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MS in Dental Hygiene

>>How to Apply

The faculty in the UCSF School of Dentistry offers a multidisciplinary curriculum of graduate study leading to a Master of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene (pdf). Graduates are prepared to engage in multidisciplinary problem solving related to oral disease prevention and health promotion to improve the oral health of varied populations throughout the world. Graduates are prepared to assume roles as educators and research collaborators in academic, public health or oral healthcare-related industry settings.

The Master of Science Program in Dental Hygiene requires 36 units of course work and a Comprehensive Examination (i.e., Capstone Project). The one-year MS degree program consists of three quarters of interdisciplinary dental hygiene science course work and one quarter of Field Work, after a total of four quarters. This is an academic program that revolves around dental hygiene theories and research; it does not include clinical course work. The curriculum course work centers on case-based learning and will integrate findings from clinical research on oral health and disease, dental public health, behavioral and social sciences and health policy information to promote dental hygiene problem solving strategies to prevent oral disease and promote health among individuals, families and communities. The Dental Hygiene Science courses in the summer and fall quarters and the fall quarter Master’s Seminar I focus on development of competencies in preparation for the Field Work Proposal (i.e., the Oral Qualifying Examination), and the winter quarter Field Work. In the spring quarter students integrate the material covered in the previous courses with the knowledge and perspective gained from their Field Work and prepare for their Comprehensive Examination (Capstone Project). The Comprehensive Examination (the Capstone Project) is comprised of a written scholarly report of the Field Work (see below for more detailed information).

Admission Requirements

The Masters of Science Program in Dental Hygiene begins each year in the summer quarter. Deadline for application is March 31 of each year. Completed applications submitted prior to this date will be reviewed on a rolling admission basis. Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed on a space available basis only. Candidates need to satisfy the following minimum requirements:

  • Graduation from a basic preparation dental hygiene program or DDS/DMD degree
  • Completion of a baccalaureate degree in any discipline
  • California residents must have a minimum overall and science college GPA of 2.7.
  • Non-California residents must have a minimum overall and science college GPA of 3.0.
  • Personal interview

The following documents need to be submitted:

  • Online UCSF Graduate Division application
  • Official academic transcripts from all post-secondary institutions
  • Two letters of recommendation (online submission)
  • Results of the TOEFL or IELTS for international students (the TOEFL institute code for UCSF is 4840)

>> To apply online, click here:

To download a digital brochure click here: MS Degree in Dental Hygiene (pdf)

Frequently Asked Questions


When will I hear about admission?
Applicants are accepted on a rolling admissions basis.  Applicants are encouraged to apply early; preference is given to early applicants.

What are the selection factors?
Applicants are selected based on an evaluation of the interview, academic record, interest in dental hygiene, letters of recommendation, personal statement, potential for leadership, work experience, honors and awards, extra-curricular activities and interests, and potential contribution to the class.  We also seek diversity of background within each class. The class size is 14 students. Foreign-born applicants from non-English speaking countries must be eligible to obtain an F-1 visa and demonstrate they have financial support to attend our program and live in the U.S. Fluency in both written and oral English is required; see for TOEFL or IELTS test score requirements.

Can I defer my admission?
We do not defer admission. If you decide not to join our program, you will have to reapply and pay a new application fee. We will evaluate your re-application within the new candidate pool, and therefore cannot guarantee admission on the next round. If you reapply within one year, you will not have to resend your transcripts or reference letters, unless significant changes have occurred.

How do you evaluate my transcripts from an international university (not in the U.S.)?
Your transcripts need to be evaluated by World Education Services (WES). WES provides a U.S. equivalency for education earned outside of the U.S., including accreditation status, grade conversions, semester hours of credit, etc. WES evaluates only official/authenticated records, and their requirements are country-specific.

Who should apply

Who should apply?
Dental hygienists and dentists with a strong interest in the field of dental hygiene who wish to achieve leadership, scholarship and teaching skills in dental hygiene.

What kind of student are you looking for?
The MS degree is academic, not clinical. We emphasize scholarship, evidence-based analysis and critical thinking. We seek applicants who have dental hygiene experience and who have a strong academic record. We also look for potential to contribute to dental hygiene scholarship. We want students who are self-motivated, have demonstrable leadership skills, have a strong commitment to dental hygiene, are team players, and who can contribute to the learning environment. This is a rigorous academic program with high expectations for hard work and graduate-level scholarship.

I am just finishing my dental hygiene program. Can I apply?
You are eligible to apply. We take pride in having a diverse group of dental hygienists with a variety of experience.

During and after the program

Where do classes take place?
Classes take place on the Parnassus campus at UCSF.

Can I choose my own capstone project?
Yes, you will work closely with a mentor to refine your project or if you need guidance in choosing a capstone project. For more information, please see our brochure.

Do I need to have chosen my capstone project before I am accepted into the program?
No, your mentor can help you to craft your capstone project topic in the summer quarter.

Will I have an opportunity to work part-time during the program?
Yes; however, because this is a time-intensive, rigorous, one-year program, we do not recommend working more than one or two days a week.

What can I do with this degree?
Graduates are prepared to assume roles in education and research collaboration in academic, public health, or oral health care industry settings.

