Dental Hygiene, Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene

Department of Dental Hygiene

College of Health and Human Services

We designed this plan to provide an extensive study of the theory and practice of dental hygiene. It is the only Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene program (BSDH) in Arizona. Oral health is an important part of total health and there is increased demand for dental hygiene services in public and private health settings. The program provides many opportunities for students to develop expertise in oral health education and clinical care for underserved populations in northern Arizona.

This program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)

This plan is nationally recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA).

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 51 units of pre-professional requirements
  • At least 72 units of major requirements

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements.

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 123 units

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 123
Highest Mathematics Required STA 270
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Required
University Honors Program Optional
Some online/blended coursework Required
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

This program may lead to licensure.

Purpose Statement

The Northern Arizona University Dental Hygiene Department offers the only Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene in the State of Arizona. With a national reputation for educating dental hygiene professionals since its inception in 1973, the program offers a high-quality education. Students complete two years of prerequisite didactic instruction in preparatory areas such as human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, human behavior and statistics and then apply to the program. Once students enter the program, a strong emphasis is placed on gaining extensive clinical experience.  Regular clinic rotations require students to provide dental hygiene care at the NAU Dental Hygiene Clinic, the Hopi Health Care Facility, the Yavapai Apache Dental Clinic, Flagstaff Medical Center, and at North Country Healthcare. Faculty connect these field experiences to coursework, so students actively apply their knowledge of Oral Pathology, Oral Medicine, Pharmacology and Periodontics to their work with patients in the clinic.  In addition to regular clinical rotations, students must complete a minimum two-week summer externship in a dental public health facility serving American Indian, military, or underserved populations throughout Arizona, in selected sites outside Arizona,  or Internationally. Graduates are prepared to practice in diverse settings with special emphasis on rural communities and other underserved populations through a curriculum centered in public health. Their capstone project requires the origination of a public health project that requires exhaustive assessment and planning. Projects are then implemented and outcomes are evaluated in a final written report.  This public health emphasis specifically prepares graduates to write grant proposals and serve in public health administrative roles. The future of dentistry is moving towards the development of a dental therapist; a new Masters prepared dental midlevel provider. Students graduating from NAU’s Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene are optimally poised to enter advanced dental therapy programs, work in independent practice, and/or work in affiliated practice.

Student Learning Outcomes

Outcomes align with Standards from the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation

  • Patient Care: Provide oral health care and case management for diverse population
    • Systematically collect and analyze data on general, oral and psychosocial health status of a variety of individuals including a comprehensive exam and interpretation of appropriate diagnostic information including radiographic, periodontal, and other data needed to assess the patient’s needs
    • Use critical decision making based on assessment data to reach conclusions about oral health needs to determine the dental hygiene diagnosis and need for care coordination
    • Collaborate with patient and other health professionals to formulate individualized comprehensive dental hygiene care plans
    • Perform preventive and therapeutic dental hygiene interventions
    • Determine the effectiveness of dental hygiene interventions and provide appropriate follow-up care and/or health maintenance
  • Improving Health in Individuals and Communities
    • Promote the values of oral and general health and wellness
    • Respect the goals, values, beliefs and preferences of others
    • Assess community oral health needs and resources
    • Plan community-based oral health programs
    • Implement community-based oral health programs
    • Evaluate outcomes of health promotion and disease prevention activities
  • Core Competencies:
    • Demonstrate professional, ethical and legal behavior
    • Use critical thinking and problem solving in the provision of evidence-based practice
    • Provide dental hygiene care based on accepted scientific theories and the current standard of care that is humane, empathetic, and caring
    • Perform self-assessment for life-long learning and professional growth
    • Act as a change agent to improve community oral health and/or advance the profession through service activities and affiliations with professional organizations
    • Communicate effectively with individuals and groups from diverse populations

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

    • *3 units of the required 9 units need to be Diversity course units.

      All preprofessional requirement courses and liberal studies foundation and distribution courses must be completed with a Grade of "C" or better before entering the program. However, students may apply to the program once 40 units of the pre-professional requirements are completed.

      Students are required to complete the dental hygiene milestone, which is acceptance into the dental hygiene program.

Major Requirements
General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required, if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 123 units of credit.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.

  • Program Fee Information