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Master of Science in Dental Hygiene

The Master of Science degree in Dental Hygiene is designed to accommodate 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 lifestyle.

Applicants can take our Online Readiness Survey to determine whether they are ready for a fully online curriculum.

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 copy of this license must be provided to the Department of Dental Hygiene as part of the application process.

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

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.

Admissions for the program is "open enrollment" - students can apply at any time.  Please note, that the dates listed for the graduate school are listed for general enrollment for the all programs on campus.  Our Master of Science in Dental Hygiene is accepting new students year-round.



Apply to ISU Graduate School

Graduate School application

    Complete a telephone or personal interview with Graduate Program Director Leciel Bono by calling (208) 242-8158 or by e-mailing lecielbono@isu.edu.

      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).

      A total of 37 credits, including a thesis (minimum of 6 credits), will be required for degree completion. Requirements include 10 courses (26 credits) in the core curriculum, a practicum experience (2-4 credits), 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. A thesis is required because the Master of Science degree in Dental Hygiene is the terminal degree in the discipline and a research foundation is imperative to advance the theoretical knowledge base of the profession. To enhance the breadth of knowledge, students are required to complete 3 credits of electives selected from related graduate coursework offered outside the Department of Dental Hygiene.

      The program is an online graduate curriculum required for DENT 5596 Graduate Seminar I (orientation), and DENT 6619 Graduate Seminar II. 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.

      Graduate Seminar I

      Eight week course. Students complete online modules through the Moodle system.

      Graduate Seminar II

      Four week course.  Students are required to attend two weekend course instructions conducted via Zoom.



      MSDH Program Course Descriptions

      DENT 5596 Graduate Seminar I: This seminar uses web-based 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 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 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.

      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 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, or permission of Graduate Program Director.

      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 permission of Graduate Program Director.

      DENT 6623 Leadership and Health Policy: Application of leadership theory and health policy to professional issues, policy development, increasing access to care for diverse populations, advocacy, coalition building, translating and communicating in a policy making environment, and emotional intelligence.

      DENT 6626 Dental Hygiene Practicum: Individualized experience designed to apply principles and theories in dental hygiene education or service-learning experience applying theories in rural and community health to improve access to care. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. Graded S/U. PREREQ: DENT 6620, or DENT 6610 and DENT 6632, or permission of Graduate Program Director.

      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 6640 (optional) Independent Study in Dental Hygiene: Specific problems selected on the basis of interest and preparation. Individualized student effort under the guidance of the instructor. May be repeated up to 6 credits.

      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 or graduate statistics or biostatistics course.

      DENT 6650 Thesis: Research project under supervision of a graduate research committee. May be repeated. Minimum of 6 credits required. Graded S/U. PREREQ: DENT 6646 or permission of Graduate Program Director.





      Goal 1: Evaluate health care policies and participate in advocacy efforts to improve health care delivery systems.

      Goal 2: Establish interprofessional partnerships for dental hygiene integration to enhance health care and education.

      Goal 3: Integrate cultural humility and inclusion in all professional endeavors.

      Goal 4: Increase the dental hygiene body of knowledge through original research.

      Goal 5: Advance skills in teaching, administration, course design, curriculum development, and assessment.

      Goal 6: Implement professional development and leadership models to enhance innovation within health care education and community health.


       MS Outcomes


      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 and provides essential online learning considerations.


      What is the current fee structure for the MSDH program?

      Graduate Resident
      Full-Time Tuition (9 credits or more) $4,452.12 per semester
      Graduate Fee (9 credits or more) $1,181.88 per semester
      Graduate Total Full-Time Tuition (9 credits or more) $5,634.00 per semester
      Part-time (8 credits or less) $480.87 per credit
      Graduate Fee (per credit) $83.13
      Graduate Total Part-Time Tuition (per credit) $564.00

      In addition, there is an $211 professional fee assessed per credit hour.  Thesis students are assessed a $281 professional fee per credit hour.

      Even though our program is 100% online and you are charged in-state tuition, your bill will always show out-of-state resident tuition costs followed by a waiver which will credit your bill. The final cost will be the in-state resident cost each semester.

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

      How long is the program?

      Students have eight years to complete the program, and you may attend full- or part-time. It takes about 2-3 years to complete the program depending on the type of thesis work.  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.

      Graduate Student Achievement 

      13th edition of Wilkins' Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist features many contributions from the MSDH Program and its alumni: 

      Sara Beres authored Chapter 49, The Patient with a Cleft Lip and/or Palate.
      Heather Hessheimer authored Chapter 43, Tooth Bleaching.
      Christine Macarelli co-authored Chapter 26, Oral Infection Control: Toothbrushes and Toothbrushing.
      Lisa Moravec co-authored Chapter 27, Oral Infection Control: Interdental Care.
      Karen Portillo co-authored Chapter 59, The Patient with a Substance-Related Disorder.
      Lisa Welch co-authored Chapter 11, Medical, Dental, & Psychosocial Histories, and authored Chapter 62, The Patient with a Blood Disorder.
      Selvi Mahalakshmi, has been named as the recipient of the Irene Woodall Graduate Scholarship for the 2019-2020 Academic Year.
      Cherie Gentry has been named as the recipient of the Wilma Motley Memorial Scholarship for the 2019-2020 Academic Year.

      Lauren Mirsky and JoAnn Gurenlian published “Caring for Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder” in the February 2018 issue of Decisions in Dentistry. They also authored “Treating Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder” published in the February issue of Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.


      Alumni Achievement

      Toni McLeroy, CRDH, MS, won the ADHA/Sigma Phi Alpha Journalism Award in the graduate category. 

