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 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 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 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 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:

  • The University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles offers a bachelor of science (BS) 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 in Salt Lake City offers an economical two-year associate of applied science (AAS) 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.
  • The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in Minneapolis 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.
  • 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) in Las Vegas.
  • Valencia College in Orlando 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 (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 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 :
School City State Website Total grads (2013)
Sinclair Community College Dayton Ohio http://www.sinclair.edu 72
West Coast University-Orange County Anaheim California http://westcoastuniversity.edu/campuses/orange-county.html 64
Minnesota State University-Mankato Mankato Minnesota http://www.mnsu.edu 63
West Liberty University West Liberty West Virginia http://westliberty.edu/ 63
Carrington College-Portland Portland Oregon http://carrington.edu/ 59
Careers Unlimited Orem Utah http://www.ucdh.edu 58
New York University New York New York http://www.nyu.edu 58
University of New England Biddeford Maine http://www.une.edu/ 58
Bluegrass Community and Technical College Lexington Kentucky http://www.bluegrass.kctcs.edu/ 55
Herzing University-Minneapolis Minneapolis Minnesota https://www.herzing.edu/ 54
University of Detroit Mercy Detroit Michigan http://www.udmercy.edu 53
Farmingdale State College Farmingdale New York http://WWW.FARMINGDALE.EDU 52
University of New Haven West Haven Connecticut http://www.newhaven.edu 52
CUNY New York City College of Technology Brooklyn New York http://www.citytech.cuny.edu 50
University of Maryland-Baltimore Baltimore Maryland http://www.umaryland.edu 50
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus Pittsburgh Pennsylvania http://www.pitt.edu 50
Carrington College California-San Jose San Jose California http://carrington.edu/ 49
Miami Dade College Miami Florida http://www.mdc.edu/main/ 48
CUNY Hostos Community College Bronx New York http://www.hostos.cuny.edu 46
Erie Community College Buffalo New York https://www.ecc.edu/ 45
University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center Oklahoma City Oklahoma http://www.ouhsc.edu/ 45
Pueblo Community College Pueblo Colorado http://www.pueblocc.edu 44
Indiana University-South Bend South Bend Indiana https://www.iusb.edu/ 43
Dixie State University Saint George Utah http://www.dixie.edu/ 42
Argosy University-Twin Cities Eagan Minnesota https://www.argosy.edu/locations/twin-cities 41
Concorde Career College-Garden Grove Garden Grove California http://www.concorde.edu 41
Carrington College-Boise Boise Idaho http://carrington.edu/ 40
Concorde Career College-Memphis Memphis Tennessee http://www.concorde.edu 40
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis Indianapolis Indiana http://www.iupui.edu 40
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-New Orleans New Orleans Louisiana http://www.lsuhsc.edu/ 40
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Little Rock Arkansas http://www.uams.edu 39
Remington College-Nashville Campus Nashville Tennessee http://www.remingtoncollege.edu/nashville-tennessee-career-colleges-overview/ 38
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill North Carolina http://www.unc.edu 38
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Knoxville Tennessee http://www.tennessee.edu 37
Bergen Community College Paramus New Jersey http://www.bergen.edu 36
Sanford-Brown Institute-Orlando Orlando Florida http://www.sanfordbrown.edu/orlando 36
University of South Dakota Vermillion South Dakota http://WWW.USD.EDU 36
Wichita State University Wichita Kansas http://www.wichita.edu/thisis/ 36
Madison Area Technical College Madison Wisconsin http://madisoncollege.edu 35
Owens Community College Perrysburg Ohio https://www.owens.edu 35
SUNY Broome Community College Binghamton New York http://WWW.SUNYBROOME.EDU 35
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Houston Texas https://www.uth.edu/ 35
Allegany College of Maryland Cumberland Maryland http://www.allegany.edu 34
Grand Rapids Community College Grand Rapids Michigan http://www.grcc.edu 34
