Best Online Dental Hygiene Programs

Graduates with an online bachelor's in dental hygiene can work in public health, education, or at clinics. Learn about the requirements and possibilities.

portrait of Sharon Wilfong
by Sharon Wilfong

Published on January 13, 2022 · Updated on April 25, 2022

Edited by Darlene Earnest
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dental hygienists typically need at least an associate degree for entry-level positions. However, a bachelor's in dental hygiene program can prepare students for advanced roles, such as clinical practice in public health programs. A bachelor's in dental hygiene program may require students to have an associate degree or certificate-level training.

Many community colleges, universities, and technical schools offer campus and online programs. Like traditional degrees, an online bachelor's degree in dental hygiene can take 2-4 years to complete. The top online programs hold accreditation, provide financial aid options, and often work with employers to offer tuition reimbursement.

Students should expect the same quality services and courses online as they would find on campus. The American Dental Hygienists Association estimates tuition for a bachelor's in dental hygiene at around $36,380.

Professionals with a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene reported making an average annual salary of $66,000 as of November 2021, according to Payscale.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Dental Hygiene Program?

A dental hygienist needs to have excellent attention to detail, dexterity, a passion for dental/oral health, physical stamina, and a positive attitude. In addition to helping patients relax, dental hygienists should be able to explain procedures clearly.

Most online bachelor's in dental hygiene programs require students to complete English, mathematics, and science courses. Bachelor's programs typically require 120 credits of coursework to graduate. Graduates usually pursue a bachelor of science or a bachelor of applied science.

Some common concentrations include:

On-campus and online bachelor's programs may also have additional requirements outside of standard classes. Some of these include labs and internships to gain practical experience in clinical settings.

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Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Dental Hygiene Program?

Periodontology

Students take multiple courses in periodontology from beginner to advanced, with studies examining the supportive facial structure. These areas include the gums, periodontal ligaments, cementum, and jaw and alveolar bones.

Dental Anatomy

This course covers studies in tooth anatomy, dental anatomy terminology, root anatomy, and tooth morphology. Students gain an in-depth understanding of specific anatomical features of primary and permanent teeth.

Radiology

Studies include an orientation to oral anatomy, hazards, and safety procedures. Students learn clinical and practical principles of X-ray production, including bitewing radiographs and how to complete full-mouth surveys.

Dental Pharmacology

This series of courses covers principles of pharmacology, emphasizing drugs that dentists commonly prescribe. Some studies include drug uses, classifications, actions, side effects, and the specific application and oral conditions they relieve.

Community Dental Health

Learners explore the dental hygiene care model as it relates to health in communities. Studies may focus on assessment, diagnosis, and planning.

What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Dental Hygiene Program?

The admission requirements for an online bachelor's in dental hygiene program are similar to on-campus requirements. Students may need an associate degree or certificate and must supply transcripts from all previous schools. Online learners may also need to take competency tests to determine their ability to use digital technologies.

Application

Over 900 institutions use the Common Application or the Coalition Application. These platforms allow applicants to send a single college application to multiple schools. There's also usually a list of things to include with the primary application, including a personal statement, college placement scores, and letters of recommendation. Applications can also be submitted directly to schools.

Test Scores

Depending on their level of education, learners may need to take college entrance exams like the ACT and SAT, which measure math, verbal, analytical, and writing skills. However, the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) evaluates student readiness for health sciences programs. TEAS scores are often a requirement for bachelor's in dental hygiene programs.

Letters of Recommendation

Colleges usually require 1-3 letters of recommendation to help determine a degree-seeker's competencies. Teachers, counselors, and colleagues are good choices to write letters discussing your academic abilities and qualifications. Recommendations could be the final factor in choosing one candidate over another. So it's essential to choose wisely.

Essays

College applications typically include a personal essay. This can help the administration get to know applicants. Choose a topic and create a well-structured narrative, including significant milestones. Schools want to learn about students' goals and expectations, what they can bring to the college, and their writing ability.

Official Transcripts

Students often transfer from community college, where they received an associate degree or completed pre-requisite classes. Be aware that a bachelor's program in dental hygiene will usually only accept credit transfers from an accredited college. Additionally, colleges accept transfer students from dental hygiene programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Dental Hygiene Degree?

Career Outlook

Dental hygiene and other healthcare-related programs are some of the most popular college majors. Graduates with an online bachelor's in dental hygiene can find careers in clinical practice in a dental office. However, there are many other career paths they may pursue in education, research, administration, and public health.

