Bachelor of Science Overview

Our accelerated dental hygiene program enables students to earn their Bachelor of Science degree in three years, rather than completing a traditional four-year program.

Dental Hygiene BS students

This year-round program allows maximum opportunities for those who are eager to start their dental hygiene careers or further their education in graduate school.

Recognized as one of the outstanding programs in the country, the program gives students an opportunity to work with dental and dental hygiene faculty who are experts/specialists in their disciplines.

Students also take courses, interact in a team approach with dental students in our clinics, and are required to spend four weeks treating patients, providing dental education and promoting dental careers at an outreach clinic.

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Admissions Requirements

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Prerequisite courses

All prerequisites must be a minimum of three (3) credits:

  1. Anatomy
  2. Biology (course must include a laboratory)*
  3. Chemistry (course must include a laboratory)*
  4. Composition
  5. Psychology
  6. Sociology
  7. Physiology
  8. Statistics

*Course laboratories must be taken in-person.

GPA Requirements

To be considered for admission into the Dental Hygiene program, applicants must have:

  • Minimum of 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Minimum 2.8 prereq and science GPA
  • Minimum C grade in all prerequisite courses

High school course preparation

All applicants who graduated from high school in 1987 or since, must have completed the University of Minnesota high school course preparation requirements:

  • Four years of English, with emphasis on writing, including instruction in reading and speaking skills and in literary understanding and appreciation;
  • Four years of mathematics, including one year each of elementary algebra, geometry, and intermediate algebra;
  • Three years of science, including one year each of biological and physical science and including laboratory experience;
  • Three years of social studies, including one year each of geography (or a combination of courses incorporating geographic studies, e.g., world history, western civilization, Latin American studies, etc.) and U.S. history;
  • Two years of a single second language; and
  • One year of visual and/or performing arts, including instruction in the history and interpretation of the art form (e.g., theater arts, music, band, chorus, orchestra, drawing, painting, photography, graphic design, etc.).

All high school preparation requirements must be completed prior to entry into the Dental Hygiene program.

Admissions criteria

All applicants are considered for admission based on individual review of their credentials using the following review factors:

Review factors

  • Cumulative grade point average
  • Pre-professional grade point average
  • Science grade point average
  • TOEFL score, if applicable (minimum 94); Internet based TOEFL only
  • Challenging pattern of prior coursework (e.g. number of science courses taken, credit load, overall consistency in academic performance)
  • Written communication skills
  • Interview
  • Personal achievement, aptitude not reflected in academic record
  • Presence of diversity factors
  • Leadership potential
  • University credit

English proficiency

The Division of Dental Hygiene requires all applicants who are non-native speakers of English to submit a TOEFL score of at least 94. The TOEFL must have been administered within two years prior to the date of application to the program. Verification of score(s) must be received by the application deadline.

You may be exempt from this requirement if:

  • You have lived in the United States for more than 8 years.
  • You have successfully completed 26 or more transferable semester credits at a two- or four-year post-secondary institution in the United States and have completed the full freshman English requirement at that school with a grade of C or better; or
  • You have successfully completed 60 or more transferable semester credits at a two- or four-year post-secondary institution in the United States.

Diversity statement

University of Minnesota Program in Dental Hygiene Diversity Policy for Admissions

The Program seeks to foster a diverse student body of thought, interest, background, and intellect.  Diversity enhances the educational experience of all students and better prepares our graduates to practice dental hygiene in today’s world.  A diverse student body enriches undergraduate education by providing a multiplicity of views and perspectives that enhance research, teaching, and the development of new knowledge.

We define diversity to include several characteristics including race or ethnicity, economic disadvantaged, personal adversity, disability, evidence of leadership, special talents, unique work or service experience, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

The Program in Dental Hygiene embraces the University’s commitment to equity and diversity in recruitment, admission, and education by providing equal access to all undergraduate students.  In adhering to this policy, the University abides by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Minnesota Human Rights Act and other applicable statutes and regulations relating to equality of opportunity. In this venue, the School of Dentistry and the Program in Dental Hygiene encourages all qualified individuals to apply for admission to its programs.