Mount Ida College Newton Massachusetts http://www.mountida.edu 34
Parkland College Champaign Illinois http://www.parkland.edu 34
Sanford-Brown College-Dallas Dallas Texas http://www.sanfordbrown.edu/dallas 34
Taft College Taft California http://www.taftcollege.edu 34
Milwaukee Area Technical College Milwaukee Wisconsin http://www.matc.edu/ 33
Tennessee State University Nashville Tennessee http://www.tnstate.edu 33
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Newark New Jersey http://www.umdnj.edu/ 33
University of Southern California Los Angeles California http://www.usc.edu/ 33
College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas Nevada http://www.csn.edu 32
Community College of Rhode Island Warwick Rhode Island http://www.ccri.edu 32
University of New Mexico-Main Campus Albuquerque New Mexico http://www.unm.edu 32
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond Virginia http://www.vcu.edu/ 32
Coastal Bend College Beeville Texas http://www.coastalbend.edu 31
Diablo Valley College Pleasant Hill California http://www.dvc.edu 31
Northern Virginia Community College Annandale Virginia http://www.nvcc.edu 31
Pacific University Forest Grove Oregon http://www.pacificu.edu 31
San Joaquin Valley College-Visalia Visalia California http://www.sjvc.edu 31
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Carbondale Illinois http://siu.edu/ 31
Hudson Valley Community College Troy New York https://www.hvcc.edu/ 30
Indiana University-Northwest Gary Indiana http://www.iun.edu 30
Lake Washington Institute of Technology Kirkland Washington http://www.lwtech.edu 30
Middlesex Community College Bedford Massachusetts https://www.middlesex.mass.edu/ 30
Northampton County Area Community College Bethlehem Pennsylvania http://www.northampton.edu 30
Weber State University Ogden Utah http://www.weber.edu 30
Clayton State University Morrow Georgia http://www.clayton.edu 29
Greenville Technical College Greenville South Carolina http://www.gvltec.edu/index.aspx 29
Monroe Community College Rochester New York http://www.monroecc.edu/ 29
NHTI-Concord's Community College Concord New Hampshire https://www.nhti.edu/ 29
Southwestern College Chula Vista California http://www.swccd.edu/ 29
The Community College of Baltimore County Baltimore Maryland http://www.ccbcmd.edu 29
University of Louisville Louisville Kentucky http://louisville.edu/ 29
Amarillo College Amarillo Texas https://www.actx.edu/ 28
George C Wallace State Community College-Hanceville Hanceville Alabama http://www.wallacestate.edu 28
Northcentral Technical College Wausau Wisconsin http://www.ntc.edu 28
Texas A & M University Health Science Center Bryan Texas http://tamhsc.edu/ 28
Texas State Technical College-Harlingen Harlingen Texas http://www.tstc.edu/ 28
University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash College Blue Ash Ohio http://www.ucblueash.edu/ 28
Carrington College California-Sacramento Sacramento California http://carrington.edu/ 27
Central Georgia Technical College Warner Robins Georgia http://www.centralgatech.edu 27
College of DuPage Glen Ellyn Illinois http://www.cod.edu 27
Colorado Northwestern Community College Rangely Colorado http://www.cncc.edu 27
Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville North Carolina http://www.faytechcc.edu 27
Middlesex County College Edison New Jersey http://www.middlesexcc.edu 27
Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis Indiana http://www.ivytech.edu 26
Pima Medical Institute-Albuquerque Albuquerque New Mexico http://pmi.edu 26
Saint Louis Community College Saint Louis Missouri http://www.stlcc.edu 26
Tallahassee Community College Tallahassee Florida https://www.tcc.fl.edu/Pages/default.aspx 26
University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage Alaska http://www.uaa.alaska.edu 26
Wytheville Community College Wytheville Virginia http://www.wcc.vccs.edu 26
Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte North Carolina http://www.cpcc.edu 25
Clark College Vancouver Washington http://www.clark.edu 25
Concorde Career College-San Bernardino San Bernardino California http://www.concorde.edu 25
Del Mar College Corpus Christi Texas http://www.delmar.edu 25
Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville Florida http://www.fscj.edu 25
Fresno City College Fresno California http://www.fresnocitycollege.edu 25
Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne Fort Wayne Indiana http://www.ipfw.edu 25
Johnson County Community College Overland Park Kansas http://www.jccc.edu 25
Lake Land College Mattoon Illinois http://www.lakeland.cc.il.us 25
