Online Schools for Dental Hygiene (bachelor’s degree)

bachelor-dental-hygienistsThe best online dental hygienist bachelors degree programs are typically bachelor’s degree completion programs. These programs are designed to provide those whom are currently in the dental health profession, such as licensed dental hygienists, with the tools they need to expand their skills and employment opportunities in this ever changing field. They require prospective students to have earned a certificate or an Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene. In an online dental hygienist bachelor’s degree program, students often take courses in asynchronous format, allowing them to complete coursework on their schedule. Students usually access course content through a virtual training platform, where they can listen to lecture presentations, participate in discussion forums, complete quizzes, essays, research projects and exams, submit assignments and send e-mails.

Student Financial Support

Connecticut’s University of Bridgeport has not only one of the best online dental hygienist bachelors degree programs but also a goal of making college education affordable for everyone, regardless of their social and financial background. According to the information on its website (, the university’s tuition and fees are $30,850 (2015-16). While this is slightly more expensive than that for other top tier private (not-for-profit) learning institution in the country, the University of Bridgeport’s dedication to helping students pay for tuition saw a whopping 98% of students receive institutional financial aid. Out of 2,503 total undergraduate students enrolled in this university, 81% (2,310) received on average $15,067 in grant aid while 73% (1,817) of undergraduate students took on average $8,962 in federal student loan. This makes the school the best choice for anyone looking for a cheap online dental hygienist bachelor’s degree.

Ongoing Technological Support and Access

East Tennessee State University offers a Bachelor of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene online degree completion program that is backed by exceptional technology support. The university incorporates the latest in online learning technologies to provide meaningful learning experiences that are compelling, impactful and fun. In fact, the East Tennessee State University’s multiple options for technology support are so exceptional that the U.S. News & World Report ranked the school No. 8 in student services and technology. This may be attributed to a utilization of resources like live tutoring, video streaming, webinars and chatrooms as well as its guarantee that course lectures have comprehensive compatibility with hand-held devices like smartphones and tablets.


Northern Arizona University offers one of the most flexible online dental hygiene degree programs – the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene Degree Completion Program. This program is designed to give students greater freedom and flexibility by allowing them to learn on their own schedule. It utilizes the latest technology-enhanced online learning solutions, which facilitate flexible scheduling, student-centered learning and highly interactive lessons of which students can access virtually anytime, anywhere. With just a computer with an internet connection, students can watch lecture presentations anytime of the day or night and participate in engaging discussions, forums, seminars and more at the push of a button. The school earned No. 1 ranking among the best online colleges for 2015 on

Faculty Accessibility

Access to faculty is extremely important when it comes to online undergraduate instruction in dental hygiene. This is because online dental hygiene students seldom have the chance to meet with lecturers face-to-face. Faculty members at Ferris State University, however, strive to make themselves accessible to students, especially to those enrolled in their online programs. With the school’s electronic, professors get to hold 4 office hours per week and monitor student sign-ins to their online lessons. While at it, they are able to respond to students’ inquiries within 24 hours at least to acknowledge the question and to propose a plan for following up, with an online chat or with some other appropriate response. Also, class sizes are kept small, and this positively impacts student engagement and assessment.

Faculty Credentials and Academic Qualifications

The University of Bridgeport is our pick for the best faculty credentials in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. While the university was ranked a dismal No. 30 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best online colleges for faculty credentials and training, the school is very proactive in ensuring their faculty members are able to deliver quality online education. According to the university’s website, 85% of instructors have at least three years experience teaching online. Additionally, the school requires all faculty members to undergo specific online instruction training before they are allowed to provide online lessons. This training equips the instructors with the necessary knowledge and skills to educate and evaluate students in an online environment, and is funded by the University of Bridgeport.

Learning Support

East Tennessee University takes the crown for the best learning support. The school earned a No. 8 ranking on the list of the best online colleges for student services and technology by U.S. News & World Report. Among other things, the institution was recognized for the ability to allow students to participate in lectures from virtually anywhere in the world where they have an internet-connected computer or device. Students have access to online academic advising, mentoring, tutoring, workshops, live librarians and digitized library materials. Course lectures are delivered through both live streaming and recorded video and audio, and can be accessed through hand-held devices like tablets and smartphones. With East Tennessee University’s learning support and student services, licensed dental hygienists have everything they need to further their education.

