Best Bachelor’s in Dental Hygiene Degrees

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It’s common knowledge that everyone should get a proper dental cleaning at least twice a year.

Best Bachelor's in Dental Hygiene Degrees Badge

Going to the dentist may not be fun for some, but dental hygiene can severely impact one’s health and life. When people go in for regular cleanings, they are taken into the hands of dental hygienists. Using state-of-the-art cleaning tools, dental hygienists work to make sure that your teeth are squeaky clean. Oral cleanliness is next to godliness! But hygienists don’t just clean your teeth, they also examine your mouth and teeth for cavities, signs of decay, or injury. They take x-rays, assist dentists with oral procedures, and educate their patients on proper oral hygiene.

Dental Hygiene is a field that requires high skill and a passion for helping others. Although it does not take as many years as a dentist to become a hygienist, adults still must pass all of their clinical skills. For many, the first step in becoming a licensed dental hygienist is to go to school to get their Bachelor of Science degree. Keep reading to see College Choice’s ranking of the best 40 programs in the nation.

Top 10 Best Bachelor’s in Dental Hygiene Degrees

Rank School Location
1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
2 New York University New York, NY
3 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
4 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
5 Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus, OH
6 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX
7 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
8 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
9 Farmingdale State College Farmingdale, NY
10 Oregon Institute of Technology Klamath Falls, OR
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What type of bachelor’s in dental hygiene should you get?

There are generally two types of BS degrees in dental hygiene: an entry-level program and a completion one. The entry-level program is a four-year degree for students entering right after high school. The four-year program consists of two years of prerequisite courses and two-years of major courses. The completion degree is a two-year program that is for students who possess an associate degree or for those who already have their dental hygienist license but who wish to get an official degree.

While some schools offer both programs, many offer only the two-year completion degree. Students should check to see if they meet the prerequisite qualifications before applying. Because dental hygiene is a professional program that is often geared toward adults, some programs may be taken either on a full- or part-time schedule. This is a great option for those who are already working professionals.

Looking for a similar degree? Check out our ranking of the most affordable online Health Services degrees.

How much money does a bachelor’s in dental hygiene make?

The majority of those who graduate with a BS in dental hygiene go on to become dental hygienists. This career offers a great starting salary, with many experienced professionals eventually making close to six figures. According to PayScale, the national average salary is $60,000. However, the median pay as of 2019 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is $74,820. The top 10% of earners make about $101,330.

It should be noted that it is not always necessary to possess a BS in Dental Hygiene to become a successful, licensed dental hygienist. Sometimes only an associate degree is needed, provided they have mastered all the necessary clinical skills. However, a BS is always good to have as it gives one more overall knowledge and increased chances to train side by side with already licensed staff. Obtaining a BS is also good just in case one would like to train for other dental-related positions.

What can you do with a bachelor’s in dental hygiene?

Although pursuing clinical practice is the most common career path, it is not the only option! Clinical dental hygienists will typically work in dental practices, hospitals, or nursing homes. However, they can also work in public health, corporate offices, education, and research. For instance, many corporations within the oral health industry will need people to research and develop future products. Colleges and universities may need research done about oral hygiene trends throughout the years. While some of these positions may require further education, a BS will provide one with enough experience for most entry-level positions.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs in dental hygiene are expected to experience a growth of about 20% from 2016 to 2026. This increase is most likely due to the fact that as more of our population ages, the more need there will be for oral hygiene and health attention among patients. This growth is much higher than the national average for other positions, ensuring that students will most likely find a job right after graduation.

What are the requirements for a bachelor’s in dental hygiene?

Programs that offer a BS in dental hygiene can be very strict about prerequisite requirements. Students will need to take courses in topics such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, and psychology. lower-division courses will take about two years to complete. After completing the prerequisites, students are usually not automatically admitted to the program, but rather must apply.

During the last two years of the program, students will take upper-division courses that are specifically related to dental hygiene. They will also be required to complete several clinical experiences either at their local school clinic or in a local facility. Students will work alongside already licensed dental hygienists as well as dentists. Upon graduation, they will be able to sit for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as apply for specific state licensure.

  1. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Who are the USC Trojans? The University of Southern California Trojans are students and faculty who are fortunate enough to learn and teach in one of the most prestigious private universities on the West Coast. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, USC offers all the benefits of living in a diverse city. The Dental Hygiene program was established more than 80 years ago. Several of its alumni have gone on to become leaders in the health field.