What are your graduates doing now?
Many of our graduates are teaching in community colleges in dental hygiene programs. Others are conducting research along with working in private practice. In addition, alumni hold public health positions and leadership roles within the dental hygiene governing organizations. Others are successful oral health business owners or work for the oral health care industry.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Program Administrator at or call 415.502.8740.

The official academic transcripts must be submitted to:

Dental Hygiene Master of Science Program
Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences
3333 California St., Suite 495
San Francisco, CA 94143-1361

Additional information can be obtained by contacting:

Dental Hygiene Graduate Program Interim Director
Elena Ortega, R.D.H, M.S.
Clinical Instructor

Fees for the UCSF Master of Science Program in Dental Hygiene

The amounts shown in this page represent, for planning purposes, estimates of tuition and fees for existing and proposed professional degree programs. Actual tuition, fees and charges are determined by the Regents of the University of California and could be affected by state funding reductions and the risk of additional cuts. Accordingly, final figures are subject to change and may differ from the amounts shown.

The total fees for the one-year program are approximately $37,800 for California residents and $50,045 for nonresidents. Fees are subject to change.

Current fees for the Academic Year 2016-17 are:

Summer Quarter Registration Fee: $4,810
Summer Quarter Student Health Insurance Premium: $1,086
Tuition: $11,220
Student Services Fee: $1,074
Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition: $14,559
Community Centers Facilities: $149
Graduate and Professional Students Association: $27
Associated Students of Graduate Division: $36
Disability Insurance: $55
Student Health Insurance Premium: $4,804
California Resident Total: $31,924
California Nonresident Supplemental Tuition: $12,245
California Nonresident Total: $44,169

Financial Assistance

The Office of Student Financial Services on the San Francisco campus administers several financial aid programs offering loans and grants. It can be contacted by visiting staff on campus or by email:

Scholarship opportunities, specific to dental hygiene, also are available. Information can be obtained from the American Dental Hygienists Association (, the American Dental Education Association (, National Dental Hygienists' Association ( or the Hispanic Dental Association (

The Oral Qualifying Examination

(i.e., Oral and Written Presentation of Proposed Field Work)

At the end of the fall quarter of the Master of Science Program in Dental Hygiene, students will present to a committee of three faculty an oral presentation of their Field Work Proposal that identifies a significant dental hygiene problem they wish to study. The oral presentation must be approximately 30 minutes in length, delivered using PowerPoint slides, and include the following:

  • Title of the capstone project
  • Type of research approach to be used (quantitative, qualitative, or mixed)
  • Field work setting, and name of an internal mentor (and, if applicable, an external mentor)
  • Clear statement of the problem supported by the literature
  • Related dental hygiene roles and relationships
  • Research question
  • Study purpose statement
  • Theoretical framework guiding the study
  • Proposed detailed methodology for study implementation
  • Proposed data analysis procedures
  • Proposed budget

A committee of three faculty members will assess the Oral Qualifying Examination. The committee will be composed of the student’s mentor, one of the course faculty (appointed by the DH 200 Course Director) and one at-large faculty member from the faculty associated with the MS program. After the faculty committee determines the student has passed the Oral Qualifying Examination, students will file for advancement to candidacy with the Graduate Division.

Field Work

Students are required to develop a scholarly project that identifies a significant dental hygiene problem and applies advanced clinical and theoretical knowledge related to oral disease prevention and health promotion. Identification of the idea for the Field Work project by students will be encouraged during the summer quarter of the program with the help of their mentor. The scholarly project includes one quarter of mentored Field Work (DH 208 – Winter Qtr) related to the student’s area of interest.

Comprehensive Examination (The Capstone Project)

The purpose of the Comprehensive Examination (i.e., Capstone Project) is to evaluate the student’s ability to apply advanced clinical and theoretical knowledge related to oral disease prevention and health promotion in a selected area of interest and to critique research as it relates to that area.  The graduate learner demonstrates this ability by the production of a scientific manuscript, based on the results of their research study completed as part of the Capstone Project. The Comprehensive Exam (CE) consists of having this manuscript evaluated and approved by faculty. Upon satisfactory completion of the CE, the MS in Dental Hygiene degree is officially awarded. Following the passing of the CE, consideration of submitting the manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal will be determined by the mentor and the learner.

Policy on Student Progress

The Policy on Student Progress addresses the requirements for satisfactory academic progress, evaluation and remediation.

Policy on Student Progress (pdf)


The program begins in summer quarter. Attached is a sample of the class schedule.

Sample MS-DH Schedule (pdf) 

Program Brochure

MS-DH Brochure 2015 (pdf)

Student disability services

UCSF is committed to ensuring access to graduate education for all students. Early communication with the relevant administrators is critical to successful partnership in arranging accommodations. SDS is the appropriate and confidential office for seeking accommodations, and will coordinate communications and procedures with you and the graduate faculty and programs. Please visit the website and look over the student disability services info for more information.

Student Success at UCSF

Success in graduate school requires care and attention to all aspects of your life: health and wellness, community, career development, personal and professional relationships, and security and safety. UCSF is committed to providing a full range of resources and services to help you succeed. Learn more about these resources by visiting our Student Success website.