Lamar Institute of Technology Beaumont Texas http://www.lit.edu 25
Prairie State College Chicago Heights Illinois http://prairiestate.edu/ 25
San Joaquin Valley College-Ontario Ontario California http://www.sjvc.edu/ 25
Shoreline Community College Shoreline Washington http://www.shoreline.edu 25
Tunxis Community College Farmington Connecticut http://www.tunxis.edu 25
University of Southern Indiana Evansville Indiana http://www.usi.edu 25
Vermont Technical College Randolph Center Vermont http://www.vtc.edu 25
Cerritos College Norwalk California http://www.cerritos.edu 24
Community College of Denver Denver Colorado https://www.ccd.edu/ 24
Concorde Career Colleges Kansas City Missouri http://www.concorde.edu 24
Georgia Regents University Augusta Georgia http://www.gru.edu 24
Harcum College Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania http://www.harcum.edu/s/1044/edu/start.aspx 24
Lane Community College Eugene Oregon https://www.lanecc.edu/ 24
University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha Nebraska http://www.unmc.edu 24
Baker College of Auburn Hills Auburn Hills Michigan http://www.baker.edu 23
Delaware Technical Community College-Stanton/Wilmington Wilmington Delaware https://www.dtcc.edu/our-campuses/wilmington 23
Georgia Perimeter College Decatur Georgia http://www.gpc.edu 23
Lansing Community College Lansing Michigan http://www.lcc.edu 23
Pensacola State College Pensacola Florida http://www.pensacolastate.edu 23
Sheridan College Sheridan Wyoming http://www.sheridan.edu/site/ 23
Trident Technical College Charleston South Carolina http://www.tridenttech.edu 23
Utah Valley University Orem Utah http://www.uvu.edu 23
Baltimore City Community College Baltimore Maryland http://www.bccc.edu/site/default.aspx?PageID=1 22
Burlington County College Pemberton New Jersey http://www.rcbc.edu/dental 22
Cape Cod Community College West Barnstable Massachusetts http://www.capecod.edu 22
Foothill College Los Altos Hills California http://www.foothill.edu 22
Fortis College-Salt Lake City Salt Lake City Utah https://www.fortis.edu/ 22
Kalamazoo Valley Community College Kalamazoo Michigan https://www.kvcc.edu/ 22
Missouri College Brentwood Missouri http://www.missouricollege.edu/ 22
Mott Community College Flint Michigan http://www.mcc.edu 22
North Dakota State College of Science Wahpeton North Dakota https://www.ndscs.edu/ 22
Rock Valley College Rockford Illinois http://www.rockvalleycollege.edu 22
Santa Rosa Junior College Santa Rosa California http://www.santarosa.edu 22
Siena Heights University Adrian Michigan http://www.sienaheights.edu 22
University of Maine at Augusta Augusta Maine http://www.uma.edu/ 22
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis Minnesota http://twin-cities.umn.edu/ 22
Baker College of Port Huron Port Huron Michigan http://www.baker.edu/ 21
Carrington College-Mesa Mesa Arizona http://carrington.edu/ 21
Community College of Philadelphia Philadelphia Pennsylvania http://www.ccp.edu 21
Concorde Career College-Aurora Aurora Colorado http://www.concorde.edu 21
Concorde Career Institute-Dallas Dallas Texas http://www.concorde.edu 21
Concorde Career Institute-San Antonio San Antonio Texas http://www.concorde.edu 21
Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny Iowa https://www.dmacc.edu/Pages/welcome.aspx 21
Lake Superior College Duluth Minnesota http://www.lsc.edu 21
Lincoln College of New England-Southington Southington Connecticut http://www.lincolncollegene.edu 21
Oakland Community College Bloomfield Hills Michigan https://www.oaklandcc.edu/ 21
Pima Community College Tucson Arizona https://www.pima.edu/ 21
Santa Fe College Gainesville Florida http://www.sfcollege.edu 21
Tarrant County College District Fort Worth Texas http://www.tccd.edu 21
West Virginia University Morgantown West Virginia http://www.wvu.edu/ 21
Guilford Technical Community College Jamestown North Carolina http://home.gtcc.edu/ 20
Harper College Palatine Illinois http://www.harpercollege.edu 20
Lakeland Community College Kirtland Ohio http://www.lakelandcc.edu 20
Normandale Community College Bloomington Minnesota http://www.normandale.edu 20
Northeast Mississippi Community College Booneville Mississippi http://www.nemcc.edu 20
Palm Beach State College Lake Worth Florida http://www.palmbeachstate.edu/ 20
University of Wyoming Laramie Wyoming http://www.uwyo.edu 20
Virginia Western Community College Roanoke Virginia http://virginiawestern.edu/ 20
Wayne Community College Goldsboro North Carolina http://www.waynecc.edu 20
Luzerne County Community College Nanticoke Pennsylvania http://www.luzerne.edu/default.jsp 19
