Pacific University undergraduates who are interested in a career as a dental hygienist may choose to complete a pre-dental hygiene studies track in preparation for a dental hygiene program. Pacific University offers a two-year dental hygiene program resulting in a bachelor of science. Pacific also offers several other pre-professional tracks for students.

About Dental Hygiene Studies

Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral disease, and provide other preventative dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral healthy. Hygienists use a range of equipment, from hand- and powered-tools to x-ray machines. In some states, dental hygienists may also place and carve filling materials, temporary fillings and periodontal dressings.

Employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow by 9 percent form 2021 to 2031. The median annual wage of dental hygienists was $77,810 in 2021.

Program & Requirements

An associate’s degree in dental hygiene is the minimum requirement to enter the occupation. Certificates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees also are available, though they are less common. A bachelor’s or master’s degree is usually required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs.

Dental hygiene programs typically include laboratory, clinical and classroom instruction. Hygienists study anatomy, physiology, nutrition, radiography and periodontology.

High school students interested in becoming dental hygienists should take courses in biology, chemistry and mathematics. Some dental hygiene programs also require applicants to have completed at least one year of college.

The School of Dental Hygiene Studies at Pacific University offers an entry-level program leading to a bachelor of science in dental health. The program includes two years of dental hygiene courses completed at Pacific University following the completion of prerequisite coursework. Applicants must complete a minimum of 48 semester hours prior to starting the Pacific University program and must meet minimum GPA requirements. Applicants also must complete a minimum of 20 hours of dental observation, at least 10 hours of which must take place in public healthy, such as a public dental clinic, dental school clinic, dental hygiene school clinic, mobile dental van, community health center, hospital, nursing home or prison.


  • Chemistry | CHEM 220 | with lab
  • Microbiology | BIOL 308 (see advising center for alternates)
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology | HBIO 230 and HBIO 231 | with lab
  • English Writing | ENGW 180
  • Interpersonal Communication/Speech | MEDA 201
  • Spanish (one semester at college level) | SPAN 101 or higher
  • Psychology | PSY 150
  • Sociology | Introductory Sociology Course 101 or higher
  • College level math course, Statistics preferred | MATH 207 or SOC 301
  • Nutrition | KINES 215
  • Medical Terminology | HBIO 303
  • Arts and Humanities | Eight semester hours in: art, music, theatre, world lanaguage, literature, philosophy, religion, ethics, history, media arts, communication, and HUM 100 (first year seminar)

Students must complete a minimum of 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours prior to starting the dental hygiene entry-level program. All prerequisite courses must be 100- level or above.

Observation Requirement

A minimum of 20 hours of dental observation is required. If an applicant has worked or currently works in a dental setting, they are exempt from this requirement, although observation of a dental hygienist specifically is preferred. The program is committed to public health and prefers some observation hours to be in public health. Dental public health settings provide care to specified target populations that lack access to traditional dental services. Settings may include a public dental clinic, dental school clinic, dental hygiene school clinic, mobile dental van, dental clinics in community health centers, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, prisons and other institutional settings.

More information

Pacific University School of Dental Hygiene Studies
American Dental Hygienists Association
American Dental Association
American Dental Education Association

Contact Us

Leah Baldwin | Associate Director of Graduate and Professional Admissions
503-352-7224 |