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Master of Science in Dental Hygiene Degree Program

About the program

UNM offers a Master of Science in Dental Hygiene in continuation to the Bachelor Degree in Dental Hygiene. The Master of Science Degree Program in Dental Hygiene is intended to develop dental hygienists to teach, develop dental health programs in a variety of settings, conduct research and provide care as collaborative dental hygiene practitioners throughout New Mexico. 

The purpose of this program is consistent with UNM’s mission, which is to educate students by developing their intellectual and creative skills and capabilities so students may be well equipped to participate in the world as productive and enlightened individuals.

The Master of Science Degree Program In Dental Hygiene will enable the graduate-level prepared dental hygienist to:

  • Build on the knowledge gained in baccalaureate degree dental hygiene
  • Prepare and specialize in dental hygiene
  • Enhance decision-making skills by participating in graduate-level dental hygiene courses
  • Develop problem-solving skills for independent dental hygiene practice
  • Contribute to the dental hygiene scientific body of knowledge
  • Conduct research and theory development in the dental hygiene sciences
  • Expand the scope of general knowledge by participating in University elective courses
  • Provide career opportunities in alternative practice settings
  • Build a foundation for future doctoral education in related disciplines
  • Develop collegiate relationships with practicing health care professionals
  • Participate in graduate dental hygiene internship experiences in educational settings, rural areas, industry and community outreach sites.

Apply now

Application form [PDF]

To apply to the University of New Mexico, contact:
The University of New Mexico
Office of Graduate Studies
Humanities Building, Suite Room 107
Albuquerque, NM 87131
Phone: 505-277-2711

For further information and to submit a dental hygiene Master of Science in Dental Hygiene Degree in Program application, contact:

The University of New Mexico
Division of Dental Hygiene

Attn: Christine Nathe, RDH, MS, Graduate Program Director
900 Yale Blvd. NE
Albuquerque,  NM 87131 
Phone: 505-272-8147
Fax: 505-272-5584 

Application information

Formal admission to the UNM Office of Graduate Studies is an initial requirement for admission the Master of Science Degree Program in Dental Hygiene. Applications for graduate admission are available from the UNM Division of Dental Hygiene.

The Division of Dental Hygiene will recommend acceptance into the program, but final determination of admittance rests with the UNM Office of Graduate Studies.


  • Fall Semester application deadline: July 31st.
  • Spring Semester application deadline: November 30th.
  • Summer Semester application deadline: April 30th.

All applicants will be notified of their admission status. Selection will be given to qualified persons regardless of their race, color, religion, national origin, age, qualified disability or military involvement. Equal opportunity for admission is given to all qualified applicants.

The following documents must be submitted to the Division of Dental Hygiene for admittance to the program:

  1. Application to Office of Graduate Studies.
  2. Application to the Division of Dental Hygiene.
  3. Photocopy of National Dental Hygiene Board Examination results.
  4. Proof of a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene or a related field, and in the latter case, proof of having completed an accredited certificate or associate degree program in dental hygiene. Official college transcripts should be provided.
  5. Evidence of an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  6. Three letters of recommendation submitted online through Admissions.
  7. Interview with Admissions Committee.
  8. Completion of a certificate or associate’s or bachelor’s degree program in dental hygiene that has been accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and a regional accrediting agency.
  9. A copy of a current American dental hygiene license.

A $100 application fee made out to the Division of Dental Hygiene must accompany the completed application (checks or money orders only). 

Program curriculum

The Master of Science in Dental Hygiene degree program [PDF] follows a required four-semester graduate-level curriculum, which begins each year during the fall semester. Class sizes are limited to five students. This program is available exclusively online.

Fees include tuition, online course fees, housing, books and other usual school expenses. Students are responsible for transportation fees to and from externships at off-campus sites.

Course synopsis

Click on each course below to learn more.

