Dental Hygiene

Certificate Program | Baccalaureate Degree Completion Program | Admission Requirements | Application Procedures
Projected Costs | Student Loan/Scholarships | Curriculum/Course Descriptions | Community Service | Big/Little Program
Dental Hygiene Directory | White Coat Ceremony | FAQ

Dental Hygiene Program
50th Anniversary Celebration



Student reflections: (Why I chose University of Pittsburgh, Dental Hygiene Program)

The University of Pittsburgh Dental Hygiene Program Offers a Certificate Program with a Baccalaureate Degree Completion Option.

Certificate Program

The Dental Hygiene Certificate Program is a two-year, six-term course of study that provides a broad range of education and experience.  The Dental Hygiene Program provides a comprehensive education in health sciences and clinical dental hygiene for men and women of all ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds.  It is the only dental hygiene program in the state of Pennsylvania that is located within a dental school as part of a major research university and medical center.  In addition to the certificate program, the baccalaureate completion option opens the doors to the possibilities beyond those traditionally available for dental hygienists. 

The Dental Hygiene Program provides dental hygiene services for patients of The School of Dental Medicine. The dental hygiene students along with experienced faculty provide valuable dental hygiene services to patients such as, but not limited to, oral prophylaxis, periodontal scaling, application of dental sealants and topical fluoride, patient education, and nutritional analysis.

Treatment Available at the School of Dental Medicine


Student placing dental sealants.

The dental hygiene students rotate among specialty clinics within the School of Dental Medicine, as well as external to the school.

Internal Rotations

Center for Patients with Special Needs

The Dental Hygiene Program at the University of Pittsburgh provides a unique environment that offers multidisciplinary educational experiences in special needs dentistry. These experiences prepare students for the private practice environment.

Radiology Department

Students expose digital radiographs on patients referred by departments within the School of Dental Medicine.  These radiographs may include bitewings, full mouth series, and panoramic radiographs.

Department of Pediatric Dentistry

Students assist with procedures on pediatric patients and provide fluoride treatments and oral hygiene instructions.  Students work as team members with dental students and pediatric dentists. 

Department of Periodontology

Students assist periodontal residents with surgical procedures and perform periodontal scalings. Students administer local anesthesia when needed.  

AEGD (Advanced Education in General Dentistry)

Students assist with restorative procedures and perform oral hygiene services.



In December 2009, legislation was passed to allow the administration of local anesthesia by licensed dental hygienists in Pennsylvania.  Our students were the first in the state of Pennsylvania to take advantage of this exciting, new opportunity. 

Center for Dental Implants

Students may rotate through this department to observe implant placement procedures to enrich their understanding of care of patients considering and presenting for oral hygiene services.

External Rotations

Montefiore Hospital

Students provide oral hygiene services in an outpatient environment under the direct supervision of site faculty and supervisors.

Children’s Hospital

Students join the team of dental hygienists and a pediatric dentist for provision of preventive services to pediatric patients.  Students assist with as well as perform oral prophylaxis on patients ages 12 months to 21 years of age.  

Veterans Administration Hospital

Students provide oral hygiene services to veterans in an outpatient hospital setting.

Allegheny County Health Department:

  • Fluoride Varnish

Students travel to local elementary schools with the Allegheny County Health Department Dental Team to provide classroom education and assist in the application of fluoride varnish on students’ teeth.

  • Maxi Molar

Students travel to local elementary and middle schools with the Allegheny County Health Department Dental Team to educate 2nd and 6th graders in Allegheny County about the value of dental sealants. Classroom education includes PowerPoint presentation and demonstration with student interaction. A life size mascot of a molar, “Maxi Molar” is worn by the students.

Baccalaureate Degree Completion Program

The University of Pittsburgh Baccalaureate Degree Completion Program in Dental Hygiene is designed for students who previously have completed a certificate or associate degree in dental hygiene.  Advanced course offerings from the Dental Hygiene Program and College of General Studies prepare graduates to meet the rapidly changing oral health care environment.  Specific areas of concentration such as dental hygiene education, research, and health management prepare graduates to assume leadership positions in a variety of health care settings.  The program also provides and firm foundation for those desiring to pursue graduate studies. 

A distinct advantage of the Bachelor of Science in dental hygiene is that following receipt of a certificate in dental hygiene, a hygienist may practice his or her profession while completing the requirements for the bachelor's degree.  Classes are available in the evening, during the day on Saturday, and through on-line and external studies that require only three Saturday workshops accompanied by specially-developed course materials.  Attendance can be on a full-time or part-time basis.  The program adheres to a rolling admissions policy. 

For current students interested in pursuing the bachelor's degree completion option, it is recommended to meet with the program director, Ms. Riccelli, before the summer session of your 1st year.  For dental hygiene graduates, class schedules can be tailored to work schedules. 

