About the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene Program

The Master of Science degree in Dental Hygiene at Idaho State University (ISU) is designed to accommodate non-traditional graduate students around the world. Through the convenience of web-based instruction, the program allows students to earn a graduate degree while maintaining their current residence, career, and life style. Graduates of the program are prepared for progressive leadership roles in dental hygiene including education, research and rural and community health.

Students are provided an opportunity to visit the campus on several occasions throughout the curriculum. An initial program orientation in August, and a one-week seminar course in May are the on-campus learning experience.

Applicants can take our Online Readiness Survey to determine whether they are ready for a fully online curriculum. Students are encouraged to view our Computer and Software Requirements to make sure you have the technology needed to complete this program.

Goals of the MSDH Program at ISU are to:

  1. Assume leadership roles in academics, rural and community health settings, research, professional associations and commercial industry.
  2. Develop advanced clinical abilities that improve oral health and access to dental hygiene care.
  3. Acquire research abilities that contribute to the scientific dental hygiene body of knowledge.
  4. Assume responsibility for professional development through life-long learning capability.
  5. Provide a foundation for future doctoral education.

Required Foundational Coursework/Undergraduate Degree/Licensure

Students must have graduated from an accredited entry level dental hygiene program, hold a Bachelor's degree in dental hygiene or a related field, and have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 in upper division and dental hygiene coursework.

Students must have a current dental hygiene license in good standing. A photocopy of this license will need to be provided to the Department of Dental Hygiene as part of the application process.

Previous education in local anesthesia and nitrous oxide administration is not a requirement for admission, but is preferred. If previous education in these pain control methods has been completed, students must provide evidence of successful completion of classroom and clinical experiences in local anesthesia and nitrous oxide administration. Evidence could include transcripts, course descriptions, expanded functions or continuing education certificates.

Students must have taken an undergraduate statistics or biostatistics course. A minimum of a "C" grade is required. If students have not had a statistics course, they may take an on-campus or online course at the institution of their choice. A graduate level course in statistics may be used as a 3 credit elective for the MSDH Program.

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Reasons why students choose the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene Program at Idaho State University

Reasons why students choose the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene Program at Idaho State University:

  • Faculty are nationally and internationally recognized exports in the field.
  • Program offers opportunity to specialize in dental hygiene education or community health.
  • Students may attend on a full or part-time basis with in-state tuition rates.
  • Program is 97% online so no need to relocate.
  • Students conduct thesis research and professional activities such as publications and presentations that make them highly desirable for future in employment in a variety of settings.

Tonette Hollingsworth


"The Graduate Dental Hygiene Program at Idaho State University has provided me a new perspective on my career and the skills to transform public health policies and the profession!"

-Tonette Hollingsworth







Michelle Smith


"I chose the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene program at Idaho State University for a variety of reasons including the online format, reasonable cost and the education track. But I have to say that while those reasons are valid, nothing can compare to the education I received at ISU, which also afforded me many networking and employment opportunities. Attending the MSDH program at ISU was the best decision I made with advancing my career options."

-Michelle Smith






More Information

Students must submit completed applications and supporting materials no later than:

Fall Admission Deadline: April 1

Spring Admission Deadline: November 15

Completion of an Undergraduate Degree

Applicants must complete a baccalaureate degree from a college or university accredited in the U.S. or its equivalent from a school in another country. This degree may be in progress during the application process, but must be completed prior to beginning the MSDH program. The applicant's degree can be from dental hygiene or any related field.

