Dental Hygiene Requirements

Main Content

The program leading to a baccalaureate degree in dental hygiene is designed to prepare the graduate to successfully enter the profession of dental hygiene in any one of the seven designated roles of the dental hygienist as defined by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association: clinician, corporate, public health, researcher, educator, administrator, and entrepreneur. In addition, graduates are prepared to continue their education in graduate or professional programs. The curriculum is designed to assist students in the development of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values that will enable them to adapt to a complex and changing health care delivery system. Special emphasis is placed on the development of skills related to periodontal disease, skills, and attitudes to meet the needs of the geriatric population, and access to care for those persons unable to attain care, especially the underserved rural segment of the population. A minimum grade of C (as defined by the dental hygiene program grading scale) for all dental hygiene courses is required to maintain enrollment in the dental hygiene professional sequence. Dental hygiene courses typically are taught one time in an academic year. A student who fails to meet the minimum grade requirements for each dental hygiene course (or drops out of the dental hygiene sequence) will be removed from the dental hygiene program and must reapply for admission.

Dental hygiene is a licensed profession. In order to meet licensure requirements, the student must graduate from an accredited program and successfully pass a written National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, as well as the appropriate State/Regional (Clinical) Board Examination. The dental hygiene program is a fall only competitive admissions program. If students are interested in our program, they will need to complete the university application. Students applying to the dental hygiene program must also submit copies of their high school transcript and college transcripts to the dental hygiene program as well as to the University. All students are required to observe a dental hygienist for a period of two or more hours. Students enter the professional sequence of the curriculum upon successful completion of 32 hours of specific University Core and science courses. Students also have the opportunity to enter the baccalaureate degree program by alternative pathways.

  • Freshman: Directly from high school. Prerequisites are met at SIU. Your professional sequence begins your sophomore year.
  • Sophomores: Can either take the prerequisites for the program from another College or   University or take the prerequisites at SIU. Either way, 32 hours of prerequisites must be completed before entering the sophomore year.

Thirty-six students will begin the professional sequence each fall semester. Admission requirements to the applicant pool are the same as those to the University. Once accepted into the University, the student must submit a separate application to the dental hygiene program. In order to be considered for admission into the professional sequence, students must have completed a minimum of 29 credit hours of college credit (not including PSYC and/or SOC). These credit hours must include the following courses or approved substitutions: ENGL 101, ENGL 102, MATH 101 or 108, PSYC 102, SOC 108, MICR 201, AH 105, AH 241 and CHEM 106. Prospective students may complete the University Core Curriculum and the basic science courses at other Colleges or Universities as well as at SIU.

The dental hygiene program requires students to complete an immunization compliance form. In addition to textbooks and tuition, other expenses are required to cover the cost of instruments, uniforms, and other professional supplies. Contact the dental hygiene program for specifics.

The dental hygiene program offers an on-site clinic to provide the student with practical clinical instruction. Students perform dental hygiene services in the clinic under the direct supervision of dental hygiene faculty composed of licensed dental hygienists and licensed dentists. Students also are involved in the provision of care and education through a variety of community projects. An advisory committee composed of representatives from community dental practices, dental education, dental industry, and community members serves the program.

The program also is designed to serve as a degree completion program for dental hygienists who have completed an associate degree in dental hygiene from any accredited dental hygiene program. The Capstone option is available to students who have obtained an Associate in Applied Science with a 2.75 (4.0 scale) or higher GPA (see Capstone section below for additional information). The student must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.75 in order to remain in good standing in the University and dental hygiene program. Failure to maintain the minimum GPA will result in dismissal from the program. A student who fails a class or classes in the dental hygiene program, whether it is a fall or spring semester course, must reapply to the program for possible fall re-admittance. The student must rank high enough in the program selection process for re-entrance into the program. Year one is for General Education courses only. Year two is when the student begins the dental hygiene program sequence, for which this re-admission policy applies. The failed course or courses must be registered for and passed according to the program/course attendance and grading scale specifications. If a student fails more than one dental hygiene course in any semester, they will be dismissed from the program. 

The dental hygiene program has a Linkage Agreement with John A. Logan College, Carl Sandburg College, Lake Land College, Prairie State College, and City Colleges of Chicago. If you have questions about these agreements, contact the community college advisor or SIU School of Health Sciences at 618-453-7211.

The program in Dental Hygiene is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Commission on Recognition of Post-secondary Accreditation and by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at 800- 621-8099 or 440-2500 at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL  60611.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Dental Hygiene Degree Requirements

Degree RequirementsCredit Hours
University Core Curriculum 1 39
To include: AH 241 or Anatomy equivalent, CHEM 106, MICR 201, HND 101, AH 105 3
Requirements for Major in Dental Hygiene - including: DH 200, DH 206, DH 206L, DH 207, DH 207C, DH 210, DH 210C, DH 212, DH 218, DH 218L, DH 219, DH 219L, DH 220, DH 220C, DH 226, DH 233, DH 247, DH 247L, DH 320, DH 320C, DH 322, DH 322L, DH 340, DH 341, DH 347, DH 349, DH 355, DH 355C, DH 400, DH 401, DH 401L, DH 410, DH 417, DH 417i, DH 440, DH 441, DH 441C, and DH 450C. 78
Total 120

1 These courses are required for a major in dental hygiene and are approved substitutions for the University Core Curriculum requirements in science. The additional credit hours will be included in the total credit hours required for the degree.

Education and Management Specialization

This option is designed to allow dental hygienists with an associate degree and their credentials, the opportunity to complete a Bachelor’s Degree. The student will study educational theories, philosophies, styles, and techniques. Additionally, the student will be introduced to management concepts as they relate to health care. Students in their last semester of completing their program in dental hygiene, may elect to start the education and management  program. Students who start the education management option during their last semester, must obtain an associate’s degree and their credentials at the end of their program in order to continue in the dental hygiene education management option. The primary focus of the education and management option is to allow students who wish to enter either dental hygiene education or management the opportunity to learn and develop the skills necessary for success in these two environments.

Education and Management: The ten following courses must be taken: DH 345, DH 365, DH 411, DH 425A, DH 425B, DH 435, DH 476, HCM 360, HCM 364, and HCM 388.

Capstone Option for Transfer Students

The SIU Capstone Option may be available to eligible students who have earned an associate's degree or the equivalent. The Capstone Option reduces the University Core Curriculum requirements from 39 to 30 hours, therefore reducing the time to complete those requirements. See the Capstone Option section for more information on this option.