The Best Online Dental Hygiene Schools: 2023

Explore top schools, review online courses, curriculum, financing options, and the licensing you’ll need to get your career started. Take your first steps toward a degree in dental hygiene today.

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Kenya McCullum

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Jennifer-McGivney

Jennifer McGivney

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Jennifer McGivney is a licensed dental hygienist with a decade of experience working in dental care. She began her career as a dental assistant before going on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene from Loma Linda University.

last updated

09/15/2022

When you enroll in an online dental hygiene program, you need to be confident you’re going to receive the training necessary to land a job after graduation. Because it can be difficult to know which school to choose, EduMed has put together the best and most affordable online dental hygiene schools around the country for students to review. With data and information that’s updated frequently, future dental hygienists get the most up-to-date info on schools that we have vetted for cost, quality, and flexibility. See who’s making a difference for 2023.

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About the ranking

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Base Methodology for EduMed’s 2023 Online College Rankings

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

Affordability

  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2022

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Ohio State University-Main CampusColumbus, OH Public $$$ 2

The Ohio State University College of Dentistry offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene and a fully online Master of Dental Hygiene program. The B.S. is intended for licensed dental hygienists, and depending on prior education, the 120-credit program can be completed in anywhere from 1-5 years. All of the dental hygiene courses are offered entirely online, but some of the general education courses required by the university may require in-person attendance. Students must hold an associate’s degree in dental hygiene from a CODA-accredited program for admission. The MDH is a fully online degree that features both synchronous and asynchronous learning experiences. It requires both a thesis and an internship for completion. Students enrolled full-time can complete the program in 2 years; students enrolled part-time can complete it in 5 years. Only 7 students per year are accepted into this program.

Program Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene

  • Credits: 120
  • Cost: $397.50 / credit (in-state); $397.50 / credit + $200 non-resident fee per term (out-of-state)
  • Length: 1-5 years
  • Mode: online (some in-person may be required)

Master of Dental Hygiene

  • Credits: 38
  • Cost: $5,780 / semester for 8+ credits, $24,256 total cost estimate (in-state); $5,980 / semester for 8+ credits, $25,056 total cost estimate (out-of-state)
  • Length: 2-5 years
  • Mode: Online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
AccreditationHLC
2 Old Dominion UniversityNorfolk, VA Public $$ 2

Old Dominion University offers both a bachelor’s and master’s degree option for dental hygiene. Both degrees are CODA accredited. The Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene requires 120 credit hours and at least 30 of those hours must be completed with Old Dominion. Graduates are not explicitly prepared for a state-level license, but can meet the credential requirements of their state through coursework if planned ahead of time. The Master of Science in Dental Hygiene is a 34 or 37 credit program, depending on a student’s choice to complete a thesis. Degree flexibility allows students to tailor their degree to specific fields such as education, research, marketing, or community health. Students will complete an internship as part of their course of study.

Program Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene

  • Credits: 120
  • Cost: $374 / credit (in-state); $407 / credit (out-of-state)
  • Length: 3-4 semesters (depending on transfer credits)
  • Mode: online

Master of Science in Dental Hygiene

  • Credits: 34 (with thesis); 37 (non-thesis)
  • Cost: $571 / credit (in-state); $595 / credit (out-of-state)
  • Length: varies
  • Mode: online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
AccreditationSACSCOC
3 University of Michigan-Ann ArborAnn Arbor, MI Public $$$$ 2

The University of Michigan offers two fully online degrees in dental hygiene. The Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree completion program is intended for students who have completed an associate’s degree. Students apply 60 hours of coursework in dental hygiene and must also have 24 additional hours that include statistics to be eligible for admission. The university encourages students to contact them early to check if their credits will transfer to the program. Michigan’s online Master of Science in Dental Hygiene occurs over 6 consecutive, year-round semesters where students take 6 credits per term. Students are required to teach at least one day a week in an entry-level dental hygiene program. The program focuses on holistic health of patients and prepares graduates for a variety of careers from education and academia, to public health and government, to research and insurance.

Program Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene (Degree Completion Program)

  • Credits: 36 (total of 120)
  • Cost: $1,146 / credit (in-state); $2,829 / credit (out-of-state)
  • Length: varies
  • Mode: online

Master of Science in Dental Hygiene

  • Credits: 36
  • Cost: $6,671 / term (in-state); $11,237 / term (out-of-state)
  • Length: 24 months
  • Mode: online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
11/1
AccreditationHLC
4 The University of Texas Health Science Center at San AntonioSan Antonio, TX Public $$ 2

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio offers two online options for dental hygiene, one undergraduate and one graduate. The bachelor degree is intended for already licensed dental hygienists. Graduates will be prepared to advance in their current careers or for a career in a new field area like dental management, teaching, marketing, sales, and research. Students must complete 18 hours of prerequisites before admission to the program. The master’s program is 36-credits and delivered fully online. Graduates are prepared to work as professionals in dental hygiene education, community health care, research, or to further their studies with a Ph.D. After two core courses in the first semester, students have the ability to select courses based on their intended area of focus. Admission requirements include a GRE/MAT score, graduation from a CODA accredited dental hygiene program, and current licensure as a Registered Dental Hygienist.

Program Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene (Degree Completion)

  • Credits: 120 (30 completed with the university)
  • Cost: 189.33 / credit (in-state); $439.33 / credit (out-of-state)
  • Length: varies
  • Mode: online

Dental Hygiene Master of Science

  • Credits: 36
  • Cost: $250 / credit (in-state); $500 / credit (out-of-state)
  • Length: 18+ months
  • Mode: Online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
6/1
AccreditationSACSCOC
5 University of Missouri-Kansas CityKansas City, MO Public $$ 2

The University of Missouri-Kansas City offers a B.S. and a Master of Science in dental hygiene. Both programs are fully online. The Registered Dental Hygienist to Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree features both synchronous and asynchronous learning experiences. Applicants must have graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program, submit results from a National Dental Hygiene Board Examination, and have a current dental hygiene state license. Students can enroll in a full or part-time capacity. UMKC tailors a student’s program of study based on prior education, career goals, and personal needs. The Dental Hygiene Education Master of Science program is a 36 credit fully online flexible program. The curriculum focuses on preparing graduates to become educators; however, personalization is available through elective courses. Students conduct an original research project during their studies and prepare it for publication. The program does not require a GRE/GMAT score for admission.

Program Highlights:

Registered Dental Hygienist to Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene

  • Credits: customized per student based on incoming credits
  • Cost: $333.80 / credit (in-state and Kansas); $500.50 / credit (Heartland rate); $921.60 / credit (out-of-state)
  • Length: varies
  • Mode: Online

Dental Hygiene Education Master of Science

  • Credits: 36
  • Cost: $444.15 / credit (in-state and metro rate); $1,146.70 / credit (out-of-state)
  • Length: 3 years
  • Mode: Online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
AccreditationHLC
6 Southern Illinois University-CarbondaleCarbondale, IL Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
11/1
AccreditationHLC
7 St. Petersburg CollegeClearwater, FL Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
23/1
AccreditationSACSCOC
8 Utah Valley UniversityOrem, UT Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
24/1
AccreditationNWCCU
9 Wichita State UniversityWichita, KS Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
AccreditationHLC
10 Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaff, AZ Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
22/1
AccreditationHLC
11 Vermont Technical CollegeRandolph, VT Public $$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
9/1
AccreditationNECHE
12 Community College of DenverDenver, CO Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
AccreditationHLC
13 Oregon Institute of TechnologyKlamath Falls, OR Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
AccreditationNWCCU
14 Farmingdale State CollegeFarmingdale, NY Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
AccreditationMSCHE
15 Western Kentucky UniversityBowling Green, KY Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
AccreditationSACSCOC
16 Minnesota State University-MankatoMankato, MN Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
22/1
AccreditationHLC
17 Ferris State UniversityBig Rapids, MI Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
AccreditationHLC
18 Pennsylvania College of TechnologyWilliamsport, PA Public $$$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
14/1
AccreditationMSCHE
19 Herzing University-MinneapolisSt. Louis Park, MN Private not-for-profit $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
12/1
AccreditationHLC

Related programs worth a look:

Profiling Online Dental Hygiene Programs

Finding the right program is never easy. You can look at the data and read reviews, but the devil is in the details. To help aspiring dental hygienists narrow down their options, we’ve thoroughly researched three online dental hygiene programs, looking for curriculum goals, cost structures, admissions requirements, and more. Get the inside scoop on three of today’s dental hygiene programs with courses available online.