Immunization policy

Required student immunizations and vaccinations are to comply with Minnesota State law and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. Students may be expected to have other requirements by individual schools.

Upon admission to the AHC academic programs, students are required to submit proof (signed by health care provider) of the following immunizations and vaccinations:

Required: Form must be submitted prior to beginning Fall Semester classes. The appropriate form will be sent to you upon acceptance to the program.

Required Tests and Immunizations

  • Hepatitis B. Report 3 doses of the vaccine or antibody titre results documenting immunity. Antibody titres are blood tests that may be ordered by a physician to evaluate immunity.
  • Varicella (Chicken Pox). Report 2 doses of the vaccine or history of the disease. If you are unsure whether or not you have had varicella, you must submit an antibody titre documenting immunity or proof of two immunizations.
  • Measles (Rubeola). Report 2 doses after age 12 months or antibody titre results documenting immunity.
  • Mumps. Report 1-2 doses after age 12 months or antibody titre results documenting immunity
  • Rubella (German Measles). Report 1-2 doses after age 12 months or antibody titre results documenting immunity
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria (Td). Report most current dose, within the last 10 years.
  • A 2-step Mantoux (PPD) test. This test involves placement of a purified protein derivative (PPD) to test for tuberculosis. It must be read 48-72 hours after placement, and the area of induration recorded. In compliance with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the AHC requires a 2nd PPD test to be performed two weeks after the first test. This two-step Mantoux test is a requirement. If you have had a two-step Mantoux more than one year ago, you should have a standard Mantoux test each year (a two-step test is required only once). Clearance must be current each year and requires a Mantoux test each year. Submit results each year to Boynton Health Service on the provided form.

If you are a student at the University of Minnesota who pays a student service fee, Boynton Health Service provides ambulatory medical care and many other services. However, these required immunizations are NOT covered by student fees, and it is in your interest to secure appropriate documentation rather than repeating immunizations (at a cost of over $300) or requesting antibody titres on campus. Annual Mantoux tests are covered by student fees.

If you have a medical exemption to any requirement, it may be documented on the Immunization Record. If you have a conscientious objection, you should contact your school or college. Conscientious objections do not meet the requirement for clearance.

As a future health professional, we know you take the control of infectious disease seriously, and we appreciate in advance your efforts to comply with these policies that are designed to protect you and your patients.

The Clearance Process

  1. Ask the health provider(s) who have your medical records to complete the required Immunization Record. It MUST be completed by a provider (defined as an MD, DO, RNC, PA, NP, or RN).
  2. Mail the form to Boynton Health Service as indicated. Boynton is not responsible for placing or removing registration holds, only for issuing student clearance. Boynton will review your completed form, and it will be part of your medical record.
  3. If you have completed all requirements, you and your school/college will receive confirmation of your clearance, and you will be allowed to enroll in classes and clerkships. If you have not completed all requirements, you will be notified of which requirements are unfulfilled and how to complete them. Your school/college will not be notified of your clearance to enroll until you have completed all requirements and have received confirmation from Boynton.

CPR Certification Policy

The American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation requires that all students, clinical faculty, and appropriate support staff be able to perform basic life support procedures, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and manage other medical emergencies. In compliance with this standard, students, clinical faculty, and appropriate support staff are required to take an American Heart Association Basic Life Support Training Course (level C) (AHA BLS) provided by the University of Minnesota Life Support Program, and scheduled during the sophomore and senior year orientation sessions.

