Dental Hygienist Schools
To become licensed and work as a dental hygienist requires graduation from a dental hygiene program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. There are an estimated 270 dental hygienist schools offered through community colleges, universities and four year colleges, dental schools, technical institutes, and other facilities. Completion of a dental hygienist education program can result in a certificate, associate’s degree, baccalaureate degree, or even a master’s degree.
The question many people who are interested in this career ask is ‘how long is dental hygienist school’ and the answer to that depends on the type of degree. Many dental hygienist programs, mainly those offered through community and junior colleges can be completed in two years at full time and students receive a certificate or associate’s degree. The bachelor’s degree track for dental hygienist usually takes four years and the master’s degree track usually requires the completion of about 35 semester hours with a thesis which can take anywhere from two to three additional years.
Program Admission and Education Requirements
Dental hygienist schools all have their own requirements for applicants and the majority of schools have a limited number of students accepted per class year. USC gets around 250 applications every year and accepts 45 students into its class and the University of Southern Indiana receives around 135 and accepts 24 students. For entry level programs that offer associate’s degrees or bachelor’s degrees, applicants will need a high school diploma or GED, have transcripts transferred over, and may need to pass some college tests. Some dental hygienist schools set GPA minimums for general education courses and science courses as well. Dental hygienist schools may also require prerequisite work in courses like chemistry, physiology, biology, and psychology to be finished before the time of application or may allow students to finish these in the program but no allowing them to take major course requirements until the prerequisite courses are completed.
Students in both types of programs go through didactic coursework in basic sciences, dental sciences courses (oral pathology, periodontology, dental anatomy), and courses specific to dental hygiene. Dental hygienist bachelor degree programs generally offer more courses on dental hygiene and some have specialization tracks. Students in both programs also have laboratory work and clinical training through various settings connected with each dental hygienist school. Courses in public health, research, and administration are also offered through many schools to expose students to other opportunities. Completion of a dental hygiene program also varies by school. Comparing a dental hygienist associate’s degree program, Amarillo College, to a bachelor’s program, Wichita State University, the major course requirements for the associate’s degree is 41 semester hours while the major course requirements for the bachelor’s degree is 59 semester hours.
For the master’s program in dental hygiene, requirements are stricter and a degree in dental hygiene, a bachelor’s degree, GRE scores, and GPA minimums on undergraduate work are all used. A master’s degree in dental hygiene prepares students for advanced job options in fields like teaching, research, public health, business administration, marketing, and other areas where advanced training is needed. There are about 20 dental hygienist schools that offer a master’s degree and a few offer online classes. Courses required are generally graduate level on topics related to specialization areas and a thesis is required for completion of the degree. Students may also be asked to take on some teaching responsibilities.
Dental Hygienist School Costs
The cost of dental hygienist school differs on type of degree offered and by each particular school. Certificate and associate’s degrees are lower in cost to complete than bachelor’s or master’s degrees. According to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, the estimated cost of tuition and fees for an associate’s degree was $30,155. Taking a look at example schools, for Amarillo College the estimated cost of tuition for residents was $5,454 and for non-residents of the state of Texas it was $17,514. The estimated tuition for Indiana University School of Dentistry was $9,230.40 for residents and $43,639.80 for non-residents for 2008-2009. According to the American Dental Association 2008 survey the average estimated total cost of tuition and fees was $40,207. An example is USC which has an estimated tuition at $93,240 for the two years in the program. The estimated tuition for the 2 years at Wichita State University was $10,472.50 for residents and $26,154.70. According to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association for 2009 the average estimated total cost of tuition and fees for a master’s degree was $23,133. The estimated tuition at the University of Maryland was $17,945 for the master’s program.