If you’ve ever been to a dentist and thought, “Wow, I’d like to do that for a living!” but also thought “The idea of grad school is making me cringe,” there’s good news: You can get your foot in the door of the dental health field without committing to years and years in a classroom.
Accelerated programs for students with undergraduate degrees already under their belts—or students who want to enroll soon after getting their bachelor’s—can get you into the industry quickly.
List of the Top Accelerated Dental Hygiene Programs in the U.S.
Here are some of the top accelerated dental hygiene programs you can enroll in:
Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Tuition: $70,947 or $1,325 per credit hour.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts.
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) is a full-package option for anyone looking to study quality accelerated dental hygiene programs in the US.
The accelerated dental hygiene program at MCPHS is a great option for students who want to earn their degree in less time.
The program takes 33 consecutive months to complete, so it’s significantly shorter than the average six semesters it takes to complete a traditional dental hygiene program. In one of the semesters, students have the opportunity to take part in an internship that will give them hands-on clinical experience.
There are some downsides to this program, however. For example, there may be fewer opportunities for student jobs and internships than in other programs. Also, some students may find that they need to take extra classes during summer school if they have trouble keeping up with coursework while working full-time.
Fones School of Dental Hygiene, University of Bridgeport
Location: Bridgeport, Connecticut.
The University of Bridgeport’s accelerated dental hygiene program is a great option for students who want to earn a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene but have already completed their associate degree. This program is especially appealing because you can complete your coursework in just three years.
The pros of this program include:
- You don’t need to be accepted into the university—you can start right away, as long as you have an accredited associate degree in dental hygiene.
- You can take classes at your own pace and fit them around your busy schedule or family life.
- You’ll get the same degree as a traditional student would.
- You’ll save money by not having to pay tuition for another year of school.
The cons are that it’s not for everyone. The program does require a lot of self-motivation and discipline, so if you prefer structure from a traditional classroom setting, this might not be the best option for you.
NYU College of Dentistry
Location: New York City, New York.
If you’re looking for an accelerated dental hygiene program that can help you get started on your career in as little time as possible, then NYU College of Dentistry is the place for you.
NYU’s dental hygiene program is designed to take just two years to complete, so you can finish school and begin working on your chosen specialty sooner rather than later. If you have a family or other responsibilities that make it difficult for you to attend classes full-time, this may be the perfect option for you.
However, there are some drawbacks to this accelerated program as well. First of all, because it’s so fast-paced, there’s less time to take electives and explore other areas of study.
Additionally, while many programs in this field offer opportunities for hands-on training at local hospitals or clinics (which can help prepare students for their careers), NYU does not offer these courses through its accelerated program. And also, NYU College of Dentistry has one of the most expensive accelerated dental hygiene programs in the world.
School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh
Tuition: $23,638 for domestic students [per year] and $51,186 [per year] for out-of-state students.
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
If you’re looking for a place to start your career, there are many excellent options in and around Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh has a large population of dental health professionals. In fact, it’s estimated that there are more than 22,000 practicing dentists in the city. That number is only expected to increase as time goes on as well.
There are also plenty of opportunities for students who want to become part of this exciting industry. There are currently five different dental schools located within Pittsburgh itself: University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine (rated as the best); Carlow University School of Dental Medicine; Duquesne University School Of Dental Medicine; Mercy Hospital School Of Dentistry and Penn State College Of Dentistry And Oral Health.
Tuition: $33,270 annually (estimated).
Location: Romeoville, Illinois.
The accelerated dental hygiene program at Lewis University is perfect for students who want to get started on their careers in the dental field. The program is designed to help you finish your education and get on with your life in less time than a traditional program would require.
Some of the pros of this program include:
- You’ll be able to start working as soon as you graduate, so you can earn money while you’re still in school.
- The curriculum is streamlined and efficient, so you can finish faster than normal.
- The campus is located near Chicago, giving students access to an incredible job market.
