashttp://www.lit.edu25
Lake Land CollegeMattoonIllinoishttp://www.lakeland.cc.il.us25
Johnson County Community CollegeOverland ParkKansashttp://www.jccc.edu25
Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort WayneFort WayneIndianahttp://www.ipfw.edu25
Fresno City CollegeFresnoCaliforniahttp://www.fresnocitycollege.edu25
Florida State College at JacksonvilleJacksonvilleFloridahttp://www.fscj.edu25
Del Mar CollegeCorpus ChristiTexashttp://www.delmar.edu25
Concorde Career College-San BernardinoSan BernardinoCaliforniahttp://www.concorde.edu25
Clark CollegeVancouverWashingtonhttp://www.clark.edu25
Central Piedmont Community CollegeCharlotteNorth Carolinahttp://www.cpcc.edu25
Vermont Technical CollegeRandolph CenterVermonthttp://www.vtc.edu25
University of Southern IndianaEvansvilleIndianahttp://www.usi.edu25
University of Nebraska Medical CenterOmahaNebraskahttp://www.unmc.edu24
Lane Community CollegeEugeneOregonhttps://www.lanecc.edu/ 24
Harcum CollegeBryn MawrPennsylvaniahttp://www.harcum.edu/s/1044/edu/start.aspx 24
Georgia Regents UniversityAugustaGeorgiahttp://www.gru.edu24
Concorde Career CollegesKansas CityMissourihttp://www.concorde.edu24
Community College of DenverDenverColoradohttps://www.ccd.edu/ 24
Cerritos CollegeNorwalkCaliforniahttp://www.cerritos.edu24
Utah Valley UniversityOremUtahhttp://www.uvu.edu23
Trident Technical CollegeCharlestonSouth Carolinahttp://www.tridenttech.edu23
Sheridan CollegeSheridanWyominghttp://www.sheridan.edu/site/ 23
Pensacola State CollegePensacolaFloridahttp://www.pensacolastate.edu23
Lansing Community CollegeLansingMichiganhttp://www.lcc.edu23
Georgia Perimeter CollegeDecaturGeorgiahttp://www.gpc.edu23
Delaware Technical Community College-Stanton/WilmingtonWilmingtonDelawarehttps://www.dtcc.edu/our-campuses/wilmington23
Baker College of Auburn HillsAuburn HillsMichiganhttp://www.baker.edu23
University of Minnesota-Twin CitiesMinneapolisMinnesotahttp://twin-cities.umn.edu/ 22
University of Maine at AugustaAugustaMainehttp://www.uma.edu/22
Siena Heights UniversityAdrianMichiganhttp://www.sienaheights.edu22
Santa Rosa Junior CollegeSanta RosaCaliforniahttp://www.santarosa.edu22
Rock Valley CollegeRockfordIllinoishttp://www.rockvalleycollege.edu22
North Dakota State College of ScienceWahpetonNorth Dakotahttps://www.ndscs.edu/ 22
Mott Community CollegeFlintMichiganhttp://www.mcc.edu22
Missouri CollegeBrentwoodMissourihttp://www.missouricollege.edu/22
Kalamazoo Valley Community CollegeKalamazooMichiganhttps://www.kvcc.edu/ 22
Fortis College-Salt Lake CitySalt Lake CityUtahhttps://www.fortis.edu/ 22
Foothill CollegeLos Altos HillsCaliforniahttp://www.foothill.edu22
Cape Cod Community CollegeWest BarnstableMassachusettshttp://www.capecod.edu22
Burlington County CollegePembertonNew Jerseyhttp://www.rcbc.edu/dental22
Baltimore City Community CollegeBaltimoreMarylandhttp://www.bccc.edu/site/default.aspx?PageID=1 22
Carrington College-MesaMesaArizonahttp://carrington.edu/ 21
Baker College of Port HuronPort HuronMichiganhttp://www.baker.edu/21
West Virginia UniversityMorgantownWest Virginiahttp://www.wvu.edu/21
Tarrant County College DistrictFort WorthTexashttp://www.tccd.edu21
Santa Fe CollegeGainesvilleFloridahttp://www.sfcollege.edu21
Pima Community CollegeTucsonArizonahttps://www.pima.edu/ 21
Oakland Community CollegeBloomfield HillsMichiganhttps://www.oaklandcc.edu/ 21
Lincoln College of New England-SouthingtonSouthingtonConnecticuthttp://www.lincolncollegene.edu21
Lake Superior CollegeDuluthMinnesotahttp://www.lsc.edu21
Des Moines Area Community CollegeAnkenyIowahttps://www.dmacc.edu/Pages/welcome.aspx 21
Concorde Career Institute-San AntonioSan AntonioTexashttp://www.concorde.edu21
Concorde Career Institute-DallasDallasTexashttp://www.concorde.edu21
Concorde Career College-AuroraAuroraColoradohttp://www.concorde.edu21
Community College of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPennsylvaniahttp://www.ccp.edu21
