Bachelor of Science


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 studentsThis 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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"I want you all to know that the passion and dedication you have toward teaching served as one of the greatest motivators for me to persevere and do well in school. I can honestly say that I made a great decision attending the University of Minnesota. As I made the transition (and continue to do so) from school to private practice, I realized how well trained and taught I was by all of you. Every situation I've encountered thus far, I've been able to use the knowledge you've taught me to provide comprehensive quality care to patients. This makes me happy because it's so self-rewarding!"

—Zuag Yang

"I hope that those who enter the Dental Hygiene program in the future understand how lucky they are to be working with some of the best faculty in the country."

—Katrina Saunders


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
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology (course must include a laboratory)
  • Chemistry (course must include a laboratory)
  • Composition
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Speech
  • 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

The professional program also includes courses in:

  • Dental Anatomy and Head and Neck anatomy
  • Preclinical and clinical dental hygiene
  • Communication skills
  • Patient assessment
  • Cariology and Periodontology
  • Oral radiology
  • Biomaterials
  • Public health
  • Pharmacology
  • Local anesthesia and pain control
  • Research methods
  • Orthodontics and pediatric dentistry
  • Geriatrics
  • Special needs patients
  • Ethics

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.

Study Abroad Program

The Global Campus Study Abroad Program offers affordable programs that help students improve language skills, gain cross-cultural experience, and make friends that last a lifetime--all while earning credits. These programs/courses meet the highest quality standards and are closely aligned with academic requirements. An excellent way to fulfill liberal education requirements and spend time in another country.


A number of scholarships are available for eligible Dental Hygiene students. Please contact the Division of Dental Hygiene at 612-625-3721 or Division Director Christine Blue at 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.

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.

For more details and to reserve your spot, go to the Health Careers Center Information Sessions page and look under Dental Hygiene (BS) & Dental Therapy (MS). Contact us at 612-625-7190 or 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


1919: The fourth dental hygiene program established in the United States


State-of-the-art dental hygiene facilities such as the Interprofessional Education and Resource Center


The program educates approximately 20 percent of the dental hygienists in Minnesota


Minnesota's No. 1 provider of dental and dental hygiene services to the uninsured and working poor. Dental hygiene students work with UMN dental students to provide comprehensive patient care in the school's clinics and off-site at community-based clinics.