      Leciel Bono, RDH, MS was the recipient of the Olav Alvares Award for Early Career Scholars Who Published Outstanding Articles in 2018. 

      Kristen Stephens successfully presented her doctoral proposal today entitled, "An Evaluation of the Incidence and Perceptions of Incivility Among Dental Hygiene Students and Faculty". Kristen is a doctoral student in the School of Education at Concordia University Irvine. She will conduct her study this Fall, 2019 

      Kristen Stephens and JoAnn Gurenlian published “An Evidence-Based Look at Off-Label Drug Use” in the January 2018 issue of Decisions in Dentistry.

      Leciel K. Bono published “Post-Graduation Effects of an Advocacy Engagement Project on Alumni of a Dental Hygiene Program” in the February issue of the Journal of Dental Education. Coauthors included Ellen J. Rogo, Kathleen Hodges and Alan C. Frantz.

      Vicki Martin was the recipient of the Olav Alvares Award at the 2018 ADEA Annual Conference in March.

      Kristen Stephens and JoAnn Gurenlian published “The Ethics of Off-Label Drug Use” in the March 2018 issue of Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.

      Karen Portillo, Tammy Sanderson and JoAnn Gurenlian published “Caring for Patients who Consume Cannabis” in the March 2018 issue of Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.

      Kristen Stephens and JoAnn Gurenlian published “Ethical and Legal Considerations of Off-Label Drug Use” in the March 2018 issue of Decisions in Dentistry.

      Karen Portillo, Tammy Sanderson and JoAnn Gurenlian published “Oral Health Care for Marijuana Users” in the March 2018 issue of Decisions in Dentistry.

      Kristen Stephens and JoAnn Gurenlian coauthored “Treating Patients with Anxiety Disorders” in the April 2018 issue of Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.

      Rachelle Williams, Ellen Rogo, JoAnn Gurenlian and Karen Portillo co-authored an article, “An Evaluation of a School-based Dental Sealant Program”, published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene, May 2018.

      Darlene Swigart presented a poster presentation at the ADHA Annual Conference entitled, “Dental Hygiene Diagnosis: A Qualitative Study of Dental Hygienists" with coauthors JoAnn Gurenlian and Ellen Rogo.

      Cathy Wilson presented a poster presentation at the ADHA Annual Conference entitled, “Head and Neck Flexion among Dental Hygiene Students and Clinical Faculty Using Two Types of Magnification Loupes: A Comparative Study," with coauthors Tara Johnson, Kandis Garland and C. Seiger.

      Sarah Jackson and colleague, Lori Speer, presented the continuing education course "Utilizing Evidence-Based Feedback Techniques to Foster Student Self-Assessment" at the ADHA Annual Conference.

      Faculty Achievement 

      Dr. Ellen Rogo who has just been named by Dimensions of Dental Hygiene as one of the "Six Dental Hygienists You Want to Know" for her work in Academia. Dental Hygiene has seven theoretical models, among her many contributions to our profession, Dr. Rogo is responsible for authoring or co-authoring four of those seven. Dr. Rogo will be recognized for her work in Academia in the December issue of Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.

      The Journal of Dental Education has two publications with our Assistant Professor and Junior Clinic Coordinator, Jessica August, as coauthor. These include: "Perceptions of Dental Hygienists About Thesis Completion in Graduate Education" with co-authors Christina Coruth, Linda Boyd and Amy Smith, and "Attributes of Effective Clinical Teachers in Dental Hygiene Education" with co-authors Dayna Artim, Dianne Smallidge, Linda Boyd, and Jared Vineyard.

      JoAnn Gurenlian presented “An Overview of General and Oral Pathology” at the Delaware Technical and Community College Continuing Education Day in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 13, 2018.

      Kandis Garland was a feature columnist in the Ask the Expert Column writing “Reducing the Risks Posed by Ultrasonic Aerosols” in the February 2018 issue of Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.

      JoAnn Gurenlian presented “Screening and Providing Care for Patients with Oral Cancer” and “Oral Medicine: Linking Systemic Disease with Oral Health Care” at the 12th Annual Dental Expo – Harcum College” in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, on March 3, 2018.

      JoAnn Gurenlian co-presented with Maria Goldie “Dental Hygiene: Applications to Clinical Practice” a Live webinar sponsored by FA Davis on March 15, 2018.

      Ellen Rogo and Leciel Bono presented a faculty development workshop entitled “Embrace the Future: Envision an Interprofessional Identity in 2030” at the ADEA Annual Session on March 18, 2018 in Orlando, Florida.

      Kathleen Hodges published “Ultrasonic Instrumentation Tips for Premolars” in the April 2018 issue of Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.

      JoAnn Gurenlian co-presented with Tom Viola “Cancer: An Interprofessional Approach to Care”, a Live Webinar sponsored by Colgate Oral Health Network on April 4, 2018.

      JoAnn Gurenlian authored two book chapters: Chapter 3: Risk Assessment in “Prevention across the Lifespan” and Chapter 7: General Pathology in Blue C (ed). “Darby’s Comprehensive Review of Dental Hygiene” 8th edition.

      JoAnn Gurenlian presented "Creating a Framework to Support Doctoral Dental Hygiene Programs: Getting from "A" to "PhD"!” at the International Dental Hygiene Educators Forum.

      JoAnn Gurenlian, RDH, PhD, received the prestigious President’s Citation Award from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association for her continuous, outstanding contributions to the organization and her dedication to the advancement of the dental hygiene profession.

      Why choose ISU MSDH?

      • 100% online
      • Full- or part-time basis with in-state tuition rates
      • Nationally and internationally recognized faculty

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