Apr 18, 2024  
2017-2018 Academic Bulletin (Catalog) (Jan 2018) 
2017-2018 Academic Bulletin (Catalog) (Jan 2018) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Dental Hygiene, MDH

Admissions to the Master of Dental Hygiene program have been suspended effective July 1, 2017

The Dental Hygiene program was established in 1926, making it among the oldest programs in the country. The program has progressed from a certificate program to an entry-level Bachelor degree program  . In 2004 the first online Masters of Dental Hygiene program was developed here at UTHSC. The goal of this program is to prepare future dental hygiene educators and administrators.

The Department of Dental Hygiene within the College of Dentistry offers two degree programs, an entry-level Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene and an online post-professional Master of Dental Hygiene

Lynn S Russell, RDH, EdD, Department Chair and Program Director

Program Objectives

The College of Dentistry offers an online Master of Dental Hygiene (MDH) degree designed for licensed dental hygienists who desire to become dental hygiene educators or administrators. This program provides the necessary educational experience for the student to teach at either the community college or university level. This online program requires a maximum of one week during the first two years of enrollment on the UTHSC Memphis campus. As the purpose of this program is to prepare faculty members and administrators, the graduate student also must complete coursework requirements for DH 702 (Internship in Dental Hygiene Education) in a face-to-face format. A dental hygiene educational program located near the graduate student’s home may be selected for this course if approved by the graduate program director to complete this requirement.

Admissions and Selection

Admissions to the Master of Dental Hygiene program have been suspended effective July 1, 2017

Health Requirements

Graduate students must demonstrate sound physical and mental health consistent with the demands of the educational program and professional field. Since this is a distance learning program, graduate students must comply with drug and other screenings and immunization requirements at each clinical site.

Technical Standards

For admission to the Masters of Dental Hygiene program in the College of Dentistry students are expected to be able to successfully meet the Technical Standards as outlined below. Students are required to sign the Technical Standards Commitment form indicating their understanding and ability to meet these standards either with or without accommodations (for persons with documented disabilities.) Questions about these technical standards should be directed to the program director.

UTHSC receives applications from a diverse body of potential students including those with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations to help students meet these technical standards will be provided where appropriate. Any student wishing accommodations should contact the UTHSC Office of Student Academic Support Service and Inclusion (https://www.uthsc.edu/sassi/disability_services.php).

In the event a student cannot fulfill these Technical Standards with or without reasonable accommodations at any time in their program, the student will be ineligible for admission or continued enrollment in the program.

In addition to ensuring that students can meet the intellectual, emotional and physical criteria for the Dental Hygiene Program, it is imperative that the student possess the ability to provide for the safety of patients and others. This is the foundation of all Technical Standards and if this cannot be demonstrated, the student is deemed unable to meet the criteria outlined by the Technical Standards.

Visual and Perceptual Skills:
The practice of clinical dental hygiene requires that the student possess fine motor skills to hold small dental instruments while working within the limited confines of the oral cavity. Depth perception and excellent hand eye coordination are required when using sharp instruments to enter the oral cavity and perform functions within the oral cavity.

Other Sensory Skills:
Students must have correctable hearing in at least one ear and be able to develop reasonable skills of percussion and auscultation. Sensory and motor innervation of the hand and arm muscles must be intact and functioning normally as fine motor and tactile skills are an essential component of this profession.

Motor Skills:
Students must have sufficient motor function to elicit information from a patient by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic modalities. Candidates must also be able to perform the motor movement skills necessary to render clinical dental hygiene treatment, and have the physical strength to move themselves (by walker, cane or crutches as necessary) to a position enabling them to provide dental care. Additionally, the candidate must possess the strength to assist a patient in transferring themselves to and from a dental chair, and whenever necessary perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation for an extended period of time. Fine motor skills are expected of every student. The candidate should have full manual dexterity including the functioning of both arms, both wrists, both hands, both thumbs, and three fingers on each hand. Necessary clinical skills involve procedures requiring (but not limited to) grasping, fingering, pinching, pushing, pulling, holding, extending, and rotation.

Intellectual, Conceptual and Cognitive Skills:
Students must have the ability to measure, assess, calculate reason, analyze, and synthesize data. Problem solving, critical thinking and diagnosis (which include obtaining, interpreting, and documenting information) are essential skills. The ability to understand and comprehend three dimensional relationships is necessary.