Utah College of Dental Hygiene
Location: Orem, Utah.
The Utah College of Dental Hygiene is another great option for students who are looking for an accelerated dental hygiene program. The program is designed to be completed in just two years (20 months), which means you’ll be out of college and getting paid sooner.
The school does have a drawback, however. It is located in Salt Lake City, so if you’re planning on living in another city or state after graduation, this may not be the best choice for you.
University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Tuition: $9,998 for in-state students and $19,976 for out-of-state students.
Location: Memphis, Tennessee.
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center is a great place to pursue your accelerated BS degree in dental hygiene.
The accelerated program allows you to complete the program in just two years, rather than the typical four-year program. This means that you can get started on starting a career as soon as possible.
The courses are taught by members of the dental hygiene faculty, so you can be confident that they will be up-to-date and reflect real-world practices. You will also receive clinical training at one of the many teaching hospitals in Knoxville, so that you can put what you’ve learned into practice right away.
School of Dental Hygiene, Old Dominion University
Tuition: $374 per credit hour for in-state students; $407 per credit hour for out-of-state students.
Location: Norfolk, Virginia.
Old Dominion University has an accelerated dental hygiene program that will kick your teeth into gear. It’s a rigorous, intensive program that will get you out of school and into the workforce in a matter of years.
Some pros: You get to work on real people, not just animals. You’ll learn how to treat cavities and other dental problems. And you’ll have a lot of fun with all your friends.
Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, University of the Pacific
Location: Stockton, California.
The University of the Pacific’s accelerated dental hygiene program is a good choice for students who have already completed their bachelor’s degree. The program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, and students are eligible to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination after completing all requirements.
The pros of this program include:
- Students can complete the program in less than two years.
- The curriculum is flexible, so students can choose to focus on either general dentistry or pediatric dentistry.
- Students have access to advanced technology and teaching tools
The cons of this program include:
- Many students are still working while going through school, which can be difficult if they’re also struggling with finances and time management.
- The cost is more than some other programs, but not overly expensive
Tuition: $1,200 – $1,845 per credit hour.
Location: Weston, Massachusetts.
Regis College’s accelerated dental hygiene program is perfect for students who are looking to get into the dental hygiene field quickly and efficiently.
Here are the pros:
- The curriculum is based on a year-round, four-semester model, meaning you’ll be able to finish your degree in just 18 months.
- You can choose between two different concentrations: general dental hygiene or pediatric dental hygiene.
- After completing the program, you’ll be fully qualified to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and become a licensed dental hygienist in Massachusetts.
Here are some cons:
- While Regis offers an accelerated program, it doesn’t offer any financial aid for those who need it.
- It’s dental hygiene program is quite expensive.
Accelerated Dental Assisting Academy
Tuition: $3,500 – $4,000.
Location: Multiple cities in the United States.
Accelerated Dental Assisting Academy offers accelerated dental health programs located across Louisiana. The program is private and accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. As of January 2022, tuition for this program costs $3,500 per program and lasts for 10 – 12 weeks; however, you can expect to pay more than that if you choose to live at home rather than on campus.
For students who are 18 years or older and have already completed some college coursework (or those who receive an associate’s degree before beginning their studies), this school offers an accelerated dental assisting curriculum that will help them complete their education within one year instead of two.
Prairie State College
Tuition: $27,022 for total program cost.
Location: Chicago Heights, Illinois.
Prairie State College is a great choice if you are looking for an accelerated dental hygiene program. The school offers a variety of courses that allow you to earn your degree in just two years, and it also has a dedicated staff who will help you tailor your education to meet your needs and goals.
Here are some pros of attending Prairie State College:
- The school has a very low student-to-teacher ratio, which means that you’ll get more one-on-one time with your professors. You’ll also have access to the school’s technology lab, where you can practice using dental tools and equipment.
