Univ of Southern California
University of Southern California
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Undergraduate Degree

Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene

The mission of the USC Department of Dental Hygiene is to educate and prepare dental hygiene leaders for careers in a diverse and changing health care environment. Implicit in this is a desire to provide a liberal education as well as outstanding clinical experiences. The baccalaureate dental hygiene program is a combination of dental and dental hygiene sciences, supporting sciences and general education.

The curriculum reflects the core values of the profession in private and public health settings. The program is committed to creating a humanistic, educational environment that will facilitate the development of responsible, ethical, oral health professionals who are sensitive to the patient needs and competent in the dental hygiene process of care.

Educational and clinical services provided by dental hygiene students include dental health education, patient assessment, disease prevention and non-surgical periodontal therapy for a diverse population of patients. The program strives to produce graduates who will advance the profession of dental hygiene and improve dental health care through evidence-based research and scholarly activities. Finally, graduates are competent in self-assessment and scientific methodology in preparation for lifelong learning.

The Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene requires two academic years of pre-dental hygiene courses followed by two additional years of enrollment in the dental hygiene program.


Admission to the school is granted through the Office of Dental Admissions and Student Affairs that receives and processes all applications, evaluates credentials and mails letters of acceptance to applicants who qualify for entrance. Because of the university’s selective admissions policy and limited enrollment, only those applicants are accepted who present evidence of intellectual promise and strong personal qualifications, including good moral character and sound health. Prior to enrollment, accepted students must provide evidence of sound health and meet the school’s health requirements. (Before registration, the Student Health Service form, signed by the applicant’s attending physician, must be filed with the Student Health Center.) Admission to the university in all cases is determined by the Office of Dental Admissions and Student Affairs and appropriate selection committees.

Application forms may be obtained by mail, online or in person from the Office of Dental Admissions and Student Affairs. A nonrefundable $25 fee must be sent with the completed dental hygiene application. An additional application fee must be submitted to the USC Undergraduate Admission Office.

Credentials for admission must include complete records of all previous college or university work. The student must request the registrar of each school attended to forward one official transcript of record directly to the Office of Dental Admissions and Student Affairs. These should include the program of studies in which the applicant is currently registered. The university does not initiate requests for these credentials.

Applications for the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene should be filed well in advance of February 1 of the year in which the student wishes to be admitted. The program begins in the fall. Applicants for admission are requested to file their applications before they have completed one full year of college predental work or pre-hygiene class.

Although students may transfer to USC at any time and begin prerequisite course work, the dental hygiene curriculum begins in the junior year. Admission to the university does not guarantee admission to the dental hygiene program.

Two applications are required, one for the USC Undergraduate Admission Office and one for the School of Dentistry. See the Undergraduate Education Admission section of this catalogue.

Admission Requirements

Between 30 and 40 students are admitted each year for the curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene.

The Committee on Admissions examines credentials and bases its decision on the objective evaluation of these factors: preprofessional training, evidence of scholarship and personal evaluation of the student.

Minimum entrance requirements include: graduation from an accredited secondary school and completion of the following courses which may be transferred in from another college or university or taken at USC prior to bring admitted to the dental hygiene program.

General Biology
One semester with lab is required.

One semester with lab is required.

General Chemistry with Lab
One year is required.

English Composition
One year is required. Must include course work equivalent to WRIT 140 and one semester of any transferable English course.

General Physiology Lab
One semester is required.

General Microbiology
One semester is required.

One semester is required.

Introduction to Sociology
One semester is required.

General Psychology
One semester is required.

Public Speaking
One semester is required.

General Education Requirements
The university’s general education program provides a coherent, integrated introduction to the breadth of knowledge you will need to consider yourself (and to be considered by other people) a generally well-educated person. This program requires six courses in different categories, plus writing and diversity requirements, which together comprise the USC Core. See here and here for more information.

All dental hygiene students have to follow the university’s general education requirements.

There is no minimum number of transfer units you must complete before applying to admissions. No foreign course work will be accepted. Dental hygiene prerequisites and lower division general education categories must be completed or in progress by the time of application to the dental hygiene program. All prerequisite course work including required general education course work must be completed with a grade of “C” or better.

The following courses are not transferable: dental assisting, dental technology, secretarial science (typing, shorthand, etc.), or other technically or vocationally related courses.

All entrance requirements must be completed by June 15 preceding the September of admission, and complete final credentials must be on file in the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC Office of Admission and Student Affairs by July 15 preceding enrollment. Notification of acceptance will be sent by the Office of Admission and Student Affairs after May 1.


Students who have been accepted into the program and who have reserved their place in the class by paying the appropriate tuition deposit will be forwarded orientation materials by July 15.

Orientation is traditionally scheduled during the week before the first week of classes. The purpose of the program is to acquaint incoming students with the School of Dentistry, its policies, programs, faculty and facilities. Incoming students receive financial counseling and purchase their initial equipment issue as part of orientation activities.