Communication Skills:
The student is expected to be able to communicate clearly in English at a level of understanding appropriate to the ability of an individual patient to understand. This communication ability is expected both in the oral and written form. The clinical practice of dental hygiene requires the ability to accurately transfer gathered data into a patient record. Included in this area is therapeutic communication in which a candidate is expected to have (or be able to develop) skill in coaching, facilitating, and touching.

Emotional Stability/ Personal Temperament:
Direct interaction with patients requires that students are able to routinely demonstrate critical thinking, respond calmly, evenly and efficiently, and utilize good listening and communication skills. Students must have the ability to handle the stressors of academically rigorous coursework, as well as stress associated with working in a busy clinical setting with a variety of patients under time and patient management constraints. Time management skills are needed to meet deadlines and time critical tasks associated with professional education and practice. Prioritizing tasks to meet deadlines is expected. Compliance with clinical and workplace rules and regulations related to successful and safe clinical practice is required. The student must possess and demonstrate professional attributes and appearance.

In summary, the DH Admissions Committee, in accordance with Section 504 of the 1973 Vocational Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (PL101-336), has established the aforementioned essential functions of students in the MDH program offered by the College of Dentistry.

Upon admission, a student who discloses a properly certified disability will receive reasonable accommodation but must be able to perform the essential functions of the curriculum, as described in this document, either with or without reasonable accommodation.  Applicants verify in writing that they are able to meet these technical and performance standards with or without accommodation and are instructed to contact the Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion Office, GEB, room BB9, for questions and assistance. Determination of eligibility and recommendations of accommodations must be made by Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion http://www.uthsc.edu/sassi/.

Criminal Background Check

All newly accepted students must have an approved Criminal Background Check prior to matriculation at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Once accepted, applicants will receive information as to how to apply for the criminal background check. Adverse findings on a criminal background check may lead to a withdrawal of the offer of admission or denial of access to a clinical training site. The UTHSC Policy on Criminal Background Checks for Matriculating Students may be found in the student handbook (CenterScope), or at https://uthsc.policymedical.net/policymed/anonymous/docViewer?stoken=de47aa28-16aa-408b-9c96-cb04f232964f&dtoken=ebb4ceee-e5a4-4928-beaa-30305e81d93b.

State Authorization

The US Department of Education requires that states be responsible for all education offered to residents within their state boundaries regardless of where the education originates.  As a result, states have instituted state authorization regulations governing all or portions of educational programs that are being completed is their states (e.g., a UTHSC student wishing to complete a clinical experience in a state other than TN). These regulations encompass both online education (such as the MDH program) as well as clinical experiences for UTHSC students permanently or temporarily residing in states other than Tennessee. Applicants are advised to seek clarification regarding the necessary approvals prior to enrolling in the online MDH program or arranging for the final culminating experience if they reside in a state other than Tennessee to ensure the presence of the necessary authorization.  Additional information is provided in the UTHSC overview portion of the catalog .

Tuition, Fees and Expenses

Official information regarding tuition and fees for the College of Dentistry is available at http://www.uthsc.edu/finance/bursar/colleges_fee_information.php. Cost of attendance estimates and information about loan applications are available at http://www.uthsc.edu/finaid/Dentistry.php.

Textbooks, Instruments and Materials

The textbooks and materials utilized in the Master of Dental Hygiene program and furnished by the student are stipulated by the faculty. The Curriculum Committee reviews all textbook requests. Required textbooks may be procured from any legitimate source. Supplementary textbooks may be included on the textbook list; however, they are optional and not required for a given course. The estimated expense for textbooks and related materials may be obtained from the Office of Admissions and Student Affairs, (901) 448-6200 or at http://www.uthsc.edu/finaid/Dentistry.php.

Clinical Affiliations

Clinical affiliation sites are typically near the student’s place of residence.  Students accept the financial impact of traveling to clinical assignments.

Computer Requirements and Specifications

As an online program, all students enrolled in the MDH program are expected to either own or have access to a computer, certain software, and reliable Internet access.  Costs of computers and software vary by program and manufacturer.  Estimated costs range from $1000 to $2000.  Yearly home internet access costs range from $480 to $960.

