Bulletin of Dental Education

Demand for Dental Hygiene Educators Fuels New M.S.D.H. Program at UTSD

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UTSD Full Color LogoThe University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston (UTSD) will offer a new Master of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene (M.S.D.H.) in fall 2020, opening new doors for those who already have a bachelor’s degree, even in another field.

UTSD will begin accepting applications for the new program on Nov. 1, 2019 and continue until June 1, 2020, with classes beginning in August 2020. More information is posted at Go.uth.edu/DH-Admissions

“This gives dental hygienists the opportunity to teach at the university level or in a dental school, where a master’s degree is a requirement or preferred,” says Dental Hygiene Program Director and Distinguished Teaching Professor Donna Warren Morris, RDH, M.Ed.  

“A master’s degree gives a dental hygienist the education and credentials to direct a program in dental hygiene or assume other administrative roles. It broadens opportunities to work in sales or oral health research.”

The new M.S.D.H. program will require 33 semester credit hours of upper-level courses focusing on dental hygiene education. Coursework may be taken full- or part-time but must be completed within five years. 

UTSD PhotoBecause nearly three-fourths of the program is online, students may continue working while taking classes. “They can work and take two courses a semester until they get to the practicum courses,” Prof. Morris says.

The clinical practicum courses that require a student’s physical presence may be taken at UTSD or on the campus of another dental hygiene program that is both accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and approved in advance by the UTSD program director. This option allows students who live far from Houston, including out of state, to complete the practicum close to home.

John Valenza, D.D.S., Dean of UTSD, says offering an M.S.D.H. “is an important next step for our school in advancing the education and practice of dental hygiene while expanding our partnerships with other schools at UTHealth Houston.” UTSD is part of UTHealth, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Currently, UTSD and UTHealth School of Public Health offer dental hygiene baccalaureate students an option for concurrent enrollment leading to a certificate or master’s degree in public health.  

Prof. Morris noted dental hygiene educators are in demand. The American Dental Education Association has reported thatapproximately 75% of dental hygiene educators were over age 40 in 2016, and more than half will be retirement age in five to 10 years, opening up new jobs for dental hygienists with master’s degrees. “Our program teaches you how to teach,” she says. 

In fact, two courses in the master’s curriculum will be similar to the practice-teaching requirement in Texas teacher certification programs, but in this case, the practice teaching will take place within the dental hygiene program. The graduate students will present lectures in addition to teaching good clinical practice. 

Courtesy of Rhonda Whitmeyer, Communications Manager, Office of the Dean, University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston

Published on September 11, 2019

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