The BS degree completion program options include a focus in one of the following upper level dental hygiene courses:

  • Health Care Management/Administration
    • Work in dental sales
    • Manage or own dental services
    • Consult for insurance companies
  • Education
    • Teach at an accredited dental hygiene program
    • Present continuing education seminars
  • Research
    • Conduct research; analyze data
    • Assist in authoring and publishing research articles



For a list of required credits and courses please visit: -hygiene-bs (more information about expanded dental hygiene careers)

For Alumni:

1) Individuals who graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine as of 1996 can apply for 82 credits following their Dental Hygiene Program toward the 120 credits required for the Bachelor of Science degree.


2) Individuals who graduated from the University of Pittsburgh Dental Hygiene Program in 1995 or earlier, or from any other college or university, can transfer many of their professional and liberal arts credits toward a bachelor's degree. The number of credits transferred is determined by an individual review of the each applicant's academic credentials. Interested individuals should contact the Director of Dental Hygiene at 412-648-8432.

Admission Requirements:

Admission into the Dental Hygiene Certificate Program requires the following:

  • High School diploma or GED equivalency
  • Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT I) scores.  Individuals must achieve a combined score of 1100 or greater on the critical reading (verbal) and the quantitative (math) sections.  An ACT Composite score of 24 or higher can be substituted for the SAT.   In lieu of a minimum SAT I Score of 1100, the Program will accept 24 post-secondary college credits with a minimum QPA of 3.0.  This must include College Algebra or Trigonometry with a grade "B" or above. Intermediate Algebra is accepted.
  • High school or post-secondary chemistry with a lab component, with a minimum grade of "B" (84%).
  • High school or post-secondary biology course, with optional lab, with minimum grade of "B" (84%). 
  • High School QPA of 3.0 or above.
  • Minimum combined QPA of 3.0 at all post secondary academic institutions attended.
  • College level English Composition and Introduction to Sociology courses must be completed with a grade of "B" or better.  It is strongly recommended that these courses be completed prior to entry into the program.
  • Results from personal interview with Admissions Committee.
  • Results from written interview questions.
  • Results from a minimum of three professional or academic references (ie: teachers, employers, guidance counselors, etc.).
  • Applicant Essay.
  • Successful completion of the TOEFL iBT with a score of 100 or above is required for students for whom English is a second language.
  • Completed application packet or on-line application.
  • Completion of HBV series and Mantoux test
  • CPR certification (completed at orientation)

                              The criteria are not weighted

Admission into the Baccalaureate Degree Completion Program requires the following:

  • Successful completion of a program in Dental Hygiene accredited by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation and submission of official copy of a Dental Hygiene Program transcript as well as transcripts from all other colleges attended
  • Licensure to practice dental hygiene in at least one state or be eligible for licensure in PA
  • CPR certification
  • Completion of HBV series and Mantoux test
  • National Dental Hygiene Board Examination score
  • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. An average of B or above is usually necessary for admission.
  • Completion of a Bachelor Degree Completion Program application and payment of a $45.00 non-refundable fee.

Application Procedure for BS Completion Program:

  •  Contact: Director, Dental Hygiene Program, School of Dental  Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, B-82 Salk Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15261-1937. (412)-648-8432.

Requirements are subject to change.

Application Procedures for Certificate Program


1. Electronic submission requires completion of both the University of Pittsburgh Admissions Data application and the Dental Hygiene Program electronic application:
University of Pittsburgh Admissions Data Form
Dental Hygiene Program Electronic application

2. Print out all forms and submit by mail to:

Director, Dental Hygiene Program
University of Pittsburgh
School of Dental Medicine
3501 Terrace Street
B-82 Salk Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

University of Pittsburgh Admissions Data Form
Dental Hygiene Program Application
Professional Reference Forms (Print out three)

3. Call (412) 648-8432 for an application package to be sent to you.

Your application is considered complete for review and will be sent to the Admissions Committee when we have received the following items:

1.   Four-page Dental Hygiene Application (includes personal essay).

2.   University of Pittsburgh Admissions Data Form.

3.   $ 45.00 application fee in check or money order made payable     

      to the "University of Pittsburgh" (non-refundable and subject to   

      change).  Please note that current University of Pittsburgh students  

      are not required to pay the application fee.

4.   Official transcripts from all high school and post-secondary   

      institutions attended.

5.   SAT I or ACT scores.

6.   Three completed Professional Reference forms.

Once the Admissions Committee has reviewed your completed application, and if you meet the minimum criteria for admission into the program, you will be invited for a personal interview.  Personal interviews are conducted during the Applicant Seminars, which are offered in late fall and early spring.  Out of state applicants may be eligible for phone interviews.