Minimum Hardware Requirements

  • Processor: Intel Core i5 processor or higher
    Processor Speed: 2.5GHz or faster
    Operating System: Windows 7 Professional
    RAM/Memory: at least 4 GB
    Hard Disk Capacity: at least 500GB
  • Monitor: At least 14”
  • Multimedia capabilities: speaker and microphone (headset or built-in) and webcam (built-in or usb)

Minimum Software Requirements

  • Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus or Office Professional 2013 which includes the following programs:
    • Word for word processing
    • Excel for spreadsheets
    • PowerPoint for presentations
    • Outlook for email, calendar, contact management, and tasks
  • Antivirus software
    Recommended Microsoft Security Essentials. This can be downloaded for free at uthsc.edu/antivirus/students.php
  • Internet Browser Recommendations
    The latest version of Firefox is recommended and can be downloaded from mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new. Internet Explorer 9 and above are not recommended for use with Blackboard.
  • Reader for PDF documents
    The latest version of Adobe Reader is available for free from Adobe at get.adobe.com/reader.
  • Movie / Audio Player
    The latest version of QuickTime, Windows Media Player or RealPlayer, all of which are free downloads.
    • QuickTime - http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/
    • Windows Media Player should come already installed on your new system (if it is Windows)
    • RealPlayer - http://www.real.com – (Note: You want the FREE download of the RealPlayer program. You are not required to download their more expensive player.)

Scholarships and Funding

Students may access information regarding Financial Aid, including information on applying for financial aid, available scholarships, financial literacy counseling, and general student loan information at http://www.uthsc.edu/finaid/.  For specific information regarding additional loans available to students in the MDH program see http://www.uthsc.edu/finaid/Dentistry.php. The Application for Student Aid (AFSA) is available at: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.

The following scholarships are available to students entering and/or enrolled in the MDH program:

  • Dr. Nancy J. Williams Endowed Scholarship: The purpose of this scholarship is to support a MDH student demonstrating highly successful academic performance with a GPA of no less than 3.25 or if they are currently enrolled, six credit hours must be completed with a GPA of 3.75. Applicants must also demonstrate professional behavior and commitment to the field of dental hygiene education.

Students who wish to apply for UTHSC based scholarships mentioned about must complete a financial aid form.

MDH-Specific Policies


Students are expected to respond to instructor-initiated requests as well as meet deadlines outlined in each course syllabus. Students are expected to complete assignments by due dates and to be punctual for all directed experiences and other clinical activities.

Grading Scale

Course grades are based on a student’s performance on written and practical examinations as well as clinical performance. Each term’s courses must be passed before the student is allowed to progress to the next term. The official permitted grades utilized by the College of Dentistry and reported to the registrar are: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, D, F, P (pass), W, WP, WF, I, and AU (Audit). The quality value assigned to the grade is outlined as follows:

Grade Quality Points Per Credit Hour Recommended* Grading Scale
A 4.0 93-100
A- 3.7  
B+ 3.3  
B 3.0 85-92
B- 2.7  
C+ 2.3  
C 2.0 77-84
C- 1.7  
D 1 70-76
F 0 <70
P 0  
*Not Required    

A “W” (indicating withdrawal from the course) is recorded in instances in which the student withdraws prior to the midpoint of the course. The letters ‘WP’ or ‘WF’ will be recorded to indicate pass or failure in those instances in which a student withdraws after the midpoint in the course but prior to 70% of the course being completed. The designation of ‘*’ will be used in those instances in which a student is unable to complete a course at the scheduled time because of an acceptable reason. The designations must be removed from the record by the date stipulated by the Department Chair. Failure on the part of a student to remove an ’ *’ with a passing grade within the time limit allowed will result in the grade of ‘F’ being reported and recorded as a permanent grade.


The Administration reserves the right to dismiss or request the withdrawal of any student at any time whenever it is apparent that the student is ineffectual academically or lacks the necessary talent to pursue the curriculum in dentistry. Formal withdrawal is a prerequisite to honorable dismissal, or consideration for re-entrance to this institution, and must be approved by the Dean of the College of Dentistry. Students intending to withdraw from the college must notify the department chair and obtain a withdrawal form from Associate Dean for Student Affairs.

