The “pre-dental hygiene curriculum” is just a list of courses that are required for admission to a baccalaureate dental hygiene professional program. It is NOT an academic major, a minor, or an emphasis area. The list of courses we describe here meet the course requirements for many bachelor-level dental hygiene programs; however, you should consult the specific schools to which you plan to apply for any variances.
Not all dental hygiene programs offer a bachelor's degree. Many programs can be found at local community colleges and allow students to practice at the associate level. Requirements for these programs will vary by school, and it is recommended that students contact their desired community/junior college directly concerning prerequisites.
Even if you plan to apply to a dental hygiene program after taking only the courses required for admission, you must declare an academic major at USM. Many students choose a major in one of the sciences (Biological Sciences, Chemistry/Biochemistry, Physics) but other majors are acceptable including those in the humanities, social sciences, or business.
Students should select the major in which they feel the most comfortable and in which they would like to work if they are not accepted into a dental hygiene program. Application to the University of Mississippi (UMMC) Dental Hygiene program typically occurs after two years of study at USM.
There is a separate program for current licensed Dental Hygienists that are seeking a baccalaureate degree in Dental Hygiene at UMMC. This separate advanced standing program is primarily an online program, and USM does offer some of the prerequisites for this program. Please consult with the UMMC Dental Hygiene Program directly if you are already a Dental Hygienist. Beginning freshmen or sophomore students in hygiene do not pursue the advanced standing online program.
Requirements for dental hygiene programs will differ based on the school one plans to attend. There are two primary options education routes for dental hygiene, each with their own benefits.
Students attending Southern Miss are typically in search of a four-year degree. In Mississippi, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) offers a Bachelor's Degree program in dental hygiene, which students typically enter into after their sophomore year at USM. This degree route allows for potentially higher pay and more varied job opportunities when searching for employment as a hygienist. This route does, however, take a total of four years to complete (including prerequisite courses), resulting in a higher financial cost than the two-year option mentioned below.
Some students may choose to attend a junior or community college and receive an associate degree in dental hygiene. The closest community college offering such a program is Pearl River Community College at their Hattiesburg campus. This allows students to begin working in their field earlier and generally requires fewer prerequisites, though it also provides a more limited academic background and may not allow for the same opportunities as a Bachelor's program.
There is no correct answer as to which path is the "correct" path; we encourage students who are unsure of their goals to speak directly with a pre-professional advisor (contact information below) in order to determine which route is best suited to their individual needs.
The following list of Required Courses is designed to meet the prerequisites of the UMMC Bachelor-level Dental Hygiene Program. Out-of-state residents will only be admitted to the UMMC program if seats are still available after all eligible Mississippi residents have been placed.
Students should consult the specific schools to which they plan to apply (including UMMC) to verify the information listed below and account for potential future changes.
*The UMMC Dental Hygiene Program only requires one course in general biology; however, advanced biology courses require both general biology courses for enrollment.
**The UMMC Dental Hygiene Program specifies that the anatomy and physiology component of their prerequisites may be taken as sequential courses (A&P I and A&P II) or as separate courses (Human Anatomy and Human Physiology); however, the specific courses listed above are the recommended courses for this component.
***The UMMC Dental Hygiene Program specifies that only Abnormal, Adolescent, Child, Developmental, or Educational Psychology will satisfy this requirement.
Dental Hygiene programs do not admit based on course prerequisites and GPA alone. Most programs also have a series of additional requirements, including submitted ACT scores, a submitted resume, shadowing hours completed (and verified) by a dental hygienist or dentist, possible dexterity tests, and other requirements not listed.
To learn more about the application process and/or potential additional requirements for local programs, please reach out to the Pre-Professional Office, contact information below.
The suggested course sequence below is merely a guideline for timely completion of UMMC required courses. Courses to fulfill the major must be worked into the student’s schedule.
Students should consult the Bulletin, Course Catalog, and their academic advisor each semester to confirm course offerings.
a The order in which students take the introductory Biological Sciences (BSC) courses does not matter. BSC 110 covers molecular and cellular topics whereas BSC 111 covers ecology and organisms.
b Placement in mathematics (MAT) courses depends on the student’s ACT subtest score. Consult the prerequisites for the math course you plan to take.
c Placement in English Composition courses depends on the student’s ACT English subtest score. Consult your academic advisor to determine your placement level.
d “Required courses" may include courses to fulfill the major/minor, as well as those required for the Dental Hygiene program.
e The order in which students take BSC 250/L and BSC 251/L does not matter.
f Recommended Advanced Psychology courses are Abnormal Psychology (PSY 436), Adolescent Psychology (PSY 372), Child Psychology (PSY 270), Educational Psychology (PSY 374), or Developmental Psychology (PSY 275). The prerequisite for all upper level PSY courses is PSY 110.
g Additional courses can include courses to improve overall or BCPM GPA, additionally recommended courses for the desired Dental Hygiene program, or courses to fulfill the major/minor.
The application process to the UMMC Dental Hygiene Program should begin late in the Fall semester or very early in the Spring semester of the second year (February 15 deadline) for entry into the program that starts in the summer of that year. For other Dental Hygiene programs, please check with the desired school for the appropriate timeline.
Students are advised to practice their interview skills BEFORE attending their first interview. UMMC uses the Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI) process for their interviews. More information about the MMI process and its uses in the UMMC Schools of Medicine and Dentistry can be found at the UMMC website.
For interview preparation at USM you may use the online Big Interview resource. You can also sign up for mock interviews through Career Services or the Pre-Professional Office (contact information below).