Dental Hygiene Undergraduate Program

Photo of dental hygiene students

Discover Dental Hygiene at the Adams School of Dentistry

The Adams School of Dentistry is the only university in the state to offer a baccalaureate level dental hygiene program.

The Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene (BSDH) is awarded if a student has completed the general education courses traditionally associated with a four-year college degree in addition to the dental hygiene curriculum. These courses may be completed prior to entering the dental hygiene program, in the summer between the first and second year, or after graduating with a certificate in dental hygiene.

The philosophy of the dental hygiene program is to empower students to grow into lifelong learners who are competent in providing patient care to a diverse population in traditional and non-traditional settings. Our aim is to inspire students to become critical thinkers who utilize evidence-based decision-making within the scope of dental hygiene practice.

Earning a BSDH provides more career options, including working in public health, teaching and research.

A post-certificate in dental hygiene is awarded to a student that has completed the dental hygiene curriculum, has an Associate of Arts or Science degree, but has not completed the general education courses traditionally associated with a four-year college degree. A post-certificate in dental hygiene is comparable to an associate of applied science degree in dental hygiene from a two-year educational institution. Starting in the fall semester of 2022 we will only offer the Bachelor of Science in dental hygiene. Only the post-certificate will be discontinued.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click here for a list of FAQs

Admissions Information

Applications open in October. Priority deadline is January 15, and the final deadline is February 15.

Student selection is based on scholastic standing, a strong performance in science prerequisites, letters of recommendation, and a demonstrated interest in dental hygiene as a career.

Applications for transfer students received after the deadline will be considered until the class is filled. 

Admissions Requirements

Prerequisites For an application to be considered, a student must be on track to complete the dental hygiene prerequisite courses prior to anticipated enrollment. Classes can be in-progress “IP” when the application is submitted. (Prerequisite courses are listed below.) Successful completion of the dental hygiene prerequisites does not guarantee admission to the program.
Upon receipt of decision, additional stipulations may be provided dependent on your submitted prerequisite completion timeline.
Shadowing Applicants, except those with experience as dental assistants, must complete a minimum of 20 hours of dental hygiene “shadowing.” Consider visiting private practice dental offices, community dental clinics, or volunteering at dental health events (e.g., N.C. Missions of Mercy clinics). The dental hygiene admissions committee wants to make sure candidates understand the responsibilities and challenges a dental hygienist experiences on a daily basis. Upload a Dental Hygiene Shadowing form with your application to the dental hygiene program.
Letters of Recommendation A minimum of three letters of recommendation (two from college instructors) are required of all applicants.

Click here for additional admissions information, including the making connections curriculum, general rules about transfer credit, and general college course works or equivalent.

Application Instructions

Current UNC-Chapel Hill students (Intra-University applicants):

  • Go to your Student Center in ConnectCarolina and select “Apply for Change of Major/Minor” from the drop-down menu that says “Other Academic.”
  • Select DENTAL HYGIENE as your program starting in the FALL term.
  • Agree to have your information sent from UNC-Chapel Hill to Slate, the application server.
  • Slate will send you an email invitation and the credentials needed to complete and submit your application to the dental hygiene program.
  • Submit the application, including essays, shadowing form, and three letters of recommendation, by January 15.
  • Letters of recommendation must be submitted through your application portal by indicating your recommender and identifying a valid email address for them.

Transfer students:

  • Go to the Common Application website, to create an account and add the University of North Carolina to your list of colleges to start your application online.
    • Apply as an undergraduate transfer student to a professional program with dental hygiene as your intended major. You may also select a second major if you are interested in being considered for admission into the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Submit the Common Application, the Common Application supplement and application fee by January 15.
  • Upload the three essays requested in your Common Application supplement.
  • Upload the shadowing form, if required.
  • Submit official transcripts from all high schools, colleges, and universities attended to:
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Office of Undergraduate Admissions
    Jackson Hall, CB 2200
    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-2200
  • Letters of recommendation must be submitted through your application portal by indicating your recommender and identifying a valid email address for them. If issues arise your recommender may submit their letter to uncsubmit@admissions.unc.edu. Please be aware that this may have a longer processing time than a letter submitted through your application portal.
  • Please note that transfer applicants must meet the University requirements for admission prior to being considered for admissions into the dental hygiene program.

