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.
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.
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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:
- Health Management: This concentration helps learners develop a broad understanding of healthcare delivery systems. Classes focus on developing dental health programs, management, quality assurance, and leadership.
- Education: An education concentration provides experience in the classroom and in clinical dental education, emphasizing developing objectives and instructional units. Learners explore teaching methods, learning styles, instructional resources, media use, and the evaluation process.
- Research: A concentration in research focuses on applying quantitative and qualitative research processes. Students learn to implement the steps of evidence-based practice and identify clinical problems. Depending on the program, they may focus on psychological and social research methods.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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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Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Dental Hygiene Programs
Is a bachelor's in dental hygiene worth it?
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?
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.
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Associate vs. Bachelor's Degree in Dental Hygiene
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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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