The entry level Baccalaureate degree program in a dental hygiene program of study encompasses two years of pre-requisite and general education courses preceding two years of dental sciences, dental hygiene theory and practice, community oral health, research methodology and teaching strategies.
Upon completion of the dental hygiene program, graduates are eligible to take the Dental Hygiene National Board Examination as well as the regional and state board examinations to become licensed dental hygienists.
How to Apply
Click on the information below to read an explanation of the application process with a list of criteria and instructions.
The ODU baccalaureate dental hygiene program strives to prepare professional dental hygienists qualified for positions in a variety of healthcare settings and/or for graduate study in dental hygiene. Admissions procedures and decisions are nondiscriminatory. A diverse pool of applicants is encouraged to apply.
Dental hygienists serve as clinicians, educators, researchers, administrators, managers, program developers, consultants, and/or dental product sales representatives, depending on the individual's employment setting and educational background. Dental hygienists with a bachelor's degree may pursue careers in education, research, community and public health settings, institutional, entrepreneurial, and industrial dental hygiene. Dental hygiene education curriculum is scientifically-oriented and rigorous.
Accreditation requirements limit enrollment based on resources including faculty-student ratios. Therefore, admission is competitive with standardized and fair criteria and procedures to ensure selected candidates have the potential for successfully completing the program.
To view a list of required prerequisite courses and dental hygiene curricular content, visit the ODU undergraduate catalog.
Recommended courses for transfer from the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) can be viewed here. To determine if courses taken outside of ODU will transfer, visit: https://transfer2.odu.edu/equivalency/.
All applicants are highly encouraged to seek advising from the ODU College of Health Sciences Advising Team before applying. They can be reached by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. This program is fully on campus.
- Application information for undergraduate admission to the University can be found at: https://odu.edu/admission/undergraduate.
2. Apply to the entry-level baccalaureate degree program of the School of Dental Hygiene (SODH) using the American Dental Education Association Dental Hygiene Centralized Application Service (ADEA DHCAS). The deadline for completing this application is February 1st.
The following 4 bullet points list required parts of the dental hygiene application:
- All post-secondary educational official transcripts: The applicant is responsible for providing accurate and comprehensive information regarding their academic history by including official transcripts from all educational institutions attended since high school including community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities. Instructions for entering academic history information and sending official transcripts to DHCAS can be found at: https://help.liaisonedu.com/ADEA_DHCAS_Applicant_Help_Center
Failure to follow these instructions may cause delays in the verification of your application and/or the inability to be admitted to the School of Dental Hygiene. Candidates' Grade Point Averages (GPAs) are evaluated in two ways: Overall GPA (minimum 3.0) and Science GPA (minimum 3.3). All courses attempted and grades earned are calculated into the GPAs by DHCAS. GPA calculations include +/- grades, and all grades earned for each attempt at a course (repeated courses are included). For information about GPA calculations, visit: https://help.liaisonedu.com/ADEA_DHCAS_Applicant_Help_Center/Filling_Out_Your_ADEA_DHCAS_Application/Academic_History/4_ADEA_DHCAS_Course_Subjects
GPA is weighed most heavily for admissions decisions. While minimum GPAs are expected, many applicants have well above the minimums and are considered most competitive.
- High school unofficial transcripts: This may take some time; applicants are encouraged to enter information for their high school(s) and request transcripts at the beginning of the application process. Instructions can be found at: https://help.liaisonedu.com/ADEA_DHCAS_Applicant_Help_Center/Filling_Out_Your_ADEA_DHCAS_Application
- Two ODU School of Dental Hygiene Recommendation Forms: These forms should be completed by current or previous academic and/or employment related recommenders. Send electronic copies of the School of Dental Hygiene Recommendation Form (.docx) to your recommenders and explain that this specific form must be used. Then, go to the "Program Materials" section of your application, select "ODU", navigate to the "Evaluations" tab, and enter your recommenders' names and email addresses. Be sure to do this accurately. Your recommenders will receive an email from email@example.com requesting they provide an "online evaluation". NOTE: Recommendation letters are not accepted and will not be reviewed. For more information, visit: https://help.liaisonedu.com/ADEA_DHCAS_Applicant_Help_Center/Filling_Out_Your_ADEA_DHCAS_Application
- Essay: Applicants must upload a well-written 300-500 words typed essay on the following topic:
"Dental hygienist professional roles include: clinician, corporate, public health, researcher, educator, administrator, and entrepreneur. Choose one role you are most interested in and explain how you would contribute to the profession in that role."
