Those seeking to become dental hygienists must set their sights on taking and passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. To pass this exam, students must complete educational requirements and training at a dental hygienist school before taking the exam. There are educational programs specific to this career at schools across the country.
Some schools specialize in preparing dental hygienists and dental assistants with accelerated programs.
Top 5 Dental Hygienist Schools
|1||University of Michigan||Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|2||New York University||New York City, New York|
|3||University of Southern California||Los Angeles, California|
|4||Ohio State University||Columbus, Ohio|
|5||Texas A&M||College Station, Texas|
Most programs take a full-time enrollment of two years with hours of experience inside a clinic and a dental office.
Most graduates of these programs will earn an associate degree in dental hygiene. Upon graduation, students can then take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination to become licensed dental hygienists.
Once graduates have a license, they are qualified to work in a dental office as a hygienist.
Some universities and dental schools offer a dental hygienist program at the Bachelor’s degree level and even master’s degree level. These dental hygienist programs take four years to complete. These more advanced degrees allow graduates to be employed as dental hygiene educators and participate in research. Public health or community practice opportunities are available for those with more advanced degrees.
Those desiring to enter a dental hygiene career can take high school courses that will benefit them greatly and, in some cases, decrease the courses they need to take to earn their associate degree. Those courses are chemistry, biology, mathematics, and psychology. Admissions to a dental hygiene school can vary depending on the school students are applying for. Be sure to know the requirements and prerequisites before applying; prospective students can contact the school they desire to apply to and request information on the requirements. Some programs require students to complete one year of college before applying, while others require two years before enrolling in the dental hygienist program.
Coupled with academic education, dental hygienist schools provide the clinical education and skills necessary to be a competent hygienist. These skills are taught and then practiced through faculty-supervised experiences with patients at a dental clinic. Many programs build off a liberal arts foundation and then concentrate on courses in dental hygiene. Students should be prepared for anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, and clinical science courses specific to dental hygiene.
Graduates of Dental Hygiene School can enter employment upon licensure or advance their education with programs in public health, business administration, or education.
The average salary for a full-time dental hygienist is between $50k to $90K per year, depending on their education, experience, and location.
Below are some of the top-ranked Dental hygienist schools across the country!
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan School of Dentistry offers a 2-year dental hygiene program to earn a Bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. With the increased demand for educated and qualified dental hygienists, the University of Michigan provides an educational base of the social, behavioral, and biological sciences. Graduates are prepared to not only practice as competent hygienists but also as researchers, consumer advocates, and administrators.
New York University
The Dental Hygiene programs at New York University provide an excellent academic foundation as well as strong clinical experience coupled with real-life opportunities to practice skills. They participate in hands-on learning experiences of working as a member of a healthcare team while promoting oral health as an individual. NYU is currently offering an accelerated 17-month dental hygiene program for qualifying students.
University of Southern California
The program of dental hygiene at the University of Southern California enables students to earn a bachelor of science degree in dental hygiene. Students complete coursework in the sciences, general education as well as participating in clinical experiences where they gain necessary skills for hygienists. The focus of this program is health promotion and disease prevention. Graduates have opportunities to advance their education and careers through a unique master’s program that delves into research and education.
Ohio State University
Ohio State University offers a bachelor’s degree of science in dental hygiene, this particular program takes four years for students to complete. Another accelerated bachelor program is also offered for students who are licensed dental hygienists who graduated from an accredited associate degree program. The traditional bachelor program consists of two years of liberal arts education and then two years of professional education for the major or dental hygienist.
Texas A&M offers a bachelor’s degree from the Caruth School of Dental Hygiene that meets the requirements for them to pass the licensure exam and become a licensed dental hygienist. A student must take all general prerequisite courses before enrolling in the dental hygiene program. Once accepted in the program students will take courses specific to dental hygiene and participate in clinical experiences where they gain the necessary skills to practice as a dental hygienist.
University of Pittsburgh
The dental hygiene programs offered at the University of Pittsburgh prepare students to become licensed, professional dental hygienists. Students can enroll in an associate program or a bachelor’s degree program.
Both allow students to take the national dental hygiene exam and become licensed to work as a dental hygienist.
The multidisciplinary educational experience students have prepared them for careers in private practice, research, public health or community settings.
University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota is dedicated to creating a learning environment that fosters collaboration, life-long learning, and leadership in the oral healthcare industry. Students can enroll in an accelerated three-year dental hygiene program that allows them to earn their bachelor’s degree and qualify to take the national dental hygienist licensure exam and become licensed to work in the private or public sector of oral health. The University of Minnesota is committed to excellence in oral hygiene education, leadership and practice.
University of Washington
Those seeking to become licensed dental hygienists can earn their bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene at The University of Washington. The program requires two years of general education and then courses specific to dental hygiene. Once these courses are complete students can take the licensure exam, upon passing the exam graduates can practice at a private office or seek to advance their degree at the master’s degree level that is also offered at the University of Washington.