Disability Support

Providing support for learners with disabilities is equally important in online learning environment as it is in traditional classroom-based learning. The University of Bridgeport understands this and, therefore, always strives to foster an inclusive and accessible online environment. The school has implemented a number of online learning solutions and software tools designed to ensure students with disabilities have access to their online programs. These include informative resources and content, adaptive technology, and psycho-educational testing – all of which can be easily accessed on the school’s website. They allow students with disabilities to acquire the same information that is being presented to other learners. Because of this, the University of Bridgeport takes the crown for the best dental hygienist bachelor’s degree for disability support.

Library and Research Support

Minnesota State University is our pick for the best online dental hygienist bachelors degree for library and research support. The school has one of the most thorough library websites available to both online and traditional classroom-based students. The website provides access to a wide range of resources and help to support students at every stage of their research. These include subject guides, a comprehensive collection of necessary publications, research journals and other scholarly literature, digital research databases, and 24 hour library support through online chat and email. Minnesota State University also provides interlibrary loans and disability support to enable disabled individuals to participate as fully as possible and enjoy a quality experience while studying online.

Career Support and Employability Service

Our pick for the best career support in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene is State University of New York (SUNY) at Canton. This university understands the importance of helping students transition from college classes to starting a career in dentistry, and have made it their duty to provide comprehensive careers advice, guidance and informatition to current SUNY Canton students and recent SUNY Canton graduates. The university helps students make well-informed decisions about their future, whether they want to start their career, pursue further education or take time out. Its careers support and advice include helping students with resume writing, teaching students about the etiquette for internships, and guiding and advising those that wish to start their own businesses.

New Online Student Support

Texas Women’s University is our pick for best new online student orientation. This school understands that all new undergraduate students require an orientation session as a first step in successfully transitioning to their online dental hygiene bachelor’s degree program. It offers a handy virtual version of their new student orientation, which introduces students to various aspects of distance learning at Texas Women’s University. Through this orientation session, new online students get to learn about the school’s academics, financial aid and extracurricular activities as well as important resources and services available to them. Students also get the chance to take placement tests during the orientation session.

Prior Learning Options

State University of New York (SUNY) at Canton takes the crown for the best prior learning options. It offers students multiple options for college credit, allowing them to shorten their path toward a bachelor’s degree as well as save time and money. According to SUNY Canton’s prior learning policy, students have a number of paths designed to help them earn college credit for that they already know. Students can earn credit for eligible life and work experiences, transfer the credits they’ve earned at prior learning institutions, convert military training into college credit, or earn credit through completed professional training or certifications.

Student Engagement

East Tennessee State University is our pick for the best student engagement in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. Their virtual classroom delivers a highly interactive and engaging online learning environment, which keeps students engaged by enabling them to seamlessly interact with other students and faculty members. It is characterized by multiple options for student support, which include a fun and easy-to-use smartphone app that allows students to access the web-based lessons while on-the-go. What’s more, students are encouraged to take an active participatory role in their education by faculty members who hold mandatory weekly office hours and actively track student sign-ins to the web-based class.

Alumni Engagement

Northern Arizona University wins best online dental hygiene bachelor’s degree program for alumni engagement. The school earned a No. 12 ranking for the strongest alumni network on the ranking and review site, Inc. Its alumni office is very proactive at helping NAU graduates connect with fellow graduates and enjoy certain benefits offered by the institution. This office provides graduates with the opportunity to interact and network with each other, allowing them to socialize, share success stories, stay up to date on what’s happening and expand their professional networks. Also, through the alumni office at NAU, students can enroll to participate in alumni events, networking events, and have access to highly advantageous career services. In addition, alumni get to enjoy the retail discounts offered by the institution.


The Oregon Institute of Technology emerged the clear winner for best value in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. According to the online salary, benefits and compensation information website, in-state graduates from this school see an average return on investment of 8.7%, and out-of-state graduates see a 7.3% average return on investment (without financial aid). In-state graduates receiving financial aid see a return on investment of 9.6% on average, and the average return on investment is 8.1% for out-of-state graduates receiving financial aid. Also, the school is ranked No. 3 on the list of top public regional colleges in the west by U.S. News & World Report.