Application Checklist

Apply to ISU Graduate School

Admission Requirements for the Graduate School at ISU

    • Complete the Graduate School application.
    • Send supporting documents
      1. Photocopy of license to provide evidence of current dental hygiene licensure in good standing.
      2. Evidence of previous education in local anesthesia and nitrous oxide administration is preferred. Provide evidence of successful completion of classroom and clinical experiences in local anesthesia and nitrous oxide administration. Evidence could include transcripts, course descriptions, expanded functions or continuing education certificates.
      3. Pay associated $55.00 application fee to ISU.
      4. Official transcripts must be sent directly to the Graduate School.
    • Submit two letters of recommendation.
      1. One recommendation must be completed by an individual who has personal knowledge of the applicant's clinical skills such as a faculty member from a dental hygiene program, employer, or colleague. Recommender can mail, fax, or e-mail the completed form.
  1. Second recommendation must be completed by an individual who has personal knowledge of the applicant's academic and professional qualifications for graduate study such as a faculty member, officer of a professional association, or colleague. Recommender must mail, fax, or e-mail the completed form.
    • Send results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) to the ISU Graduate School. Refer to test websites to find testing locations and times. The minimum standards (GPA calculation based on the last 60 hours of undergraduate work) are:
      • GPA 3.5 or higher - No standardized test (GRE/MAT) required
      • GPA 3.0-3.499 - Must score in the 40th percentile on at least one area of the GRE OR 40th percentile on the MAT
      • GPA 2.5-2.999 - Combined Verbal/Quantitative score of 1000 (prior to 8/1/11) or 300 (post 8/1/11) on GRE or 45th percentile on the MAT
      • Below 2.4999 - No admission
    • Complete a telephone or personal interview with Dr. JoAnn Gurenlian.

JoAnn R. Gurenlian, RDH, PhD
Graduate Program Director and Professor
Department of Dental Hygiene
Division of Graduate Studies
Telephone: 208-282-2482
Fax: 208-282-4071

    • Approval of admission by the Dean of the Graduate School

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Requirements

Students whose native language is not English must take the GRE and achieve at least the 50th percentile on the Verbal section. Additionally, the applicant must complete the TOEFL Examination with a total score of 550 (paper based) and 213 (computer based). The score of Section I of the exam must be 55 (paper based) and 21 (computer based).

Letter of Introduction

While not required, all applicants are encouraged to submit a letter of introduction outlining their interest in the field, work experience, personal goals, and specific skill they believe will help them be successful in an on-line graduate school and in their profession. This letter should be sent as an e-mail attachment to Dr. JoAnn R. Gurenlian, Graduate Program Director, at gurejoan@isu.edu.

A total of 37 credits, including a thesis, is required for program completion. Requirements include 7 courses in the core curriculum, 4 courses in an area of emphasis, and 3 credits of electives.

The core courses advance the theory and practice of dental hygiene and prepare students in research methodology to apply during the thesis process and future work. In addition to the core curriculum, students complete an area of emphasis in Dental Hygiene Education or Rural and Community Oral Health. Two required dental hygiene courses in the emphasis area, coupled with a practicum experience and a related elective course, provide a strong basis for advanced study and thesis work.

To enhance the breadth of knowledge, students are required to complete a minimum of 3 credits of electives selected from related graduate coursework offered outside the Department of Dental Hygiene. A maximum of 9 credits may be transferred officially to Idaho State University.

A thesis is required because a research foundation is imperative to advance the theoretical knowledge base of the profession.

Orientation Course

August 8-12, 2016- on-site program at Pocatello, Idaho ISU campus. Students complete online modules through Moodle system.
August 7-11, 2017- on-site program at Pocatello, Idaho ISU campus. Students complete online modules through Moodle system.

Graduate Seminar II

May 9-13, 2016- on-site program at Pocatello, Idaho ISU campus
May 8-12, 2017- on-site program at Pocatello, Idaho ISU campus

MSDH Program Course Descriptions

DENT 5596 Graduate Seminar I: This seminar uses web based activities and on-site campus activities to assist students in developing skills and abilities essential for successful participation in the MSDH Program.

DENT 6605 Program Development and Evaluation: An overview of general principles of teaching, learning and evaluation in academic and community oral health programs. Emphasis on assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs.

DENT 6612 Administration and Management of Healthcare Organizations: This course combines theoretical knowledge with practical application of principles and techniques for managing a health care environment and employees associated with providing care. Emphasis on organizational structure, human resource management, financial management, quality assurance, policy development, information management, grant writing and business planning.