The BLS projects a 16% job growth rate in healthcare occupations between 2020 and 2030. Graduates can work as dental office managers, clinical or classroom instructors, or dental public health officers. The salary depends on the industry — corporate, public health, or clinical work.

According to Payscale, dental hygienists earn on average between $56,000 and $94,000 a year, as of November 2021. Entry-level positions often only require an associate degree. A bachelor degree program may help advance a career.

See where a bachelor's in dental hygiene can take you. Learn more about healthcare careers.

Career Paths

Dental Hygienists

Most dental hygienists work in dentists' offices, taking care of their patients' teeth and gums. They look for signs of oral disease, clean patients' teeth, take dental X-rays, and report findings to the dentist. Dental hygienists also educate and advise patients on what they can do at home to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Most dental hygienists typically need at least an associate degree and are required to be licensed in all states. Many who seek a bachelor's degree may decide to pursue careers outside the clinical setting.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $77,090

Health Education Specialist

Health education specialists work in the community to teach and promote wellness. They assess the needs of individuals and communities, provide training materials and programs, and develop community engagement events. Health education specialists also evaluate program effectiveness and educational materials and help people find services or information.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $48,140

Dental Hygiene Instructor

Dental hygiene instructors train students in classrooms and laboratory settings. They teach students various methods for removing plaque, processing X-rays, and applying sealants and fluorides. Additionally, they provide instruction on tracking treatment plans and patient care.

Instructors must have a license as a dental hygienist and usually need some teaching or education experience.

Average Annual Base Salary (as of November 2021): $50,750

Clinical Laboratory Technologist or Technician

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians collect and perform tests on body fluids, tissue, and other samples. They typically operate sophisticated laboratory equipment and use computerized instruments to log data. Technologists generally perform more complex laboratory tests, while technicians do routine testing.

Professionals usually specialize after gaining some experience or completing an advanced degree or training.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $54,180

Medical and Health Services Manager

Medical and health services managers are responsible for planning, coordinating, and directing business activities for healthcare providers. Most jobs for medical and health services managers require a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions. Candidates also usually have professional experience in a clinical role or administration.

Some employers require a master's degree for these roles. However an online bachelor's in dental hygiene might be enough, depending on the degree concentration.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $104,280

Dental Hygiene Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Healthcare Careers Dental Careers Health Services Careers

Continuing Education

Professionals with a passion for public health policy and education may decide to pursue a higher degree. A graduate degree may increase the potential for more advanced roles and a higher annual salary. For example, students might choose to earn a master of science in dental hygiene.

Professionals can pursue a graduate-level education in oral health that may prepare them for oral health care roles as a leader and a teacher. Others may choose an advanced dual-degree program that combines graduate studies and scientific research. The American Dental Association's Center for Professional Success also offers continuing education online.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Dental Hygiene Program?

Cost

Online and on-campus programs have similar expenses, including tuition and class supplies. However, activities and programs, lab access, technology, registration, and graduation costs can vary. Some online schools may provide waivers.

The true cost of an online program also includes the computer, internet connection, and software that students need to participate. Consider these costs when choosing a program.

Program Format

There are various types of online program formats. Choices include part-time, full-time, and synchronous or asynchronous classes. Synchronous programs are set up more like a traditional class experience, while asynchronous options can offer more flexibility. Additionally, accelerated programs can allow you to complete your degree in less time.

Location

One of the most convenient things about taking classes online is that learners can complete assignments anywhere with an internet connection. However, online learners may still need to consider a school's location when deciding on a program. Some programs may have on-campus requirements, like labs or practicums.

Also, the location might affect opportunities for internships if a student doesn't live within the area. Some may let you fulfill that requirement near where you live. Be sure to find out about any on-campus requirements before choosing a school.

Accreditation

Accreditation is a process that assesses and evaluates educational institutions and programs. There are two types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. CODA is the agency that provides programmatic accreditation for dental and dental-related programs. CODA uses experts in dental education to define standards that meet quality operation and performance for dental programs.

Student Support

Programs generally offer various student services, whether learners are on campus or online. Student services can provide academic support with workshops, experienced mentors, tutoring programs, and other educational support services. Additionally, career services may be available with advisors who can help with resume writing and interviewing skills.