HIV and HBV Prevention Program

Applicants to the program need to be aware of the following Minnesota Dental Practice Act HIV and HBV Prevention Policy, which will affect those applicants/students who are HIV and/or HBV positive. The Practice Act stipulates that:

  • A licensed dental hygienist who is diagnosed as infected with HIV or HBV must report that information to the Commissioner of Health promptly and as soon as medically necessary for disease control purposes, but no more than 30 days after learning of the diagnosis or 30 days after becoming licensed in the state.
  • The Minnesota Board of Dentistry may refuse to grant a license or may impose disciplinary or restrictive action against an HIV/HBV infected dental hygienist who fails to comply with any of the requirements of the Board or with any monitoring or reporting requirement
  • After receiving a report that a regulated person is infected with HIV or HBV, the Board of Dentistry or the Commissioner of Health shall establish a monitoring plan for the infected dental hygienist. This plan may address the scope of practice of the individual, required submission of reports and other provisions that the Board deems reasonable.


Starting the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, shadowing will be required:

  • 8 hours of shadowing by APPLICATION
  • 16 hours of shadowing by MATRICULATION
  • Applicants applying to only the DH program need to shadow dental hygienists exclusively
  • Applicants applying to both programs need to have at least half of their shadowing hours (4 at time of application and 8 at time of matriculation) completed with dental hygienists


“The University of Minnesota dental hygiene program is an outstanding and incredible program. I am very thankful for choosing to get my education here. The faculty and staff set high standards to help students become the best possible hygienist they can be. They make an impact on the lives of the students. They help prepare and educate you to respond in the best way to any possible situation you could encounter in the real world. My respect and admiration for the faculty cannot be expressed in words. Thank you for being the positive change in my life!”

—Rawan Al-Khatib Class of 2017

"When I look back on my time in the DH program at the University of Minnesota I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Not only do we work alongside dental students, the faculty and staff have created a space for us to learn the best decision making skills that I continue to practice and develop daily. The faculty show up with their hearts ready to make changes in our lives and influence the profession of dental hygiene. The program has taught me to look at people in the most caring way, which has made me a better clinician, coworker, and friend. I had an incredible experience and am so proud to have received my education at the U of M School of Dentistry!"

—Nici Brown, Class of 2012



A wide range of theoretical and clinical experiences in treating traditional and special-needs patients is provided. You also will participate in a number of community-based clinical and education programs with diverse populations.

To become a dental hygienist, you must complete a minimum of one year of pre-requisite coursework in:

  • Anatomy
  • Biology (course must include a laboratory)
  • Chemistry (course must include a laboratory)
  • Composition
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Physiology
  • Statistics

All courses must be a minimum of three (3) credits.

This is followed by two calendar years of professional coursework in the basic sciences, including:

  • Biochemistry
  • Nutrition
  • Histology
  • Oral pathology
  • Microbiology

The professional program also includes courses in:

  • Dental Anatomy and Head and Neck anatomy
  • Preclinical and clinical dental hygiene
  • Communication skills
  • Patient assessment and DH treatment planning
  • Cariology and Periodontology
  • Oral radiology
  • Biomaterials
  • Dental public health
  • Pharmacology
  • Local anesthesia and pain control
  • Research methods
  • Orthodontics and pediatric dentistry
  • Geriatrics
  • Patients with special needs
  • Ethics
  • Leadership and Professional Development

Special Learning Opportunities

Community Service Learning Clinics

Dental hygiene students have the opportunity to participate in a number of off-campus Twin Cities and out-state Minnesota day and week-long community service learning clinics providing dental hygiene care for populations who typically do not have sufficient access to dental care; include valuable cross-cultural health service learning experiences.

Continuing Dental Hygiene Education

Students are encouraged to participate in selected continuing education courses during their senior year on a space available basis. These courses expose seniors to a broad scope of information and technology from a variety of local and national speakers. Students gain by selecting their own educational experiences and interacting with practicing dental hygienists and dentists.



A number of scholarships are available for eligible Dental Hygiene students. Please contact the Division of Dental Hygiene at 612-625-8970 or Division Director Cyndee Stull at [email protected] for more information.