HCA 5599 Business of Health Care:

DENT 6615 Progressive Dental Hygiene Theory: Critical analysis of the dental hygiene process of care related to advanced preventive and therapeutic interventions to various population groups, technology and outcomes.

DENT 6618 Leadership Strategies to Improve Health Care: Application of leadership and management theory related to professional issues, policy development, legal and ethical principles, professional associations, strategic planning, conflict resolution, and professional advancement.

DENT 6619 Graduate Seminar II: This course provides students with experiential learning in dental hygiene practice, research, education, and innovations in technology. The course will culminate in an updated portfolio that addresses career goals within and beyond graduate education.

DENT 6646 Health Research: Introduction to the research process and the use of scientific literature to define a theoretical basis for future research. Requires gathering evidence, searching databases, analyzing and synthesizing literature to write a literature review. Application of principles of problem and research question formulation, sampling, design and methods, reliability and validity, and applied statistics in dental hygiene. Requires preparation of a research proposal. Prereq or coreq: Undergraduate statistics or biostatistics course.

DENT 6650 Thesis: Research project under supervision of a graduate research committee. May be repeated. Minimum of 6 credits required.

DENT 6620 Advanced Educational Theory and Methods: Study of theory, principles, and research related to the faculty role in active teaching and learning, development of ethical reasoning, critical thinking and reflective judgment, development of curricular frameworks, outcomes and competencies, and course delivery methods. PREREQ: DENT 6605

DENT 6621 Dental Hygiene Clinical Instruction and Admin.: Theory and practices of clinical instruction and supervision, related to psychomotor skill development, competency-based evaluation, student mentoring and remediation. Examination of organizational and administrative philosophy and practice in curriculum planning, implementation and evaluation based on accreditation standards. PREREQ: DENT 6620 OR DEPARTMENTAL APPROVAL.

DENT 6625 Dental Hygiene Education Practicum: individualized experience in applying principles and theories in dental hygiene education to didactic, preclinical and clinical instruction. This course may be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits.

DENT 6610 Special Care Populations: Concepts related to providing oral health care for special care populations. Emphasis is on assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of care for individuals with transient or lifelong physical, mental, medical or social health needs.

DENT 6632 Community and Global Health: A study of population groups that are at increased risk of poor health and a familiarity with policies and programs designed to reduce health inequalities. Emphasis on the ability to plan, implement, and evaluate an oral health program to increase access to care in an underserved target population.

DENT 6635 Rural and Community Health Practicum: individualized experience in applying principles and theories in community and rural health (public health) to address the oral health care needs of a targeted community or rural population. This course entails the implementation and evaluation of a public health project planned in DENT 6630, Community and Rural Health Programs. This course may be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits.

How can I determine if taking classes online is for me?

Online learning is designed to provide place-bound students with the same educational opportunities as students who attend classes on campus. Online courses take place during the same semester time frame as classes on campus and provide opportunities to interact with other students in the class through discussion room interactions. The Online Readiness Survey is an assessment tool designed to help you evaluate if online learning is for you. The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete and provides essential online learning considerations.

Are there on-campus obligations?

Students are provided an opportunity to visit the campus on several occasions throughout the curriculum. An initial program one-week orientation during August and a one-week seminar course in May are the on-campus learning experiences.

What is the current fee structure for the MSDH program?

See semester and credit hour fees. There will be a course fee attached to each course that will assist in supporting the conduct and administration of the program. This fee is set at $85.00 per credit for professional courses and $170.00 per credit for thesis. Also, there is an eISU fee assessed at $35 per credit.

To assist you with financing your education, you are encouraged to look at the American Dental Hygienists' Association and the American Dental Education Association websites for scholarship information for students pursing a graduate degree in dental hygiene. Students accepted into the program can join ADEA under ISU institutional membership for free.

How long is the program?