You are highly encouraged to explore the American Dental Hygienists' Association website to gather information for your essay. There is no required format or reference style for the essay.
The following 6 bullet points list optional information you may include that would award points on your application. GPA is weighed heavily for admissions decisions, but the following additional information may be used to support admissions decisions. To earn these points, upload applicable electronic certificates/documents to your DHCAS application as proof:
- Radiation Safety Certificate= .5 points
- Certified Dental Assistant Certificate= .5 points
- Current CPR Card= .5 points
- Enrollment information: the number of semesters you have enrolled at Old Dominion University (past and present). Proof of this would show on submitted ODU transcripts. .25 points are awarded for each previous and currently enrolled semesters.
- Previous degrees that have been conferred as shown on official transcripts. Points awarded are: Associate degree= .25; Bachelor's degree= .5; Master's degree= .75.
- Admission Test for Dental Hygiene (ATDH) scores are optional, but recommended. If an applicant submits scores, points will be awarded based on a range of scores. SCORE RANGES: score of 200= 0 points; scores of 201 to 275= .25 points; scores of 276 to 350= .5 points; scores of 351 to 425= .75 points; scores of 426 to 500= 1 point. For more information about the ATDH and how to report scores, visit: https://www.ada.org/education/testing/exams/admission-test-for-dental-hygiene-atdh
- Answers to most questions are found here: https://help.liaisonedu.com/ADEA_DHCAS_Applicant_Help_Center or you may contact DHCAS Customer Service for assistance with questions about the application. Call 617-612-2095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The SODH does not have access to your application until it has reached "verified" status by DHCAS. Applications will not be considered for admission unless verified by March 1st.
- You will receive notification from the ODU Office of Admissions regarding your application decision for entrance into the University.
- You will receive email notification in April from the SODH regarding the status of your application decision for entrance into the SODH (check your email inbox and spam folder daily). If accepted or placed on the alternate candidate list, there will be deadlines in the email which will require immediate action. If accepted into the SODH, a $300 non-refundable place-keeping fee is required.
- Admission to ODU does not guarantee acceptance to the SODH. Applicants must be successfully admitted to both the University as a degree-seeking student and to the SODH.
5. If accepted into the SODH, you will need to attend the SODH's required in-person orientation where you will meet with an advisor and register for dental hygiene classes.
Orientation details will be emailed to you.
Important dates and application deadlines are listed below:
- November 1st: Students can access the DHCAS portal to begin application process.
- December 1st: Application deadline for admission to ODU.
- February 1st: Application deadline for the SODH (all application documentation must be complete and uploaded to DHCAS).
- March 1st: Applications that meet the February 1st deadline will go through an accuracy verification process by the DHCAS application service. Only applications marked as "verified" by March 1st will be reviewed by the SODH admissions committee.
Verification is a standardization process used to ensure all coursework was entered correctly and consistently to create standard GPAs. This process allows dental hygiene schools to accurately evaluate and fairly compare applicants. If DHCAS identifies significant mistakes in your application during the verification process, your application will be marked as "undelivered", or returned to you for corrections. Once all required application materials are received, your application's status changes to "Complete", and your application is placed in line to be verified. Verifications are done by DHCAS and occur in chronological order, which may take up to 10 business days. Once your application is verified, you will receive notification and your application's status will change to "Verified". The deadline for verification and consideration for SODH admission is March 1st.
