facebook pixel Skip to Main Content
Idaho State University home
Three smiling graduate students. Text reads Master of Science, Idaho State University, Dental Hygiene

Master of Science in Dental Hygiene

Why choose ISU MSDH?

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

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.

Apply Now


Goal 1: Evaluate healthcare policies and participate in advocacy efforts to improve healthcare 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 healthcare education and community health.


  • Promote oral health of individuals and populations by engaging in activities related to management, leadership, and advocacy while maximizing interprofessional opportunities.
  • Acquire research and scholarship abilities contributing to the dental hygiene scientific knowledge base.
  • Demonstrate professional development through enhanced knowledge, values, and actions.
  • Develop instructional and administrative knowledge, values, and practices to prepare future generations of learners.
  • Develop, implement, and evaluate community or rural programs to advance the oral health of underserved populations.

MS Student Learning Outcomes


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 for 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.

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 healthcare 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 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 the 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.

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. 

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.

Admissions Information

Kasiska Division of Health Sciences - Learn more about the Kasiska family legacy and impact