Wayne Community CollegeGoldsboroNorth Carolinahttp://www.waynecc.edu20
Virginia Western Community CollegeRoanokeVirginiahttp://virginiawestern.edu/20
University of WyomingLaramieWyominghttp://www.uwyo.edu20
Palm Beach State CollegeLake WorthFloridahttp://www.palmbeachstate.edu/20
Northeast Mississippi Community CollegeBoonevilleMississippihttp://www.nemcc.edu20
Normandale Community CollegeBloomingtonMinnesotahttp://www.normandale.edu20
Lakeland Community CollegeKirtlandOhiohttp://www.lakelandcc.edu20
Harper CollegePalatineIllinoishttp://www.harpercollege.edu20
Guilford Technical Community CollegeJamestownNorth Carolinahttp://home.gtcc.edu/ 20
West Los Angeles CollegeCulver CityCaliforniahttp://www.wlac.edu19
Valencia CollegeOrlandoFloridahttp://valenciacollege.edu19
Stark State CollegeNorth CantonOhiohttp://www.starkstate.edu19
Shawnee State UniversityPortsmouthOhiohttp://WWW.SHAWNEE.EDU19
Seattle Central CollegeSeattleWashingtonhttp://www.seattlecentral.edu19
Portland Community CollegePortlandOregonhttp://www.pcc.edu19
Pierce College at Fort SteilacoomLakewoodWashingtonhttp://www.pierce.ctc.edu19
Phoenix CollegePhoenixArizonahttp://www.phoenixcollege.edu19
Mesa Community CollegeMesaArizonahttp://www.mesacc.edu19
Luzerne County Community CollegeNanticokePennsylvaniahttp://www.luzerne.edu/default.jsp 19
Tyler Junior CollegeTylerTexashttp://WWW.TJC.EDU18
Sacramento City CollegeSacramentoCaliforniahttp://www.scc.losrios.edu/18
Mt Hood Community CollegeGreshamOregonhttp://www.mhcc.edu18
Minnesota State Community and Technical CollegeFergus FallsMinnesotahttp://www.minnesota.edu18
Midwestern State UniversityWichita FallsTexashttp://www.mwsu.edu18
Midlands Technical CollegeWest ColumbiaSouth Carolinahttp://www.midlandstech.edu18
Kellogg Community CollegeBattle CreekMichiganhttp://www.kellogg.edu18
James A Rhodes State CollegeLimaOhiohttp://www.rhodesstate.edu18
Hawkeye Community CollegeWaterlooIowahttp://www.hawkeyecollege.edu18
Coastal Carolina Community CollegeJacksonvilleNorth Carolinahttp://www.coastalcarolina.edu/18
Chattanooga State Community CollegeChattanoogaTennesseehttps://www.chattanoogastate.edu/ 18
Camden County CollegeBlackwoodNew Jerseyhttp://www.camdencc.edu18
Cabrillo CollegeAptosCaliforniahttp://www.cabrillo.edu18
Bristol Community CollegeFall RiverMassachusettshttp://bristolcc.edu/18
Youngstown State UniversityYoungstownOhiohttp://www.ysu.edu18
Wharton County Junior CollegeWhartonTexashttp://www.wcjc.edu18
Fortis College-SmyrnaSmyrnaGeorgiahttps://www.fortis.edu/ 17
College of Lake CountyGrayslakeIllinoishttp://WWW.CLCILLINOIS.EDU17
Yakima Valley Community CollegeYakimaWashingtonhttp://www.yvcc.edu/Pages/default.aspx 17
Oxnard CollegeOxnardCaliforniahttp://www.oxnardcollege.edu17
Northeast Wisconsin Technical CollegeGreen BayWisconsinhttps://www.nwtc.edu/17
Laramie County Community CollegeCheyenneWyominghttp://www.lccc.wy.edu17
Kirkwood Community CollegeCedar RapidsIowahttp://www.kirkwood.edu17
John A Logan CollegeCartervilleIllinoishttp://www.jalc.edu17
Houston Community CollegeHoustonTexashttp://www.hccs.edu17
Harrisburg Area Community College-HarrisburgHarrisburgPennsylvaniahttp://www.hacc.edu17
Halifax Community CollegeWeldonNorth Carolinahttp://www.halifaxcc.edu17
Fortis Institute-ErieEriePennsylvaniahttps://www.fortis.edu/ 17
Westmoreland County Community CollegeYoungwoodPennsylvaniahttps://wccc.edu/ 16
Cypress CollegeCypressCaliforniahttp://www.cypresscollege.edu16
Collin County Community College DistrictMcKinneyTexashttp://www.collin.edu16
Carl Sandburg CollegeGalesburgIllinoishttp://www.sandburg.edu16
Bridgemont Community and Technical CollegeMontgomeryWest Virginiahttp://www.bridgevalley.edu/dental-hygiene16
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community CollegeAshevilleNorth Carolinahttps://www.abtech.edu/ 16
West Kentucky Community and Technical CollegePaducahKentuckyhttp://www.westkentucky.kctcs.edu15
