Online Degree and Diploma Programs to Be a Dental Hygienist

Jan 15, 2020

Essential Information

Dental Hygienists work alongside dentists to provide patients with important dental care and oral health education. Many community colleges and 4-year institutions offer associate's and bachelor's degree programs. Because the associate's degree is typically where students get their initial training in dental hygiene, these programs are usually offered in a hybrid format so that students can get hands on experience.

Bachelor's programs may be completely online because they're designed for students who already work as credentialed hygienists.

Program Level Online Availability Length Requirements
Associate's Degree Hybrid programs 2 years or less High school diploma or equivalent
Bachelor's Degree Yes 4 years Associate's degree and state credential


To be eligible for admission into an associate's degree program, applicants generally must have a high school diploma or GED and may be required to complete certain prerequisite courses in areas like anatomy and microbiology. Due to the clinical nature of the training, prospective students could be required to submit background checks and drug screenings, in addition to getting physicals and immunizations.

Online bachelor's degree completion programs typically require applicants to have a dental hygiene associate's degree and state credential. Some schools require passing scores on the Dental Hygiene National Board Examination.

Associate of Science Programs

Dental hygiene associate's programs can be completed in two years or less if students attend full-time each semester. These undergraduate programs require general education classes, in addition to major coursework focused on the clinical practices, equipment and legalities involved in carrying out a hygienist's duties.

Sample courses that may be covered in a hybrid program include dental anatomy and physiology, dental hygiene, dental materials, anxiety and pain control, community dental health and periodontics.

Bachelor of Science Programs

Online Bachelor of Science in dental hygiene programs are often highly interactive. They typically build on participants' work experiences and interests to create dynamic, personalized programs. These programs might contain refresher courses about dental hygiene skills learned at the associate's degree level.

Enrollees are able to tailor programs to meet their needs but common courses include dental hygiene practice, health care delivery systems, contemporary research and dental hygiene practice, pain control and local anesthesia, microbiology and policy and development in health care.

Learning Environment

Students enrolled in a hybrid dental hygiene program complete certain courses or portions of courses online and then attend campus at scheduled times for in-person training. Associate's degree programs have clinical practice requirements, which could be carried out at an on-campus lab or other clinical facility.

For the online components, of associate's or bachelor's programs, distance learners can access assignments, lessons and exams generally any time of day. Virtual classrooms usually contain message boards and chat rooms for class discussions between instructors and students.

Associate's degree options for dental hygienists are usually hybrid programs that have both online and in-person courses, while bachelor's degree programs are often offered fully online.

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