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25 Best Associate Degrees in Dental Hygiene

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

Students looking for an associate degree in dental hygiene will find the 25 best schools in the country on this list. These colleges stand out from the rest with the highest median entry-level salaries for alumni. Shoreline Community College comes in first; graduates of the dental hygiene program earn a median starting salary of $76,600. Median debt was lowest for graduates of 12th ranked Tunxis Community College.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Shoreline (WA) Shoreline (WA) $7,082 $20,000 $76,600
#2 #2 Santa Rosa (CA) (and 1 other) Santa Rosa (CA) (and 1 other) $9,310 $17,342 $72,400
#3 #3 Annandale (VA) Annandale (VA) $11,648 $20,000 $69,300
#4 #4 Tulsa (OK) Tulsa (OK) $8,941 $20,655 $66,900
#5 #5 Denver (CO) Denver (CO) $16,235 $19,000 $66,800
#6 #6 Multiple Locations Multiple Locations $13,997 - $31,540 $25,250 $66,700
#7 #7 Midwest City (OK) Midwest City (OK) $11,387 Not Reported $66,300
#8 #8 Baltimore (MD) Baltimore (MD) $10,880 $18,000 $64,800
#9 #9 Visalia (CA) (and 12 others) Visalia (CA) (and 12 others) $30,175 $20,000 $64,300
#10 #10 Multiple Locations Multiple Locations $11,181 - $11,830 $32,500 $64,300
#11 #11 Wharton (TX) Wharton (TX) $5,048 Not Reported $60,300
#12 #12 Farmington (CT) Farmington (CT) $14,220 $10,000 $59,200
#13 #13 Norwalk (CA) Norwalk (CA) $10,324 $13,184 $59,100
#14 #14 Palatine (IL) Palatine (IL) $11,754 $16,094 $57,700
#15 #15 Roanoke (VA) Roanoke (VA) $11,106 $11,902 $57,500
#16 #16 Springfield (MA) Springfield (MA) $10,728 Not Reported $57,100
#17 #17 Cheyenne (WY) Cheyenne (WY) $10,913 $13,000 $56,600
#18 #18 Fort Worth (TX) Fort Worth (TX) $8,235 $18,988 $56,300
#19 #19 Fort Myers (FL) (and 3 others) Fort Myers (FL) (and 3 others) $12,979 Not Reported $56,300
#20 #20 Multiple Locations Multiple Locations $13,975 - $54,125 $27,600 $56,200
#21 #21 Overland Park (KS) Overland Park (KS) $5,472 $14,000 $56,100
#22 #22 Concord (NH) Concord (NH) $15,450 $21,000 $55,900
#23 #23 Bedford (MA) (and 1 other) Bedford (MA) (and 1 other) $12,120 $10,650 $55,500
#24 #24 Gardner (MA) (and 1 other) Gardner (MA) (and 1 other) $10,680 $21,000 $55,400
#25 #25 Middletown (NY) Middletown (NY) $11,806 $17,009 $54,800

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for a Associate in Dental Hygiene degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

Shoreline (WA)
Median Salary $76,600
Median Debt $20,000
Annual Tuition $7,082
Graduation Rate 31%

Shoreline Community College offers a comprehensive curriculum in dental hygiene. The 113-credit degree program teaches students oral care techniques used in the dental hygiene field. Coursework covers examining patients, reading and interpreting radiographs, administering local anesthesia and nitrous oxide, and filling cavities in teeth. In addition to learning practical skills, students learn about patient interaction, an integral part of a dental hygienist’s role. Education in patient interaction includes learning how to instruct and guide patients in proper techniques of oral care and hygiene.

Upon graduating, students are awarded an Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences in Dental Hygiene. This degree qualifies a graduate to pursue a career as a dental hygienist in a dental office, hospital, military facility, or nursing home. The associate degree in dental hygiene from Shoreline Community College is fully accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

Visit Shoreline Community College's website.

Santa Rosa (CA) (and 1 other)
Median Salary $72,400
Median Debt $17,342
Annual Tuition $9,310
Graduation Rate 35%
Student Reviews None (Add review)

The Dental Hygiene program at Santa Rosa Junior College is designed to educate students in both practical techniques and the essentials of patient communication and interaction. The goal of Santa Rosa’s curriculum is to graduate hygienists who are qualified and prepared to provide excellent patient experiences. The curriculum of the two-year associate degree includes coursework on the science of dental hygiene, including cleaning procedures and disease detection, in addition to instruction on educating patients on proper oral care.

Upon completion of the degree program, dental hygiene graduates are eligible to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and the California Dental Hygiene Board Examination. Since Santa Rosa’s Dental Hygiene program’s inception in 1999, 99% of students have passed the National Board exam on their first try. The college also gives students clinical experience, both in the Santa Rosa Junior College Dental Clinic and in various dental clinics throughout Sonoma County.

Visit Santa Rosa Junior College's website.

Median Salary $69,300
Median Debt $20,000
Annual Tuition $11,648
Graduation Rate 25%

Northern Virginia Community College awards its graduates an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene. In this 72-credit program, students gain a firm understanding of the theories and practices used by dental hygienists. The curriculum includes coursework in dental hygiene, oral radiography, management of dental pain and anxiety, and office practices and ethics. These courses provide students a comprehensive foundation in the practical techniques and procedures of dental care and oral hygiene in addition to patient interaction and education, an integral part of dental hygienists’ work.

Students complete this program at the Medical Education Campus in Springfield. Students also have the opportunity to intern at Northern Virginia Community College’s Dental Clinic. This clinic serves real patients and provides a wide range of dental care procedures, allowing students to gain real-world experience.

Visit Northern Virginia Community College's website.

Tulsa (OK)
Median Salary $66,900
Median Debt $20,655
Annual Tuition $8,941
Graduation Rate 15%

The dental hygiene program at Tulsa Community College is designed to prepare students to become competent dental hygienists. Completed at the Metro Campus, the dental hygiene program is an 83-credit, five-semester program with classes conducted Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The full-time, on-campus schedule immerses students in the program and encourages students to be fully engaged with their studies, peers, and professors.

The program’s curriculum includes coursework in radiography, dental hygiene pharmacology, dental pain management, community dental health, and special needs/geriatric dentistry. The dental hygiene program at Tulsa Community College is a “Work Development Program,” which is designed to ensure students are provided ample opportunity to refine their techniques through practical activities and experiences. Upon completion of the program, graduates have the skills and knowledge to join the workforce.

Visit Tulsa Community College's website.

Median Salary $66,800
Median Debt $19,000
Annual Tuition $16,235
Graduation Rate 15%

As one of only three community colleges in Colorado offering an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene, the Community College of Denver offers a comprehensive and highly regarded program in the practice. This 93-credit program, which includes all necessary prerequisites, provides education in the knowledge, practices, and skills needed to pass the qualifying licensure exams upon completion of the program. The Dental Hygiene program is fully accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, the official accrediting body of the United States Department of Education.

Students of the dental hygiene program gain medical knowledge and receive instruction in the practical skills necessary to perform the procedures of a hygienist effectively. Education in interpersonal relationships and communication is also a significant component of the curriculum, providing students with a thorough understanding of patient interaction and education. After completing the on-campus associate degree in dental hygiene, students have the opportunity to continue their education through the bachelor’s degree program in dental hygiene offered online through the Community College of Denver.

Visit the Community College of Denver's website.