Prospective Students

Dental Hygiene as a Pre-Dentistry Major

Some prospective dental students assume that dental hygiene is a logical choice for a pre-dentistry major, but in most cases dental hygiene is not a good choice for students who intend to apply to dental school. 

There is no prescribed pre-dentistry major at The Ohio State University. Prospective dental students should choose a major in an area of interest, but also one that will allow them to complete the required prerequisites for dental school. For information about admission, prerequisites, and choice of undergraduate majors for dental school, visit the College of Dentistry Admissions web site.

What about dental hygiene? 

Only 5% of OSU Dental Hygiene Program graduates go to dental school within two years of completing the bachelor's degree, and even fewer go directly from dental hygiene to dental school. A very small number of dental students are graduates of any dental hygiene program. This path is not common and is comparable to completing a nursing degree as a pre-medicine major.

Why is dental hygiene not a good choice for pre-dentistry?

The OSU Dental Hygiene Program is a rigorous course of study that is designed to prepare students for practice in dental hygiene; it is not designed to prepare students for dental school. Pre-dentistry students will need to take additional science courses that do not meet major requirements in dental hygiene, but dental hygiene students do not enjoy the scheduling flexibility that is found in many other majors. During the last two years in the dental hygiene program, students will be enrolled in a full-time lockstep program to include dental hygiene sciences, laboratories, and clinics. There will not be time during the last two years in the major for students to enroll in additional courses to meet pre-dentistry requirements.

In addition to the scheduling challenges, there is some redundancy in completing a dental hygiene education before dental school. Much of what you learn in dental hygiene will be repeated in required dental courses. Students who intend to go to dental school are encouraged to use their undergraduate years to gain a strong science foundation and liberal arts education.

The primary purpose of the Dental Hygiene Program is to prepare students to practice dental hygiene. Admission to the program is selective and competitive, and the number of students that can be enrolled in the major is limited. Admission to the Dental Hygiene Program will be limited to those students who have an expressed and demonstrated intention to practice dental hygiene.