Mesa Community College Mesa Arizona http://www.mesacc.edu 19
Phoenix College Phoenix Arizona http://www.phoenixcollege.edu 19
Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom Lakewood Washington http://www.pierce.ctc.edu 19
Portland Community College Portland Oregon http://www.pcc.edu 19
Seattle Central College Seattle Washington http://www.seattlecentral.edu 19
Shawnee State University Portsmouth Ohio http://WWW.SHAWNEE.EDU 19
Stark State College North Canton Ohio http://www.starkstate.edu 19
Valencia College Orlando Florida http://valenciacollege.edu 19
West Los Angeles College Culver City California http://www.wlac.edu 19
Bristol Community College Fall River Massachusetts http://bristolcc.edu/ 18
Cabrillo College Aptos California http://www.cabrillo.edu 18
Camden County College Blackwood New Jersey http://www.camdencc.edu 18
Chattanooga State Community College Chattanooga Tennessee https://www.chattanoogastate.edu/ 18
Coastal Carolina Community College Jacksonville North Carolina http://www.coastalcarolina.edu/ 18
Hawkeye Community College Waterloo Iowa http://www.hawkeyecollege.edu 18
James A Rhodes State College Lima Ohio http://www.rhodesstate.edu 18
Kellogg Community College Battle Creek Michigan http://www.kellogg.edu 18
Midlands Technical College West Columbia South Carolina http://www.midlandstech.edu 18
Midwestern State University Wichita Falls Texas http://www.mwsu.edu 18
Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls Minnesota http://www.minnesota.edu 18
Mt Hood Community College Gresham Oregon http://www.mhcc.edu 18
Sacramento City College Sacramento California http://www.scc.losrios.edu/ 18
Tyler Junior College Tyler Texas http://WWW.TJC.EDU 18
Wharton County Junior College Wharton Texas http://www.wcjc.edu 18
Youngstown State University Youngstown Ohio http://www.ysu.edu 18
College of Lake County Grayslake Illinois http://WWW.CLCILLINOIS.EDU 17
Fortis College-Smyrna Smyrna Georgia https://www.fortis.edu/ 17
Fortis Institute-Erie Erie Pennsylvania https://www.fortis.edu/ 17
Halifax Community College Weldon North Carolina http://www.halifaxcc.edu 17
Harrisburg Area Community College-Harrisburg Harrisburg Pennsylvania http://www.hacc.edu 17
Houston Community College Houston Texas http://www.hccs.edu 17
John A Logan College Carterville Illinois http://www.jalc.edu 17
Kirkwood Community College Cedar Rapids Iowa http://www.kirkwood.edu 17
Laramie County Community College Cheyenne Wyoming http://www.lccc.wy.edu 17
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Green Bay Wisconsin https://www.nwtc.edu/ 17
Oxnard College Oxnard California http://www.oxnardcollege.edu 17
Yakima Valley Community College Yakima Washington http://www.yvcc.edu/Pages/default.aspx 17
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College Asheville North Carolina https://www.abtech.edu/ 16
Bridgemont Community and Technical College Montgomery West Virginia http://www.bridgevalley.edu/dental-hygiene 16
Carl Sandburg College Galesburg Illinois http://www.sandburg.edu 16
Collin County Community College District McKinney Texas http://www.collin.edu 16
Cypress College Cypress California http://www.cypresscollege.edu 16
Westmoreland County Community College Youngwood Pennsylvania https://wccc.edu/ 16
Broward College Fort Lauderdale Florida http://www.broward.edu/Pages/home.aspx 15
Columbus State Community College Columbus Ohio http://www.cscc.edu/ 15
Fortis College-Landover Landover Maryland https://www.fortis.edu/ 15
Fox Valley Technical College Appleton Wisconsin http://www.fvtc.edu 15
Horry-Georgetown Technical College Conway South Carolina http://www.hgtc.edu 15
Illinois Central College East Peoria Illinois http://icc.edu/ 15
Iowa Western Community College Council Bluffs Iowa http://www.iwcc.edu/ 15
Lewis and Clark Community College Godfrey Illinois http://www.lc.edu 15
Lone Star College System The Woodlands Texas http://www.lonestar.edu 15
Lorain County Community College Elyria Ohio http://www.lorainccc.edu 15
Pearl River Community College Poplarville Mississippi http://www.prcc.edu 15
Rochester Community and Technical College Rochester Minnesota http://www.rctc.edu/ 15
Savannah Technical College Savannah Georgia http://www.savannahtech.edu 15
Springfield Technical Community College Springfield Massachusetts http://www.stcc.edu 15
University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Fort Smith Arkansas http://uafs.edu/ 15
Wayne County Community College District Detroit Michigan http://www.wcccd.edu 15
West Kentucky Community and Technical College Paducah Kentucky http://www.westkentucky.kctcs.edu 15
