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MS in Dental Hygiene

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 38 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. Classes meet on-site on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The Field Work will take place in one of the following settings related to the student’s area of interest: a basic preparation dental hygiene program or another dental educational program, a public health or governmental setting, an established research or administrative group, or an oral healthcare-related industry setting . 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).

Table 1 outlines specific skill-based goals for the program along with expected outcomes and competencies, learning methods, and means of outcome assessment. Each didactic course is designed to support these competencies and skills. The curriculum courses that comprise the Master of Science Program in Dental Hygiene are listed in Table 2, including their key content, skills, and assessments.

Admission Requirements

The Masters of Science Program in Dental Hygiene begins each year in the summer quarter. Deadline for application is March 31st 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
  • 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

To apply online click here:

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

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 Street, Suite 495
San Francisco, CA 94143-1361

Additional information can be obtained by contacting:

Dental Hygiene Graduate Program Director
Margaret M. Walsh, R.D.H, M.S., Ed. D.

Fees for the UCSF Master of Science, Program in Dental Hygiene

The amounts shown in this page represent, for planning purposes, estimates of 2014-15 tuition and fees for existing and proposed professional degree programs. Actual tuition, fees, and charges for 2014-15 have yet to be determined by the Regents of the University of California and could be affected by recent 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 $29,000 for California residents and $41,000 for nonresidents.

Fees are subject to change. Current fees for the Academic Year 2013-2014 are: 

Tuition: $11,220
Student Services Fee: 972
Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition: $13,206
Campus-based Fees: $3,578*
Total MS DH Resident: $28,976
Professional School Nonresident Tuition: $12,245
Total MS DH Nonresident: $41,221

*2013-14 Estimated Campus-based Annual Fees

Community Centers Facilities: $142
Graduate Student Association: $33
Disability Insurance: $72
Student Health Plan Premium (1): $3,331

Total: $2,974

(1) New Graduate Student Health Insurance Plan (GSHIP) effective Fall 2010; 2011-12 premiums still unknown

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 report of their Field Work Proposal that identifies a significant dental hygiene problem they wish to study.

The proposal will include:

  • A plan to conduct a needs assessment
  • A clear statement of the problem and the environmental context
  • Related dental hygiene roles and relationships
  • The problem supported by a critique of current literature
  • The conceptual and theoretical framework guiding the project; and
  • The proposed methodology for project implementation including the plan for implementation, budget and evaluation procedure

A committee of three faculty will assess the Oral Qualifying Examination. The committee will be composed of the student’s mentor, one of the course faculty (appointed by the Program Director) and one at-large faculty member from the faculty associated with the MS program. Each student will submit a list of three to five potential faculty to fill this latter slot, and the Program Director will select one.

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, including one quarter of mentored Field Work (DH 208, eight units) in one of the following four types of settings related to the student’s area of interest:

  • A basic preparation dental hygiene program or another dental educational program
  • A public health or governmental setting
  • An established research or administrative group; or
  • An oral health-related industry setting.

Students will be based within a partner institution or setting to complete the Field Work project developed over the previous two quarters (summer and fall) as part of their requirements for the MS degree. They will present the results of this project in their last quarter as part of the Comprehensive Examination (Capstone Project).

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 Field Work mentor, identified by the student at the Field Work setting, and the Program Director or Faculty designee will oversee the Field Work and, along with the student, will develop specific competencies to be achieved in the Field Work. These goals and competencies will be recorded and evaluated by students in their learning portfolio.

Field mentorship will be an integral part of the Field Work experience and will be designed to benefit not only the student but also the local site.

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 Comprehensive Examination is:

  • A written scholarly report of the Field Work project. Upon returning from their field experience and the implementation of the scholarly Field Work proposal, each student will produce a written project report related to his/her Field Work. The format is a:
  • Problem Solving Proposal

The Field Work written scholarly report will be no more than 25 pages and will include a thorough literature review, the needs assessment, a clear statement of the problem, environmental context and related dental hygiene roles and relationships; methodology, results, discussion and implications and potential applications of the Field Work. The written scholarly request will be an article for publication.

  • The student will participate in the Comprehensive Examination only after the fulfillment of all requirements for the MS degree, or during the quarter within which those requirements will be fulfilled. In addition, the student must advance to candidacy prior to taking the Comprehensive Examination. A student who has failed the Comprehensive Examination may retake it only once and no earlier than the quarter following the initial Comprehensive Examination. Failure to complete the Capstone Project will require tuition for the following quarter. Based on availability and appropriateness, faculty members of the Master of Science Program in Dental Hygiene will be designated to read the Comprehensive Examination and evaluate it based on specific areas to be addressed and evaluation criteria for each. The MS degree will be granted with the successful passing of the comprehensive exam and upon the submittal of the manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal.