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Dental hygiene, a preventive profession, is composed of licensed dental hygienists who are an integral part of the dental health team. They provide educational, clinical, and therapeutic services to those seeking dental care.

The dental hygiene curriculum at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry is fully approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and its graduates are eligible for examination and licensure in all states.

The curriculum is organized into a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene. Preparation for admission consists of approximately two academic years of study with the course work to be completed at any accredited college. To comply with our prerequisites, it is advisable to contact the dental hygiene program advisers at the College of Dentistry, so we can help you select the classes that will fulfill requirements for our curriculum, as well as your respective college. 

After acceptance into the dental hygiene program, the next two academic years and one summer session are spent at the College of Dentistry in Lincoln or the West Division campus in Gering.

Predental Hygiene Requirements

High School

Preparation for the study of dental hygiene begins in high school. The prospective dental hygiene student is encouraged to take the following subjects:

  • English - 3 years
  • Mathematics
    • Algebra - 2 years
    • Geometry - 1 year
  • Biological Sciences (Biology) - 1 year
  • Chemistry - 1 year
  • Foreign Language (suggested but not required) - 2 years

College

The predental hygiene courses fulfill general requirements and provide the student with a core of knowledge.

  • Communication (English Composition) - 6 hours
  • Biology - 4 hours
  • Microbiology - 4 hours
  • Human Anatomy or Anatomy & Physiology I - 4 hours
  • Human Physiology or Anatomy & Physiology II - 4 hours
  • General Chemistry - 8 hours
  • Introductory Sociology - 3 hours
  • Introductory Psychology - 3-4 hours
  • Communication (Speech/must give speeches) - 3 hours
  • Humanities/Arts - 6 hours
  • Social & Behavioral Sciences/Human Behavior, Culture, and Social Organization - 3 hours
  • Nutrition - 3 hours
  • 12-hour series - 12 hours

Six credit hours must be completed in the Humanities & Arts (English literature, philosophy, music history, classics, art history, theater arts, drawing) and three hours in Social & Behavioral Sciences/Human Behavior, Culture and Social Organization (psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, political science, geography). A twelve-hour series (a 12-hour minor in one academic area) must be completed in a specific area of study. The courses taken in the 12-hour series must have the same course prefix for all courses being considered. The Dental Hygiene Program advisor should be consulted for specific details.

The following is an example of course sequencing.

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
First SemesterCredit Hours
English Composition 3
General Biology/Lab 4
Speech 3
Introduction to Psychology 4
 Credit Hours14
Second Semester
English Composition 3
Biology of Microorganisms/Lab 4
Introduction to Sociology 3
Social & Behavioral Sciences 3
First of 12 Hour Series 3
 Credit Hours16
Second Year
First Semester
General Chemistry I/Lab 4
Humanities/Arts 3
Humanities/Arts 3
Second of 12 Hour Series 3
Anatomy/Lab or Human Anatomy & Physiology I/Lab 4
 Credit Hours17
Second Semester
General Chemistry II/Lab 4
Nutrition 3
Third of 12 Hour Series 3
Fourth of 12 Hour Series 3
Physiology/Lab or Human Anatomy & Physiology II/Lab 4
 Credit Hours17
 Total Credit Hours64

Transfer Credit

All official transcripts from postsecondary institutions will be examined, and credit will be awarded according to UNMC policy. Usually, credit from any accredited institution of higher learning is accepted for transfer if successfully completed with a course grade of C or above. Pass/No Pass will not be accepted for completion of Dental Hygiene prerequisites. 

For two- and four-year institutions, transfer credit will be determined by the standards set forth in the “Transfer Credit Practices of Designated Educational Institutions” published by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Offices. No credit will be awarded for D grades on courses with pass/no pass outcomes/

Admission Guidelines

The Department of Dental Hygiene accepts twenty students each year for the program at the College of Dentistry in Lincoln, Nebraska. Four students are accepted for the West Division in Gering, Nebraska. Students who meet the following requirements may be considered for admission.