Students have eight years to complete the program so you can attend full- or part-time. It takes about 2.5 to 3 years to complete the program depending on the type of thesis work that is of interest. Some students prefer to pace themselves more slowly, taking into consideration their family and work commitments. It is up to you to decide the best approach.

Will ISU serve students in my state?
States from which ISU can accept resident online students:
Alabama*, Alaska*, Arizona*, Arkansas*, California, Colorado*, Connecticut, Delaware*, District of Columbia*, Florida, Georgia*, Hawaii*, Indiana*, Illinois*, Iowa*, Kansas*, Kentucky*, Louisiana*, Maine*, Maryland*, Michigan*, Minnesota*, Mississippi*, Missouri*, Montana*, Nebraska*, Nevada*, New Hampshire*, New Jersey, New Mexico*, North Carolina*, North Dakota*, Ohio*, Oklahoma*, Oregon*, Pennsylvania*, South Carolina*, South Dakota*, Rhode Island*, Tennessee*, Texas*, Utah, Vermont*, Virginia*, Washington*, West Virginia*, Wisconsin*, and Wyoming*.
States from which ISU is not authorized to accept resident online students:
Massachusetts and New York.

Will a graduate student orientation be available?

After acceptance into the MSDH program, a series of online orientation modules will be completed as part of DENT 5596 Graduate Seminar I each Fall. Students will learn about Idaho State University's library system, how to obtain research articles or books and how to utilize Evidence-Based Decision Making. Additionally, modules related to plagiarism and writing styles will be addressed at the on-campus orientation, along with advanced technology. The modules are self-paced and can be repeated as needed.

Is a statistical methods course required?

You will need to demonstrate completion of an undergraduate or graduate level statistics or biostatistics course within the past seven years. If you did not take statistics as part of your entry-level dental hygiene education, or it has been more than seven years since you completed a statistics course, you will need to take a course prior to taking DENT 6646 Health Research. You can begin the program even if you have not completed this requirement. Many part-time students take statistics in the summer between their first and second year. The course can be an online or in classroom experience.

Contact Information

We invite you to contact us with any questions regarding the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene program. We want to work collaboratively with you and develop an individualized program of study reflective of your personal interests and professional goals. Please contact us at (208) 282-2482 or email gurejoan@isu.edu if you have questions regarding the program. We look forward to hearing from you.

May 2016

Mary Bossart's published manuscript representing her thesis research. The paper is "A Pilot Study of an HbA1c Chairside Screening Protocol for Diabetes in Patients with Chronic Periodontitis: The Dental Hygienist's Role" was published in the May issue of the International Journal of Dental Hygiene. Coauthors include: Kristin Calley, Dr. JoAnn Gurenlian, Barbara Mason, Dr. Ferguson and Teri Peterson.

April 2016

Colleen Stephenson received the first place award for the oral presentation of her thesis research, Consumer Perceptions of Oral Cancer Screenings Compared to Other Cancer Screenings, at the ISU Graduate Student Research Symposium.

Kellen Fuller was selected as the 2016 Division of Health Sciences Outstanding Clinician.

Susan Bistline was selected for the 2016 Division of Health Sciences Professional Achievement Award.

Denise Bowen, Professor Emeritus, published a manuscript in the Linking Research to Clinical Practice section of the April Issue of the Journal of Dental Hygiene.  This paper is entitled "Effectiveness of Professionally-Applied Silver Diamine Fluoride in Arresting Dental Caries".

Kathleen Hodges published "Addressing Patient Discomfort During Ultrasonic Instrumentation" in the April issue of Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.

Kandis Garland served as the "Ask the Expert" for the April issue of the Dimensions of Dental Hygiene addressing "Protocol for Post-Exposture Management."

March 2016

The faculty were well-represented at the 2016 American Dental Education Association meeting in Denver, Colorado, March 12-15, 2016.

Dr. Ellen Rogo and Karen Portillo presented a workshop entitled, "It Takes A Village to Build a Synergist Online Community."

Dr. JoAnn Gurenlian presented "Advancing Dental Hygiene Research" as part of the the ADHA workshop.

Tammy Sanderson presented a workshop entitled, "Coaches Rewind: Teaching with Video in the Clinic."

Leciel Bono presented a poster "Shaping Tomorrow: Igniting Advocacy Through a Legislative Educational Unit."

Jacque Freudenthal presented a poster "Reflecting on Eight Years of Interprofessional Education Clinical Experiences."

Tammy Sanderson also presented a poster entitled, "Effect of a Video-Recorded Clinical Session in the Training of Dental Hygiene Students."

Kandis Graland had an article published in the March issue of Dimensions of Dental Hygiene entitled, "Create a Culture of Safety."

February 2016

Krista Beaty has co-authored the paper, "Treating Patients with CREST Syndrome," which appears in the February issue of Dimensions Dental Hygiene.

January 2016

Alumnus Debbie Johnson, Dr. JoAnn Gurenlian, and Jacque Fredudenthal published an article entitled " A Study of Nutrition in Entry-Level Dental Hygiene Education Programs" in the January issue of the Journal of Dental Education. This represents the culmination of Debbie's thesis study.

Kandis Garland has an article entitled "Tips for Successfully Serving as Infection Control Coordinator" in the January issue of Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.

Class of 2016

Keiko Ogami: "Oral Health Behaviours and Attitudes among Japanese Immigrants in Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada"

Monica Colleen Stephenson: "Idaho Adults’ Perceptions of Oral Cancer Screenings"

Wendy Rachelle Williams: "An Evaluation of a School-Based Sealant Program"

Class of 2015

Karissa Clark: "Oral Health of Elderly Residents in Long-Term Care Facilities: A Qualitative Study Examining Barriers, Solutions, Policies, Rules and Regulations"

Deborah L. Johnson: "A Study of Nutrition in Entry-Level Dental Hygiene Education"

Michelle Smith: "Leadership in Degree-Completion Programs--A Study Comparing Stand-Alone Leadership Courses versus Leadership-Infused Curricula"

Monika Alcorn: "The Antibacterial Effects of Silver Nitrate on Oral Biofilm"

Angie Bailey:"Oral Health Training and Interprofessional Education in Family Medicine and Pediatric Residency"

Leciel Bono:"Effects of a Legislative Advocacy Educational Unit on Dental Hygiene Students' and Alumni"

Lillian Bowen:"Developing an Oral Health Referral System"

Courtney Perrachione:"Visualization of the Oropharynx during Head and Neck Cancer Examinations"

Lisa Joy Santiago:"Dental Hygiene Faculty Calibration to Enhance Inter-Rater Reliability with Calculus Detection: A Pilot Study"

Victoria Martin:"The Relationship Between Educational Mock Boards and Clinical Board Examinations"

LaNae Rodgerson:"Social Presence in Online Graduate Dental Hygiene Education"

Rachelle Williams:"An Evaluation of a School-Based Sealant Program"

Class of 2014

Allison Cahoon: "A Survey of Dental Hygiene Collaborative Practice in New Mexico and Minnesota"

Vicki Dodge: "A Faculty Development Program to Enhance Dental Hygiene Distance Education: A Pilot Study"

Sandra Wilkie: "A Comparative Assessment of Volunteerism among Dental Hygienists: The Relationship Between a Practice Act Incentive, Behaviors, Perceptions, and Motivational Orientations"

Bethany Bewley: "The Role of the Dental Hygienist in Screening for Sleep Apnea"

Julia Forsmark: "Dental Hygiene Students' Knowledge of Human Papillomavirus and Its' Relation to Oropharyngeal Cancer"

Tonette Hollingsworth: "Oral Health Outcomes Following a Pediatric Preventive Oral Health Pilot Program in Montana"

Jacqueline Juhl: "Geographic Comparisons of Washington State Non-Traumatic Dental Complaint Emergency Department Patients"

Christine Rogers: New York State Dental Hygienists' Perceptions of a Baccalaureate Degree as the Entry-Level Degree Required for Practice"

Class of 2013

Catherine Beebe: "Educational Technology for the Millennial Dental Hygiene Student"
During her academic tenure at ISU, Ms. Beebe was the recipient of the ADEA/Crest Oral-B Scholarship for Students Pursuing Academic Careers.

