Dental hygiene programs are most commonly offered as certificate or associate degree programs through 2-year schools. Some 4-year schools and universities in Massachusetts also offer bachelor's and master's degrees. Students will usually participate in clinical coursework, sometimes off campus. Some dental hygiene programs have concentrations available. Students should be aware that they may have to pay for uniforms or other supplies, and prerequisite courses and CPR certification may be required before beginning a dental hygiene program.
Bristol Community College
Bristol Community College is a two-year public school offering certificate and associate degree programs in Fall River. The school offers several academic programs related to the health sciences, including a two-year, 77-credit Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene program. This program provides students with the theoretical knowledge and technical training necessary to gain a position at a private practice or public health facility. Students take courses in subjects such as microbiology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, oral histology, periodontology, and pain management.
Cape Cod Community College
Cape Cod Community College is located in West Barnstable. The two-year public college offers associate degree and certificate programs to more than 4,000 students. Dental hygiene students pursuing an associate degree must complete 75 credits. Students study oral radiology, community dental health, and periodontics. In addition, general education courses like sociology, microbiology, and anatomy and physiology are required.
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, located in Boston, offers an undergraduate and graduate program through the Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene. The 33-month Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene program is designed for four-year students and students transferring from a two-year program. The program combines general education and basic science classes with dental hygiene core courses, such as dental hygiene theory and pain management. Students are also expected to participate in patient care experiences at one of several local clinics.
The school offers an online Master of Science program as well. This 36-credit-hour program can be taken part-time, and students only attend campus sessions a few times throughout the program. Courses include public health, biostatistics, health education, and other subjects. A thesis is also required.
Middlesex Community College
Middlesex Community College offers an Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene program at its Lowell campus. Applicants to the program must be certified in CPR and complete prerequisite courses in chemistry and anatomy and physiology. The 75-credit program covers head and neck anatomy, dental radiology, and oral pathology. Students also study nutrition, pharmacology, and community health.
Mount Ida College
Located in Newton, this private four-year college has a student population of less than 1,500. After finishing 34 credits of prerequisite courses, students in the Associate of Arts in Dental Hygiene program can earn the associate degree in two years.
Graduates have the option of enrolling in a degree completion program that leads to a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. The same degree is also offered in a four-year program. Both programs involve choosing one of four concentrations: management, forensics, pre-professional, or education.
Mount Wachusett Community College
A 67-credit Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene program is available at Mount Wachusett Community College's Burbank campus in Fitchburg. Students begin with courses in microbiology and anatomic science before moving on to pain control, oral pathology, and other major courses. Additional course topics include community health and dental ethics.
Quinsigamond Community College
Certificate and associate degree programs are available at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester. The school's dental hygiene associate degree program can be completed in nine semesters, including summer sessions. Students learn about oral histology and embryology, oral pathology, local anesthesia, and other course topics. Students are also required to complete clinical exercises, and they're expected to pay for uniforms and instruments necessary to the job.
Springfield Technical Community College
Located in Springfield, this technical community college serves almost 7,000 students. The Associate in Science program in dental hygiene prepares students for work as dental hygienists or for further study. The 71-credit-hour program can be completed in four semesters. Dental hygiene students explore subjects such as oral anatomy, periodontology, and dental materials, in addition to completing clinical practices.
Certification in Massachusetts is gained through licensing. Aspiring dental hygienists in Massachusetts are required to complete programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association. Dental hygienists become licensed after passing the American Dental Association National Board Examination for Dental Hygienists, the North East Regional Board (NERB) of Dental Examiners exam, and the Massachusetts Dental Ethics and Jurisprudence exam.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Dental Hygiene Degree Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Bristol Community College||Two-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$4,296 in-state, $9,240 out-of-state*|
|Cape Cod Community College||Two-year, public; small city||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$4,212 in-state, $9,136 out-of-state*|
|Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences||Four-year, private not-for-profit; large city|| Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene,
Master of Science in Dental Hygiene
|Middlesex Community College||Two-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$4,514 in-state, $9,458 out-of-state*|
|Mount Ida College||Four-year, private not-for-profit; small city|| Associate of Arts in Dental Hygiene,
Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene
|Mount Wachusett Community College||Two-year, public; fringe rural||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$5,188 in-state, $10,108 out-of-state*|
|Quinsigamond Community College||Two-year, public; midsize city||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$5,302 in-state, $10,246 out-of-state*|
|Springfield Technical Community College||Two-year, public; midsize city||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene||$5,436 in-state, $11,946 out-of-state*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator.