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Are there online dental hygiene programs?

Published February 23, 2024| minute read

    A dental hygienist works alongside dentists to assess a patient’s oral health and assist with necessary treatments. Dental hygienists can be responsible for various responsibilities, including conducting dental cleanings, providing preventative oral care, taking dental x-rays, and educating patients on proper dental care techniques.

    Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for dental hygienists is expected to grow by 7% from 2022 to 2032, which is faster than average.

    If you’re interested in becoming a dental hygienist, continue reading as we explore dental hygienist training and online dental hygiene programs available to students.

    What education is required to become a dental hygienist?

    To become a dental hygienist in the U.S., you’ll need a license to practice in a particular state. To become licensed, dental hygienists need to complete an associate degree (although some dental hygienists have bachelor’s degrees or more advanced degrees), and you may also need to meet other requirements.

    Although the process may vary from state to state, the steps to obtaining your license are generally the same. They include:

    • Graduating from an accredited dental hygiene program with at least an associate degree
    • Successfully completing the written National Board Dental Hygiene Examination
    • Successfully completing a regional or state clinical board examination

    Can you get a dental hygiene degree online?

    There are no fully online programs to receive a dental hygienist degree since hands-on training is required. To receive your associate degree, you’ll need to complete the program in person. However, there are online completion programs that you can enroll in to obtain a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.

    No matter what your degree path is, the program must be accredited by the Commission On Dental Accreditation (CODA). CODA is the primary accrediting body for dental hygiene degrees, certifying that a program is credible.

    Below are accredited programs to receive your bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene online. Most of these programs require you to have your associate's degree in dental hygiene or be in the last semester of your associate's degree to enroll (and there may be other requirements, too).

    Online Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree completion programs

    The below programs are for students who already have their associate degree in dental hygiene, are in the final semester of their associate degree, or are already licensed dental hygienists with an associate degree.

    Ferris State University – Big Rapids, MI

    Ferris State University offers a bachelor's degree completion program in dental hygiene. It focuses on preparing dental hygienists for their daily work. Since this is a degree completion program, students must already have their associate degree in dental hygiene or be in their final semester of their associate in dental hygiene degree program to be considered for admission.

    St. Petersburg College – St. Petersburg, FL

    St. Petersburg College is one of the nation's largest dental hygiene degree completion programs, and the program can be done online. To apply for this school’s program, students can be enrolled concurrently in an accredited Associate in Dental Hygiene program or follow the traditional pathway into the school’s Dental Hygiene Bachelor of Applied Science program upon becoming a registered dental hygienist.

    Indiana University at South Bend – South Bend, IN

    Indiana University at South Bend offers a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene completion degree designed for licensed hygienists who’ve already graduated with an Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene degree and wish to continue their education.

    Utah Valley University – Orem, UT

    The degree completion program at Utah Valley University is entirely online. Working dental hygienists have the flexibility to complete this program’s courses online.

    University of New Mexico – Albuquerque, NM

    For dental hygienists who are already licensed and have an associate degree in dental hygiene, this online program offers an opportunity to expand basic dental hygiene knowledge and skills with management, research, public health, and advanced training classes. The curriculum is designed to allow continuing education students to complete the program full-time or part-time.

    Eastern Washington University – Cheney, WA

    Eastern Washington University allows licensed dental hygienists to complete their Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene entirely online. Since some students work while attending school, the university allows students to enroll part-time.

    The Ohio State University – Columbus, OH

    The Ohio State University's dental hygiene degree completion program is offered entirely online and leads to students graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene. To enroll, students must be licensed dental hygienists and hold an associate degree in dental hygiene from a CODA-accredited dental hygiene program.

    Northern Arizona University – Flagstaff, AZ

    This online Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree completion program is open to students with an associate degree in dental hygiene or those working towards one.

    University of Missouri-Kansas City – Kansas City, MO

    This university offers an online degree completion program for licensed dental hygienists to receive bachelor's degrees. Students have the option to attend part-time and can tailor their course schedule based on their existing dental hygiene degree and their career goals.

    Final thoughts

    Working as a dental hygienist can be a gratifying career. Although having an associate degree is the minimum requirement to obtain a dental hygienist license, getting a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene can give you more career advancement opportunities.

    Online degree completion programs allow working professionals the flexibility to complete their bachelor’s degree. If you’re interested in enrolling in an online bachelor’s degree completion program, ensure the program is accredited by CODA.