Austin Community College District Austin Texas http://www.austincc.edu 14
Catawba Valley Community College Hickory North Carolina http://www.cvcc.edu/index.php 14
Columbus Technical College Columbus Georgia http://www.columbustech.edu/ 14
Darton State College Albany Georgia http://www.darton.edu 14
Delta College University Center Michigan http://www.delta.edu/ 14
El Paso Community College El Paso Texas http://www.epcc.edu/_layouts/temp/index.html 14
Flint Hills Technical College Emporia Kansas https://www.fhtc.edu/web/site/main 14
Great Falls College Montana State University Great Falls Montana http://www.gfcmsu.edu 14
Lanier Technical College Oakwood Georgia http://www.laniertech.edu/default2.aspx 14
Meridian Community College Meridian Mississippi http://www.meridiancc.edu 14
Mohave Community College Kingman Arizona http://www.mohave.edu 14
Pasadena City College Pasadena California http://www.pasadena.edu 14
Quinsigamond Community College Worcester Massachusetts http://www.qcc.edu 14
University of Hawaii at Manoa Honolulu Hawaii http://manoa.hawaii.edu 14
University of North Georgia Dahlonega Georgia http://ung.edu/ 14
Athens Technical College Athens Georgia http://www.athenstech.edu/ 13
Blinn College Brenham Texas http://www.blinn.edu 13
Central Community College Grand Island Nebraska http://www.cccneb.edu/Home/ 13
Century College White Bear Lake Minnesota http://www.century.edu 13
Chabot College Hayward California http://www.chabotcollege.edu 13
Columbia Basin College Pasco Washington http://www.columbiabasin.edu 13
Essex County College Newark New Jersey http://www.essex.edu 13
Mississippi Delta Community College Moorhead Mississippi http://www.msdelta.edu 13
Montgomery County Community College Blue Bell Pennsylvania http://www.mc3.edu 13
Orange County Community College Middletown New York http://www.sunyorange.edu/ 13
Ozarks Technical Community College Springfield Missouri http://www.otc.edu 13
Salt Lake Community College Salt Lake City Utah http://www.slcc.edu 13
Tulsa Community College Tulsa Oklahoma http://www.tulsacc.edu 13
University of the Pacific Stockton California http://www.pacific.edu 13
Waukesha County Technical College Pewaukee Wisconsin http://www.wctc.edu 13
Big Sandy Community and Technical College Prestonsburg Kentucky http://www.bigsandy.kctcs.edu 12
City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King College Chicago Illinois http://www.ccc.edu/colleges/kennedy/pages/default.aspx 12
Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland Ohio http://www.tri-c.edu 12
Daytona State College Daytona Beach Florida http://www.daytonastate.edu/ 12
Georgia Highlands College Rome Georgia http://www.highlands.edu 12
Howard College Big Spring Texas http://www.howardcollege.edu 12
Mount Wachusett Community College Gardner Massachusetts http://MWCC.EDU 12
New Mexico State University-Dona Ana Las Cruces New Mexico http://dacc.nmsu.edu/dhyg/ 12
Northeast Texas Community College Mount Pleasant Texas http://www.ntcc.edu 12
Roane State Community College Harriman Tennessee http://www.roanestate.edu 12
Shasta College Redding California http://www.shastacollege.edu/Pages/default.aspx 12
St Cloud Technical and Community College Saint Cloud Minnesota http://www.sctcc.edu 12
Florence-Darlington Technical College Florence South Carolina http://WWW.FDTC.EDU 11
Fortis Institute-Scranton Scranton Pennsylvania https://www.fortis.edu/ 11
Hillsborough Community College Tampa Florida http://www.hccfl.edu 11
Indian River State College Fort Pierce Florida http://www.irsc.edu 11
Manor College Jenkintown Pennsylvania http://www.manor.edu 11
Pasco-Hernando Community College New Port Richey Florida http://phsc.edu/programs 11
Rose State College Midwest City Oklahoma https://www.rose.edu/ 11
Wake Technical Community College Raleigh North Carolina http://www.waketech.edu/ 11
West Georgia Technical College Waco Georgia http://www.westgatech.edu 11
York Technical College Rock Hill South Carolina http://www.yorktech.edu 11
Central Carolina Community College Sanford North Carolina http://www.cccc.edu 11
College of Southern Idaho Twin Falls Idaho http://www.csi.edu 10
San Juan College Farmington New Mexico http://www.sanjuancollege.edu/pages/1.asp 10
State Fair Community College Sedalia Missouri http://www.sfccmo.edu/pages/1.asp 10
Thomas Nelson Community College Hampton Virginia http://tncc.edu/ 10
University of Hawaii Maui College Kahului Hawaii http://maui.hawaii.edu 10
Chippewa Valley Technical College Eau Claire Wisconsin http://www.cvtc.edu/home.aspx 9
Eastern Florida State College Cocoa Florida http://www.easternflorida.edu 9