Wayne County Community College DistrictDetroitMichiganhttp://www.wcccd.edu15
University of Arkansas-Fort SmithFort SmithArkansashttp://uafs.edu/15
Springfield Technical Community CollegeSpringfieldMassachusettshttp://www.stcc.edu15
Savannah Technical CollegeSavannahGeorgiahttp://www.savannahtech.edu15
Rochester Community and Technical CollegeRochesterMinnesotahttp://www.rctc.edu/15
Pearl River Community CollegePoplarvilleMississippihttp://www.prcc.edu15
Lorain County Community CollegeElyriaOhiohttp://www.lorainccc.edu15
Lone Star College SystemThe WoodlandsTexashttp://www.lonestar.edu15
Lewis and Clark Community CollegeGodfreyIllinoishttp://www.lc.edu15
Iowa Western Community CollegeCouncil BluffsIowahttp://www.iwcc.edu/15
Illinois Central CollegeEast PeoriaIllinoishttp://icc.edu/ 15
Horry-Georgetown Technical CollegeConwaySouth Carolinahttp://www.hgtc.edu15
Fox Valley Technical CollegeAppletonWisconsinhttp://www.fvtc.edu15
Fortis College-LandoverLandoverMarylandhttps://www.fortis.edu/ 15
Columbus State Community CollegeColumbusOhiohttp://www.cscc.edu/15
Broward CollegeFort LauderdaleFloridahttp://www.broward.edu/Pages/home.aspx 15
University of North GeorgiaDahlonegaGeorgiahttp://ung.edu/ 14
University of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluHawaiihttp://manoa.hawaii.edu14
Quinsigamond Community CollegeWorcesterMassachusettshttp://www.qcc.edu14
Pasadena City CollegePasadenaCaliforniahttp://www.pasadena.edu14
Mohave Community CollegeKingmanArizonahttp://www.mohave.edu14
Meridian Community CollegeMeridianMississippihttp://www.meridiancc.edu14
Lanier Technical CollegeOakwoodGeorgiahttp://www.laniertech.edu/default2.aspx 14
Great Falls College Montana State UniversityGreat FallsMontanahttp://www.gfcmsu.edu14
Flint Hills Technical CollegeEmporiaKansashttps://www.fhtc.edu/web/site/main 14
El Paso Community CollegeEl PasoTexashttp://www.epcc.edu/_layouts/temp/index.html 14
Edison State CollegeFort MyersFloridahttps://www.fsw.edu/academics/programs/asdentalhygiene14
Delta CollegeUniversity CenterMichiganhttp://www.delta.edu/14
Darton State CollegeAlbanyGeorgiahttp://www.darton.edu14
Columbus Technical CollegeColumbusGeorgiahttp://www.columbustech.edu/14
Catawba Valley Community CollegeHickoryNorth Carolinahttp://www.cvcc.edu/index.php 14
Austin Community College DistrictAustinTexashttp://www.austincc.edu14
Ozarks Technical Community CollegeSpringfieldMissourihttp://www.otc.edu13
Orange County Community CollegeMiddletownNew Yorkhttp://www.sunyorange.edu/13
Montgomery County Community CollegeBlue BellPennsylvaniahttp://www.mc3.edu13
Mississippi Delta Community CollegeMoorheadMississippihttp://www.msdelta.edu13
Essex County CollegeNewarkNew Jerseyhttp://www.essex.edu13
Columbia Basin CollegePascoWashingtonhttp://www.columbiabasin.edu13
Chabot CollegeHaywardCaliforniahttp://www.chabotcollege.edu13
Century CollegeWhite Bear LakeMinnesotahttp://www.century.edu13
Central Community CollegeGrand IslandNebraskahttp://www.cccneb.edu/Home/ 13
Blinn CollegeBrenhamTexashttp://www.blinn.edu13
Athens Technical CollegeAthensGeorgiahttp://www.athenstech.edu/13
Waukesha County Technical CollegePewaukeeWisconsinhttp://www.wctc.edu13
University of the PacificStocktonCaliforniahttp://www.pacific.edu13
Tulsa Community CollegeTulsaOklahomahttp://www.tulsacc.edu13
Salt Lake Community CollegeSalt Lake CityUtahhttp://www.slcc.edu13
St Cloud Technical and Community CollegeSaint CloudMinnesotahttp://www.sctcc.edu12
Shasta CollegeReddingCaliforniahttp://www.shastacollege.edu/Pages/default.aspx 12
Roane State Community CollegeHarrimanTennesseehttp://www.roanestate.edu12
Northeast Texas Community CollegeMount PleasantTexashttp://www.ntcc.edu12
New Mexico State University-Dona AnaLas CrucesNew Mexicohttp://dacc.nmsu.edu/dhyg/ 12
Mount Wachusett Community CollegeGardnerMassachusettshttp://MWCC.EDU12
Howard CollegeBig SpringTexashttp://www.howardcollege.edu12
