Jul 21, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Bulletin (July 2023 Ed) 
2023-2024 Academic Bulletin (July 2023 Ed) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Dental Hygiene, BSDH

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

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.

The Department of Dental Hygiene within the College of Dentistry offers one degree program, an entry-level Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. 

Program Objectives

The curriculum in dental hygiene is designed to prepare graduates with a broad based general education; and a level of professional competence necessary for current and future dental hygiene practice. Graduates are prepared to function effectively in a clinical office setting; and also possess advanced knowledge and skills required for careers in teaching, research, public health, and other related areas.

Program Curriculum

The Entry Level Program prepares graduates for entry into the field of dental hygiene. The program is designed as a full time “2 + 2” program that leads to a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene Degree. The Entry Level Program is designed as the third and fourth years of a baccalaureate degree program. Two years of pre-professional college coursework are required prior to admission, and are followed by two years of professional coursework.  This is a full-time academic program. The curriculum extends over four terms. Each term’s courses must be passed before a student is allowed to progress to the next term. Students matriculate in the fall term and are eligible for the May graduation two academic years later. Didactic instruction and clinical practice are integrated throughout the curriculum and provide opportunities for interaction with dentist, dental hygienists, dental students, dental school faculty, and other health care professionals in the area, as dental hygiene services are included as a part of comprehensive health care.

Admission and Selection

The Dental Hygiene Admissions Committee reviews applications for admission to the entry level program. Admissions information is described in detail below. Prospective students should carefully review all admissions requirements, technical standards and application procedures before applying to BSDH degree program in the College of Dentistry.

The Dental Hygiene Admissions Committee formulates and recommends policies and procedures for admission to the College of Dentistry Dental Hygiene programs. The committee establishes criteria, procedures, and data used in appraising and selecting applicants for admission. This committee evaluates qualifications of applicants and submits names of selected candidates for admission to the dean. Information related to applicants such as personal credentials, information gained through the application packet review, acceptance or denials, and related matters are considered confidential remaining “in committee,” except as reported through appropriate channels.

The College of Dentistry BSDH program admits one class per year beginning in August. The two-year program which leads to a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree consist of four terms.

Applicants are welcomed from women and men of all races, creeds, and cultures who can pursue their studies in an environment that values intellectual curiosity, the pursuit of knowledge, excellence, compassion, and integrity.

Fulfillment of the basic prerequisites does not guarantee admission. The Dental Hygiene Admissions Committee considers all candidates from the pool of qualified applicants to enroll students from all regions and from a variety of backgrounds so as to provide access to a broad range of students and to serve the needs of the state’s diverse communities for skilled health care providers.

The Admissions Committee reviews the cumulative grade point average, science grade point average, Pre-Professional Evaluation, and essay. The years in school, any trend in grades, degrees attained, awards, previous dental experience, and evidence of leadership and social awareness are also considered.

Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States at the time of application.

Admission Requirements - BSDH

To be eligible for consideration for admission into the BS dental hygiene program, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  1. Completion of the following prerequisite coursework with a grade of “C” or better in each course: (Note: face-to-face science courses are preferred).

Prior to enrollment, students must complete the sixty (60) semester hours of pre-professional college coursework listed below.

Prerequisite Course Work (Effective for class entering Fall 2017) Credit Hours
English Composition I 3
English Composition II 3
English Literature 3
Speech 3
Psychology 3
Sociology 3
College Algebra 3
General Biology w/ Lab* 4
General Chemistry I w/ Lab** 4
General Chemistry II w/ Lab** 4
Anatomy & Physiology I w/ Lab 4
Anatomy & Physiology II w/ Lab 4
Microbiology w/ Lab 4
Nutrition 3
Medical Terminology 3
Electives*** 9
US History**** (one year high school or six semester hours of college level)

*Must be appropriate for science majors.
**Chemistry courses for Pre-Nursing students are acceptable. Must include content in biochemistry.
***Suggested electives: Upper level biology, Spanish and Computer/Technology Skills.
****Proof of one year of American History at the high school or college level is a requirement for graduation from UTHSC.
NOTE: Science courses including labs should be taken in a face-to-face format as opposed to online.