Graduation with Distinction/High Distinction

Students with a minimum GPA of 3.75 University of Minnesota in upper division courses are granted their degree "with distinction." Students with a minimum GPA of 3.90 University of Minnesota in upper division courses are granted their degree "with high distinction."

Scholarships and awards

The following awards are presented annually by the program faculty to selected dental hygiene students.

Louise C. Ball Scholarship

For selected students who are in good academic standing and have established financial need.

Shirley Burgan Lichtwardt Memorial Scholarship

For selected students who are in good academic standing and have established financial need.

School of Dentistry Alumni Society Scholarship

For selected students who exhibit scholarship and leadership.

Sigma Phi Alpha, Eta Chapter Membership

National Dental Hygiene Honor Society established to recognize and honor excellence in scholarship, service, and character among graduating dental hygiene students. A maximum of 10 percent of each graduating class is selected for membership.

Sigma Phi Alpha Award

Awarded to students in each dental hygiene class who maintain the highest GPAs.

Gordon and Marie Hackborn Dental Hygiene Scholarship

This scholarship was established to honor Gordon and Marie Hackborn by their children, Richard Hackborn and Joan Hackborn Hoover, a 1959 graduate of the University of Minnesota Program in Dental Hygiene. The award is made to dental hygiene student who has demonstrated need and has achieved an average or above grade point average (selected by faculty).

Park Dental Service Excellence Award

This award is presented to students in recognition to commitment to quality patient care and service to the community. The award also recognizes the student who exhibits a true dental hygiene professional, who sees that the needs of the patient come first by providing excellent patient service, patient education, and relationship building (selected by faculty).

Naomi Rhode Dental Hygienist-Patient Relationship Award

For a selected student who exhibits the most interest and skill in the dental hygienist-patient relationship.



Graduation requirements

The bachelor's degree will be recommended for students who earn a minimum GPA of 2.00 and have completed all required work and credits specified by the curriculum.

Students with a minimum GPA of 3.75 in upper division courses are granted a degree with distinction. Students with a minimum GPA of 3.90 in upper division courses are granted a degree with high distinction.

Checklist for B.S. in Dental Hygiene

The bachelor's degree will be recommended for students who have been formally admitted to the program, who earn a minimum GPA of 2.0, passing grades in all required courses, and have completed all of the required work and the total number of credits specified for the curriculum.

Candidates for the degree must have:

  • complied with the policies, rules and regulations of the Division of Dental Hygiene, School of Dentistry, and the University of Minnesota.
  • completed all required courses: high school preparation, preprofessional, professional, and liberal education requirements.
  • completed all division course, clinical and competency requirements.
  • completed a minimum of 120 semester credits.
  • earned a minimum passing grade (C-) in all required dental hygiene designated courses.
  • earned a minimum-passing grade in all non-dental hygiene designated courses.
  • earned a minimum 2.0 cumulative and dental hygiene grade point average.
  • successfully completed all course, laboratory, and clinical requirements.
  • returned all assigned equipment, instruments, and supplies.
  • discharged all financial obligations to the University of Minnesota.
  • been recommended by the faculty of the Division of Dental Hygiene for the degree.


Dental hygienists practice in accordance with the requirements of individual state dental practice acts. Successful completion of a written National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and a clinical examination are required for licensure in Minnesota. Both examinations are administered on the University's Minneapolis campus. The licensed dental hygienist practices in accordance with the requirements of individual states. Many states require continuing education for license renewal.

BSDH Program Information Sheet

BSDH Information Guide

University Catalog

Info sessions

Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to attend a Dental Hygiene Information Session held every month at the School of Dentistry. Sessions include information about the program and individual advising.

DH/DT Information Sessions

Contact us at 612-625-7477 or [email protected] with questions.

Personal interview

Competitive candidates for admission will be invited to visit the School of Dentistry to tour our state-of-the-art facilities, connect with dental hygiene faculty, admissions personnel, and students, and for a formal interview.

Program at a glance