USC University of Southern California

Online 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 Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry has developed an Online 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. 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 dental hygiene. Another aim is to prepare students for alternative career paths in the fields of education, health care, research and public health. With electives in various emphasis areas, graduates will be able to function as effective and efficient members of academic and health care teams and be well prepared to adapt to the transitions, which evolve in both the profession of dental hygiene and the health care delivery system.

The Online Master of Science in Dental Hygiene is a five-semester, part-time program designed to develop graduate dental hygiene students into leaders in advancing the discipline. Students will learn how to integrate research findings to form strategies that 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 19 units of required core coursework, plus seven additional units of elective studies in an area of emphasis, which supports their interests and future career plans. Emphasis areas include education and geriatric dentistry courses.

Students will learn program planning, research methodology and statistical data analysis 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 online classes, peer teaching and the design and use of educational technology. Courses include online lectures, 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:

  •  Have 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.
  • Posses a minimum GPA of 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

To be reviewed, the application and required application materials must be received by the Admissions Committee prior to July 15 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 15 are 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.

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

  • Nonrefundable application fee.

Supplemental materials submitted online only include:

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

Estimated Cost

Estimated cost of attendance for 2016-2017

Direct Costs Year 1 Year 2
Tuition $29, 461 $15,597
Health Insurance $1,816 $1,816
Student Health Center Fee $761 $590
Topping Student Aid Fund $16 $16
Graduate Orientation Fee $55 $0
Programming Fee $80 $80
Grad Student Services Fee $28 $28
Total Direct Costs $32,217 $18,127
Allowances for Indirect Costs
Room and Board $21,200 $15,900
Transportation $3,300 $2,475
Personal/Misc $2,436 $1,827
Estimated Cost of Attendance $59,153 $38,329

Degree Requirements

Completion of the degree requires satisfactory completion of a minimum of 26 units of course work at the 600 level or above to include a capstone project, which consists of a comprehensive written scholarly report suitable for publication and a defended oral presentation. The time limit for completing the master’s degree is five years.

Required Courses Units
Dental Hygiene Professional Issues DHYG 600 2
Development of Systematic Investigations DHYG 601 1
Research Methods and Biostatistics DHYG 602 2
Learning Theories and Technology DHYG 603 1
Health Advocacy Program Planning and Evaluation DHYG 604 2
Professional Leadership in Program Development DHYG 605 2
Multidisciplinary Population Health Mgmt Strategies DHYG 606 2
Knowledge Assessment for MSDH Candidates DHYG 607 1
Current Trends in Oral Healthcare DHYG 608 1
Capstone Project Fieldwork DHYG 609 1
MSDH Capstone Project DHYG 610 2
Research Writing DHYG 611 2


Areas of Emphasis (choose 4 units within 1 area) Units
Dental Hygiene Program and Curriculum Design DHYG 612 2
Laboratory and Clinical Course Development DHYG 613 2
Dental Hygiene Student Teaching Practicum DHYG 614 3
Common Systemic Conditions in Older Patients GDEN 713 2
Topics in Gerontology GDEN 714 2
Geriatric Dentistry Issues GDEN 715 2
Geriatric Healthcare Program Planning DHYG 615 1

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

Progressive Degree Programs

You will need to meet the following requirements to earn both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees:

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA at time of application.
  • Submit application as a junior (completed at least 64 total units of undergraduate course work, but have not exceeded 96 total units, excluding AP, IB, or transfer units earned prior to graduation from high school).
  • Complete and submit Application for Admission to a Progressive Master’s Program, including:
    • Application form
    • STARS report
    • Two letters of recommendation from USC faculty
    • Proposed Course Plan – to include all remaining undergraduate course requirements and at least two-thirds of the graduate program requirements.
    • You are not required to submit GRE or GMAT scores.
  • Obtain approval signatures for the application and proposed course plan from:
    • Undergraduate program department chair
    • Undergraduate program dean
    • Master’s program department chair
    • Master’s program dean
  • Complete all degree requirements for both the bachelor’s degree and the master’s degree with a minimum two-thirds of the units required for the master’s degree at or above the 500 level.
  • Complete both degree programs within 12 semesters (six years).

The approved application and course plan will be submitted to Degree Progress by the master’s program department and added to your academic records. Once admitted to the master’s program, all you need to do is follow your approved course plan.

Contact Information

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