Lone Star College

Lone Star College

Lone Star College offers an associate’s degree program that is designed to help future dental hygienists enter the workforce quickly. The school provides small class sizes so students get the individualized attention they need from instructors to get the most out of the program. In addition, the school has state-of-the-art equipment for the hands-on training part of the program, including ultrasonic and radiographic technologies. Armed with these tools, students take coursework in community dentistry, dental materials, periodontology, and medical microbiology to get the intensive training they need to enter the field.

In order to gain admission into Lone Star College’s program, prospective students must complete prerequisite classes in chemistry, anatomy, physiology, and sociology. In addition, applicants must have an overall minimum grade point average of 2.0 and they are required to attend an information session at the school during the application process. After being formally admitted, students are required to undergo a background check and earn a CPR certification.

As of early 2020, the tuition to attend Lone Star College’s dental hygiene program is about $800 per semester. Students are able to get assistance to help defray the cost with grants and loans, as well as work-study and book advances.

St. Petersburg College

St. Petersburg College

St. Petersburg College offers dental hygiene programs on the associate and bachelor’s levels that train students to work in a variety of settings, including dental offices, public health clinics, and nursing homes. Students in the associate’s degree program, which takes two years to complete, receive a strong foundation in dental hygiene through courses in orofacial anatomy, dental pharmacology, dental materials, and preventive dentistry. This coursework is rounded out with some general education classes, which include psychology, mathematics, and speech communication. During the clinical portion of the program, students learn how to work directly with patients and acquire skills like using dental instruments properly and treatment planning.

Those who enroll in St. Petersburg College’s bachelor’s degree program, which is conducted completely online, get a more advanced education in dental hygiene. This is a degree completion program designed to give licensed hygienists additional training to move up the ladder in their careers. Coursework in this program covers areas like issues in dental hygiene, entrepreneurship, health care law and ethics, and advanced periodontics.

As of January 2019, students in the associate’s degree program at St. Petersburg College were charged $19,788. Those who enrolled in the school’s bachelor’s degree program paid $6,091 if they were in-state students and $18,214.60 if they were out-of-state students.

The University of New Mexico

The University of New Mexico

The University of New Mexico offers an online dental hygiene master’s degree that allows students to gain advanced decision making and problem solving skills and learn how to conduct original research. This program also has a clinical component where students participate in an internship to sharpen the abilities they learned during their courses.

In order to be admitted, prospective students must have a current dental hygiene license, a dental hygiene degree from a school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, and a minimum grade point average of 3.0. As of early 2019, the University of New Mexico charged a tuition rate of $277.82 per credit, as well as $69.82 for fees to in-state students. Those who enrolled in the school from other locations were charged $937.96 per credit tuition and $69.82 for fees.

What Dental Hygiene Programs Are Fully Online?

Those who have completed entry-level education in dental hygiene have the option to enroll in a fully online degree program. This is a convenient alternative for those who may be working full-time jobs or raising families, and they get the same quality education that their on-campus counterparts receive. The following are examples of some of these fully online dental hygiene programs.

Degree Completion Program

Degree completion programs are for licensed dental hygienists who have already completed a certificate or associate degree program and want to get further training that opens more doors for them in their career. In order to be admitted into these programs, students are generally required to have an active license in the state, a minimum grade point average of 2.5, and relevant work experience.

These programs, which can take about two years to complete, build on dental hygienists’ prior knowledge and skills by offering coursework in advanced industry science and practices. Through this combination of evidence-based theories and advanced techniques, students leave the program with stronger decision-making, communication, and leadership skills that can help them qualify for higher-level jobs and command larger salaries. As a result, students can get employment in a variety of settings including dentists’ offices, hospitals, public health agencies, or private companies after graduation.

