USC University of Southern California

DH/DDS Pathway

The Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC offers a unique pathway for talented students to earn a bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene (DH) on their way to a Doctor of Dental Science (DDS) degree.

Successful candidates for the six-year DH/DDS Pathway will immediately transition to the DDS degree program following graduation from the Dental Hygiene program.

The following steps explain how students proceed through the DH/DDS Pathway.

Step 1: Apply

Applicants for the DH/DDS Pathway program must submit an application by the February 1 deadline at Under “Application Services” please click on “DHCAS”.  Create a new account.  Whether you are applying to the Dental Hygiene (DH) or the DH/DDS Pathway program, select “Entry-Level.”

You must also submit a letter of interest detailing why you have chosen to pursue this academic pathway and why you are a good fit for the program.

Students must be admitted by both the university and the Ostrow School of Dentistry. Click here for more information on applying to USC and the Ostrow School.

Step 2: Earn a bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene

Pathway applicants must meet all the requirements for the bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene, and must also meet all DDS program prerequisites, which include:

  • One year of English composition
  • One year of chemistry with lab
  • One year of organic chemistry with lab
  • One semester of general biology with lab
  • One semester of general anatomy with lab
  • One semester of general microbiology with lab
  • One semester of general physiology
  • One semester of general psychology
  • One semester of Introduction to Sociology
  • One semester of Introduction to Speech

Pathway applicants are monitored closely and counseled by Dental Hygiene faculty and staff from the Office of Admissions and Student Affairs to ensure that students remain academically on track.

Students transferring to USC from other institutions must also complete the university’s general education requirements.

Step 3: The Dental Admissions Committee makes its selections for DH/DDS Pathway participants

The Dental Admissions Committee interviews all DH/DDS Pathway applicants. The committee makes the final selection of students admitted for the pathway. Five to ten students are accepted each year.

One of the most important factors in the selection process is the applicant’s potential for, and interest in, pursuing a career as a primary care provider. Applicants must show exceptional academic ability, as demonstrated by achievement in pre-Dental Hygiene/pre-dental prerequisite coursework and the university’s general education requirements. Applicants must also possess personal attributes such as initiative and responsibility. Additionally, applicants should have a demonstrated interest in working with people, as evidenced by health care-related experiences and participation in community and extracurricular activities.

Step 4: Prepare for the DDS program

Prior to enrollment in the DDS program, applicants must submit an application through the American Dental Education Association’s Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (ADEA AADSAS). The AADSAS application must be submitted by the February 1 deadline during the applicant’s senior year.

Applicants must also take the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and achieve a score of 15 or higher in all tested categories. DAT results must be submitted by the applicant’s senior year of Dental Hygiene studies.

Additional requirements include:

  • Successful graduation from the Dental Hygiene Program with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0;
  • A letter of recommendation from the Dental Hygiene program director and recommendations from two additional USC faculty members; and
  • Certification that the student has maintained the school’s professional standards and ethical requirements.

Step 5: Earn the DDS degree

Students admitted to the DH/DDS Pathway will continue on to doctoral studies, and must meet all DDS degree requirements.

For more information about the DH/DDS Pathway, contact the Ostrow School of Dentistry’s Office of Admissions at (213) 740-2851 or