When the appropriate signatures have been obtained, the student must request an exit interview with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. The Associate Dean for Student Affairs will sign the withdrawal form and forward it to the Dean for his/her signature. Once the Dean’s approval has been obtained, the form is returned to the Registrar’s Office for final processing.

Withdrawals with anticipated readmission may be granted by the Dean upon recommendation of the department chair or program director. Such recommendations must be based upon demonstration by the student of a compelling nonacademic reason for granting such a leave.

Readmission  after  voluntary  withdrawal,  or  readmission  after  dismissal  can  occur  only  upon demonstration by the student of a compelling nonacademic reason for consideration for readmission and approval by the department chair.

Students are advised to review the Attendance Policy of the Department carefully when an absence is necessary and consult with the department chair. Prolonged absences may result in a requirement to repeat a significant portion of the program and/or to petition for readmission. Prolonged absences may also affect eligibility for loan deferment and may require that students be listed as withdrawn. Additional information about the UTHSC Withdrawal Policy may be found at https://uthsc.policymedical.net/policymed/anonymous/docViewer?stoken=de47aa28-16aa-408b-9c96-cb04f232964f&dtoken=65231cb0-483a-4ce1-963d-0caa040807d0.

Support for Online Students

Communication Practices for Online Courses and Directed Practice Experiences

Email is the primary mode of communication for instructor and student interactions. Email, web-conferences, and phone conference are the primary modes of communication for instructor and students enrolled in online courses. Email is conducted using the official UTHSC email system. Courses that are taught online provide course instruction through a Blackboard Platform managed by UTHSC. To ensure online privacy, students must use their unique login and netID to access their email accounts and the BlackBoard site. Student’s personal information is not shared with anyone outside of the college unless specified by the student in accordance with all FERPA guidelines. Students can only access courses in which they are enrolled. Within the Blackboard course site, students access the course syllabus, link to campus resources, access course assignments including readings, recorded lectures, videostreaming, tests and assessments, grades and other classroom materials. Students participate in discussion boards and chats through Blackboard. Students submit assignments and email faculty through the Blackboard system. Additional modes of communication among faculty and students include Adobe Connect and video chat.

Directed practice experiences are scheduled to be in proximity to the student’s residence. Each student is expected to maintain regular communication with the course director during practice experiences.

Access to Student and Academic Support Services

Online students have access to the same academic and student support services offered to traditional students as outlined below.

  • Health and Behavioral Health Services: Online students may participate in university student health insurance and other services found at http://www.uthsc.edu/univheal/. Behavioral health services are available through UTHSC Behavioral Health Urgent Care: 901-448-5064.
  • ITS Help and Blackboard (BB) support: The University’s HELP DESK may be assessed by phone: 901-448-2222; Toll-free:1-800-413-7830; Fax:901-448-8199 or http://www.uthsc.edu/helpdesk/ ; BB Support http://courses.uthsc.edu/
  • Library services: Online students use the same library services offered to traditional students. During MDH on campus orientation, the students visit the library and are oriented by Brenda F. Green. http://library.uthsc.edu/
  • Disability Services: Online students may use the same disability services offered to traditional students. http://www.uthsc.edu/sassi/

Additional resources and information particularly pertinent to students enrolled in an online program are provided in the UTHSC overview portion of the catalog .

Progress, Promotion and Graduation

Students must achieve satisfactory academic progress in order to receive federal financial aid. The Financial Aid Department’s satisfactory academic progress standards mirror the academic progress policies of each individual college. A student who is found to not be making academic progress by their college is not eligible for federal financial aid. This rule may also apply to state, institutional, and private funds. For more information refer to CenterScope, Satisfactory Academic Progress, (http://catalog.uthsc.edu/index.php?catoid=20)

Students enrolled in the MDH program must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Dismissal from the program may result if the GPA falls below 3.0.

Appeal Process for Dental Hygiene Students

The recommendation regarding academic status, promotion, and graduation of a student is the responsibility of the College of Dentistry Student Status Committee. The committee meets each term to evaluate student progress and make appropriate recommendations to the Dean of the College of Dentistry for a decision regarding academic status, promotion, and graduation. The decision of the Dean is sent to the student’s official UTHSC e-mail address by the Academic Dean.