Georgia Highlands CollegeRomeGeorgiahttp://www.highlands.edu12
Daytona State CollegeDaytona BeachFloridahttp://www.daytonastate.edu/ 12
Cuyahoga Community College DistrictClevelandOhiohttp://www.tri-c.edu12
City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King CollegeChicagoIllinoishttp://www.ccc.edu/colleges/kennedy/pages/default.aspx12
Big Sandy Community and Technical CollegePrestonsburgKentuckyhttp://www.bigsandy.kctcs.edu12
York Technical CollegeRock HillSouth Carolinahttp://www.yorktech.edu11
West Georgia Technical CollegeWacoGeorgiahttp://www.westgatech.edu11
Wake Technical Community CollegeRaleighNorth Carolinahttp://www.waketech.edu/11
Rose State CollegeMidwest CityOklahomahttps://www.rose.edu/ 11
Pasco-Hernando Community CollegeNew Port RicheyFloridahttp://phsc.edu/programs11
Manor CollegeJenkintownPennsylvaniahttp://www.manor.edu11
Indian River State CollegeFort PierceFloridahttp://www.irsc.edu11
Hillsborough Community CollegeTampaFloridahttp://www.hccfl.edu11
Fortis Institute-ScrantonScrantonPennsylvaniahttps://www.fortis.edu/ 11
Florence-Darlington Technical CollegeFlorenceSouth Carolinahttp://WWW.FDTC.EDU11
Central Carolina Community CollegeSanfordNorth Carolinahttp://www.cccc.edu11
Thomas Nelson Community CollegeHamptonVirginiahttp://tncc.edu/ 10
State Fair Community CollegeSedaliaMissourihttp://www.sfccmo.edu/pages/1.asp 10
San Juan CollegeFarmingtonNew Mexicohttp://www.sanjuancollege.edu/pages/1.asp 10
College of Southern IdahoTwin FallsIdahohttp://www.csi.edu10
University of Hawaii Maui CollegeKahuluiHawaiihttp://maui.hawaii.edu10
Temple CollegeTempleTexashttp://templejc.edu/ 9
Southern University at ShreveportShreveportLouisianahttp://www.susla.edu9
Moreno Valley CollegeMoreno ValleyCaliforniahttp://www.mvc.edu/9
Manhattan Area Technical CollegeManhattanKansashttp://www.manhattantech.edu9
Iowa Central Community CollegeFort DodgeIowahttp://www.iowacentral.edu9
Hiwassee CollegeMadisonvilleTennesseehttp://hiwassee.edu/ 9
Hillyard Technical CenterSaint JosephMissourihttp://www.sjsd.k12.mo.us/Domain/16 9
Henderson Community CollegeHendersonKentuckyhttp://www.henderson.kctcs.edu/ 9
Eastern Florida State CollegeCocoaFloridahttp://www.easternflorida.edu9
Chippewa Valley Technical CollegeEau ClaireWisconsinhttp://www.cvtc.edu/home.aspx 9
Forsyth Technical Community CollegeWinston SalemNorth Carolinahttp://www.forsythtech.edu/8
Cape Fear Community CollegeWilmingtonNorth Carolinahttp://cfcc.edu/8
South Florida State CollegeAvon ParkFloridahttp://www.southflorida.edu7
Howard UniversityWashingtonD.C.http://www.howard.edu7
State College of Florida-Manatee-SarasotaBradentonFloridahttp://www.scf.edu6
Southeastern Technical CollegeVidaliaGeorgiahttp://www.southeasterntech.edu6
University of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksAlaskahttp://www.uaf.edu5
Raritan Valley Community CollegeBranchburgNew Jerseyhttp://www.raritanval.edu5
Northwest Mississippi Community CollegeSenatobiaMississippihttp://www.northwestms.edu5
Navarro CollegeCorsicanaTexashttp://www.navarrocollege.edu5
Brookdale Community CollegeLincroftNew Jerseyhttp://www.brookdalecc.edu5
Southern Adventist UniversityCollegedaleTennesseehttp://www1.southern.edu/ 4
Metropolitan State UniversitySaint PaulMinnesotahttp://www.metrostate.edu4
University of California-San FranciscoSan FranciscoCaliforniahttp://www.ucsf.edu3
Dodge City Community CollegeDodge CityKansashttp://www.dc3.edu3
Western Nebraska Community CollegeScottsbluffNebraskahttp://www.wncc.edu1
Western Iowa Tech Community CollegeSioux CityIowahttps://www.witcc.edu/index.cfm? 1
Lewis UniversityRomeovilleIllinoishttp://www.lewisu.edu1
Hinds Community CollegeRaymondMississippihttp://www.hindscc.edu1
Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell CampusRoswellNew Mexicohttp://www.roswell.enmu.edu1
2013 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in January, 2015)

