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How Long Does IT Take to Become a Dental Hygienist?

Many dental hygienist graduates may find jobs with as little as an associate's degree or, in some cases, a certificate. However, depending on the type of advancement someone wants in his or her career, a bachelor's or master's degree might be more desirable.

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Becoming a Dental Hygienist

Training Information

A dental hygienist needs to graduate from an accredited school. Most dental hygienist programs grant associate's degrees, but some offer bachelor's and master's degrees. Training requires anywhere from 2-3 years of school, including prerequisites and any licensing examinations.

Prerequisites

A high school diploma and college entrance tests are required for admission into a dental hygiene program. In high school, students are advised to take courses in mathematics, chemistry and biology.

Curriculum

In addition to coursework, the dental hygienist school curriculum involves laboratory and clinical practice. Anatomy, chemistry, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, radiography, periodontology, pathology, dental materials, histology and other courses make up the coursework. Depending on the program and the amount of prerequisites taken, a student can become a dental hygienist within four years; however, master's degree programs may take six or more years.

Licensure

In order to practice as a dental hygienist, one needs a degree from a dental hygiene school and a state license. To become licensed, dental hygienists need to pass a clinical and written exam. The written exam is typically administered by the American Dental Association's (ADA) Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations, and the clinical exam is administered by state or regional testing agencies.

Career Requirements

To work as a dental hygienist in a private dental office typically requires an associate's degree, though a certificate may be accepted in some cases. In order to go into research, public health or teaching, dental hygienists usually need to hold bachelor's or master's degrees.

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Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Eligibility and relevancy of sample programs below will vary by article and program
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (3 campuses)
    • California (16)
    • Colorado (3)
    • Florida (6)
    • Georgia (5)
    • Illinois (7)
    • Indiana (2)
    • Maryland (1)
    • Michigan (1)
    • Minnesota (1)
    • Missouri (2)
    • North Carolina (2)
    • New Jersey (3)
    • Nevada (1)
    • New York (2)
    • Ohio (4)
    • Oklahoma (1)
    • Oregon (1)
    • Pennsylvania (4)
    • Tennessee (2)
    • Texas (7)
    • Utah (1)
    • Virginia (3)
    • Washington (3)
    • Wisconsin (1)

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    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
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    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Currently not accepting applications from Texas residents
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    Online Programs

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 18 years of age or older
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Distance Learning Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Master
        • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants must have completed 12 college credits
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • California (19 campuses)
    • Washington (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    • Non-Degree
        • Certificate - Health Administration

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Kentucky (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Louisville include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
        • Dental Clinical Science
        • Dental Hygienist
        • Dentistry - DDS, DMD
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
  • School locations:
    • New York (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at New York University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
        • Dental Assisting
        • Dental Clinical Science
        • Dental Hygienist
        • Dental Laboratory Tech
        • Dentistry - DDS, DMD
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Assisting
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Nutrition Services
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
  • School locations:
    • Iowa (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Iowa include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
        • Dental Clinical Science
        • Dental Hygienist
        • Dental Public Health and Education
        • Dentistry - DDS, DMD
        • Oral Surgery
        • Orthodontics
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions

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