  1. A GPA of 2.5 is the minimum required for application to the program; however, a 3.0 or higher in prerequisite courses is considered competitive.
  2. Submit official transcripts of above coursework.
  3. Applicants whose native language is not English and who have neither graduated from a U.S. high school nor completed a minimum of 30 credit hours at a U.S. post-secondary institution are to  submit an official TOEFL score. Preference is given to candidates with a minimum score of 100 (with a 26 or above in both the listening and speaking sections) of the internet-based test. http://www.uthsc.edu/admissions/international-students.php
  4. Completed application form including an essay describing the applicant’s motivation for selecting the profession and supporting personal attributes. A non-refundable application fee must accompany the application.
  5. Pre-professional advisory committee recommendation from college or university attended OR two letters of recommendation from previous college instructors.
  6. Ability to meet published technical standards (see below) of the BSDH degree program.

Applications are accepted online at https://portal.dhcas.org/

Admission by Transfer to Dental Hygiene Program

Under exceptional circumstances, highly qualified students who are attending an accredited U.S. or Canadian dental hygiene program may be considered for placement in the Dental Hygiene program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. All such decisions will be considered contingent upon the quality of the applicant and the number of vacancies that have occurred in the present classes. Students earning baccalaureate degrees in dental hygiene must complete 30 of the last 36 credit hours in the UTHSC College of Dentistry.

Health Requirements

In addition to general UTHSC requirements, all   students   are   to   comply   with   the   University of Tennessee Health Science Center immunizations requirements. Those requirements are distributed to students prior to matriculation and may be found at https://uthsc.edu/admissions/immunization.php.   

Compliance records for students are maintained by University Health Services, https://uthsc.edu/student-health-services/index.php. Additionally, the Department of Dental Hygiene will monitor compliance with the immunization program.

Policies and procedures for immunization, testing, and post-exposure incidents have been developed to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Dental Association (ADA), American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), and extramural site recommendations or policies. Dental hygiene students, in the course of their clinical responsibilities, have exposure to blood, blood products, tissue, secretions, or body fluids of patients potentially containing hepatitis B (HBV) and are at risk for HBV as well as other infectious diseases.

Dental hygiene students are required to be immunized against the Hepatitis B virus and are required to have a TB skin test annually. (These services are provided by University Health Services at a nominal cost.) Information about fulfilling these requirements is provided during new-student orientation.

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://policy.tennessee.edu/procedure/em102-criminal-background-checks-for-matriculating-students/ .

Technical Standards

For admission to the BSDH 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.

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 will be 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 faculty of the College of Dentistry prepares students to be dental hygiene professionals. The Dental Hygiene 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 BSDH program offered by the College of Dentistry.

The Dental Hygiene Admissions Committee will consider for admission applicants who demonstrate the ability to perform, or to learn to perform, the essential skills listed in this document. The college will strive to see that students or dental hygienists with impaired intellectual, physical, or emotional functions do not place patients in jeopardy. Students will be judged not only on their scholastic accomplishments, but also on their physical and emotional capacities to meet the full requirements of the college’s curriculum and to graduate as skilled and effective practitioners.

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/.

General Education Competencies

General education competencies for all UTHSC baccalaureate degrees are:

Critical Thinking
​Students will demonstrate their ability to solve problems, construct and present cogent arguments in support of their views, and understand and evaluate arguments presented by others.

Students will demonstrate appropriate skills in planning, preparing, and presenting effective oral and written presentations.

Students will be able to explain interprofessional practice to patients, clients, families, and/or other professionals, describe the areas of practice of other health professions, and express professional opinions competently, confidently, and respectfully while avoiding discipline specific language.

General education competencies will be measured through tools and strategies such as student performance on oral presentations, written critiques of research papers, and papers written in capstone courses.

Timeline for Applying to the BSDH Degree Program

  • November 1
    Admission cycle begins through ADEA DHCAS. No materials should be sent to the College of Dentistry unless specifically requested by the Admissions Committee.
  • February 15: Application Deadline
  • March - April: Review of applicants
  • May- June: Admissions Committee Decisions
    Notification of acceptances and denials are made via email. The Office of Admissions does not respond to unsolicited inquiries concerning admissions status.
  • June: Alternate lists established
  • End of February Financial Aid Priority Deadline

Submit Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), available at: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.

Tuition, Fees and Expenses

Official information regarding tuition and fees for the College of Dentistry is available at https://www.uthsc.edu/finance/bursar/fees/index.php. Cost of attendance estimates and information about loan applications are available at  https://www.uthsc.edu/financial-aid/cost-of-attendance/index.php.

