Dental Hygiene (BSDH), Bachelor of Science

Program Location Orange County
Program Credits 124 Credits
Program Length 7 Semesters, 140 Instructional Weeks
Time to Complete 34 Months

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Code: 29-2021.00

Program Mission:  The Dental Hygiene Program’s mission is to impact the future of oral health care by graduating highly qualified dental hygienists through excellence in education, patient care, innovation, research, community service, public health, facilities, and faculty.

Program Objective: The objective of the BSDH program is to prepare students to become competent in the knowledge, skills and values of dental hygiene while building upon a liberal arts and science educational background that expands their view of oral health and disparity. This program focuses on the development of dental hygienists as life-long learners with the ability to critically think and with a commitment to professional leadership. Upon program completion and the Dental Hygiene National Board Examination, the graduate will be eligible to take state and regional licensing exams to become a Registered Dental Hygienist [some additional requirements may be necessary depending on the specific state or regional criteria at the time of the examination].

Program Learning Outcomes: Upon successful completion of the program and as required for licensure, the entry-level dental hygienist will be able to:

  1. Practice professional behavior in the provision of patient care.
  2. Exhibit critical thinking skills through evidence based decision making.
  3. Demonstrate effective communication skills with diverse populations.
  4. Provide competent oral health care to individuals at all stages of life.
  5. Apply public health promotion skills in a variety of settings.
  6. Recognize the importance of lifelong learning and professional growth and development to maintain competence in an evolving health care system.

Admission Requirements

Applicants, including applicants for advanced standing, for the Bachelor of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene (BSDH) program must:

  1. Complete a minimum of 8 hours of observation of at least two dental hygienists in clinical practice. The applicant must have the dental hygienist sign the verification form and the applicant must write a response paper following the stated parameters. Observation hours will not qualify if the license cannot be verified and/or if the applicant observes a dentist or dental assistant. Observation hours are considered as valid for one year;
  2. Pass the Assessment Technologies Institute, LLC (ATI™) Test for Essential Academic Skills (TEAS®) (ATI TEAS) with a minimum Individual Total Score at or above 50.0.  The applicant must wait one (1) week to retest between the first and second ATI TEAS exam.  An applicant has two attempts at the ATI TEAS exam.  If an applicant does not pass the ATI TEAS exam after two attempts, the applicant must wait 6 months for a third attempt with a proof of remediation is also required.  Passing ATI TEAS scores are valid for one year.  Individuals who are unable to score at or above 50.0 may be admitted to the program under the following conditions:
    1. Must achieve a minimum summative score between 120.0 or above  and a total score below 50.0 on the ATI TEAS Examination.
    2. Must enroll in General Education courses.
    3. Must meet regularly with an Advisor and assigned tutor.
    4. Pass the ATI TEAS with a minimum composite score of 50.0 in order to progress into Dental Hygiene Core Courses.
    5. Students unable to achieve a passing ATI TEAS score before the conclusion of General Education coursework will be dismissed from the University, however, may reapply for admissions.  Those unable to meet the terms of admission to the program may be referred to the Student Conduct Committee and may be dismissed from the university.

Please Note: Application deadlines and information about the ATI TEAS Examination and Dental Hygiene Observation are provided during the application process and at Information Sessions.

Dental Hygiene Transfer Credit Evaluation: Dental hygiene applicants requesting transfer credit evaluation must provide official transcripts no later than the application deadline. Only general education and pre-requisite coursework will be considered and evaluated for transfer credit, and all general education and prerequisite course(s) for the dental hygiene program must have been taken at an appropriately accredited institution. To receive transfer credit for this program, General Education and pre-requisite courses must have been successfully completed with a grade of at least a "C". Science courses must be taken within the last five years to be accepted for transfer credit. Each of the core dental hygiene courses must be taken in-residence and taken in succession. The maximum allowable transfer credits applied to the Dental Hygiene program shall not exceed 40 credits. Authority for all final transfer credit decisions is given to the Program Dean/Chair. Students who submit an application for the Bachelors of Science in Dental Hygiene program without a request for transfer credit evaluation will not be awarded credit for any prior coursework.

Selection Process: Dental Hygiene program applicants will be notified of acceptance status once the completed application and supporting documentation have been evaluated and the selection process has concluded. The selection process includes an objective evaluation of:

  • The ATI TEAS sub-scores based on the means for Category S (maximum points possible are Reading 15, Math 20, Science 25, and English and Language Usage 15) and Individual Total Score; and
  • The Dental Hygiene Observation verification forms and response paper.