Lisa Belt: "Impact of Adjunctive Techniques in Oral Cancer Screenings on Motivation to Quit Tobacco Use"
Ms. Belt was selected to represent the Graduate Program as part of the DENTSPLY/ADHA Graduate Dental Hygiene Research Program and presented a poster presentation at the ADHA Annual Session in June.

Mary Bossart: "HbA1c Chairside Screening for Diabetes in Patients with Chronic Periodontitis"
Ms. Bossart's research was presented during the poster presentation session at the ADHA Annual Session in June.

Nichole Dicke: "A Survey of Clinical Faculty Calibration in Dental Hygiene Programs"

Sandra Miles: "Integration of Client Self-Care Commitment Model in a Dental Hygiene Curriculum"

Nancy Sherrill: "Families' Perceptions of Oral Health Care for Long-Term Care Residents"
Ms. Sherrill distinguished herself as the 2013 Outstanding Student Award Master Candidate for the Division of Health Sciences.

Class of 2012

Lisa Welch: "Knowledge Level of Undergraduate College Students About the Transmission of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Via Oral Sexual Contact"

* In light of Ms. Welch's exemplary research efforts, she was selected to receive the 2012 ISU Division of Health Sciences Outstanding Student Researcher Award. This award was established to recognize graduates who have excelled in leadership, research, and clinical practice and was presented to Ms. Welch by Dr. Linda Hatzenbuehler on May 4, 2012 at the Division of Health Sciences 2012 Award Reception.

Patricia Wintch: "Executive Director's Knowledge, Perceptions, and Roles Regarding Provision of Oral Health Care to Long-Term Care Facility Residents"

Elena Francisco: "Dental Hygienist's Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practice Behaviors Regarding Caries Risk Assessment and Management"

*The Idaho State University Division of Health Sciences awarded the Jeffrey A. Bartlome Memorial Research Grant to Elena Francisco at the Idaho Conference on Health Care on Oct. 21.

Class of 2011

Carol Amerine - "An Intervention to Improve Oral Hygiene of Residents in Long-term Care Facilities"

Sara Beres - "The Role of the Dental Hygienist on the Cleft Palate Team"

Merri Jones - "Interdisciplinary Approach to Care: The Role of the Dental Hygienist on the Pediatric Feeding Team"

Lisa Moravec - "Precision Grip Strength in Dental Hygiene Students"

Rebecca Tranmer - "National Survey of Oncology Teams' Knowledge, Education, and Management of Oral Cancer in Cancer Therapy"

Class of 2010

Brooke Agado - "Effects of Two Methods of Nonsurgical Periodontal Therapy (NSPT) on Health-Related Quality of Life and Illness for Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial"

Heather Hessheimer - "Use of Questioning in a Dental Hygiene Didactic Course"

Karen Portillo - "Current Status of Degree Completion Programs in Dental Hygiene Education"

Class of 2009

Lidia Brion-Silva - "A Comparison of Dental Ultrasonic Technologies on Subgingival Calculus Removal: A Pilot Study"

*The Idaho State University Division of Health Sciences awarded the Jeffrey A. Bartlome Memorial Research Grant to Lidia Brion-Silva at the Idaho Conference on Health Care in 2009.

Ann Wetmore - "Use of Reflective Blogs to Promote Critical Thinking in Dental Hygiene Students"

Class of 2008

Tanae Nelson - "The Explanatory Model of Mexican American Mothers' Perception of Dental Decay"

*The Idaho State University Division of Health Sciences awarded the Jeffrey A. Bartlome Memorial Research Grant to Tanae Nelson at the Idaho Conference on Health Care in 2008. Please add to existing text

Class of 2007

Sarah Jackson - "An Evidence-Based Self-Assessment Education Module for Dental Hygiene Curricula"


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