Textbooks, Instruments and Materials

The textbooks, instruments, and materials utilized in the BSDH program and furnished by the student, are stipulated by the faculty. Designated instrument kits, dental materials and supplies are purchased from an outside vendor arranged by the classes. Additionally, each course director may designate required textbooks. The Curriculum Committee reviews all textbook requests. Required textbooks are available in the bookstore (including digital copies) but may be procured from any legitimate source. Supplementary textbooks are included on the textbook list; however, they are optional and not required for the course. The estimated expense for textbooks, instruments, and materials may be obtained from the Office of Admissions and Student Affairs, 875 Union Avenue, S-102 Dunn Building, Memphis, TN 38163, (901) 448-6200 or at http://www.uthsc.edu/financial-aid/. Students may access the required books for any and all the courses by going to the following link to the Bookstore on the UTHSC website: http://shop.utk.edu/.

Clinical affiliation sites are located in West Tennessee counties, primarily Shelby County. Students accept the financial impact of traveling to clinical assignments.

Computer Requirement

Students enrolling in the first-year class of the College of Dentistry will be required to arrive with a laptop computer. The campus supports both PC and Mac platforms.

MINIMUM technical requirements:

  • Capable of running the most recent version of MS Windows or Mac OS
  • 8 GB or greater of RAM
  • 2.9 ghz Intel i5 processor or equivalent CPU processor
  • 512 or 1024 GB hard drive or solid state drive
  • 1024 x 768 or higher screen resolution
  • Anti-virus software (If not installed, students will be required to install free anti-virus software from UT upon arrival on campus: Malwarebytes)
  • Built in webcam and microphone

The College of Dentistry has no provisions for providing a laptop to students whose own laptop proves to be inoperable upon arriving at UT and cannot assist students whose laptop does not meet the specifications and proves to be inadequate for the student to perform their required lessons.  Note that tablets and Chrome books are not acceptable substitutes for a laptop as described above.

If you have additional questions about purchasing a laptop or would like to know if your laptop is sufficient, contact our IT Help Desk at 901.448.2222.


Scholarship 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/financial-aid/. For specific information regarding additional loans available to students in the BSDH 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 the BSDH program:

  • UTNAA Scholarship: One incoming student is nominated for this award. The criterion for this award is entering GPA, extracurricular activities, leadership, and financial need.
  • Barbara A. Young Endowed Scholarship: Awarded to an entering female junior and/or a rising senior DH student. From the state of TN and presenting with financial need.
  • Josephine Circle Scholarship: This award is given by Josephine Circle. The organization is devoted exclusively to the higher education of deserving young men and women. Must demonstrate likelihood of success and present with financial need. Typically four awards are given; two awards each to first and second year students.
  • Elizabeth Club Scholarship: This scholarship is awarded to an entering first year female student from the state of TN, presenting with financial need. Two awards usually given annually.
  • Elam Scholarship: Awarded to a second year student who has demonstrated exceptional scholastic ability, leadership, and dedication to a career as a health care professional. One award is usually given annually.
  • Judy Key Thomas Endowed Scholarship: Awarded to one deserving student based on academic ability, financial need and dedication to the profession.
  • Mary Alice Gaston Endowed Scholarship: Award given annually at the DH Update CE course.  The primary criterion is demonstrated leadership. This scholarship is traditionally awarded to a rising senior student. One award is typically given annually to first year student.

BSDH-Specific Policies

Students are responsible for reviewing and adhering to all college-wide policies outlined previously.  Policies outlined below are specific to the BSDH program and in addition to the college-wide policies.

Attendance Requirement

Dental hygiene students are expected to attend all scheduled classes, clinics, and laboratory assignments. If a student must miss a scheduled learning experience due to illness or emergency, he/she must notify the dental hygiene office and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs no later than 8:30AM of the day missed.

Grading Policy

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, 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 Performance Level
A 4.0 Consistently Outstanding
B+ 3.3 Outstanding
B 3.0 Exceeds Expectations
C+ 2.3 Occasionally Exceeds Expectations
C 2.0 Satisfactory
D 1 Marginal
F 0 Failure
P 0 Pass

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 ‘I’ 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 Dean but no later than the end of the term following that in which the incomplete was received. Failure on the part of a student to remove an ‘I’ with a passing grade within the time limit allowed will result in the grade of ‘F’ being reported and recorded as a permanent grade.

Withdrawal Policy

Withdrawal 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 or Dean.

Students are advised to review the Attendance Policy of the Department carefully when an absence is necessary and consult with the Department Chairman and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. 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://policy.tennessee.edu/procedure/em104-withdrawal-policy/.

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.