Based on a 100 point scale, 75 maximum points from the ATI TEAS and 25 maximum points from the Dental Hygiene Observation documents, applicants are ranked and selected for admission into the Dental Hygiene program. There is no waiting list for subsequent admission. Applicants not selected must reapply and resubmit all required materials.

Dental Hygiene Deadlines for Previous General Education (GE) and Challenge Credits

Any student petitioning to transfer credits into the Dental Hygiene Program from previously attended institution(s) must submit a sealed transcript from the originating institution by the application deadline. Challenge credit is not available for the Dental Hygiene program core courses.

Dental Hygiene GE Challenge Exam Additional Requirements

GE challenge examinations must be completed by the application deadline. Additionally, prospective Dental Hygiene students must submit a written request to the campus Academic Dean and if approved, the challenge examination will be administered prior to the application deadline and student selection process. There are NO challenge examinations for previous dental hygiene, dental assisting, or dental courses.

Program Information and Disclosures

Dental Hygiene Program Clinical Requirements

Prior to taking the core Dental Hygiene curriculum, Dental Hygiene students must:

  1. Meet the requirements as outlined in the “Essential Functions of a Dental Hygienist”*;
  2. Obtain a criminal background clearance*;
  3. Undergo drug screening and other requirements as applicable to West Coast University policy and/or state licensure requirements*;
  4. Meet all clinical requirements including strict adherence to the current institutional Dental Hygiene Program Blood borne Pathogens Policy and Exposure Control Plan and Respiratory Protection Program;
  5. Provide acceptable proof of adequate health insurance coverage*;
  6. Submit documentation of immunization and tuberculosis clearance*;
  7. Provide and maintain a current Basic Life Support (BLS) certification including health care provider CPR with AED*;
  8. Expect the hours and days to vary depending on the term schedule;
  9. Expect the term schedule to be final and non-negotiable, and if a student refuses a clinical assignment, he/she will be terminated from the program.

*Information regarding these requirements is provided during the application process and at the Dental Hygiene program orientation.

Dental Hygiene Licensure Requirements

To practice as a Dental Hygienist in California, you must be licensed in California by the Dental Hygiene Board of California.  Applicants must pass the clinical examination, written examination in California dental law ethics, and undergo a criminal history investigation, prior to receiving a license.

  1. Complete an application for licensure to include a photograph and verification of graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program.
  2. Submit to a Livescan as part of the requirements of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A License will not be issued until the board receives the background information from DOJ.
    1. Processing times may vary, depending on when the Board receives documents from University, agencies, and other states or countries. The time to process an application indicating a prior conviction(s) may take longer than other applications. Delays may also occur with the fingerprint processing by the Department of Justice and/or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
    2. Applicants must report any convictions or pleas of nolo contendere even if a subsequent order was issued which expunged or dismissed the criminal record under the provisions of section1203.4 of the Penal Code.  Applications may be denied for knowingly falsifying an application pursuant to section 480(c) of the Business and Professions Code. 
    3. A license may be denied if the candidate has:
      • Been convicted of a crime. A conviction within the meaning of this section means a plea or verdict of guilty or a conviction following a plea nolo contendere.  Any action that a board is permitted to take following the has been affirmed on appeal, or when an order granting probation is made suspending the imposition of sentence, irrespective of a subsequent order under the provisions of Section 1203.4 of the Penal Code.
      • Done any act involving dishonesty, fraud, or deceit with the intent to substantially benefit himself or herself or another, or substantially injure another. 
      • Done any act that if done by a licensed Dental Hygienist, would be grounds for suspension or revocation of license. 
      • Knowingly made a false statement of fact required to be revealed in the application for the license. 
    4. Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, no person shall be denied a license solely on the basis that he or she has been convicted of a felony if he or she has obtained a certificate of rehabilitation under Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 4852.01) of Title 6 of Part 3 of the Penal Code or that he or she has been convicted of a misdemeanor if he or she has met all applicable requirements of the criteria of rehabilitation developed by the board to evaluate the rehabilitation of a person when considering the denial of a license under subdivision (a) of Section 482.
    5. The board may deny a license pursuant to this subdivision only if the crime or act is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which application is made. 
  3. Successfully complete the National Board of Dental Examiners' examination for dental hygienist.
  4. Provide verification of completion for soft tissue curettage, administration of local anesthetic agents, and administration of nitrous oxide and oxygen.
  5. Pay all required fees.