Application Deadline

The University of Pittsburgh Dental Hygiene Program practices a rolling admissions policy, which means that we do not hold to a specific deadline by which applicants must apply.  Please note that the program admits one class (36 students) per academic year beginning in the fall term.  Therefore, it is recommended highly that those seeking admission into the program apply early. 

November 1st     Early admissions review for Fall Applicant Seminar

February 1st       Secondary admissions review for Spring Applicant Seminar   

Projected Costs 2013-2014

Pennsylvania Residents: $7,889.00 per trimester
  $23,667.00 per year
Out-of-State Residents: $13,060.00 per trimester
  $39,180.00 per year
Mandatory Wellness Fee:  $85.00 per term
Mandatory Student Activity Fee: $80.00 per term
Mandatory Security and Transportation Fee: $90.00 per term
Mandatory Computer Network Service Fee: $175.00 per term


University Housing Services:  Dormitory rates are available at You may also contact a Pitt Housing Representative at (412) 648-1100.

Resident Meal Plans:  (2013-2014)

More information is available at


Matriculation Fees  
Mandatory Hepatitis B Inoculation  
to be initiated by student: Fee established by provider
Mantoux Test Fee established by provider
Background check Fee established by provider

**Proper documentation must be submitted to the program prior to the first day of class.


Program Expense:

Books: approximately $   1,000.00 per year

Uniforms: approximately $   300.00

Supplemental Instrument Kit*: $2,552.00

* (Includes Instrument Management Fee— Fall Term Invoice)

Dental Hygiene Computerized National Board Examination: $390.00

Northeast Regional Board Examination: $975.00



Students are required to complete a series of HBV and mantoux test prior to admission into the program in order to prevent disease transmission. Since dental hygiene is a health care profession, students should be aware that they may come into contact with some blood borne pathogens.

Bloodborne Pathogens

Bloodborne pathogens are pathogenic microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans.  These pathogens include but are not limited to Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).  Students work with sharp instruments and needles and need to practice universal precautions in order to prevent disease transmission from patient to operator and operator to patient.  Students should be aware that they may come in contact with these pathogens, but by adhering to universal standard precautions the risk of transmitting these pathogens is significantly reduced.

Info from OSHA

Student Loan/Scholarships
The American Dental Association Endowment and Assistance Fund

  • $1000.00 Scholarship;
  • Maximum of two awards given per school;
  • Based on financial need of $1000.00 and a minimum QPA of 3.0;
  • Available to second year dental hygiene students only.

American Dental Hygiene Association Oral Health Institute Scholarship Program

  • Awarded to students who have completed a minimum of one year in dental hygiene curriculum;
  • Based on a minimum QPA of 3.0 and financial need;
  • Must be a full-time student.

Hispanic Dental Association/Procter & Gamble Oral Care Scholarship Program

  • Entry-level Hispanic U. S. students;
  • $500.00 and $1000.00 scholarships;
  • Based on scholastic achievement, community service, leadership skills, and commitment to improving health in the Hispanic community.

The Chi Rho Chapter of Sigma Phi Alpha Scholarship

One $300.00 scholarship presented to the student having the highest QPA after the completion of two semesters in the Dental Hygiene program.

The Diane Mowry Scholarship Fund (Check with Amanda Kudro)

  • One scholarship of $500.00 will be awarded by the Western Pennsylvania Dental Hygienists' Association.
  • Based on financial need and a minimum college QPA of 3.0 after two semesters of Dental Hygiene studies.

Western Pennsylvania Dental Hygienists' Association Loan

  • Enrolled in the final year of a dental hygiene program;
  • Two low-interest loans of $1000.00 each will be awarded;
  • Based on financial need and a minimum QPA of 3.0 after two semesters;
  • Current SADHA member.

The Margaret Bailey Loan

  • Offered by the Pennsylvania Dental Hygienists' Association to a Pennsylvania resident student who has completed the first year of a dental hygiene program;
  • $1000.00 to one student or $500.00 to two;
  • Based on college QPA and financial need;
  • Current SADHA member.

The Clark J. Hollister Loan

  • Offered by the Pennsylvania Dental Hygienists' Association to a Pennsylvania resident enrolled in a post-entry level degree or graduate completion program;
  • $600.00 interest-free loan;
  • Based on college QPA.

The University of Pittsburgh Merit Scholarship

  • Scholarship based on QPA of 3.75 and above;
  • Must submit letter of intent to the financial aid office of the University of Pittsburgh;
  • Maximum of $500.00 per term.