  • Maintain a minimum total grade point average of 2.5. (Average GPA for the 24 students accepted into the program each fall is generally 3.5)
  • Complete an online application by February 1
  • Admission criteria includes: Cumulative GPA, science GPA, ACT score, interview, familiarity with the profession, essay, and letters of recommendation.
  • The University of Nebraska Medical Center is an equal opportunity institution and all qualified minorities are urged to apply.

Application Procedures

The department of Dental Hygiene accepts twenty-four students each year. Applicants must have a minimum total grade point average of 2.5. (The average GPA for the entering classes of the past 10+ years has been 3.5).

The dental hygiene admission process begins by completing the online application available on the College of Dentistry's website:  www.unmc.edu/dentistry/programs/hygiene/admissions.html. Students are urged to begin application procedures as soon as the online application is available for the current application cycle.  

The application must be completed and submitted online by February 1. When completing the online application, you will need to provide the following:

  • Essay.
  • Three letters of recommendation (optional)
  • All college course work entered
  • Personal/demographic information
  • Program site selection
  • Program questions
  • Official college transcripts submitted from ALL college/universities attended (even if transfer credit is not being used from that institution) as directed in application. ALL must be sent directly to the application service in Massachusetts. DO NOT send directly to the program. This will DELAY verification of your application.
  • Application fee of $60 paid within the application submission as directed

Please provide an official high school transcript and ACT report/score directly to the UNMC Dental Hygiene Program via email to rcharles@unmc.edu. Please contact the dental hygiene program department for further information at 402-472-1433.

The dental hygiene admissions committee notifies all applicants of their acceptance or rejection. Upon notice of acceptance for admission to the dental hygiene program, a letter of intent to enroll and a non-refundable deposit of $300.00 are required. The full amount of the deposit applies toward payment of tuition and fees when the student enrolls.

Plan of Study Grid
Third Year
First SemesterCredit Hours
DHYG 301 PRECLINIC THEORY 2
DHYG 307 MEDICAL EMERGENCIES 1
DHYG 309 PRECLINICAL TECHNIQUES 4
ADRS 314 CLINICAL DENTAL RADIOLOGY FOR DENTAL HYGIENE 0
ORBI 315 OSTEOLOGY OF THE SKULL 1
ORBI 317 SPECIAL TOPICS IN ORAL BIOLOGY 2
ORBI 319 GENERAL/ORAL HISTOLOGY 2
DHYG 321 DENTAL ANATOMY LECT/LAB 2
 Credit Hours14
Second Semester
ADRS 304 ORAL RADIOLOGY FOR DENTAL HYGIENE 2
ORBI 305 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 0
DHYG 310 CLINICAL DENTAL HYGIENE I 3
ADRS 314 CLINICAL DENTAL RADIOLOGY FOR DENTAL HYGIENE 0
ORBI 316 HEAD & NECK ANATOMY 2
DHYG 320 CLINICAL TECHNIQUES I 2
ORBI 325 INTRODUCTION TO IMMUNOLOGY 1
ADRS 326 DENTAL MATERIALS 2
ORBI 366 GENERAL/ORAL PATHOLOGY FOR DENTAL HYGIENE 3
 Credit Hours15
Summer
DHYG 312 NITROUS OXIDE-OXYGEN SEDATION 1
ADRS 314 CLINICAL DENTAL RADIOLOGY FOR DENTAL HYGIENE 1
DHYG 328 CLINICAL DENTAL HYGIENE II 1
DHYG 330 CLINICAL TECHNIQUES II 2
PERO 331 THEORETICAL PERIODONTOLOGY 2
GERI 335 CARING FOR OLDER ADULTS: BEHAVIOR, ETHICS, AND HEALTH SYSTEMS 1
 Credit Hours8
Fourth Year
First Semester
ORBI 401 INTRODUCTION TO PHARMACOLOGY 2
DHYG 406 COMMUNITY DENTAL HEALTH 0
ADRS 408 SPECIAL PATIENT CARE 1
DHYG 412 LOCAL ANESTHESIA 2
ADRS 415 CLINICAL DENTAL RADIOLOGY FOR DENTAL HYGIENE 0
DHYG 423 CLINICAL DENTAL HYGIENE III 4
DHYG 425 CLINICAL TECHNIQUES III 2
ORBI 491 CLINICAL ORAL PATHOLOGY 2
 Credit Hours13
Second Semester
ORBI 305 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 1
DHYG 406 COMMUNITY DENTAL HEALTH 3
ADRS 415 CLINICAL DENTAL RADIOLOGY FOR DENTAL HYGIENE 1
DHYG 426 PROFESSIONAL PERSPECTIVES 2
DHYG 428 CLINICAL DENTAL HYGIENE IV 4
DHYG 430 CLINICAL TECHNIQUES IV 2
ORBI 471 A REVIEW OF BIOMEDICAL/DENTAL SCIENCES 1
 Credit Hours14
 Total Credit Hours64