Master’s Degree

Many professionals who grow into their role as dental hygienists eventually desire to take on more responsibilities—even beyond the one’s they learned on the bachelor’s degree level. For these people, a master’s degree program can prepare them for leadership roles in the field—whether they want to teach the next generation of dental hygienists, perform research that improves clinical practices, or take a managerial role in a health care facility. In order to be admitted into a graduate-level program, prospective students are required to have a dental hygiene bachelor’s degree, a 3.0 minimum grade point average, a current license, and a certain minimum score on the GRE or TOEFL. Also, schools may require applicants to have a certain amount of clinical experience.

Students in master’s degree programs learn advanced concepts related to oral microbiology and pathology, periodontics, immunology, and histology. In addition, they will obtain skills that allow them to move up in their careers, such as research, leadership, teaching, and written and verbal communication skills. After taking two years of coursework, students may be required to complete a thesis based on their own independent research.

Entry-level Dental Hygiene Courses with Online Components

In order to prepare to take the licensing exam and find employment, future dental hygienists should enroll in entry-level programs that gives them clinical experience and teach them the basic theories of the field. These programs are often attractive to those who want to start a new career, so they are offered in the online and hybrid formats that allow them to conveniently fit their classwork into their work schedules.

Those who enroll in programs that are conducted completely online can take all of their classes through their school’s learning management system. As a result, they can watch lectures, collaborate with professors and peers, access course material, hand in assignments, and take tests online. However, in order to get the clinical experience they need to put the ideas they learned into practice, they will be required to participate in laboratory work on campus, as well as internships in a dental office. On the other hand, students who enroll in partially online dental hygiene programs complete most of their work on campus, but they do have the opportunity to complete some of their classwork online.

The following are examples of the different degree levels that train dental hygienists.

Certificate

Through a combination of clinical experiences and academic instruction, students who enroll in certificate programs can prepare for a dental hygiene career in about two to three years. These programs can be competitive, so schools expect students to demonstrate high academic performance, as well as a strong desire to work in a dental office to help the community, in order to be admitted. Some of the admissions requirements may include earning a CPR certification, completing a high school diploma or its equivalent, and participating in a criminal background check. In addition, students may be expected to complete prerequisite classes in microbiology, chemistry, and anatomy before they can be officially admitted into the program.

Although these programs are not as common as associate degrees, dental hygiene certificates are a good choice for those who want intensive training. After they complete their certificate, graduates can go on to work in general dental practices, nursing homes, hospitals, and public health clinics.

Associate

Like certificate programs, associate degree programs are designed to train students to earn their license and land entry-level jobs by teaching basic patient care skills. In order to be admitted, students should also have a high school diploma and CPR certification, as well as a background check.

Although the dental hygiene curriculum is similar to certificates, associate’s degree programs also have additional general education requirements in areas like sociology, mathematics, and psychology. Students in these programs are also expected to complete a certain number of clinical hours that include in-class simulations and real-world experiences in a doctor’s office.

Bachelor’s

Dental hygiene bachelor’s degrees are generally for those who want to train for career advancement, although in some cases, programs accept students who don’t have previous experience. These programs, which take four years to complete, allow people with an active dental hygiene license to get more advanced skills than they learned in their associate’s degree program, as well as help those who have never studied this discipline develop the capabilities they need to enter the field.

Core Dental Hygiene Classes

The exact curriculum of a dental hygiene program can vary from school to school, however, they are all designed to teach students the skills they need to pass their licensing examination and have a successful career. In addition, students on different levels will find different types of classes available. The following are examples of some of the coursework that can be found in these programs.

Oral-Anatomy

Oral Anatomy: This course is designed to lay the foundational knowledge of all the services students will provide to their patients. The curriculum covers parts of the oral cavity, as well as the neck and head, and instructs students on how to navigate tools in these areas. In some cases, this course may have classroom and laboratory components.

Pharmacology

Pharmacology: Pharmacology classes focus on the medications used to treat dental problems. Students learn the different types of medications found in a dental practice, how medications are administered, and the positive and negative effects of these drugs. The course may also discuss controlled substances and addiction in order for students to get a full understanding of the ramifications of using certain types of drugs.

Periodontology

Periodontology: Students who take this class learn about periodontal anatomy and physiology, and how to identify diseases that are in this area of the body. They also get experience performing assessments, treating periodontal problems, and educating patients about disease management.

