Graduate Program in Dental Hygiene Education

The Adams School of Dentistry offers a 22-month graduate program leading to a Master of Science degree in dental hygiene education designed to prepare students for careers in teaching, administration, research and management.

Graduate Program in Dental Hygiene Education

The primary goal of the Master of Science degree program is to prepare exceptional educators for allied dental education programs.

The curriculum emphasizes advanced knowledge and skill development in several areas including education, leadership, administration and research related to allied dental education and practice. The curriculum is interdisciplinary in that the Adams School of Dentistry, UNC School of Education and the Gillings School of Global Public Health offer courses as a part of the program.

Achieving national health objectives should be an inherent part of the professional activities of dental hygienists. Both inside and outside of the research arena, it is important for practitioners, who provide the greatest representation of the profession to the public, to make decisions that are firmly grounded in knowledge that is obtained from research and clinical experiences.

The National Dental Hygiene Research Agenda provides directions to hygienists on priority research areas that can help advance the profession. The professional community must commit to using the NDHRA to guide research, enhance patient-centered care, improve the quality of services and foster other professional efforts.

Meet Our Graduates

  • Immediately after graduating from the post certificate program I enrolled in the Graduate Program in Dental Hygiene Education. Little did I realize just how important my educational experiences and the numerous opportunities provided to me would influence my career. I’ve been fortunate to have achieved various successes in dental education and in my current role as a Professional Education Manager. I was introduced to opportunities in clinical and didactic teaching, dental hygiene academic leadership, research and corporate employment. I feel incredibly honored to declare I am an alumna and I am proud to call Carolina my alma mater.

    Debbie, Professional Education Manager, Colgate-Palmolive Company
  • When I entered the Graduate Program Dental Hygiene Education, it was in an effort to expand my practice opportunities. I definitely got that, but what I wasn’t expecting was how much I learned about myself. The faculty in the program offered the perfect balance of authenticity, experiences and rigor to coax out what I was capable of, which wasn’t even clear to me at the time. They were patient with me, pushed me with high standards and provided feedback that I still look back on and try to emulate in my own teaching. Now, when I introduce myself, and my alma mater, the reaction I get usually makes me smile. I’m proud to be a graduate of the program! Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing, and the decision to attend UNC for my graduate degree in dental hygiene education is one I would make again, no questions asked.

    Julie, Associate Professor, Dental Hygiene Department, University of Missouri, Kansas-City

Admissions Information

Applications open in October and are due May 11. However, applicants are encouraged to submit their application materials by before the deadline when possible.

Applications for admission to the program are made online through the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School. Candidates should apply for the fall term (mid-August start date).

General questions may be directed to:

UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School
200A Bynum Hall, CB #4010
Chapel Hill, N.C. 27599-4010
Phone: (919) 966-2611

The application fee must be paid in U.S. funds or through an international money order. This fee cannot be waived. Applications that arrive without the required fee will remain unprocessed, pending receipt of the fee. The Graduate School will send a notification of receipt of the application only after the fee has been paid and the application has been processed.

After review of the application materials, applicants will be invited to have a personal interview with the graduate dental hygiene admission committee. A personal interview is required for admission.

Admission criteria are applied equally to all applicants regardless of race, gender, color, national origin or religion. Minority student are encouraged to apply.

Admissions Requirements

NDHBE Scores Successful completion of the National Dental Hygiene Board Examination. Upload your NDHBE scores as Supplement 1 in the Graduate School application.
Materials Applicants must submit a curriculum vitae, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose outlining motivations, experience, and professional goals.
Transcripts Applicants must upload unofficial transcripts. Official transcripts should not be sent to the department or the UNC-CH Graduate School until requested to do so.
Bachelor’s Degree A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and graduation for a dental hygiene program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Dental Association.
Academic Record A satisfactory academic undergraduate record (B average or better). Current dental hygiene licensure in a least one state.
Licensure Current dental hygiene licensure in a least one state.

International Students

International students should submit National Dental Hygiene Board Scores, if available, as Supplement Number 1 in the UNC Graduate School application.

International students are required to take the TOEFL exam with a minimum of 90 on the internet-based test, or the IELTS with a minimum score of 7.5. The exam score must be less than two years old. When registering for the test, applicants should indicate the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School (institution #5816) as a score recipient.

The TOEFL test is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), CN6151, Princeton, New Jersey 08541-6151. Applicants should take the test no later than October to ensure that scores arrive by the application deadline, unless listed here as an exception.

When requested to do so by the Graduate School, international applicants must submit official academic records bearing the signature of the registrar or another academic official and either a raised or ink stamp or seal of the issuing institution. Records must be issued in the original language and be accompanied by certified English translations. International applicants must also submit verification that the degree has been awarded or a copy of the degree award.

International applicants seeking admission must complete and upload an international student data form and financial certification worksheet, available here. Applicants may submit financial certificate documentation at any time during the application process or they may wait to upload the documentation until they have received your admittance notification from the Graduate School. Please note these documents must be received and approved by the International Student and Scholar Services office before visa documents can be prepared.

Tuition, Stipend Support and Benefits

The cost of attending graduate school includes tuition, fees, and health insurance, for which the student is billed directly. Tuition and fees for the master’s programs in the Adams School of Dentistry are available through the University Cashier.

Graduate students must pay tuition and fees during all years of study and training. These charges are subject to change at any meeting of the NC Board of Trustees and a yearly increase of 5-10 percent should be anticipated each year. Estimates for living expenses are available through the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid.

Tuition Remission

Tuition remission, or the reduction of the out-of-state tuition rate, is awarded by the semester. To meet the general eligibility requirements, the student must be enrolled as a full time student during the semester of the award. The number of awards is limited and awards are contingent on availability of funds; having a teaching or research assistantship does not guarantee remission will be awarded. There is no application process for tuition remission. Tuition remission is not offered during the summer.

Out-of-state students and international students with permanent resident status (“green card”) are encouraged to establish legal residence in North Carolina and to apply for classification as a state resident for tuition purposes. Guidelines and application forms for establishing residency are available from the UNC-CH Graduate School.

State laws preclude international students who are not permanent residents (do not hold a green card) from establishing residency, so these students must pay the out-of-state rate in all semesters unless tuition remission is granted.

Financial aid is available in the form of student loans, grants, fellowships, teaching assistantships and stipend support.

Stipend Support

Stipends are contingent on availability of funds. Regardless of the availability of stipend support, teaching responsibilities are required as a part of the program.

Some travel funds are available for graduate students to present research papers at scientific meetings.


Click here for the course catalog. If the page does not automatically direct you, click “DHED” at the top.

To graduate from the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene Education Program, enrolled students must complete the required amount of credit hours, as well as other academic requirements.

Actual credit hour requirements will vary from 41-46 hours, based on the individual background of the student.

Enrolled students also must complete other requirements to be considered program graduates. In addition to the required core, students must complete a minor, additional courses through specialization tracks, a graduate teaching assistantship, master’s thesis and comprehensive examinations.

Click here to view these additional requirements.