Henderson Community College Henderson Kentucky http://www.henderson.kctcs.edu/ 9
Hillyard Technical Center Saint Joseph Missouri http://www.sjsd.k12.mo.us/Domain/16 9
Hiwassee College Madisonville Tennessee http://hiwassee.edu/ 9
Iowa Central Community College Fort Dodge Iowa http://www.iowacentral.edu 9
Manhattan Area Technical College Manhattan Kansas http://www.manhattantech.edu 9
Moreno Valley College Moreno Valley California http://www.mvc.edu/ 9
Southern University at Shreveport Shreveport Louisiana http://www.susla.edu 9
Temple College Temple Texas http://templejc.edu/ 9
Cape Fear Community College Wilmington North Carolina http://cfcc.edu/ 8
Forsyth Technical Community College Winston Salem North Carolina http://www.forsythtech.edu/ 8
Howard University Washington D.C. http://www.howard.edu 7
South Florida State College Avon Park Florida http://www.southflorida.edu 7
Southeastern Technical College Vidalia Georgia http://www.southeasterntech.edu 6
State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota Bradenton Florida http://www.scf.edu 6
Brookdale Community College Lincroft New Jersey http://www.brookdalecc.edu 5
Navarro College Corsicana Texas http://www.navarrocollege.edu 5
Northwest Mississippi Community College Senatobia Mississippi http://www.northwestms.edu 5
Raritan Valley Community College Branchburg New Jersey http://www.raritanval.edu 5
University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks Alaska http://www.uaf.edu 5
Metropolitan State University Saint Paul Minnesota http://www.metrostate.edu 4
Southern Adventist University Collegedale Tennessee http://www1.southern.edu/ 4
Dodge City Community College Dodge City Kansas http://www.dc3.edu 3
University of California-San Francisco San Francisco California http://www.ucsf.edu 3
Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Campus Roswell New Mexico http://www.roswell.enmu.edu 1
Hinds Community College Raymond Mississippi http://www.hindscc.edu 1
Lewis University Romeoville Illinois http://www.lewisu.edu 1
Western Iowa Tech Community College Sioux City Iowa https://www.witcc.edu/index.cfm? 1
Western Nebraska Community College Scottsbluff Nebraska http://www.wncc.edu 1
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 percent 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 percent 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 offers a bachelor of science in dental hygiene degree completion program (BSDHCP) that 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 has an 18-month BSDH program 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.
  • Minnesota State University offers a 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.
School City State Website Total grads (2013)
University of Bridgeport Bridgeport Connecticut http://www.bridgeport.edu 103
Eastern Washington University Cheney Washington http://www.ewu.edu 77
St Petersburg College Clearwater Florida http://www.spcollege.edu 75
Oregon Institute of Technology Klamath Falls Oregon http://www.oit.edu 68
Northern Arizona University Flagstaff Arizona http://nau.edu/ 61
Ferris State University Big Rapids Michigan http://www.ferris.edu/ 59
Old Dominion University Norfolk Virginia http://www.odu.edu 58
MCPHS University Boston Massachusetts https://www.mcphs.edu/ 52
Pennsylvania College of Technology Williamsport Pennsylvania http://www.pct.edu 51
Loma Linda University Loma Linda California http://www.llu.edu/index.html 49
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio San Antonio Texas http://www.uthscsa.edu 44
University of Missouri-Kansas City Kansas City Missouri http://www.umkc.edu/ 43
Missouri Southern State University Joplin Missouri http://www.mssu.edu 38
Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus Ohio https://www.osu.edu/ 38
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Michigan http://umich.edu/ 38
East Tennessee State University Johnson City Tennessee http://www.etsu.edu/etsuhome/ 37
Western Kentucky University Bowling Green Kentucky http://www.wku.edu 33
Texas Woman's University Denton Texas http://www.twu.edu 30
University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe Louisiana http://www.ulm.edu 29
Idaho State University Pocatello Idaho http://www.isu.edu/ 27
University of Mississippi Medical Center Jackson Mississippi https://www.umc.edu/ 27
SUNY College of Technology at Canton Canton New York http://www.canton.edu 20
North Central Missouri College Trenton Missouri http://www.ncmissouri.edu/ 9
East Mississippi Community College Scooba Mississippi http://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.