Dental Hygiene Program Disclosure

The Dental Hygiene Board of California will not issue a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) license to anyone without a United States – issued social security number. Students who do not have a United States – issued social security number will be ineligible for licensure in the state of California, and therefore will be ineligible for employment as a Registered Dental Hygienist in this state.  However, graduates may be eligible for Dental Hygienist licensure in some states that do not require a social security number.  Some state boards will issue licensure in their state without residence in the state or a U.S. issued Social Security Number. 

Blended Format in the Core Dental Hygiene Courses

Select core courses in the Dental Hygiene program will be offered in a blended delivery format. Blended courses combine traditional or face-to-face classroom instruction with an online learning modality. In preparation for the blended courses, students must:

  1. Complete the FYS 001 course (prior to Summer I 2023) or the FHE 100 course (starting Summer I 2023), which includes exercises for students to test accessibility and become familiar with navigation in all areas of blended courses;
  2. Meet the specific computer requirements with acceptable hardware and software configuration and internet access as noted in the University Student Handbook.

Dental Hygiene Curriculum


General Education

Category and Requirements WCU Course Requirements Transferable / Options
Foundational Course 

FHE 100 (3):  Foundations of Higher Education

A.  Written Communications
(6 Semester Credits)
*ENGL 140 (3): Written Communication I
*ENGL 240 (3): Written Communication II

Equivalent to ENGL 140

Equivalent to ENGL 240

B. Oral and Interpersonal Communications
(3 Semester Credits)
*SPCH 142 (3): Oral Communication Equivalent to SPCH 142
C. Critical Thinking and Ethical Reasoning
(3 Semester Credits)
*PHIL 341 (3): Critical Reasoning Equivalent to PHIL 341
D. Quantitative Literacy
(6 Semester Credits)
MATH 108 (3): College Mathematics I
MATH 211 (3): Statistics

Equivalent to MATH 108

Equivalent to MATH 211

E. Social and Behavioral Sciences
(6 Semester Credits)
*PSYC 160 (3): Psychology
SOC 280 (3): Sociology
Equivalent to PSYC 160
Equivalent to SOC 280
G. Scientific Reasoning
(19 Semester Credits)
ANAT 260 (4): Human Anatomy
PHYS 261 (4): Human Physiology
CHEM 280 (4): Chemistry
CHEM 285 (3):  Biochemistry DH
MICR 290 (4): General Microbiology

Equivalent to ANAT 260
Equivalent to PHYS 261
Equivalent to CHEM 280
CHEM 285 is Non-transferable

Equivalent to MICR 290

A minimum of 46 credits is required for graduation.

Note:  The following course must have been taken in the last 5 years: ANAT 260, CHEM 280, CHEM 285, MICR 290, and PHYS 261.

Note:  If scheduled, the following courses must have been taken at WCU:  FHE 100, and CHEM 285.  

Core Dental Hygiene Courses

DHYG 302Introduction to Dental Hygiene Practice w/Lab


DHYG 303Infection Control Lab


DHYG 305General Pathology Immunology and Medical Terminology


DHYG 312Pre-Clinical Dental Hygiene I w/Lab


DHYG 315Oral Pathology


DHYG 322CPre-Clinical Dental Hygiene II


DHYG 324Cultural Competency in Healthcare


DHYG 325Medically Compromised Care & Emergencies


DHYG 332CPre-Clinical Dental Hygiene III


DHYG 335Dental Radiology Science w/Lab


DHYG 341Dental Embryology Histology and Anatomy w/ Lab


DHYG 345Dental Radiology Interpretation w/Clinic


DHYG 351Preventive Dentistry and Risk Assessment


DHYG 355Head & Neck Anatomy


DHYG 360Pain Management w/Lab


DHYG 362Dental Materials w/Lab


DHYG 370Basic and Applied Pharmacology


DHYG 375Introduction to Periodontology


DHYG 402Clinical Seminar I


DHYG 405CClinical Practice I


DHYG 412Clinical Seminar II


DHYG 415CClinical Practice II


DHYG 422Clinical Seminar III


DHYG 425CClinical Practice III


DHYG 430Biochemistry and Nutrition


DHYG 432Clinical Seminar IV


DHYG 435CClinical Practice IV


DHYG 440Research Methodology


DHYG 442Applied Research Lab


DHYG 450Ethics Seminar


DHYG 455Dental Public Health


DHYG 465Community Dental Health Project


DHYG 470Practice Management and Jurisprudence


DHYG 475Applied Periodontology


DHYG 482Advanced Dental Hygiene Topics


DHYG 492Professional Development Project


Total Credit Hours:78.0

Program Credit Distribution


General Education Semester Credits 46.0
Core Dental Hygiene Semester Credits 78.0
Total Program Semester Credits 124.0