University of North Carolina
The University of North Carolina offers a comprehensive dental hygiene program that enables students to earn a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. Students learn to promote oral health as well as prevent dental disease. They also learn to assume leadership roles as a member of a healthcare team while they participate in the development, implementation, and evaluation of public health programs. Students need to meet the pre-requisite requirements before enrolling in the dental hygiene program.
University of Missouri
The University of Missouri-Kansas City offers a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. Students need to complete the required two years of general education courses before enrolling in the dental hygiene program and then take required courses before they are eligible to take the national licensing exam to become a dental hygienist. Upon completing these requirements and passing the licensing exam graduates can be employed as entry-level dental hygienists in the private or public sector.
North Dakota State College of Science
North Dakota State College of Science offers an associate degree in dental hygiene that allows students to take the national dental hygiene exam and be employed as a licensed dental hygienist upon passing and graduating. The dental hygiene program consists of academic classroom curriculum as well as laboratory and clinical experiences that help students gain the necessary skill set needed to be a competent dental hygienist.
University of South Dakota
As more scientific evidence connects oral health with overall health, the University of South Dakota prepares students to promote oral health through the accredited dental hygiene program.
Students can earn their bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene and qualify to become licensed hygienists. The curriculum includes coursework, laboratory experience as well as outreach clinical hours that fully prepares students to be employed as dental hygienists.
Oregon Institute of Technology
With a long history of innovative educational methods, the Oregon Institute of Technology offers a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene that draws upon those innovative methods to better educate students.
Students participate in extensive hands-on clinical experiences as well as have opportunities for international externships. Graduates finish the program with enough hours to not only qualify for licensing but to have an extended practice permit as well.
The dental hygiene program at Taft College is comprehensive as well as personal, in educating students in excellence. Students participate in a rigorous curriculum that promotes technical excellence and focuses on providing personal care to individual patients. Upon completion of the dental hygiene program, students are prepared to take the state and national licensing exams to become dental hygienists, they will have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to pass.
Farmingdale State College
Farmingdale State College offers both an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. Students of each will receive the academic requirements needed to certify as a licensed dental hygienist, the bachelor degree however allows for a broader spectrum as a dental hygienist. Those holding a bachelor’s degree are qualified to administer local infiltration anesthesia. The BS route prepared students for leadership in emerging oral healthcare roles.
Ferris State University
As one of the largest dental hygiene programs in the country, Ferris State University provides a unique learning experience for students studying dental hygiene. Ferris has a large state of the art hygiene clinic where students learn the skills they need. Students then refine their skills and treat patients during clinical experiences in the community. Those seeking a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene can complete the coursework online and earn their bachelor’s degree.
Southern Adventist University
The Southern Adventist University offer pre-licensure courses for students seeking to become dental hygienists. Currently, the academic and skills set taught at Southern Adventist will prepare students to earn their associate degree of science in dental hygiene. Upon graduating, students can take the state and national dental hygiene exams for licensure. They will qualify for entry-level dental hygiene employment in the private sector.
University of Southern Indiana
The dental hygiene program at the University of Southern Indiana prepares students to work in top dental hygiene positions. Those enrolled in the program participate in a rigorous curriculum and learn skills in a state-of-the-art dental hygiene clinic located on campus. Students earn a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene while learning in small classes form expert faculty. Students will have opportunities to perfect their skills in the on-campus clinic with patients of all ages.
University of New Haven
The program at The University of New Haven provides students with the knowledge of oral health through classroom instruction. Hands-on experience gives the students the skills they need to practice as a competent and professional dental hygienist. The program allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree of science in dental hygiene. Upon completion of the program, students can take the state and national exams to become licensed to practice.
Western Kentucky University
Western Kentucky University offers a few different tracks for students aspiring to become licensed dental hygienists with a degree. Students can enroll in one of the following programs; a two-year associate degree-granting dental hygiene program, a four-year bachelor’s degree dental hygiene program, or a four-year bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in clinical teaching program.
The classes are small and capped at 28 students per cohort.
Lanier Technical College
At Lanier Technical College students learn the academic, technical and professional requirements to become a confident dental hygienist. The program offered at Lanier is a two-year associate degree in dental hygiene. Students will have both the academic base as well as the technical skills learned in clinics and hands-on experience. Upon completion of this program, students are eligible to take the state and national exams to become a licensed dental hygienist.
Flint Hills Technical College
The dental hygiene program at Flint Hills Technical College is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and provides students with the ability to earn an associate degree in dental hygiene.
The program contains technical and academic general education courses that prepare students to take both the state and national licensing exam needed to be licensed as a dental hygienist.
Students also learn hygiene skills necessary to be a competent oral hygienist.
Utah Valley University
With a 99% board pass rate, graduates of Utah Valley University are always in high demand. The faculty of the dental hygiene program is highly qualified and has developed a personalized instruction program for students.
Currently, there are two dental hygiene programs available, a traditional associate degree that is on campus and an online bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. Each program takes two-years for students to complete.