Good academic standing leading to promotion requires that each student earn a passing grade for each course and demonstrate competence in specific clinical activities required in each year of the curriculum. In addition, students are expected to achieve and maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale in order to progress to the next term in good standing. Any student who earns a grade of D in any course or whose GPA falls below a 2.0 may be placed on academic probation. Failure (earning a grade of F) of any course or receiving multiple grades of D in a given semester is grounds for dismissal. The student will be carefully evaluated by the Progress and Promotions Committee of the program to determine the course of action which is best for the student and for the program.

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 athttps://policy.tennessee.edu/procedure/em112-student-status-during-academic-appeals/.

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 - BSDH

The following requirements must be satisfied to earn the degree of Bachelor of Science of Dental Hygiene:

  1. Must  have  satisfactorily completed  all  required  courses  of  the  curriculum,  including  the didactic, laboratory, clinical and practical courses, to the satisfaction of the faculty;
  2. Must have an overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.00 (on a scale of 4.00);
  3. Must have satisfactorily completed all required comprehensive and clinical examinations.
  4. Must have acted in a reasonable, ethical and professional manner.
  5. Must have been enrolled in the College of Dentistry for all of the senior year.
  6. Must have discharged all financial and administrative obligations to the University.

All previous requirements must be COMPLETED one week prior to the May graduation date.

Attendance at commencement is mandatory for students completing degrees. Those students unable to attend commencement must file a written request with the Dean to receive a degree in absentia. Permission for receiving a degree in absentia can only be granted by the Dean.


Honors graduates of the undergraduate entry-level programs in the College are so designated in recognition of academic distinction achieved in their respective professional curricula. Honors designations receive special mention in the graduation program, and are based on the following cumulative grade point averages for the undergraduate degree programs:

Grade Point Average Designation
3.50 - 3.69 Graduation With Honors
3.70 - 3.89 Graduation With High Honors
3.90 - 4.00 Graduation With Highest Honors


Dental Hygiene Clinical Achievement Award
This award is given to the graduating student who has demonstrated the following professional traits: comprehensive knowledge, proficiency in rendering patient care, sensitivity to patient needs, and commitment to community health needs. These characteristics are accompanied by an apparent desire to assume responsibility as a member of the oral health team.

The Faculty Award
This award is presented by the faculty to the graduating student who has earned the highest scholastic average during the study of dental hygiene.

Excellence in Dental Hygiene Award
This award is sponsored by the Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products. The recipients are recognized for outstanding academic excellence, evidence-based clinical practices, excellent patient management and communication skills and commitment to community service.

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.

Professional Leadership Award
This award recognizes the student who exhibited the greatest overall professional leadership in the class. Examples include, but are not limited to, the Student American Dental Hygienists’ Association and the Memphis Dental Hygienists’ Association involvement, holding class office, organizing volunteer activities, etc.

Community Service Award
This award is presented to the student(s) who exhibited the greatest enthusiasm for community service and school projects.

Golden Scaler Award
This award is sponsored by the Hu-Friedy Company and is presented to the student who is selected for outstanding clinical achievement.

Urban Smiles Award
One of the goals of Urban Smiles is to promote the importance of preventive dentistry in underserved populations. This award is given to the student who demonstrates a true heart for service, sincere compassion for the patient, and the spirit of teamwork.

Colgate STAR Award: This award is presented to the student who demonstrates dedication to the profession, outstanding achievement, compassion in patient care, displays enthusiasm for community service, and enjoys the role of dental hygienist.

Student Professional Organization Membership

Dental hygiene students qualify to become student members of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, and are encouraged to exercise this option.

Licensing Examination

Dental hygiene students take the National Dental Hygiene Board Examination in the spring term of the second year and must make a satisfactory score to be licensed in most states. Students must also pass a clinical Southern Regional Dental Hygiene Board Examination to become licensed to practice dental hygiene in Tennessee and other states in this region. Faculty will provide information to students about the testing date and the location of this examination, and others throughout the country.


The program in dental hygiene is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.  The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education.  The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at (312) 440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. The Commission’s web address is: http://www.ada.org/en/home-ada/coda

BSDH Curriculum Summary

The Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree program curriculum consists of 4 terms. The following is a summary of the courses which are offered annually during the terms indicated.

Total: 15 credit hours

Total: 20 credit hours

Total: 15 credit hours

Total: 12 credit hours

Total Program Hours: 62 hours

Prerequisite Hours: 60 hours

Total Degree Hours: 122 hours