Tuition and Fees

Tuition and fees are set by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents and may be changed at any time. The following quotations are for academic year 2020-2021 and are offered as guidelines only.1

Dental Hygiene - Resident $292.17 per credit hour
Dental Hygiene - Nonresident $814.50 per credit hour
Dental Hygiene Instruments 1,030.00/semester
Anatomy Lab Fee $25.00/per year
Technology Fee $100.00
Equipment Replacement Fee $310.00/semester
Library Fee2 $6.25/credit hour
Dental Hygiene - Lincoln Campus Student Fees $625.00/semester; $250.00/summer1
Background Check Fee (only at matriculation) $50.00
Student Health Insurance3 $1,340.00 1st semester; $1,880.00 2nd semester

See the Scholarships and Financial Aid section for applicable information about scholarships, financial aid, and establishing residency for tuition purposes.

Dental Hygiene Student - Books, Equipment & Instrument Policy

Books & Instruments

Dental Hygiene students are responsible to purchase and obtain assigned books. 

Students must purchase their own magnification loupes. The cost to purchase the loupes is not included in the student fee assessment and will be at the student's own expense. An estimated expense for purchasing loupes is included in the financial aid cost of attendance allowance.

Some equipment and dental instruments are leased to and checked out to students for specific purposes and are to be returned in satisfactory condition. Students are responsible for the cost of lost equipment; this includes all items issued for clinic, laboratories, or classrooms.

Instruments are owned by the dental hygiene students. They receive their entire instrument issue the first semester, junior year. The cost for instruments is assessed over four semesters and may vary from junior year to senior year.

Equipment and Replacement Fee

Students pay a service fee which provides for basic and pre-clinical laboratory supplies; use and laundering of COD clinic gowns; pre-clinical dispensing services; and other items or services necessary for students participation in the academic programs at the College. 

Some department equipment and dental hygiene instruments are checked out to the students for specific purposes and must be returned in satisfactory condition. Students are responsible for the cost of lost and/or damaged equipment. This includes any item issued to them for use in clinics, laboratories or classrooms.

Anatomy Lab Fee

Students pay an annual service fee to support on-going laboratory & program endeavors necessary to successfully complete the dental hygiene program's laboratory exercises.

Technology Fee

Provides technological support, electronic course materials, and equipment updates throughout the duration of the student's program.

Withdrawal of Students

If a student leaves the program before graduation, all issued equipment and instruments must be returned before the College will authorize any appropriate refunds of University tuition and general fees; release of transcripts and letters of recommendation or any other information as determined by the College.

University Housing

The Board of Regents determines the rates for room and board in the student residence halls. University housing is only available to Lincoln campus students. Current information is available from the Division of University Housing, 1115 N. 16th Street, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Box 880622, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0622, (402) 472-3561.