    Program Features

    Learn from an internationally-recognized school by enrolling in an undergraduate degree at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry. The BS in Dental Hygiene teaches students basic clinical knowledge so that they will be able to work in a variety of settings upon graduation. Below are some key highlights of the program:

    Fall, summer, and spring trimesters Average class size of 202 Average overall GPA of 3.33 88 credit hours

    Notables

    More than 70% of this programs graduates are employed in dental offices. Other graduates have also gone on to the Masters degree.

  2. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Become part of one of the largest private universities within the state by enrolling at New York University. NYU was established in 1831 at a time when the city was rapidly growing. It started with only 158 students during its first semester but has grown to an enrollment of over 50,000 presently. The College of Dentistry was founded in 1865 and is the third oldest dental school in the nation. The college not only contributes to excellent research within the field but also gives quality patient care.

    Program Features

    NYUs BS in Dental Hygiene program not only promotes the ethical clinical practice, but also scholarly activity. This is the only program of its kind within the state of New York. Therefore, students get a unique one-of-a-kind exposure to the field at an early start.

    Specialty area rotations (i.e. orthodontics) Completion time: three to four years Some online courses available

    Notables

    This program can also be taken part-time. Instead of graduating in May, students will graduate in September. Classes are usually held in the evenings.

  3. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
    Location

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Established in 1817, the University of Michigan has since gone on to tremendously impact the state. Its main campus is located in the city of Ann Arbor, the No. 1 college town in the nation according to Forbes. Michigan is among the states top four employers, with an estimated economic impact of about $10.4 billion. Not only is it the No. 1 public research university according to the National Science Foundation, but it also offers the No. 1 dental school in the world as stated by the Shanghai Ranking.

    Program Features

    Michigans BS in Dental Hygiene is a two-year program that begins every spring semester. This entry-level program exposes students to clinical practice, research, and health administration. Some available classes are:

    Biomaterials Special Patients Oral Anatomy Histology Embryology

    Notables

    Sophomores who meet the prerequisite requirements will be admitted into the degree. The program recommends certain electives to better prepare oneself for the Dental Hygiene core curriculum.

  4. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was chartered in 1789 and is proud to be the oldest public university in the nation. It was the only university in the 18th century within the country to award degrees. Today UNC-Chapel Hill offers 77 undergraduate programs, with an enrollment of over 18,800. In 1950, the School of Dentistry was founded, making it the first in the state. For about 62 years it was the only operable school of its kind in North Carolina. Every year students perform over $3.6 million worth of dental services within the state, as well as internationally.

    Program Features

    Take the challenge and apply to UNC-Chapel Hills competitive BS in Dental Hygiene program. After completing all general education requirements, a total of 61 to 62 credit hours will be taken in the Dental Hygiene Professional School. Students have access to some of the following opportunities:

    Dental hygiene licensure Community-based clinical work Undergraduate research

    Notables

    There are several reputable student organizations available to join, including the American Dental Hygienists Association and the American Association of Dental Research.

  5. Ohio State University-Main Campus
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Ohio State University operates six campuses across the state, with its main one located in the city of Columbus. Innovation is a key characteristic of OSU. The university conducts research in several fields, maintaining meaningful relationships with local businesses and industries. In particular, its medical center is known for its great service and research pertaining to infant mortality. Likewise, the College of Dentistry also conducts intensive research in areas such as infectious diseases and cancer research. The U.S. News World Report ranks OSU as the No. 8 most innovative school in the nation.

    Program Features

    OSU is the only school in the state to offer an undergraduate degree in Dental Hygiene. This very flexible program is offered online and can be taken part or full-time. Upon graduation, students will earn their BS in one of three specializations:

    Dental Hygiene Education Expanded Functions Individualized Program

    Notables

    There is no out-of-state tuition all students pay the same regardless of residence due to the fact that this is a distance education program. The only difference is that Ohio residents will pay a slightly less distance learning program fee of $100 versus $105 for non-residents.

