Both an associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree are considered entry-level in the dental hygiene field. Both prepare you to work clinically in a private practice or in community health. This would involve jobs working in a dental team, under a dentist’s license.
Though an associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree are both considered entry-level, it is important to note that only a bachelor’s degree will allow to further your education or have alternatives to clinical care.
Degree Completion Programs
Do you have an associate’s degree, but wish to seek alternative career paths in the dental hygiene field? Well, you are in luck! You will have the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree by applying for a degree completion program. With many options to choose from, it is important to note that not all degree completion programs are the same. Some programs will require clinical time, which means you will have to be on campus to complete certain program requirements. Not all degree completion programs require clinical campus time and many are allowing clinicians to complete their degree 100% online.
The length of each degree completion program also varies. Each program can range from one to two years to complete, depending on their specific requirements. You should also be aware that these types of degree completion programs are geared toward working dental professionals. They are intended to help you meet the dental hygiene bachelor’s degree criteria, while also remaining flexible.
Dental Hygiene Re-entry or Refresher Programs
The re-entry or refresher programs offered are tailored to those whom graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program, but have not practiced clinically in many years. These programs are all different in design and structure, as they are tailored to the specific needs of the dental hygienist. All require class and clinical time, but both are flexible schedule and subject. If you are interested in this type of program, you should seek more information from the specific school of interest.
Master’s in Dental Hygiene
Continuing your education with a master’s degree in dental hygiene is important if you are interested in dental research, education, administration, and advanced clinical and oral sciences. It is designed specifically for any dental hygienist whom is interested in furthering his or her career, whether it is management or education. There are different types of master’s degrees, such as becoming a dental therapist. This program is designed to be clinical, where you will be doing many of the same duties as a dentist, but under supervision. The idea is to fill a need of dentistry in rural areas, where emergencies and clinical case have not been met.
Along with obtaining your master’s degree in dental hygiene, you can also obtain a Ph.D. with a science and clinical emphasis or community health emphasis. You would complete the master’s degree and the Ph.D. at the same time. This would be a great option in you are looking to be one the forefront of dental research and oral sciences. All programs are designed a little differently, with different tracks of education, which will allow you to specialize towards your chosen goal.
Obtaining your master’s degree can be easy to do, especially with many online options. Most master’s degrees have the working professional in mind when creating the curriculum. It is important that you look into each masters of dental hygiene program, as they all offer different types of degrees and class loads.