- The classes are small enough that everyone gets plenty of attention from their instructors. The college also offers optional tutoring services if needed.
- There are opportunities for internships at local hospitals as well as volunteer work at local clinics. These experiences give students real-world experience before graduating so they can hit the ground running once they get hired as dental hygienists.
Here are some cons of attending Prairie State College:
- The program does not offer online courses at this time; therefore, it’s best suited for those who live close enough to attend on-campus full-time. This could be an issue if you live far away or have
Herzing University – Minneapolis
Tuition: $695 per credit hour.
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Herzing University’s accelerated dental hygiene program is a great option for students who are interested in pursuing a career as a dental hygienist. The school’s online classes allow students to study from anywhere, and the accelerated format means you can get your degree in just 36 months.
Herzing has been named a “Best Value School” by U.S. News & World Report, and its accelerated dental hygiene program has an average student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1, which means you’ll get plenty of one-on-one time with your instructors.
The program also features small class sizes and flexible scheduling options (including weekend classes) so it’s easy to fit college into your busy life.
School of Dentistry, University of Maryland
Location: College Park, Maryland.
The University of Maryland’s accelerated dental hygiene program is a great option for students who want to get their degrees as quickly as possible.
The pros are that the program is accelerated, so you can get your degree in two-and-a-half years instead of four.
The cons are that the program is accelerated, so you may not have time to do as much research or community service work as you would like.
The New York School for Medical & Dental Assistants
Tuition: $1,500 – $5,600.
Location: Queens, New York.
The New York School for Medical & Dental Assistants offers an accelerated dental hygiene program that allows students to complete their degrees in just 14 months.
The pros of this program are:
- Students can start earning money as dental assistants within 14 months.
- The curriculum is focused on preparing students for hands-on clinical experience.
- Students graduate with the skills they need to be successful in this industry.
The cons of this program are:
- It’s not a traditional four-year program, so it’s not as well-known as other programs that offer a longer education time frame.
Typical Requirements for Becoming a Dentist
To become a dentist, students are first required to complete high school and then attend a bachelor’s degree program. After the completion of their undergraduate studies, they will need to apply for dental school.
Once accepted into dental school, it is important that you maintain good grades because many programs require you to have at least a 3.0 GPA or higher before you can be admitted as a student.
Once in dental school, it is necessary for all students to complete an externship or two during their time there so that they can gain valuable hands-on experience working directly with patients under the supervision of licensed dentists who work at various clinics across the country.
After completing their degree programs (or before this if it is possible), students must pass both the National Board Dental Examination Parts 1 & 2 and then obtain state licensure so that they may begin practicing dentistry in America after graduation from their chosen institution(s).
Average Income of Dentists in America
While the average income of dentists in America is substantial, it’s not as much as you may think. Online reports have differing opinions on what a dentist’s average salary should be. But based on research findings, it is safe to conclude that the average annual income for a general practitioner is between $159,000 – $240,000. This figure doesn’t include the additional income from dentists who specialize in orthodontics or oral surgery, which can add up to $100,000 more per year.
Some countries have higher dental salaries than others. In Germany and Switzerland, for example, dental practitioners make roughly twice what their US-based counterparts earn each year; while in Australia and Canada they take home three times more paychecks than those working on American soil (although, still less than half what German or Swiss dentists pull down).
If you’re a student, you can enter the dental hygiene field quickly. Dental hygienists earn $40,000 per year on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s more than many college graduates with bachelor’s degrees.
Dentists are in high demand as well: The BLS estimates that there will be 968,200 new jobs for dentists by 2026—an increase of 28 percent from 2017.
And since dental schools accept only about one-third of applicants each year, competition is fierce.
Wrapping It Up
Whether you plan to become a dental hygienist or just want to help out in some other capacity, these accelerated dental hygiene programs can get you into the dental health field quickly. If you’re not sure whether these options are right for your career path, consider reaching out to some of them directly via email or phone.