Bachelor’s Degree in Dental Hygiene

The bachelor’s degree program in dental hygiene is usually a four-year course, but online Bachelor of Science degree completion programs may be completed in about two years. This degree program provides students with both a theoretical and clinical understanding of the dental hygiene field. Students wishing to enroll in a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene must earn a high school diploma and complete courses in basic college-level mathematics, English, communication and physical sciences.

Top Dental Hygiene Schools (With 100% Online Dental Hygienists Degree Programs)

1. Minnesota State University – Mankato
2. University of Louisiana at Monroe
3. Western Kentucky University
4. Saint Petersburg College
5. University of Bridgeport
6. Oregon Institute of Technology
7. Eastern Washington University
8. Old Dominion University
9. Pennsylvania College of Technology
10. University of New Mexico

Class Curriculum

Course topics for a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene can differ from school to school, but courses that are frequently offered include:

  • Fundamentals of oral hygiene: This is usually taken as an introductory course for the dental hygienist bachelor’s degree, at the beginning of the program. It incorporates the background information on the profession, particularly the basic principles of oral health or oral hygiene.

    Here, students get to learn about various aspects of the profession, including things like oral hygiene law, professionalism and ethical behavior within the field. Some of the specific topics and skills that are covered within this course include: patient record tracking and equipment sanitation, plaque control and fluoride treatment, instrumentation skills, periodontal disease transmission and control, vital signs and cancer screenings, as well as patient assessment techniques. In most cases, fundamentals of oral hygiene course is taken as a pre-clinical course consisting of lectures and live demonstrations. Lab and clinical practicum experiences may be included – or may be provided as a separate course – in the later stages of the program.

  • Periodontology: Periodontics is an oral health specialty that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease and other oral problems. In this course, students learn about how gum diseases such as gingivitis or periodontitis affect gums and mouth, and strategies to provide care and improve the health of patients’ gums in order to prevent and treat these gum diseases. Other specific topics that are covered within this course include: the role of tobacco use and genetics in gum disease and other oral health problems, disease classification and various methods of surgical and non-surgical therapy and treatment.
  • Dental radiology: Dental radiology and radiography course teaches students to take and process oral radio-graphs or x-rays. It is often taken in the middle of the oral hygienist bachelor’s degree program. Students become familiar with the basic principles of radiation health and safety practices, and are introduced to different radiologic equipment so they can learn about everything about taking oral radiographs and interpreting radiographic results. Once students have finished with learning the proper techniques and methods, they move on to the production, exposure, mounting and storing of radiographs. Specific topics that are covered within this course include: radiograph assessment, biological effects of radiation, X-ray machine overview, film processing techniques, regulations of radiation use, and radiation protection.
  • Oral pathology: Oral biology and oral pathology are specialty areas within the field of dentistry that deal with the study of the mouth and oral diseases. This course is usually taken later in the dental hygienist bachelors degree program, as it builds on previous knowledge. Both general and oral pathology are covered, and candidates typically focus on oral disease and common signs and symptoms. Students study disease processes, inflammation and repair, as well as treatment options.
  • Pharmacology and pain management: This course teaches students to utilize drugs, anesthetics and other pain control techniques to manage and control patient pain – which is a common side effect of dental procedures. Students learn about various pain relief medications used in the oral health field, including nitrous oxide gas and anesthesia; their usage and modes of action; proper dosage and potential side effects on patients.
  • Nutrition: As is the case with other aspects of human health, nutrition plays an important role in ensuring optimal dental health. The nutrition course focuses on proper diet and nutrition and how these two affect a person’s oral health. Through course topics such as biochemistry and nutrition counseling, students are taught to educate and advise patients on proper diet and nutrition for oral health.
  • Community Health: This course is designed to provide students with hands-on experience necessary to work on a community dental health program. In this class, focus is placed on creating and implementing enhanced public health programs to educate the population about the importance of healthy habits, oral and gum disease prevention, nutrition and more. Students are taught to plan, create, implement and evaluate an oral health curriculum.

Employment Outlook and Salary

The employment outlook for dental hygienist is extremely good. The rate of job growth in this field is expected to rise by a whopping 33% during the period 2012-2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

When it comes to salary the average dental hygienist salaries for job postings nationwide stand at $51,000, according to Figures from the BLS show that the median wage for a dental hygienist was $71,520, as of May 2014.