Tuition and Fees

Dental hygiene students are responsible for undergraduate tuition and fees payable to the UNC-Chapel Hill as well as fees to the Adams School of Dentistry.

University Tuition and Fees

Please visit the UNC-Chapel Hill Cashier’s Office for current tuition and fees per semester.

Student American Dental Hygiene Association

Students are encouraged to join their professional organization the American Dental Association. Membership for students is $120 per year and payable at orientation in August.

Dental Hygiene Licensure

Upon completion of the dental hygiene program, students will take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam (approximately $400) and a practical exam in the state where they will be licensed.

In North Carolina, hygienists take the CITA Exam from the Council of Interstate Testing Agencies, Inc. The cost for the exam is approximately $1,000.

Fees are subject to change based on testing agency fees.

Prerequisite Courses

Prerequisite courses must be completed prior to enrollment, but not application to the Dental Hygiene Program. However, it is strongly recommended the sciences (Chemistry, Microbiology and Physiology/Anatomy) be completed by the spring semester prior to entry in the dental hygiene program. The dental hygiene admissions committee will be considering an applicant’s potential based, in part, on their grades in these prerequisite courses.

Upon receipt of decision, additional stipulations may be provided dependent on your submitted prerequisite completion timeline.

Note: Math 110 is a prerequisite for Chemistry, and Bio 101 is a prerequisite for Bio 252 at UNC-CH.

General Education Requirements (UNC-Chapel Hill)

Several of the Dental Hygiene prerequisite courses will meet the various University General Education Requirements as indicated in the undergraduate student catalog.

UNC Transfer Equivalency Table

Click here to view the UNC-Chapel Hill course transfer equivalencies.

Curriculum, Goals and Competencies

Click here to view the dental hygiene program curriculum and course descriptions.

Click here to view a PDF of the curriculum’s goals and competencies.

Click here to view the new curriculum.

Matriculation into Dental Hygiene Program

Following acceptance, final matriculation into the program will be contingent upon completion and acceptable evaluation of a criminal background check, and completion of immunization and TB testing requirements for the State of North Carolina and the Adams School of Dentistry.

Click here for a PDF of the immunization requirements.

Post-Graduation Opportunities

Membership in the American Dental Hygiene Association

Students are encouraged to join their professional organization the American Dental Association. All students are eligible to transition their membership following graduation.

Licensed Dental Hygienist

Upon completion of the dental hygiene program, students will take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam (approximately $400) and a practical exam in the state where they will be licensed. In North Carolina, hygienists take the CITA Exam from the Council of Interstate Testing Agencies, Inc. The cost for this is approximately $1,000.

Professional Licensure Agencies

Fees are subject to change based on testing agency fees. Professional licensure will change August 2022.

Contact Information

Questions?

Email: dentalhygiene@dentistry.unc.edu
Phone: 919.537.3474

The Dental Hygiene Professional

A dental hygienist is a licensed preventive oral health professional who provides educational, clinical and therapeutic services to the public through the promotion of oral health. In North Carolina, the dental hygienist works under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist and is a vital member of the dental team.

A dental hygienist may work in such practice settings as:

  • Private dental offices and dental clinics and public health centers
  • Hospitals, federal, state and local health departments
  • Educational programs for dental hygiene and dental assisting students
  • Correctional facilities
  • Health maintenance organizations

Patient care services performed by dental hygienists may include:

  • Monitoring procedures, such as preliminary review of the patient’s health history, dental charting, oral analysis, and taking and recording vital signs
  • Exposing and processing dental x-rays
  • Removing plaque and calculus from above and below the gum line
  • Applying cavity-preventive agents such as fluorides and sealants to the teeth
  • Teaching patients proper oral hygiene techniques to maintain healthy teeth and gums
  • Counseling patients about plaque control and developing individualized at-home oral hygiene programs
  • Counseling patients on the importance of good nutrition for maintaining optimal health

Learn more about a day in the life of a dental hygiene student in the video to the left!