Academic Catalog


Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene Dental Hygiene (BSDH)

Brenda Bradshaw, Entry-Level Program Director

The baccalaureate program in dental hygiene is designed to prepare men and women as professional dental hygienists qualified for positions in a variety of health-care settings and/or for graduate study in dental hygiene. A dental hygienist is a licensed professional and member of the oral health care team who provides services to promote optimal oral health. Dental hygienists serve as clinical practitioners, educators, researchers, administrators, managers, program developers, consultants, and/or dental product sales representatives, depending on the individual's employment setting and educational background. In addition, dental hygienists with a bachelor's degree may pursue careers in elementary and secondary schools, community and public health settings, institutional, entrepreneurial and industrial dental hygiene, professional education, and research.

Students in good academic standing during the last semester of the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene entry-level program may be approved by the School Chair to take the National Board Examination for Dental Hygiene and a regional licensing board examination. A successful outcome on both examinations is required to practice dental hygiene.

The School of Dental Hygiene reserves the right to require remedial work of any student who does not perform at a level satisfactory for patient care. Annually, students are required to submit documentation of a current background check, CPR certification, immunizations and diagnostic procedures. Students are required to complete the School of Dental Hygiene Entrance Health Form and strongly advised to be up to date on all appropriate immunizations to minimize risk of infectious disease due to the nature of clinical care as part of the dental hygiene curriculum.  The University maintains liability insurance on the students while enrolled in the School of Dental Hygiene.

Admission to Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene (Entry-Level)

OVERVIEWThe ODU baccalaureate dental hygiene program strives to prepare professional dental hygienists qualified for positions in a variety of healthcare settings and/or for graduate study in dental hygiene.  Admissions procedures and decisions are nondiscriminatory.  A diverse pool of applicants is encouraged to apply.  Dental hygienists serve as clinicians, educators, researchers, administrators, managers, program developers, consultants, and/or dental product sales representatives, depending on the individual's employment setting and educational background. Dental hygienists with a bachelor's degree may pursue careers in education, research, community and public health settings, institutional, entrepreneurial, and industrial dental hygiene.  Dental hygiene education curriculum is scientifically-oriented and rigorous.  Accreditation requirements limit enrollment based on resources including faculty-student ratios.  Therefore, admission is competitive with standardized and fair criteria and procedures to ensure selected candidates have the potential for successfully completing the program.  Required  prerequisite courses and dental hygiene curricular content can be found below.  Recommended courses for transfer from the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) can be viewed here:  To determine if courses taken outside of ODU will transfer, visit:  All applicants are highly encouraged to seek advising from the ODU College of Health Sciences Advising Team before applying.  They can be reached by emailing: .  This program is fully on campus.

Below is an explanation of the 2-step application process with a list of criteria and instructions:   

Step 1. Complete an online application to ODU as a degree-seeking student by December 1.

Step 2. Apply to the entry-level baccalaureate degree program of the School of Dental Hygiene (SODH) using the American Dental Education Association Dental Hygiene Centralized Application Service (ADEA DHCAS).  The deadline for completing this application is February 1.

The following 4 bullet points list Required parts of the dental hygiene application:

  • All post-secondary educational official transcripts: The applicant is responsible for providing accurate and comprehensive information regarding their academic history by including official transcripts from all educational institutions attended since high school including community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities.  Instructions for entering academic history information and sending official transcripts to DHCAS can be found at:  Failure to follow these instructions may cause delays in the verification of an application and/or the inability to be admitted to the School of Dental Hygiene.  Candidates’ Grade Point Averages (GPAs) are evaluated in two ways: Overall GPA (minimum 3.0) and Science GPA (minimum 3.3).  All courses attempted and grades earned are calculated into the GPAs by DHCAS.  GPA calculations include +/- grades, and all grades earned for each attempt at a course (repeated courses are included).  For information about GPA calculations, visit: GPA is weighed most heavily for admissions decisions.  While minimum GPAs are expected, many applicants have well above the minimums and are considered most competitive.    
  • High school unofficial transcripts: This may take some time.  Applicants are encouraged to request unofficial transcripts from their high school(s) early in the application process.  You can upload them in the "documents" page of the application.  High school grades are not considered and are not factored into the GPA.  This is used mainly to ensure foreign language has been satisfied if taken in high school.  
  • Two ODU School of Dental Hygiene Recommendation Forms:  These forms should be completed by current or previous academic and/or employer recommenders.  Applicants send electronic copies of the School of Dental Hygiene Recommendation Form to their recommenders and explain that this specific form must be usedThe form is located here.  Then, go to the "Program Materials" section of the application, select "ODU," navigate to the "Evaluations" tab, and enter the recommenders' names and email addresses. Be sure to do this accurately. Recommenders will receive an email from requesting they provide an “online evaluation.”  NOTE: Recommendation letters are not accepted and will not be reviewed.  For more information, visit:
  • Essay: Applicants must upload a well-written 300-500 words typed essay on the following topic: “Dental hygienist professional roles include: clinician, corporate, public health, researcher, educator, administrator, and entrepreneur.  Choose one role you are most interested in and explain how you would contribute to the profession in that role.”  Applicants are highly encouraged to explore the American Dental Hygienists’ Association website to gather information for their essay:  There is no required format or reference style for the essay.

The following 6 bullet points list optional information applicants may include that would award points on their application.  GPA is weighed heavily for admissions decisions, but the following additional information may be used to support admissions decisions. To earn these points, upload applicable electronic certificates/documents to the DHCAS application as proof:

  • Radiation Safety Certificate= .5 points
  • Certified Dental Assistant Certificate= .5 points
  • Current CPR Card= .5 points
  • Enrollment information: the number of semesters enrolled at Old Dominion University (past and present).  Proof of this would show on submitted ODU transcripts.  .25 points are awarded for each previous and currently enrolled semester.
  • Previous degrees that have been conferred as shown on official transcripts.  Points awarded are: Associate degree= .25; Bachelor’s degree= .5; Master’s degree= .75.
  • Admission Test for Dental Hygiene (ATDH) scores are optional, but recommended.  If an applicant submits scores, points will be awarded based on a range of scores.  SCORE RANGES: score of 200= 0 points; scores of 201 to 275= .25 points; scores of 276 to 350= .5 points; scores of 351 to 425= .75 points; scores of 426 to 500= 1 point.  For more information about the ATDH and how to report scores, visit:

3. Still have questions or concerns about the ADEA DHCAS application?

  • Answers to most questions are found here: or applicants may contact DHCAS Customer Service for assistance with questions about the application. Call 617-612-2095 or email
  • The SODH does not have access to an application until it has reached “verified” status by DHCAS.  Applications will not be considered for admission unless verified by March 1. 

4. Wait for email notification.

  • Applicants will receive notification from the ODU Office of Admissions regarding the application decision for entrance into the University. 
  • Applicants will receive email notification in April from the SODH regarding the status of their application decision for entrance into the SODH (check email inbox and spam folder daily).  If accepted or placed on the alternate candidate list, there will be deadlines in the email which will require immediate action. If accepted into the SODH, a $300 non-refundable place-keeping fee is required.
  • Admission to ODU does not guarantee acceptance to the SODH.  Applicants must be successfully admitted to both the University as a degree-seeking student and to the SODH.

5. If accepted into the SODH, students will need to attend the SODH's required in-person orientation where they will meet with an advisor and register for dental hygiene classes.  Orientation details will be emailed.

Guaranteed Entry Program

The guaranteed entry program is designed for highly qualified senior high school students who are committed to completing a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene at Old Dominion University. Students accepted into this program will be guaranteed a position upon completion of the prerequisites and candidacy requirements as outlined by Old Dominion University School of Dental Hygiene.  For more information, email