Hybrid & online programs

Dental Hygienist Online Program Overview

According to the  American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), there are a number of CODA-accredited programs which offer online and hybrid options for prospective dental hygienists seeking both quality and flexibility in course-completion.

The ADHA reports that the 100% online options are typically for students who already have associate degrees or certificates in dental hygiene and are interested in advancing their professional qualifications with a bachelor of science in dental hygiene (BSDH). These accredited “degree completion” programs, such as one at  University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, offer all classes online including dental hygiene practice management, advanced clinical concepts, and statistical reasoning.

A majority of entry-level dental hygienist programs, however, 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, but virtual coursework can be completed at the convenience of the student.

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

100% Online BSDH Programs at Dental Hygienist Schools

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

The Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene Degree Completion Program (BSDHCP) is 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 courses are offered online under the guidance of Northern Arizona University’s faculty and at the convenience of students. This university also offers exciting summer externship opportunities to serve diverse populations in places such as Guatemala, Peru, and Hawaii.

Loma Linda University

This 18-month BSDH program helps push students’ core competencies to new heights. This 100% 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.

Minnesota State University

This two-year, accredited, online BSDH program is offered by the Department of Dental Hygiene in the College of Allied Health and Nursing at Minnesota State University, Mankato. It’s ideal for students who are working full- or part-time and 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 2-4 general education courses.