University of Alaska Anchorage
Aspiring dental hygienists have access to a complete program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. There are currently two tracks students can enroll it, a traditional two-year associate degree-granting track that enables them to take both the state and national exams as well as a bachelor’s degree track. All clinical hours will be completed at the dental clinic on campus.
Goodwin College has a premier dental hygiene program that prepares students to be very competent and confident as a professional oral hygienist. The program is centered on evidence-based learning and hands-on technical skills learned in a state-of-the-art dental lab that is on campus. The curriculum is offered in both traditional on-campus and hybrid formats to meet student’s needs. Students also have opportunities to practice in a dental clinic.
Pennsylvania College of Technology
Pennsylvania College of Technology prepares students of dental hygiene extensively as they have opportunities to serve over 2,500 patients per year. Currently, Pennsylvania College has three options for those pursuing a career in dental hygiene. Students can earn an associate degree through a traditional on-campus program that prepares them for both the state and national exams. Those desiring to advance their education and career can enroll in a bachelor’s degree program, there is a traditional on-campus program as well as an online program.
Wytheville Community College
Wytheville Community College offers a two-year associate degree program for dental hygiene that prepares students to take the state and national exams for licensure. Upon completion of the program and passing the exams students are eligible for entry-level dental hygiene positions in private practices. The program focuses on evidence-based learning and technical skills allowing graduates to be competent oral health providers.
Central Community College
Central Community College is home to Nebraska’s only associate degree bearing dental hygiene program. Students learn through classroom, laboratory and clinical experiences to become confident and qualified oral healthcare professionals. The campus houses a dental clinic that provides service to the public and allows students to gain skills by providing those services under the supervision of expert faculty.
Columbus Technical College
Columbus Technical College enables students to learn the academic coursework necessary for passing the state and national board exams to become a licensed dental hygienist. The program takes two years to complete and covers the academic knowledge as well as helping students gain technical skills necessary to be a competent and professional dental hygienist.
Tips for Choosing a Dental Hygienist School
Having gone through the list of the best colleges for dental hygienists, you might still wonder which is the right one for you. Consider the following tips when comparing dental hygienist schools.
To study a professional course like dental hygiene, you must be sure that the appropriate body accredits the school you are in. Whether it is an undergraduate or graduate program, the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) in the United States is in charge of the accreditation of dental hygiene programs in schools. This accreditation means that the school has met the required quality and standards for the dental hygienist program. Most schools have a link to their accreditation status on their website.
Some schools can be more expensive than others, as you can see from the list of the best colleges for dental hygienists. Be careful to consider all fees associated with a program, not just tuition rates, when comparing college program costs. Also look out for schools that offer scholarships and grants for which you have a high chance of qualifying.
Another factor to consider when choosing a dental hygienist school is the training and expertise of its faculty members. Do your research and confirm if the professors in the schools are experienced and great teachers. Take a careful look at the facilities and other resources they offer. Using social media or other networking opportunities, you might also build a relationship with a graduate of the program or even a current student at the school to get a firsthand opinion about instructors and other aspects of the program.
The location of the school doesn’t determine your quality of education. However, you should consider a school far from your city if you crave a new space or environment. Meanwhile, be aware that getting job and internship opportunities in the city where you graduated is easier because of the connection built during your program. If you don’t plan on settling for long in the city where your school is located, that should factor into your decision.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Dental hygienist?
Before becoming a dental hygienist, you must have completed high school or earned an equivalent certificate. Prospective dental hygienists then typically pursue an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. You can also proceed to a one- or two-year master’s degree program to increase your chances of employment. You’ll be required to obtain licensure from your state and the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. Considering all of these factors, plan on anywhere from two to six years to become a dental hygienist, depending on your current status and how far you want to go with your education.
How Much Does Dental Hygienist School Cost?
The cost of the best colleges for dental hygienists depends on the level of education that you desire. Also, it can vary from school to school. However, according to the American Dental Hygienist Association, an associate degree costs around $22,700, a baccalaureate degree costs around $36,400, and a master’s degree costs around $30,400. You should remember that other expenses like books, accommodation, transportation, personal experiences, and more must be considered.
Average Salary of Dental Hygienists
Being a dental hygienist is one of the most lucrative professions in the U.S. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for dental hygienists was around $77,800 and around $37 per hour as of May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $60,100, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $100,200. However, you should remember that salaries can vary depending on location, experience, and employer.
How to Pay for Dental Hygienist School
If you find the cost of studying dental hygiene expensive, you can make it affordable by looking out for scholarships and grants offered by your school. Other options include; taking a student loan, going for work-study programs, or saving ahead. You may explore all options and see the best ones for you.
With at least one top-ranked program available in each state, every aspiring dental hygienist has access to an accredited program that will qualify them to take and pass the state and national board exams to become licensed dental hygienists. Enroll in a program today to begin a career with high earning potential, flexibility, and security tomorrow. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out and contact us.
Programs were ranked according to a matrix of cost, job placement, percentage of students that passed the state and national exams, and program availability.