Research-Principles

Research Principles: This class covers the principles and methods of conducting evidence-based research. The curriculum addresses how to craft a hypothesis, plan and design a study, execute the research, and analyze and present data. Students may also learn about the ethics associated with conducting original research, as well as the technology tools researchers use during the course of a study.

Restorative-Dentistry

Restorative Dentistry: The principles, procedures, and tools of restorative dentistry are covered in this course. Students get hands-on experience of restorative dentistry practices, including how to select and prepare materials that are used on patients.

Community-Dentistry

Community Dentistry: Students who want to work in a public health setting can take this class to learn about the role that community dentistry can play in a specific location. The course covers how public health programs are developed and implemented from start to finish. In addition, the class may cover how to perform a statistical analysis of community dental health data.

Other-courses-include

Other courses include:

  • Dental Ethics
  • Oral Radiology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Dental Materials
  • Dental Office Practice
  • Patients With Special Needs
  • Biochemistry
  • Patient Records
  • Dental Specialties
  • Clinical Practice

How to Finance an Online Dental Hygiene Program

Like students in other types of academic programs, those enrolled in dental hygiene schools have the opportunity to obtain financial aid for their education—such as loans, grants, and scholarships. In some cases, funding may be available directly from a student’s school: For example, the University of Hawaii, the University of South Dakota, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City are among the schools that offer scholarships to its dental hygiene students. In addition, professional organizations for members of the field may also offer funding to support the next generation of dental hygienists. For example, the American Dental Hygienists Association Institute for Oral Health has scholarships, fellowships, and grants available. Students who need additional funding may be able to receive federal subsidized or unsubsidized loans.

Dental Hygiene Scholarships & Grants

There are several sources of education funding available to those studying dental hygiene. The following are some examples of scholarships and grants students may be eligible to receive.

For more information on funding options, check out our full guide on financial aid for medical and healthcare students.

Getting Your Dental Hygienist License

Dental hygiene professionals are required to obtain a license before they can legally hold down a job in the field. In order to do this, people are required to complete a program that has been accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. Individual states may also have additional requirements, such as passing a state examination.

Step 1: Complete an Accredited Dental Hygiene Program

The Commission on Dental Accreditation, or CODA, is the only agency that accredits dental hygiene programs. Accreditation is important because it certifies the quality of a degree program, so in order to do this, the organization evaluates schools based on their curriculum, academic policies, and facilities for hands-on training.

Step 2: Pass the NBDHE Exam

The National Board Dental Hygiene Examination is a two-part multiple choice test, which is made up of 350 questions, designed to gauge students’ understanding of the concepts and techniques they learned in their degree program. The first section of the test includes 200 questions that cover community health and research, dental hygiene science, and clinical services. In the second part of the test, students are presented with case studies that describe challenges dental hygienists face and are asked how to handle these scenarios.

Step 3: Pass Regional or State Clinical Exam

In addition to the NBDHE, prospective dental hygienists are required to pass a clinical examination in order to demonstrate their understanding of the hands-on training they received. Some states have their own test, while others use tests that are provided by the Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA), the North East Regional Board (NERB) of Dental Examiners, the Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA), the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB), or the Central Regional Dental Testing Services (CRDTS).

Step 4 (Varies): Fulfill Additional State Requirements

Individual states may have additional dental hygienist licensure requirements, such as obtaining a Basic Life Support certification, passing a jurisprudence exam, or completing infection control training. Professionals may also be expected to undergo criminal background checks and child abuse clearance.

Dental Hygienist Career Outlook & Salary Potential

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for dental hygienists are expected to grow by 20 percent between 2016 and 2026, which amounts to 40,900 additional positions for students to land after graduation. The agency reports that this job growth can be attributed to older people being more likely to keep their natural teeth than previous generations.

Other medical support professions will also experience growth during this time period. For example, dental assistants will see a 19 percent increase in jobs, medical assistants will have 29 percent more positions, and the growth for physician assistants will be 37 percent.

How Much Can You Make as a Dental Hygienist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2016, the median annual salary for dental hygienists is $72,910. In addition, the top 10 percent of earners made $100,170, while the bottom 10 percent earn $50,870.