How do I get an Associate's Degree in Dental Hygiene?

Jeremy Laukkonen
Jeremy Laukkonen

An associate's degree in dental hygiene can typically be received from any accredited college or university. Not every school offers a program in dental hygiene, though many technical schools, community colleges, and universities do. Since an associate of applied science (AAS) is typically a two year program, many people choose a technical or community college to complete their associate's degree in dental hygiene. It is also possible to obtain a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene, and some countries require this degree to be able to work in the dental hygiene field.

Supervised clinical work is often required to earn an associate's degree in dental hygiene.
Supervised clinical work is often required to earn an associate's degree in dental hygiene.

In order to apply for a course of study, you will typically need to have completed high school or passed a general education development (GED) test. There may be other admissions requirements as well, depending on the institution you are applying to. Some will require a particular grade point average (GPA) from high school or previous higher education. Others may require that you have already completed prior college coursework, including courses in math, science, and language. If this isn't the case, you will typically need to complete classes such as these as a part of studying for your associate's degree in dental hygiene.

Many accredited colleges and universities offer associate's degrees in dental hygiene.
Many accredited colleges and universities offer associate's degrees in dental hygiene.

Most dental hygiene programs are semester based and do not include summer courses, though a smaller number allow you to study year round. It may also be possible to take a part time curriculum depending on the institution, so that you can continue to work while studying. Distance learning, including online programs, are sometimes available, though they are often limited to degree completion programs for those attempting to finish up a bachelor's degree.

Good dental hygiene is crucial for maintaining a healthy smile.
Good dental hygiene is crucial for maintaining a healthy smile.

In the US, those studying for an associate's degree in dental hygiene typically need to supplement their normal classes with supervised clinical work. Some schools will have on-site facilities for students to perform clinical duties in, while others will have off-site facilities or require you to work elsewhere in the community. By the time you complete an associate's degree in dental hygiene, you will typically have several hundreds of hours of practical experience in various settings.

Most dental hygiene programs are semester based and do not include summer courses.
Most dental hygiene programs are semester based and do not include summer courses.

Once you have completed an associate's degree in dental hygiene, you may choose to work as a hygienist or further your education. An AAS degree may provide a stepping stone to a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene, which can create further employment opportunities. While an associate's degree in dental hygiene typically prepares you for clinical work, a bachelor's degree may help you to obtain a job in education, administrative fields, or research.

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    • Supervised clinical work is often required to earn an associate's degree in dental hygiene.
      Supervised clinical work is often required to earn an associate's degree in dental hygiene.
    • Many accredited colleges and universities offer associate's degrees in dental hygiene.
      Many accredited colleges and universities offer associate's degrees in dental hygiene.
    • Good dental hygiene is crucial for maintaining a healthy smile.
      Good dental hygiene is crucial for maintaining a healthy smile.
    • Most dental hygiene programs are semester based and do not include summer courses.
      Most dental hygiene programs are semester based and do not include summer courses.