Programmatic Accreditation

The American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Education (ADA CODA) has continually developed and administered high standards of accreditation 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 in order to be eligible for state licensure.

Institutional Accreditation

In addition to programmatic accreditation, an institution should have earned accreditation for its body of programs. 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) while a two-year program may have earned accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). As with programmatic accreditation, institutional accreditation takes into account faculty, facilities, and curricula to determine the viability of an institution as a whole in its educational mission.

Career Outlook

Demand, Growth and Analysis

In 2017, it was estimated that there were over 211,600 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 by about 20 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations. Ongoing and continuing research involving general health and oral health will most likely increase the demand for dental hygienists.

Who is Hiring?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental offices hire by far the most dental hygienists at 200,710. Next in line are employment services at 2,580 while physicians’ offices hired 1,940 dental hygienists. Outpatient care centers and the federal executive branch were at the bottom of the list by hiring a combined percentage of 0.20 of all dental hygienists.

Curiously enough, when it came to paying dental hygienists the most money, dental offices fell second on the list with an average hourly wage of $36.04. Home health care services came first on the list with an average hourly mean wage of $42.31.

Some of the states that hired the most dental hygienists are California, Texas, New York, Florida and Michigan. In 2017, the highest paid dental hygienists were able to make $101,330 per year with the lowest paid earning $51,180.

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, June 2018

Licensing & Certification

Licensure

After graduating from an accredited dental hygienist program, individuals becomes eligible for professional licensure. Licenses are granted by state governments and therefore requirements vary from state to state so prospective 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 and/or state clinical board exam
  • Completion of continuing education credits (to maintain licensure)

Once these steps have been successfully completed, the applicant then contacts the licensing authority of the state where he or she wishes to practice and submits their required documentation.

Official Certification Bodies and Types

There are a number of certifying bodies for the dental hygienist profession that may be relevant for those entering the field. The proper certifying body will depend on the geographic location of the indivudal becoming licensed.

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