Students in Washington who are interested in earning an education in dental hygiene may choose from a variety of schools and programs. Awards in the field range from associate to master's degrees; specialization certificates for expanded functions are also offered. Most of the available programs may be completed in two years and include classroom instruction, hands-on training in a laboratory setting, and clinical experience hours. Some schools have limited admission and competition for entrance into such programs can be steep.
Bellingham Technical College
Located in Bellingham, this technical college offers an Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene program that is designed to assist students for transfer to a bachelor's program after graduation. This program requires completion of 126 credit hours of study in courses such as oral therapy, general pathology and dental hygiene principles. The program's curriculum also includes several clinical practices. The admission process is selective and occurs every other year.
A dental expanded function dental auxiliary certificate program is also available. Those who have gained a dental hygienist education and obtained licensing can pursue the 18 credits needed to earn this certificate.
Located in Vancouver, Clark College enrolls about 13,000 students. The college's Bachelor of Applied Science program in dental hygiene requires 180 credit hours of study. The curriculum includes courses such as dental anatomy, oral radiology and pharmacology.
The college also offers an Associate in Arts in Dental Hygiene. Students earn this as a transfer degree. Classes cover topics like periodontics, oral medicine and restorative dentistry.
Columbia Basin College
The associate's degree program in dental hygiene at Columbia Basin College in Pasco rewards an Associate in Applied Science. Students are required to take a minimum of 131 credits of study. Classes in this program focus on subjects such as dental health education, dental materials and pharmacology. The program's curriculum includes both lectures and lab work.
Eastern Washington University
This university is located in Cheney and enrolls approximately 12,000 students. Four years of study are required to earn a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. Students learn about head and neck anatomy, periodontology, radiography and other subjects. The program's curriculum also includes a teaching practicum, capstone project and clinical experience.
The school also offers an Expanded Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene program that allows licensed dental hygienists who possess an associate's degree in the field to gain additional knowledge and skills. Students complete 61 credits of study. Besides participating in several practicums, students take classes covering topics like oral healthcare management, promoting oral healthcare and research methods.
Additionally, the school offers a Master of Science in Dental Hygiene program that requires a minimum of 62 credits of study. Classes include healthcare leadership, educational methodology and translational research. In addition to coursework, students complete lab work and write a thesis.
Lake Washington Institute of Technology
The Lake Washington Institute of Technology is located in Kirkland. The school offers an Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene that requires 120 credits to earn. In addition, 57 prerequisite credits are required. Classes in this program cover topics like tooth morphology, pharmacology, pain control and community dental health.
Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom
Lakewood is the home of Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom. Students earning Bachelor of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene from the school take classes such as dental hygiene nutrition, restorative dentistry and local anesthesia.
Seattle Central College
This college, which is located in Seattle, offers an Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene program that allows graduates to transfer or continue on in the school's Bachelor of Applied Science in Allied Health with an emphasis in Dental Hygiene program. The curriculum includes coursework in topics such as microbiology, human nutrition and health promotion. Students also engage in clinical experiences.
Dental hygienists also have the option to take part in an expanded function dental auxiliary program. Students are awarded a Career Pathway for Dental Assistant Certificate after earning 15 credits.
Shoreline Community College
Located in Shoreline, this community college offers an Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences in Dental Hygiene program that includes 182 credits of study. Incoming students are expected to have competent fine and gross motor, communication and behavioral skills, as well as conceptual and observation skills. Coursework in the program includes clinical dental hygiene, dental anatomy and dental hygiene fundamentals.
Yakima Valley College
This college in Yakima enrolls over 4,000 students. The school offers a Bachelor of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene. Coursework topics include infection control, oral pathology and community dental health. Clinical experiences are also included.
Washington requires that dental hygienists be licensed. To become licensed, an individual must graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association and pass licensure exams.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Dental Hygiene Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)*|
|Bellingham Technical College||2-year, public; small city|| Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene - Transfer Degree,
Dental Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary Certificate
| $3,600 in-state
|Clark College||4-year, public; midsize city|| Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene,
Associate in Arts in Dental Hygiene - Transfer Degree
| $4,287 in-state
|Columbia Basin College||4-year, primarily associate's, public; midsize suburb||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene|| $5,288 in-state
|Eastern Washington University||4-year, public; fringe town|| Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene,
Expanded Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene,
Master of Science in Dental Hygiene
|Lake Washington Institute of Technology||4-year, primarily associate's, public; large suburb||Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene|| $4,251 in-state
|Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom||2-year, public; small city||Bachelor of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene|| $3,862 in-state
|Seattle Central College||4-year primarily associate's, public; large city|| Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene - Transfer Degree, Bachelor of Applied Science in Allied Health with an emphasis in Dental Hygiene
Career Pathway for Dental Assistant Certificate
|Shoreline Community College||2-year, public; large suburb||Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences in Dental Hygiene|| $3,873 in-state
|Yakima Valley College||4-year, public; small city||Bachelor of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene|| $5,163 in-state
Source: *College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics.