USC University of Southern California

Master of Science in Dental Hygiene

Dental Hygiene classroomAs our health care delivery system continues to expand and become increasingly more complex, the need for health professionals educated to higher competency levels and with more advanced communication, organizational and decision-making skills becomes more evident.  To help meet this demand, the Dental Hygiene Program of the Ostrow School of Dentistry has developed a Master of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene designed for students who have graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program in North America, possess a baccalaureate degree in dental hygiene or related area from an accredited university, and desire to continue their education and earn a master of science degree. The program affords its students the opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills in dental hygiene, continue their professional growth, and develop an area of emphasis related to dental hygiene.

The fundamental purpose of the graduate program is to train graduate dental hygiene students to become leaders in the field who will help to advance the art and science of the discipline of dental hygiene. Another aim is to prepare students for alternative career paths in the fields of education, healthcare, research and public health.  With electives in various emphasis areas, graduates of this program will be able to function as effective and efficient members of academic and healthcare teams and be well prepared to adapt to the transitions which evolve in both the profession of dental hygiene and the healthcare delivery system.

The Master of Science in Dental Hygiene is designed as a sixteen-month full time program, but can be taken as a part-time program.  Students will learn how to integrate research findings into the dental hygiene process of care to form strategies to decrease oral disease risks and promote oral health among individuals, families and communities.  The first three trimesters are devoted to coursework that progressively leads to the formation and acceptance of a project plan for implementation in the field in the final trimester.

All students will complete twenty-six units of required core coursework, plus four additional units of elective studies in an area of emphasis, which supports their interests, and future career plans.  Emphasis areas include education, geriatric dentistry and pediatric dentistry.  Courses in education will be offered through the Dental Hygiene Program, while electives in geriatric dentistry and pediatric dentistry will be offered through existing graduate programs at the Ostrow School of Dentistry.

Students will learn program planning, advanced research methodology and statistical data management, and apply these skills into the design and implementation of their project as the basis for their scholarly Capstone project.  Students will demonstrate active learning through interactive classes, peer teaching and the design and use of educational technology.  Courses include traditional lecture, case studies, and student written and oral presentations.

Admission Requirements

All applicants to the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene program must satisfy the following general criteria:

  •  Successfully graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program in North America.
  •  Possess a baccalaureate degree in dental hygiene or related area from an accredited university.
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Submit three letters of recommendation: one from the undergraduate dental hygiene director and the other two from individuals who can attest to your general character.  These letters may be from professors, and/or an employer, a representative from a service organization, or from a respected member of the dental hygiene or dental profession.
  • Submit a career statement
  • Submit a current curriculum vitae or resume
  • Applicants who meet these requirements will be invited to interview for the program.  The interview may take place in person, by telephone, or through live electronic communication.

Application Deadlines

In order to be reviewed, the application and required application materials must be received by the Admissions Committee prior to July 1 for a fall trimester start.  Submit your application well in advance of the deadline and note that transcripts and other application materials may take three weeks or more to be processed by the Office of Admissions and then made available to our office. Please plan accordingly.

Applications received after July 1 are also welcome and will be processed on a space available basis.

Application Procedures

Apply online by going to at least three weeks before the departmental application deadline to allow adequate time for processing. Be sure to complete the supplemental portion that relates to dental hygiene. You also should arrange to have transcripts and test scores sent to USC in time to meet this deadline. There is a nonrefundable application fee of $85.

Materials to be submitted by applicants

  • Send official transcripts from all colleges you have attended to:

University of Southern California
USC Office of Graduate Admission
3601 South Flower Street Room 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

  • Send GRE scores via USC’s ETS code; school code is 4852.
  • Nonrefundable application fee of $85

Supplemental Materials to be submitted to:

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC
Office of Admissions Room 201
925 W. 34th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0641

 Supplemental materials include:

  • Three letters of recommendation.  Letters of recommendation must be in a sealed envelope with a signature across the back.
  • Career statement
  • Current resume/ curriculum vitae

Estimated Cost

Estimated cost of attendance for 2014-2015

Direct Costs Year 1 Year 2
Tuition $35,244 $6,408
Health Insurance $1,712 $0
Student Health Center Fee $761 $272.50
Topping Student Aid Fund $16 $8
Graduate Orientation Fee $55 $0
Programming Fee $80 $40
Grad Student Services Fee $20 $10
Total Direct Costs $37,888 $6,738.50
Allowances for Indirect Costs
Room and Board $21,200 $7,112
Transportation $3,300 $1,120
Personal/Misc $2,436 $812
Estimated Cost of Attendance $43,624 $15,782.50

Degree Requirements

Required Courses Units
Systematic Research Writing CBY 585 3
Dental Hygiene Theory and Science I DHYG 501 3
Dental Hygiene Seminar I DHYG 502 1
Educational Theory and Instructional Design DHYG 503 2
Dental Hygiene Theory and Science II DHYG 504 3
Dental Hygiene Seminar II DHYG 505 1
Research Methodologies and Statistics DHYG 506 3
Dental Hygiene Theory and Science III DHYG 507 3
Dental Hygiene Seminar DHYG 508 1
Technology in Higher Education DHYG 509 2
Capstone Project DHYG 5010 4


Areas of Emphasis (choose 4 units within 1 area) Units
Classroom and Clinical Instruction Design DHYG 511 2
Student Teaching DHYG 512 2
Common Systemic Conditions in Older Patients GDEN 713 2
Topics in Gerontology GDEN 714 2
Geriatric Dentistry Issues GDEN 715 2
Prevention in Pediatric Dentistry PEDO 704a 2
Prevention in Pediatric Dentistry PEDO 704b 2
Pediatric Diseases PEDO 705 2

A minimum grade point average of 3.0 on all graduate work is required.

Progressive Degree Programs

Applicants for a progressive degree program must have completed 64 units of coursework applicable to their undergraduate degree since graduating from high school. (AP units, IB units and coursework taken prior to high school graduation are excluded.) Applicants must submit their application before completing 96 units of coursework. Normally, the application is submitted in the fall semester of the third year of enrollment at USC. Applicants do not have to submit GRE scores but are expected to have at least a 3.0 GPA at the time of application.

The Application for Admission to a Progressive Master’s Program must be approved by the deans of the bachelor’s and the master’s degree-granting schools at USC and submitted to the Degree Progress Department. An approved course plan proposal and letters of recommendation from two USC faculty members must be submitted with the application, with at least one of the recommendations coming from a faculty member in the student’s bachelor’s degree major department.

Contact Information

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC
Office of Admissions
(213) 740-2841