Best Dental Hygienist Programs

Become Team
Become Team
November 11, 2021

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Dental hygienists examine patients for signs of oral disease and provide preventative care, such as oral cleaning. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental hygienists earn a median pay of $77,090 a year. The job outlook is excellent, as there is anticipated job growth of 11% over the next decade. Dental hygienists typically need an associate degree in dental hygiene and state licensure.

20 Best Dental Hygienist Programs

The best dental hygiene programs are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Each of the following programs on our list is CODA-approved, affordable, and has great graduation rates. Here they are in alphabetical order:

How We Choose the Best Programs

We chose the best dental hygienist programs based on the following criteria:

  • Under $35,000 net price
  • Over 50% graduation rate
  • Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) accreditation
Carrington College-Sacramento Sacramento, CA

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $33,132
Graduation rate: 53%

Carrington College's Sacramento campus offers an associate degree in dental hygiene.

Carrington College-San Jose San Jose, CA

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $26,201
Graduation rate: 62%

Carrington College's San Jose campus also offers a dental hygiene associate degree program, which you can finish in under two years.

Concorde Career College-Aurora Aurora, CO

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $19,767
Graduation rate: 72%

Concorde Career College's Aurora campus offers a dental hygiene associate degree program starting at 18 months completion time.

Concorde Career College-Dallas Dallas, TX

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $22,748
Graduation rate: 73%

Concorde's Dallas campus also offers an associate degree in dental hygiene that you can complete in 18 months.

Concorde Career College-Garden Grove Garden Grove, CA

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $20,731
Graduation rate: 73%

Concorde Garden Grove's associate degree program takes at least 23 months to complete.

Concorde Career College-Memphis Memphis, TN

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $20,931
Graduation rate: 66%

Concorde Career College's Memphis campus has an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene program that you can complete in at least 18 months.

Concorde Career College-San Antonio San Antonio, TX

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $26,300
Graduation rate: 73%

Concorde's San Antonio campus offers an 18-month associate degree program.

Concorde Career College-San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $22,436
Graduation rate: 76%

You can complete Concorde Career College's San Bernardino campus dental hygiene associate degree program in as little as 21 months.

Concorde Career College-San Diego San Diego, CA

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $24,273
Graduation rate: 79%

Concorde San Diego's dental hygiene associate degree program takes 23 months to complete.

Flint Hills Technical College Emporia, KS

School type: Public
Net price: $16,703
Graduation rate: 67%

Flint Hills Technical College (FHTC) offers a dental hygiene associate degree program. You can use the credits you earn at FHTC towards a bachelor's degree at five different universities.

Fortis College-Landover Landover, MD

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $21,957
Graduation rate: 67%

Fortis College at Landover has an associate degree in dental hygiene program in which students can prepare for licensure.

Fortis College-Salt Lake City Salt Lake City, UT

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $24,238
Graduation rate: 58%

Fortis College's Salt Lake City campus offers an associate degree program for prospective dental hygiene students.

Fortis College-Smyrna Smyrna, GA

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $19,849
Graduation rate: 63%

Fortis College at Smyrna's associate degree program in dental hygiene trains students to become licensed. Each Fortis campus offers a career service center to help students get jobs.

Fortis Institute-Scranton Scranton, PA

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $33,373
Graduation rate: 52%

Fortis Institute in Scranton offers an Associate in Specialized Technology degree program for dental hygiene students.

Fox Valley Technical College Appleton, WI

School type: Public
Net price: $21,263
Graduation rate: 55%

Fox Valley Technical College's dental hygiene associate program prepares students for the exams necessary to practice as a dental hygienist in Wisconsin.

Lancaster County Career and Technology Center Willow Street, PA

School type: Public
Net price: $7,324
Graduation rate: 72%

Lancaster County Career and Technology Center allows students in the Dental Hygiene Specialized Associate Degree program to work in the onsite dental clinic. This program takes 22 months to complete.