Curriculum for Certificate Program

First Term Credits Faculty
Biological Sciences 1 3.0 Vergona
Intro to Dental Hygiene 3.0 Bezak
Intro to Dentistry 3.0 Riccelli
Dental Anatomy 2.0 Folino Gallo
Dental Hygiene Practicum 2.0 Mahan
Survey of Chemistry/Biochemistry/Nutrition 5.0 Etzel
Second Term Credits Faculty
Principles of Microbiology/Lab/Recitation 5.0 Marvit
Biological Sciences 2 3.0 Vergona
Communication 3.0 Shuster
Radiology 2.0 Ball
Dental Hygiene Seminar 1 1.0 Mahan
Dental Materials 2.0 Folino Gallo
Dental Hygiene Clinic 1 2.0 Mahan
Third Term Credits Faculty
Introduction to Clinical Periodontics 3.0 Seyedain
General & Oral Pathology 3.0 Bilodeau
Biological Sciences 3 3.0 Vergona
Anesthesiology for the Dental Hygienist 2.0



Folino Gallo

Radiology 2 1.0 Ball
Dental Hygiene Seminar 2 1.0 Mahan
Dental Hygiene Clinic 2 3.0 Mahan
Fourth Term Credits Faculty
Pharmacology 2.0 TBA
Public Health Dentistry 3.0 Green
Dental Hygiene Seminar 3 1.0 Ambrosino
Dental Hygiene Clinic 3 4.0 Ambrosino
Ethics for the Health Care Professional 3.0 Ball
Special Needs Dentistry 1.0 Taiclet/Riccelli
Health Promotions Through the Lifespan 3.0 Frediani
Fifth Term Credits Faculty
Introduction to Research Analysis 3.0 Wicks
Dental Health Education, Methods and Practicum 4.0 Green
Dental Hygiene Seminar 4 1.0 Ambrosino/Riccelli
Dental Hygiene Clinic 4 5.0 Ambrosino
Sixth Term Credits Faculty
Basic Psychology 3.0 TBA
Advanced Clinic Dental Hygiene Practice 2.0 Ambrosino
Advanced Dental Hygiene Practicum 0.0 Riccelli

Total Credits - 87.0

Click for Detailed Course Descriptions 

Curriculum for Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene

Community Service

The dental hygiene students actively participate in multiple community health fairs. Below is an illustration of students working together to promote oral health for patients with diabetes at the Pittsburgh Diabetes Health Expo.


Students educate local elementary and high school students on various age-appropriate oral health topics

Big/Little Program

Incoming 1st year dental hygiene students are welcomed into the program by being paired with a 2nd year dental hygiene student.  This is known as our Big Sister, Little Sister/ Big Brother, Little Brother program.  The 2nd year students are available to offer help, make suggestions and recommendations, and be someone to talk to when any questions arise.  This creates a strong connection between the 1st and 2nd year dental hygiene classes. 


Dental Hygiene Directory

Director, Dental Hygiene Program

Angelina Riccelli
University of Pittsburgh
School of Dental Medicine
B-82 Salk Hall
Pittsburgh, PA  15261-1937
(412) 648-8432
(412)383-8737 FAX

Degree Completion Program
College of General Studies
University of Pittsburgh
407 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 1 5260
(412) 624-6600

Scholarship Information
211 E. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL  60611
(312) 440-8900

Parking and Transportation
Ground Floor, Forbes Pavilion
3525 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(412) 624-8800

White Coat Ceremony 2013

On August 26, 2013, predoctoral and dental hygiene students will begin their studies at the School of Dental Medicine. During the annual White Coat Ceremony, which will be held on that day, the students will receive their first white coats signifying entry into the profession.

Date:           August 26, 2013
Start Time:  3:00 p.m.
End Time:    4:30 p.m.

Location:     Scaife Hall, Rooms 5 & 6

^Click for live streaming video of the White Coat Ceremony

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the Dental Hygiene Program?
The program is a 5 term program. A term, or semester, is 15 weeks. Students attend school year round, five days a week.

There are 3 terms the first year- Fall, Spring, and Summer, and 2 ½ terms the second year- Fall, Spring, and a 6 week summer session.

What is the tuition for the Dental Hygiene Program?
Undergraduate tuition is currently $7,889.00 per term for Pennsylvania residents and $13,060.00 per term for out-of-state students.

Is there housing available?
Housing arrangements are made through the University of Pittsburgh Housing Office.

When can I start the Dental Hygiene Program?
A class of 36 is accepted every fall term. The Dental Hygiene Program follows the University of Pittsburgh undergraduate calendar.

What classes should I take in high school to prepare for the Dental Hygiene Program?
Students are required to successfully complete high school chemistry and biology, with a laboratory, earning a grade of "B" or better. It is recommended that students take honors or advanced placement courses prior to entering the program. 

What tests should I take before applying for the Dental Hygiene Program?
SAT I with a minimum score of 1100 must be achieved or an ACT composite score of 24.

What college classes are prerequisite for the Dental Hygiene Program?
Applicants are required to successfully complete college level English composition and an Introduction to Sociology course.