In-depth discussion focusing on current issues facing the dental hygiene discipline. This course explores current issues facing the dental hygiene discipline and planning and implementation strategies to make changes in dental hygiene for the betterment of society. This is a problem-based course that includes both undergraduate and graduate students. Graduate students will facilitate case studies within groups of undergraduate students and ultimately report case findings. Interdisciplinary work will also be included. Students choose case study topics with approval from the course director. This course was designed in conjunction with the UNM School of Medicine's interdisciplinary courses.

Principles of management and administration in a variety of settings and in-depth discussions of ethics in dental hygiene. This course will be taught by the dental hygiene program director and cover leadership, decision-making and problem-solving skills. In addition, current theories and staff management paradigms, daily operations, administration and planning, implementation and evaluation activities will be presented. Students will be required to submit papers for publication based upon management and administrative endeavors in dental hygiene.

Theories and concepts on the teaching of dental hygiene students and presenting research to national and international audiences. Technological advances in teaching classroom, laboratory and clinical courses to be discussed. Students will prepare and present a lesson in the undergraduate program and a professional talk to their peers. This course is designed to provide graduate-level dental hygienists with the concepts of education and to develop national and international dental hygiene speakers.

Didactic and clinical course focusing on assessment, dental hygiene diagnosis, treatment plan, treatment, referral and evaluation of dental hygiene cases. Graduate-level topics in periodontology and oral pathology will be covered. The course director will work with a variety of experts who will present to the class. The didactic portion will include problem-based learning, class assignments and lecture/discussion. The clinic course will focus on dental treatment, diagnosis and evaluation of medically compromised patients.

Direct observation and supervised learning in an area of dental hygiene. Interns complete this practicum in selected sites implementing the skills acquired in DH 502. These will include sites from all over New Mexico, depending on the student’s individualized track, which may include community clinics, dental educational institutions, public health departments and agencies, hospitals, long’-term care facility, military bases and prisons. The graduate program director must approve all internships.

The theory and practice of laboratory, pre-clinical and clinical dental hygiene instruction, with emphasis on the coordination of clinical dental hygiene education. This course will consist of a didactic portion, which teaches the current theories, concepts and paradigms of clinical dental hygiene education. Students will work on assignments in the coordination and operation of a dental hygiene educational clinic. Students will study and apply concepts in student clinical advising. The clinic portion will also include hands-on teaching experience with undergraduate students.

A topical research and procedures course that can be individualized for the student. All problems topics must be approved by the graduate program director.

Dental hygiene research methodologies, with emphasis on grant writing, research proposals and research presentations. Students will cover the research approaches and types, research methodologies, biostatistics, ethics and consent issues in dental research, as well as dental research entities nationally and internationally. 

Provides a conceptual foundation of statistics related to basic, clinical, and behavioral dental hygiene science.

A graduate project that does not include the conduct of research, but does include a comprehensive review of the literature on a specific topic approved by the Division of Dental Hygiene.

Clinical and didactic course that focuses on dental hygiene theory and practice working with interdisciplinary health care workers in a variety of settings including hospital, geriatric, preschool and school children, cancer, social work and long-term facilities. Students will be supervised by the course coordinator and will work alongside dentists, physicians, nurses, faculty dental hygienists and other allied health care providers.

Continuation of research, culminating in a master's degree thesis.

Graduation requirements

  1. Satisfactory completion of all graduate courses.
  2. Students who have completed graduate-level course work (at a B level or higher) at an accredited institution other than UNM may apply for the credit(s) to be transferred.
  3. Students must maintain a 3.00 GPA or higher.
  4. Student must complete the Master's Examination and/or Thesis Requirement.
  5. All work toward a Master’s degree, including transferred coursework, must be completed within a seven-year period.
  6. Students must inform their graduate unit and the Office of Graduate Studies in writing of their intention to graduate at the end of a particular semester by submitting a "Notification of Intent to Graduate" form.
  7. Unanimous recommendation for graduation by the full-time faculty of the Division of Dental Hygiene and School of Medicine.
  8. All work must be completed for a student to "walk" at graduation.