SchoolCityStateWebsiteTotal grads (2013)
University of BridgeportBridgeportConnecticuthttp://www.bridgeport.edu103
Eastern Washington UniversityCheneyWashingtonhttp://www.ewu.edu77
St Petersburg CollegeClearwaterFloridahttp://www.spcollege.edu75
Oregon Institute of TechnologyKlamath FallsOregonhttp://www.oit.edu68
Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffArizonahttp://nau.edu/61
Ferris State UniversityBig RapidsMichiganhttp://www.ferris.edu/59
Old Dominion UniversityNorfolkVirginiahttp://www.odu.edu58
MCPHS UniversityBostonMassachusettshttps://www.mcphs.edu/ 52
Pennsylvania College of TechnologyWilliamsportPennsylvaniahttp://www.pct.edu51
Loma Linda UniversityLoma LindaCaliforniahttp://www.llu.edu/index.html49
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San AntonioSan AntonioTexashttp://www.uthscsa.edu44
University of Missouri-Kansas CityKansas CityMissourihttp://www.umkc.edu/43
Missouri Southern State UniversityJoplinMissourihttp://www.mssu.edu38
Ohio State University-Main CampusColumbusOhiohttps://www.osu.edu/ 38
University of Michigan-Ann ArborAnn ArborMichiganhttp://umich.edu/ 38
East Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityTennesseehttp://www.etsu.edu/etsuhome/ 37
Western Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenKentuckyhttp://www.wku.edu33
Texas Woman's UniversityDentonTexashttp://www.twu.edu30
University of Louisiana at MonroeMonroeLouisianahttp://www.ulm.edu29
Idaho State UniversityPocatelloIdahohttp://www.isu.edu/27
University of Mississippi Medical CenterJacksonMississippihttps://www.umc.edu/ 27
SUNY College of Technology at CantonCantonNew Yorkhttp://www.canton.edu20
North Central Missouri CollegeTrentonMissourihttp://www.ncmissouri.edu/9
East Mississippi Community CollegeScoobaMississippihttp://www.eastms.edu/Pages/Home.aspx 3
2013 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in January, 2015)

Core & Elective Courses

Common Courses

In order 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 (ADHA), 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 and 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 which specialize in various 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

Accreditation aims to protect students of dental hygienist programs. Schools must be accredited by a credible, reliable, and independent organization 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 that their program has received proper accreditation.

Primary Accrediting Agency

American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Education (ADA CODA)

The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) has continually developed and administered high standards of accreditation for dental hygiene educational programs. The Commission also offers a list of approved programs organized by state to prospective students.

Career Outlook

Demand, Growth and Analysis

In 2012, it was estimated that there were over 300,000 dental hygienists in the United States. As with many other healthcare careers, it is projected that the demand for dental hygienists is going to increase about 25% from 2012-2022. This is actually faster than the average for other occupations. Ongoing and continuing research involving general health and oral health will most likely increase the demand for dental hygienists. Likewise, industry related careers such as pediatric dental assistants and dental laboratory technicians.

Who’s hiring?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental offices hire the most dental hygienists at 183,380. Next in line are offices of physicians at 2,260. Employment services hired 1,710 dental hygienists. Outpatient care centers and the federal executive branch were at the bottom of the list by hiring a combined percentage of 0.15 of all dental assistants.

Curiously enough, when it came to paying dental hygienists the most money, dental offices fell third on the list with an average hourly wage of $34.55. Other ambulatory health care services came first on the list with an average hourly mean wage of $40.08.

Some of the states that hired the most dental hygienists are Texas, Washington, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Indiana and California. In 2013, the highest wage of dental hygienists was $93,940 and the lowest was $32,530. The highest paying hygienists mostly worked in the District of Columbia.

Career FactsDental 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, January 2015

Licensing & Certification

Licensure

When a dental hygienist becomes licensed, they join the thousands of other health care professionals that have also become licensed. In fact, licensure is the most powerful form of regulation used in the healthcare world today. By state law, those who are licensed are the only people who have met the minimum qualifications required to safely practice their profession.

In other words, it helps to protect the public from unsafe practices and unqualified individuals. Typically, in addition to completion of a degree and testing, most states require hygienists to complete continuing educational courses to keep and renew their licenses.

Licensure is granted by each state. Dental hygienists aim to work in accordance with what is required by individual state acts. In almost every state, the steps to get a license are as follows:

  • Earn a degree from an accredited dental hygiene program

  • Complete the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination successfully

  • Complete a state or regional clinical board examination successfully

Once these steps have been successfully completed, the applicant then contacts the licensing authority of the state where he wishes to practice. Because licensing requirements can vary by state, it is necessary to contact a licensing authority in a given state to receive information on application requirements and procedures.

Official Certification Bodies and Types

Each certification body administers exams in many states. For example, if you wanted to become licensed in Kansas, you would be able to take the CITA, NERB and SRTA. To determine what licensing exam you need to take, contact your state licensing board and they can help you determine what licensing exam to take.