Many programs partner with industries to provide quality internship opportunities.

Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Dental Hygiene Programs

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Best Online Bachelor's in Dental Hygiene Programs

  1. Eastern Washington University
    Location

    Cheney, WA

    Tuition

    $10751

    Located in Cheney, EWU offers a bachelor of science in dental hygiene completion program that provides licensed dental hygienists with the opportunity to obtain a bachelor's degree. The program targets students with certifications or an associate degree in dental hygiene. Graduates learn to apply research findings to evidence-based practices and develop collaborative programs to ensure patient health and well-being.

    Admission requirements include a current dental hygiene license in the U.S. or Canada. EWU accepts transfer credits from accredited associate in dental hygiene programs.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $380/credit
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 40 credits
    • Degree Completion Program: Yes
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Public
    • Program Accreditation: Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association
    • School Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  2. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
    Location

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Tuition

    $16856

    Offered through U-M's School of Dentistry, this dental hygiene degree completion program targets students with an associate degree or certificate in dental hygiene. Upon completion, students receive a bachelor of science in dental hygiene.

    Students learn how to use scientific methods and evidence-based information to make decisions and provide quality patient care. Classes include leadership and professional development, prevention and management of oral diseases, and dental hygiene for special populations. Prospective students must hold a current dental hygiene license.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $1,115/credit in-state; $2,731/credit out-of-state
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 36 credits
    • Degree Completion Program: Yes
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Public
    • Program Accreditation: Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association
    • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  3. Minnesota State University-Mankato
    Location

    Mankato, MN

    Tuition

    $14519

    Minnesota State's bachelor of science in dental hygiene degree prepares learners for careers as clinicians, state public health officers, and clinician instructors. The program educates licensed dental hygiene students interested in broadening their career options. Classes include oral health promotion, dental hygiene education methods, and advanced dental hygiene practice.

    Required coursework depends on previous education. Admission requirements include a minimum 2.0 GPA.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $356/credit
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 32 credits
    • Degree Completion Program: Yes
    • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Public
    • Program Accreditation: Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association
    • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  4. Farmingdale State College
    Location

    Farmingdale, NY

    Tuition

    $7970

    Based in Farmingdale, New York, Farmingdale offers a bachelor of science in dental hygiene to learners who hold associate degrees. Foundational courses focus on teaching, research, and public health. A capstone course offers additional opportunities to explore specific areas of interest. Program graduates may qualify for employment in clinical research, education, and public health.

    Admission requirements include a dental hygiene associate degree from an American Dental Association-accredited program and dental hygienist licensure.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $295/credit in-state; $708/credit out-of-state
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 64 credits
    • Degree Completion Program: Yes
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Public
    • Program Accreditation: Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association
    • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  5. Northern Arizona University
    Location

    Flagstaff, AZ

    Tuition

    $14882

    Located in Flagstaff, NAU offers a bachelor of science in dental hygiene degree completion program that caters to students on a dental hygiene waitlist or in a dental hygiene program. The 100% online degree also targets graduated dental hygienists with an associate degree or certification from a regionally accredited institution.

    NAU awards 64 transfer credits for a completed associate degree. Incoming students can earn significant transfer credit when they enroll.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $11,336/semester
    • Program Length: 2 years (minimum)
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 30 credits (minimum)
    • Degree Completion Program: Yes
    • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Public
    • Program Accreditation: Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association
    • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  6. University of New Mexico
    Location

    Albuquerque, NM

    Tuition

    $11620

    Based in Albuquerque, UNM offers a BS in dental hygiene. The program targets students with a valid dental hygiene license and an associate of science in dental hygiene from an accredited school.

    The curriculum covers business principles, research methodology, leadership, and program planning. Admission requirements include a minimum 2.5 GPA.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $419/credit
    • Program Length: 5 semesters
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 24-30 credits
    • Degree Completion Program: Yes
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Public
    • Program Accreditation: Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association
    • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  7. Old Dominion University
    Location

    Norfolk, VA

    Tuition

    $15917

    Based in Norfolk, Virginia, ODU offers a bachelor of science in dental hygiene through its online division. Geared toward licensed dental hygienists, the program helps broaden career paths and also offers a master's path.