A student has the right to appeal an adverse decision when the student can produce evidence or information that (1) circumstances existed at the time of the Committee’s deliberations that were not known by the Student Status Committee and that evidence or information, if known by the Committee, would have influenced the Committee’s recommendation regarding the student’s academic and professional performance; (2) an error existed in the student’s record that was used in reaching the adverse recommendation; or (3) the recommendation created unequal treatment for the student compared to the same or similar circumstances among the student’s peers.

An appeal for an evaluation of the Student Status Committee recommendation by the Student Appeals Committee must be requested by the student, in writing, to the Dean of the College of Dentistry within five (5) business days of receipt of the original decision. The request must include the basis for requesting the appeal for reconsideration and include any supporting documentation. The Dean will evaluate the validity of the request. Failure to provide a concrete basis for the appeal, which must contain information not previously considered by the Student Status Committee, will result in rejection of the appeal request. In general, explanations of circumstances that led to poor academic performance will not constitute sufficient grounds for an appeals hearing unless such explanations put in question the validity of the original decision.

If the appeal is accepted by the Dean, he/she will ask the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to convene the Student Appeals Committee within ten (10) working days of, or as soon as feasible after the receipt of all appeal requests which are accepted by the Dean. The student will be informed, in writing, of the date, time, and place of the Student Appeals Committee meeting.

The student must attend the Student Appeals Committee meeting and be prepared to submit any additional pertinent information as well as respond to information previously considered by the College of Dentistry Student Status Committee. The student has the right to be accompanied by any person(s), excluding legal counsel, who can provide relevant information in support of the appeal.

The Student Appeals Committee will make a final recommendation to the Dean of the College of Dentistry. The Dean, or the Dean’s designee, will notify the student of the appeal decision within five (5) working days of or as soon as feasible after, the Student Appeals Committee meeting. The decision of the dean in such cases is final.

In the event that a student’s appeal within the College of Dentistry regarding an adverse decision is denied, the student retains the right to appeal to the Chancellor of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center for readmission to the program as described in the UTHSC Academic Appeal Policy at https://uthsc.policymedical.net/policymed/anonymous/docViewer?stoken=de47aa28-16aa-408b-9c96-cb04f232964f&dtoken=7535c88b-1005-4a23-8f72-0ef9c7d7b273.

Course-specific appeals procedures will be handled in a similar manner beginning with a letter to the Course Director & Department Chair of the department in which the course belongs within (5) working days of the given grade. If the appeal cannot be resolved at the Professor/Chairman level, the student must request, in writing, an appeal to the Dean within five working days of the Professor/Chair’s decision. If the chair is the instructor for the course, the initial appeal letter should be sent to the Dean. The remainder of the Appeals process will then follow the same procedures as described above for an appeal of Student Status Committee decision.

Requirements for Graduation - MDH

The following requirements must be satisfied to earn the degree of Master of Dental Hygiene.

  1. Satisfactory completion of the 30 credit hours.Students must complete all courses and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  2. Students must file an application for graduation for either fall (December) or spring (May) graduation.
  3. Students must complete all courses within five (5) years of enrolling in the program.
  4. Satisfactory completion of the Capstone Project.
  5. Students’ dental hygiene license should remain in good standing throughout the program and must be in good standing at the time of graduation.
  6. Students must discharge all financial obligations to the university and remove all deficiencies documented by the Registrar to the University and remove all deficiencies documented by the Registrar
  7. Attendance at graduation is required. Those unable to attend commencement must obtain permission to receive the degree in absentia by filing a written request with the Dean of the College.


The Outstanding MDH Graduate Student Award
The Outstanding MDH Award is presented to the student who has exhibited remarkable dedication to the future of DH education as demonstrated by academic achievement and professional excellence throughout the program. The student must achieve a GPA of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale. The recipient of the award will be chosen by the MDH faculty. The award will not necessarily be presented each year.

Sigma Phi Alpha Dental Hygiene Honor Society
The national dental hygiene honor society was founded in 1958. Eligibility for membership is based on scholarship, potential service to the profession, character, and leadership. Eligible students must rank in the top 25% of their class, however only 10% may be chosen annually.

Sigma Xi
This award is presented by the faculty to the DH graduate student who has demonstrated outstanding research activities while enrolled in the MDH program.