Graduation Requirements

A student is eligible for the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene after attaining the qualitative and quantitative level expected in the dental hygiene curriculum. This specifically includes: no marks of “F,” “IN,” “ICW,” “IP,” “MG” or “NCr”; no conditions existing at the termination of the final trimester that would result in academic probation, clinical probation or academic disqualification. In addition, each student must have demonstrated the characteristics expected of a health professional and have fulfilled the financial and other obligations required for graduation.

In addition to meeting the academic requirements indicated above, students must have a completed administrative clearance form on file in the Office of Academic Affairs before a degree can be conferred. This administrative clearance indicates that the student has met financial and other obligations to the university and to the student’s patients.


Courses listed are required for completion of the degree. Course listings are current as of 2011-2012 and are subject to change without notice by action of the Ostrow School of Dentistry and the university.

Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene Curriculum

Required coursesUnits
AMED 502Emergency Medicine2
AMED 524Pain and Anxiety Control2
ANAT 521Head and Neck Anatomy2
DBIO 310Oral Biochemistry2
DHIS 310Basic Tissues and Histology and Embryology2
DHYG 311abFundamentals of Clinical Dental Hygiene Practice3-3
DHYG 314LDental Morphology Laboratory1
DHYG 316Patient Education in Preventive Dental Care1
DHYG 318Dental Specialties2
DHYG 320Preventive Dental Therapy2
DHYG 401Introduction to Advanced Dental Hygiene2
DHYG 410abcClinic: Dental Hygiene2-7 each (3, 6, 6)
DHYG 412Preventive Dental Care Programs1
DHYG 414abAdvanced Dental Hygiene2-2
DHYG 422Essentials of Dental Hygiene Practice1
DHYG 424abResearch Methods1-1
DHYG 516abCommunity Oral Health2-2
DIAG 415Radiographic Techniques1
DIAG 521Principles of Oral Radiology2
DMAT 316LDental Materials and Clinical Procedures2
DPHR 410Principles of Pharmacology2
GSPD 504Dental Treatment of the Geriatric and Special Patient2
HBHV 310Interactional Skills in Dental Hygiene1
MBIO 310Principles of Microbiology and Immunology2
OCCL 310Fundamentals of Dental Morphology1
OMOD 506Infection Control1
PEDO 310Principles of Dentistry for Children1
PERI 310abIntroduction to Periodontal Diseases1-1
PERI 415Basic Periodontal Therapy1
PERI 504Advanced Periodontics1
PTHL 312abcMedicine and Pathology1-3-2

Minor in Craniofacial and Dental Technology

The Ostrow School of Dentistry, the Viterbi School of Engineering Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Department of Biological Sciences jointly offer the minor in craniofacial and dental technology. This minor is designed to prepare engineering, pre-dental, pre-medical and biological sciences undergraduates to enter the dental biotechnology industry as well as to introduce them to recent innovations in craniofacial sciences and therapeutics. The course work introduces students to concepts in craniofacial histology and embryology, head-and-neck anatomy, genetics, biochemistry and biotechnology as well as applications to dental diagnostics, imaging and dental therapies (dental implants, restorative dentistry, craniofacial genetics).

This minor requires a minimum of 18 units unique to the minor and a varying number of total units beyond major requirements, depending upon the student’s major program of study and the elective(s) chosen by the student. Students may be required to complete a minimum of 38 units for the minor including prerequisites or as much as 50 units, depending on whether their major includes any of the minor requirements or their prerequisites.

Please see a biomedical engineering, biological sciences or Ostrow School of Dentistry advisor for specific program requirements.

Core required courses, Upper divisionUnits
DENT 412Fundamentals of Craniofacial and Dental Technology3
DHIS 310Basic Human and Oral Histology and Embryology4
BISC 325*Genetics4
BME 410*Introduction to Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering3
Total core units:14

Enroll in at least two courses from the following (not part of your major) to complete at least 16 units outside your home department:

BISC 330L*Biochemistry4
BISC 403*Advanced Molecular Biology4
BISC 406L*Biotechnology4
BISC 410*Applications of Molecular Biology to Medicine4
BISC 435*Advanced Biochemistry4
BME 404*Biomechanics3
BME 416Development and Regulation of Medical Products3
BME 451*Fundamentals of Biomedical Microdevices3
DENT 221Introduction to Dentistry1
ENGR 305Engineering Biology Matters3
HP 340LHealth Behavior Statistical Methods4
HP 350LHealth Behavior Research Methods4
MASC 310Materials Behavior and Processing3
Total elective units:6-8

* Prerequisite required

Progressive Degree Program in Public Health

The public health program admits a limited number of USC undergraduate students to pursue the M.P.H. degree while completing a bachelor’s degree. Applicants to the program must have completed 64 units of course work and must submit their applications prior to completion of 96 units of course work. Applicants do not have to submit GRE scores, but are expected to have a minimum GPA of 3.5 at the time of application. The application for admission to a progressive degree program must be accompanied by an approved course plan proposal and letters of recommendation from two USC faculty members. The requirements for both the bachelor’s degree and the M.P.H. degrees must be satisfied. For further details on progressive degree programs, see here.