Dental Hygiene - Degree Completion Program, Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene

Department of Dental Hygiene

College of Health and Human Services

This degree is intended for licensed dental hygienists with an associate degree or certificate. This bachelor’s degree allows students to take all classes online while continuing to work in the dental hygiene profession. Extensive transfer credit is given for dental hygiene licensure. The focus of the degree is to prepare graduates for positions in public health, dental hygiene education, research, expanded practice and graduate study.

This program 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:

  • Statistics (a prerequisite fulfilled by STA 270) (3 units)
  • Required Dental Hygiene courses (21 units)
  • Dental Hygiene Major Electives (3 units)
  • Additional upper-division courses, some of which may be needed to fulfill NAU's Liberal Studies or Diversity requirements. Up to 9 units of liberal studies requirements can have the same prefix as the major. See NAU Diversity Course List for more information.
  • Other courses, if needed, to fulfill NAU's requirements, if, after transcript evaluation, appropriate units/courses have not been completed (12 units)

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

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 114
Additional Admission Requirements Required
University Honors Program Optional
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

Purpose Statement

The Northern Arizona University Dental Hygiene Department offers the only Bachelor’s Degree 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. The Dental Hygiene Degree Completion Program (DHDCP) is specifically for dental hygienists who already have an associate’s degree, diploma, or certificate in dental hygiene from a regionally-accredited institution or students currently enrolled in a regionally accredited dental hygiene program. Degree-completion students are often interested in pursuing roles outside of the traditional clinical private practice. Such roles may include teaching, research, corporate employment, or public health clinical or administrative positions. 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. While in the program, students take courses that emphasize: Public Health, Dental Research, Communication and Behavior, Professional Development, Global Oral Health, Interprofessional Practice and Healthcare Policy and Management. 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. After attaining a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene, graduates 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
Transfer Block
  • NAU accepts a maximum block transfer of 64 units from your associate degree program (or diploma or certificate program). You must fulfill NAU's liberal studies and diversity requirements. Many transfer units may apply toward fulfilling those requirements.

    Since you are entering this plan as a Licensed Dental Hygienist, NAU is able to accept up to 26 units of your licensure requirements as non-traditional credit. In optimal circumstances, the sum of the maximum block transfer (64 units) plus the maximum non-traditional licensure credit (26 units) will total to 90 units, leaving a balance of 30 units to be completed at NAU. These will include 12 units of upper-division electives. We encourage you to discuss elective options with your advisor, so as to ensure the courses will help you advance toward your professional, personal, and degree-completion goals.

Major Requirements
  • This Degree Completion Program, associated with completing an Associate’s Degree at a Community College, requires 30 units from NAU, distributed as follows:

    • Dental Hygiene Common Courses: 21 units
    • Selection of a Track: 9 units
      • Traditional Degree Completion Track
      • Concurrent Enrollment in a Community College Degree Completion Track

    Take the following 30 units:

    You will complete the remaining 9 units dependent upon whether your Arizona General Education Curriculum (AGEC) has been completed upon admittance to the program. 

    Traditional Degree-Completion Track (9 units):

    Concurrent Enrollment- Degree Completion Track (9 units):

  • Prerequisites
    STA 270 (or its transfer equivalent) must be completed early in your program, since it is a prerequisite for DH 373W and DH 450. Its prerequisites are as follows: MAT 108 or MAT 114, with a Grade of "C" or better, or Math Placement Test Results.

General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.

    You may take these remaining courses from any of the academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. You may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.

    We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you.

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.