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Degree Completion Program

The degree completion program is currently designed for dental hygienists who graduated from our on-campus dental hygiene program with a certificate. Our certificate graduates must complete the 62 hours of prerequisite courses required of those seeking a bachelor of science degree. Completing these prerequisite courses will also satisfy the core curriculum in Texas.

The following prerequisites must be completed with a minimum grade of “C”

  • English Composition I (3 Semester Hours - SH)
  • English Composition II (3 SH)
  • Fundamentals of Speech (3 SH)
  • General Psychology (3 SH)
  • General Sociology (3 SH)
  • Math: College Algebra or higher (3 SH)
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I, including lab (4 SH*)
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology II, including lab (4 SH*)
  • Chemistry, including lab (4 SH*)
  • Microbiology, including lab (4 SH*)
  • Computer Science, including lab/hands-on (3 SH*)
  • American History (6 SH)
    • 3 hrs each in Texas and American History or
    • 6 hrs in American History
  • American Government (6 SH)
    • must include a study of the Texas Constitution
  • Humanities (3 SH)
  • Visual & Performing Arts (3 SH)
  • Nutrition (3 SH)
  • Electives (4 SH**)

*Laboratory time is required.

**The following are recommended elective courses to enrich the student's dental hygiene education to the fullest: foreign language, research design, statistics and sciences; non-PE, non-remedial.

Upon successful completion of the prerequisite courses, the hygienist may apply to the degree completion program. The online degree completion program consists of 12 credit hours of upper-level course work: four courses, three credit hours each. Upon successful completion of these 12 hours, the hygienist receives a bachelor of science degree in dental hygiene.

The goal of the Dental Hygiene Degree Completion Program is to enhance the knowledge base of registered dental hygienists by:

  • developing and broadening teaching skills that will enable graduates to engage in public and professional education, resulting in greater access to care;
  • increasing students’ awareness of and ability to respond appropriately to current ethical situations;
  • broadening students’ perspectives on the career of dental hygiene;
  • increasing students’ knowledge of research and increasing their ability to comprehend and evaluate scientific literature.

These courses were developed in 2004-2005 specifically for this online degree completion program. They were designed to prepare graduates to be employed in health care with expanded abilities and attitudes to meet the evolving needs of today’s society. By completing baccalaureate degrees, dental hygiene practitioners will be prepared to assume broader positions of responsibility in a variety of settings, i.e. private-based and community health care, educational settings, research and the business setting. As today’s health care environment is undergoing vast changes, the practitioners must be prepared to meet the needs of the industry.

The online degree completion program was implemented in Fall 2005. The four courses designed for this program are described below, along with the names of the course developers. A student in the degree completion program will be enrolled in two of the online courses in the Fall semester and two courses in the Spring semester.  The faculty members who developed the courses also serve as the course directors and instructors.

DHDC 4501

Introduction to Health Care Teaching
Spring semester. 3 credit hours
Faculty: Darla S. McKitrick, RDH, MS 
Examines the theory and practice pertaining to important aspects of learning and teaching. Also includes instructional strategies, methodologies and assessment of student learning.

DHDC 4502

Health Care Ethics
Fall semester. 3 credit hours
Faculty: Jayne A. McWherter, RDH, MEd
Focuses on issues faced by health care professionals, including ethical and legal issues related to the practice of dental hygiene. Topics include, but are not limited to: ethics and professionalism, ethical principles and values, models for ethical decision-making, ethics and cultural differences, and ethical dilemmas. Students will work independently and in teams to apply the material to real-life situations using case-study format and personal life experiences.

DHDC 4503

Trends and Issues in Dental Hygiene
Fall semester. 3 credit hours
Faculty: Harold A. Henson, RDH, MEd
Addresses current trends and issues affecting the dental hygiene profession. In-depth discussions will explore the profession from its origins to its current state. This Web-based course will provide a critical analysis in the areas of dental hygiene education, research and clinical practice. Students will work in teams to engage and facilitate online discussions. The final term project will give students an opportunity to address these issues.

DHDC 4504

Oral Health Research Evaluation
Spring semester. 3 credit hours
Faculty: Donna Warren-Morris, RDH, MEd
Comprehensive approaches to research that are pertinent to problems students will face as practitioners or educators will be presented. Students will plan and evaluate health programs for target populations, conduct oral-health surveys, design scientific experiments and critically analyze research results.

For more information, contact the UTHealth School of Dentistry Dental Hygiene Program, 713-486-4084.