    Courses include research methods, administrative leadership, and telehealthcare technology. Students who complete a two-year associate degree through the Virginia Community College System can earn guaranteed admission to ODU's dental hygiene program.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $360/credit in-state; $407/credit out-of-state
    • Program Length: 3-4 semesters (minimum)
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 (includes lower division; transfer credits may be accepted)
    • Degree Completion Program: Yes
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Public
    • Program Accreditation: Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association
    • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  8. Wichita State University
    Location

    Wichita, KS

    Tuition

    $14256

    Based in Wichita, Kansas, WSU's bachelor of science in dental hygiene program prepares licensed hygienists who hold an associate degree for continued professional advancement.

    Classes include educational methodology, issues in dental hygiene, special care populations, and evidenced-based practice. Admission requirements include a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $228/credit
    • Program Length: At least 15 months
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 32 credits
    • Degree Completion Program: Yes
    • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Public
    • Program Accreditation: Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association
    • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  9. Augusta University
    Location

    Augusta, GA

    Tuition

    $13112

    Located in Georgia along the Savannah River, Augusta University offers a bachelor of science in dental hygiene completion program. Flexible coursework accommodates students already practicing dental hygiene in the field. Learners must complete the core curriculum before earning professional credit.

    Relevant courses include case management, dental informatics, public health issues, and survey of dental sciences. Admission requirements include a 2.5 GPA and two letters of recommendation.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $295/credit
    • Program Length: 2 semesters
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 30 credits
    • Degree Completion Program: Yes
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Public
    • Program Accreditation: American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation
    • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  10. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
    Location

    Carbondale, IL

    Tuition

    $16105

    Located in Carbondale, SIU offers an online bachelor of science degree completion in dental hygiene management/education. The program targets dental hygiene professionals holding an associate degree. Courses include teaching strategies, research methods, legal aspects, and organizational behavior. Students may also participate in internships.

    For the degree completion program, applicants need an associate of applied science degree in dental hygiene. Applicants must also submit official transcripts and ACT or SAT scores.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $322/credit
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 31 credits
    • Degree Completion Program: Yes
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Public
    • Program Accreditation: American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation
    • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Dental Hygiene Programs

Is a bachelor's in dental hygiene worth it? true

A bachelor's in dental hygiene is worth it for professionals who want to expand into education, public health, and more advanced clinical opportunities. An online degree program is typically more flexible for those juggling work, personal responsibilities, and school. A bachelor's degree may help boost your resume and could lead to more opportunities.

Another benefit of completing a bachelor's degree is a chance to develop and use leadership skills.

Ultimately, continuing education beyond an associate degree is worth it for professionals who are passionate about dental/oral care.

What can I do with a bachelor's in dental hygiene? true

A bachelor's in dental hygiene can boost professional credibility. The degree program can prepare learners for additional opportunities in education, public health, business, and research.

According to the BLS, the median annual wage, as of May 2020, for dental hygienists is $77,090. The BLS projects an 11% job growth for dental hygienists between 2020 and 2030. But, while the employment market looks promising, it's also competitive.

Many employers only require an associate degree for dental hygienists. However, an online bachelor's in dental hygiene can help these professionals become more competitive job candidates. It can also help them advance in their current position.

Are dental hygiene majors in demand?

Yes. Dental hygiene majors seem to be in demand. About 15,600 job openings for dental hygienists are projected, on average, per year between 2020 and 2030. There are also opportunities outside of clinical practice — in education, public health, and administration.

For example, the BLS projects jobs for health education specialists and community health workers will grow by 17% over the same period. That's 16,100 projected job openings per year, on average.

Additionally, the BLS projects 25,900 openings per year for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians.

The BLS projects 32% job growth for medical health and service managers, yielding approximately 51,800 job openings, on average, each year between 2020 and 2030.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in dental hygiene?

As of May 2020, the median annual wage for dental hygienists is $77,090, according to the BLS. Salaries vary depending on experience, previous education, licensure, and industry. An online bachelor's degree in dental hygiene can offer possibilities for advancing a career and earning more money.

One of the highest-paying health jobs is in management. The median pay for medical and health services managers is $104,280 per year.

On the other hand, jobs like health education specialists pay significantly less at a median salary of $48,140 per year. However, these roles may offer satisfaction from being of service to the community.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

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Not sure whether to choose an associate or bachelor's program in dental hygiene? Read our guide to find out which degree is right for you. Learn about the education and licensing requirements needed to become a dental hygienist. What skills do you need to be a dental hygienist? Learn what dental hygienist skills will help you the most on the job.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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