Pima Medical Institute-Houston Houston, TX

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $23,289
Graduation rate: 75%

Pima Medical Institute at Houston offers a dental hygiene associate degree program with a Community Dental Clinic for students to practice.

Pima Medical Institute-Seattle Seattle, WA

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $25,476
Graduation rate: 70%

Pima Medical Institute at Seattle's dental hygiene associate degree program takes 23 months to complete.

Remington College-Nashville Campus Nashville, TN

School type: Private not-for-profit
Net price: $19,687
Graduation rate: 55%

Remington College's Nashville campus offers a dental hygiene associate degree program that you can complete in two years. Remington covers the costs to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, potentially saving you over $1,000.

San Joaquin Valley College-Ontario Ontario, CA

School type: Private for-profit
Net price: $22,467
Graduation rate: 61%

San Joaquin Valley College in Ontario has a dental hygiene associate degree program you can complete in as little as 16 months. The campus has an onsite clinic for dental hygiene students.

How to Become a Dental Hygienist

All states require dental hygienists to be licensed, although the specific requirements vary by state. Most hygienists earn an associate degree in dental hygiene, which will take two to three years. The best dental hygienist programs offer a mix of classroom instruction, laboratory work, and clinical practice. High schoolers interested in becoming dental hygienists should take courses in math, chemistry, and biology.

Each state grants licensure. To receive a license, you must graduate from an accredited dental hygiene program, complete the written National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, and pass any regional or state clinical board exams.

FAQs on Dental Hygiene Programs

Do you have to take a program to become a dental hygienist?

Yes, to be licensed in the U.S. as a dental hygienist, you will need an associate degree in dental hygiene. The best dental hygiene programs are at community colleges, universities, vocational schools, and online.

What will you learn in a dental hygiene program?

Dental hygienist programs teach the basics of good oral health. You will study anatomy, medical ethics, and periodontics and will learn and practice removing stains and plaque from teeth, taking and developing dental x-rays, documenting patient care, and educating patients on oral hygiene.

How long do dental hygiene programs take?

An associate degree program in dental hygiene will take two to three years. It will include a mix of classroom study, laboratory work, and guided practice on actual patients.

How much do dental hygiene programs cost?

Costs will vary depending on the length of the program and other factors. According to the American Dental Hygienists' Association, the average estimated total cost for an associate degree is $22,692 and for a bachelor's degree is $36,382. There are also fees for books and supplies, room and board, lab fees, and more.

How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Program

Finding the best dental hygiene programs may require some research. Multiple factors should matter to you, such as cost and location. Here are a few other things to take into consideration when searching:

Onsite dental clinics
A dental hygienist needs good, basic classroom knowledge of healthcare concepts and oral health. It's also important to have the chance to practice on patients, which a dental clinic can allow for.
Externships
Many dental programs have cooperative agreements with local dentist practices, allowing students to undertake externships. This is a great way to gain a real-world view of daily life in healthcare.
Career placement services
A good career services office can help you hone your resume, cover letter, and other job materials. You may also get help locating jobs that are best suited to your training and interest.
Qualified instructors
The instructors in the best dental hygienist programs will be licensed hygienists themselves who have also obtained a degree in education. Dentists or other healthcare professionals are also great, qualified instructors.

Other Ways to Become a Dental Hygienist

You will not be able to work as a dental hygienist without licensing, and you'll be unlikely to find a job unless you have completed your state's requirements for becoming a dental hygienist. You will also need at least an associate degree in order to qualify for licensing exams.

You can also further your education with a bachelor's degree dental hygiene program, although this is not necessary. If you wish to do research, teach, or do clinical work in a public school health system, you may need a bachelor's or master's degree.

Financial Aid for Your Dental Hygiene Program

Scholarships for Dental Hygiene Programs

American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) Scholarships

American Dental Education Association (ADEA)/Crest Oral-B Scholarship for Dental Hygiene Students Pursuing Academic Careers

Federal Grants for Dental Hygiene Programs

Pell Grant

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

Become Team
Become Team
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