Yes. However, you should have at least 3 of the 4 required sciences completed and most of the other prerequisites. The admissions committee considers the number of incomplete prerequisites and the potential of the candidate to complete them during the Spring and Summer semesters prior to entering the SODH. All course prerequisites must be completed before starting the dental hygiene program. Failure to complete "Lower Division General Education Requirements" and "Departmental Requirements for Dental Hygiene" with a grade of C or better may cause your acceptance into the SODH to be redacted. The only exception to this is the "Impact of Technology" course requirement listed as a Lower Division General Education Requirement. Impact of Technology can be completed the summer after you begin the SODH.
For any unmet prerequisites (including Impact of Technology), enter the course as "in-progress/planned" in the academic history quadrant of the transcript entry section.
All applicants are highly encouraged to seek advising from the ODU College of Health Sciences Advising Team before applying to the SODH. They can be reached by emailing: email@example.com.
As an ODU student, you must track your progress of meeting prerequisite requirements by using your ODU Degree Works page. Directions on how to access Degree Works is at: https://www.odu.edu/content/dam/odu/col-dept/bpa/advising/docs/degree-works-access-from-leo-revised-1-17-2013.pdf .
The foreign language requirement can be satisfied in high school and may be reviewed based on high school transcripts in the DHCAS application. This requirement can be met by three years of one language, or two years of two languages. Grades earned from high school courses are not considered for admissions decisions and are not part of GPA calculations.
Yes. The SODH admissions committee will not consider any applications outside of ADEA DHCAS. The SODH cannot accept any paper applications.
For questions about your application or to receive technical support, please contact ADEA DHCAS customer service. The ADEA DHCAS Customer Service team is available Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Eastern Time, and can be reached by phone at (617) 612-2095 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graduate competent and ethical dental hygienists who:
- Make evidence-based decisions within the dental hygiene process of care and legal scope of practice and professional code of ethics.
- Prevent, intercept, and treat oral diseases in diverse populations within the dental hygiene process of care, legal scope of practice and professional code of ethics within all practice and community-based settings.
- Function as generalists in the roles of the professional dental hygienist: clinician, corporate, public health, researcher, educator, administrator, entrepreneur.
- Promote the important link between oral and systemic health to the public and interprofessionally.
- Advance the knowledge, values, and influence of the profession.
- Are lifelong learners, users of technology and discriminating consumers of information.
- Advocate for recognition and advancement of the dental hygiene profession.
The School of Dental Hygiene at Old Dominion University has the option of awarding advanced placement for didactic and clinical experience taken at other institutions of higher education. Students accepted into the dental hygiene program with coursework from dental assisting, dental hygiene, or dental programs may apply for advanced placement within the program. The decision to award advanced placement is dependent on length of time since course was taken, grade received, course content, and whether the program is accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation.
I. Students who have completed dental assisting, dental hygiene, or dental coursework at a program that is accredited by the ADA within the past five years.
- Receive at least a "C" in course being requested.
- Provide transcripts from institution awarding course credit to the
Dental Hygiene Director of Admissions.
- At the request of the Dental Hygiene Director of Admissions, provide
available course materials for evaluation including course syllabus and
- Following acceptance into the dental hygiene program, the student will
request consideration for advanced placement in writing. Requests should
be made as soon as possible for advising purposes.
- Students will be notified in writing of the Admission committee's
decision. One of the following recommendations will be made:
a. Award course credit
b. Requires course(s) be taken for pass/fail.
c. Requires course(s) be taken for credit
- A copy of the evaluation and the recommendation from the Admissions
Committee will be placed in the student's folder. Decisions of the
Admission Committee are final.
II. Students who have completed dental assisting, dental hygiene, or dental coursework at a program that is accredited by the ADA greater than five years are invited to challenge individual courses by passing a test for the desire course.
Successful completion (75% or higher) will exempt the student from the challenged course(s).