  6. Texas A & M University-College Station
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Texas M University had its roots as an agricultural and mechanical school, hence its current name. It was the states first public university, with its campus being one of the many that were enacted under the Morrill Act. Since its founding, Texas M has had numerous recognitions for its excellence in programs and research. It is also a highly affordable university, having been ranked the No. 1 best value public university within the state according to Money. Its Dental Hygiene program is offered on its main campus in College Station.

    Program Features

    The Caruth School of Dental Hygiene offers a BS degree for future licensed hygienists who wish to work in a variety of clinical settings. At least 60 credit hours must be completed in order to apply for the program. Some characteristics of the degree are:

    Meets Texas state licensure requirements Transfer students welcome Direct experience with patients

    Notables

    This school has been offering Dental Hygiene programs since 1955. It has been a place that has promoted and educated the community on oral health for decades.

  7. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Learn from a nationally-recognized dentistry school at the University of Minnesota. More colloquially known just as Minnesota or UNM, its flagship campus is located in the Twin Cities. The School of Dentistry is proud to educate 73% of the states dentists and 49% of hygiene educators. Patients come first here, and research done is always used to benefit people. Every year, over 105,000 patients are treated on its Twin Cities campus clinic.

    Program Features

    Get educated with Minnesotas year-round, accelerated BS in Dental Hygiene degree. Students will partake in courses and group clinical work to prepare themselves for this rewarding field. Highlights of the degree include:

    Completion time: three years Study abroad programs available Dental Hygiene-specific scholarships

    Notables

    UMN is ranked No. 1 in dental and dental hygiene service. The university is known to help the economically disadvantaged receive quality oral care.

  8. West Virginia University
    Location

    Morgantown, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    West Virginia University is a land- and space-grant public university. Its flagship campus is located in Morgantown but there are other divisions and campuses throughout the state. Since its founding in 1867, WVU has had many accomplishments. It has produced several successful student scholars and has had 19 faculty members honored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Annually, WVU has over $127 million worth of research grants, reflecting its high research activity classification.

    Program Features

    WVUs BS in Dental Hygiene program offers a liberal arts curriculum combining both practical and classroom opportunities. This is a four-year program consisting of about 133 or 134 credit hours. Graduates will be prepared for the following careers:

    Administrative Education Research Clinical practice

    Notables

    This program is the first integrated Dental Hygiene program in the nation due to its liberal arts nature. It was also designated as a Program of Excellence by the West Virginia Board of Governors in 2014.

  9. Farmingdale State College
    Location

    Farmingdale, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Looking for a school that will truly prepare you for your future career? Farmingdale State College boasts a high student employment rate within only six months of graduating, with 90% of its 2016-2017 graduates finding employment in such a short amount of time. Its campus is part of the State University of New York system, focusing on programs primarily in the applied science and technology sector. About 10,000 undergraduates are currently enrolled. In the U.S. News World Reports 2019 ranking of the best regional colleges in the North, Farmingdale ranks No. 19.

    Program Features

    Upon completion of the BS in Dental Hygiene program, students will be able to apply for licensure in the field. They will also be able to seek certification in local infiltration anesthesia and nitrous oxide analgesia. Some courses that can be taken are:

    Medical Microbiology Periodontology Essentials of Clinical Practice Theory Oral Pathology

    Notables

    Undergraduates have the opportunity to join the Student American Dental Hygienists Association. This organization conducts professional programs and community outreach events.

  10. Oregon Institute of Technology
    Location

    Klamath Falls, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Oregon Institute of Technology offers an affordable education in primarily STEM-related fields. As the states polytechnic university, Oregon Tech is proud to partner with leading industries to give students the experience they need before stepping out into the workforce. Over 97% of its undergraduates are employed within six months of graduation, with an average starting salary of $60,000. According to the U.S. News World Report, Oregon Tech is No. 2 on its rankings of the Top Public Western Regional Colleges.

    Program Features

    Grow professionally through several hands-on opportunities by enrolling in Oregon Techs BS in Dental Hygiene degree. Immediately undergraduates will receive clinical experiences both on and off-campus. Other key highlights include:

    International externships for seniors Ability to rack up clinical hours for licensure Offered on the Klamath Falls Residential Campus, Chemeketa Community College, and online

    Notables

    Not only will students be eligible to become a registered dental hygienist, but they will also be able to gain an expanded practice permit within the state of Oregon. This permit means that they will be able to provide more care to patients without the supervision of a dentist.

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