To attract highly qualified undergraduate students into the master's program, the School of Dental Hygiene implemented the BSDH to MS Linked Program. Both degrees share 400/500 level course offerings. By being linked, students are able to "accelerate" through the baccalaureate to the master's program using common 12-hour graduate credits toward each degree. The result is that students can complete the master's degree while investing less time and money. Tuition for the 12 credit hours is paid at the graduate level rate only.
To be eligible, students must have a 3.3 grade point average at the end of their junior year, have reached senior standing, and must have permission from the Academic Advisor.
Persons interested in the BSDH to MS Linked Program can contact:
Brenda Bradshaw, BSDH, MS, RDH
School of Dental Hygiene
Office phone: 757-683-5150
Room: 3102 Health Sciences Building
How long is the dental hygiene program?
The dental hygiene program includes two years of prerequisite and general education courses followed by two years of dental hygiene course work.
What degree would I receive after four years?
You would receive a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene.
What is the advantage of getting a bachelor's degree over a 2-year program?
A baccalaureate degree prepares the dental hygienist to assume roles in many different health care environments treating diverse populations, such as general and specialty practices, public schools, community settings, health products industry, insurance companies, acute and extended care facilities, federal and state run dental clinics, and dental hygiene educational programs. The bachelor's degree provides advanced knowledge and practice both in general university courses as well as in dental hygiene theory, research methodology and teaching strategies.
Can I take the first two years at a community college?
Yes, the first two years can be taken at a community college as long as the student is able to obtain the specific courses needed for dental hygiene, i.e., nutrition, human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, microbiology, psychology, and sociology, to mention a few.
How do I know if Old Dominion University will accept my course credits from another school?
Course credits from any accredited institution of higher learning are transferable if a grade of "C" or better is attained. To determine if there is a match with the required courses for the Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene, the student needs to submit an official transcript with a University Application to the Office of Admissions for an evaluation of the course.
Is my college course work from 20 years ago still acceptable?
Yes, this course work is accepted by the University; however, because you are responsible for information on the National Dental Hygiene Board Examination, we recommend that you retake courses to acquire up-to-date knowledge in the topic areas covered on the National Exam.
What is the total number of hours for the dental hygiene program?
The B.S. Degree in Dental Hygiene requires 120 credit hours.
How do I apply for the program?
Interested persons need to complete applications to BOTH the University and the School of Dental Hygiene. Applications to the University are available from the Office of Admissions and applications to dental hygiene are available from the School of Dental Hygiene.
Can I go part-time?
No, the dental hygiene portion of the B.S. degree is a full-time program of study for two years.
How many hours a day is the program?
While the hours each day may vary, generally the courses run from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There are some evening courses in the senior year (5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.) and classes will begin later in the day on those days.
I graduated from an accredited dental assisting program. Are there any advanced placement options available for me?
Yes, if you graduated within the last 5 years you are eligible for exemption from the Dental Materials and Oral Radiology courses.
What does the program cost?
Please visit the financial aid website for further information.
ODU's dental hygiene program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education.
Complaints to the Commission on Dental Accreditation - The Commission on Dental Accreditation will review complaints that relate to a program's compliance with the accreditation standards. The Commission is interested in the sustained quality and continued improvement of dental and dental-related education programs but does not intervene on behalf of individuals or act as a court of appeal for treatment received by patients or individuals in matters of admission, appointment, promotion or dismissal of faculty, staff or students. A copy of the appropriate accreditation standards and/or the Commission's policy and procedure for submission of complaints may be obtained by contacting the Commission at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611 or by calling 1-312-440-4653.
School of Dental Hygiene Information Session Dates
Sessions are held monthly on Zoom and present general information about the admissions process. The dates for the sessions are listed below and each will begin at 3:00 PM (EST). If you have questions, please email Brenda Bradshaw at email@example.com .
To access a session, log on at: https://www.zoom.us/join and enter the meeting ID number listed for the date you wish to attend.