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Master of Science in Dental Hygiene

Old Dominion University's School of Dental Hygiene is committed to the preparation of dental hygienists for accountable leadership roles in today's health system. Toward this end, it offers an innovative curriculum leading to the Master of Science degree with an emphasis in dental hygiene, and specialized options in education, administration/management, research, marketing and community health. Through academic courses, independent study, research and practical experience, graduate candidates are prepared to meet the present demand for dental hygiene leaders, practitioners, educators, oral health promoters, administrators/managers and researchers.



Our mission is to attract, educate and graduate women and men who are prepared intellectually, technically, inter professionally and ethically to solve the oral health care challenges of the 21st century. We are committed to excellence in education, practice, management, technologies and research. Our purpose is to create an educational environment that fosters the development of life-long learning, outstanding citizens and leaders, and oral health care professionals who can provide ethical, comprehensive, evidence-based care to diverse groups and individuals in a variety of settings. To achieve this mission, the School supports efforts for personal and professional growth of the faculty, staff and students.


The philosophy of the School of Dental Hygiene has evolved from and is consistent with the missions of the College of Health Sciences and Old Dominion University. The faculty members of the School of Dental Hygiene are committed to the philosophy that professional advancement is achieved through a strong research commitment. Through specialized research courses and faculty guidance, students develop skills in research design, data analysis and interpretation, and scientific and professional writing. The faculty accepts its primary responsibility: to provide a liberal and professional education which emphasizes excellence, relevance, and purpose, and promotes continued personal and professional advancement in an inclusive environment. The faculty views the client/patient as the central focus of the health care team with other health-related disciplines working interprofessionally to improve health. The dental hygienist makes ethical, legal, and evidence-based decisions within the scope of dental hygiene practice and communicates these decisions to the client and to other stakeholders. Through the educational process, the dental hygienist assists the consumer in identifying indicators of quality oral health care, promotes the interest of the recipient in dental health care services, and ensures the individual in his/her oral health care. Graduates of a baccalaureate program are prepared as generalists in the five roles of the dental hygienist, which has laid the foundation for graduate level education. Supplementing these functions, the master’s level dental hygienist acquires specialization in one of the areas of education, community health, administration/management, research, marketing or modeling and simulation. The faculty believes in a comprehensive approach to student development that includes: consideration of adult psychological development, encouragement of students to think independently and work within a group, appreciation of life-long learning, promotion of dental hygiene as a profession, and utilization of the interprofessional team concept. The University offers a variety of programs for student personal and professional growth, which the faculty encourages the student to pursue. Second, peer relationships significantly influence student development. The faculty offers opportunities for student-to-student, student-to-faculty, and student-to-professional practitioner interaction, which contributes to the personal, academic, and professional growth of students. Third, the faculty strives to exemplify human and liberal learning to help develop inquisitive, imaginative, compassionate, and fully actualized human beings.

Graduate competent and ethical dental hygienists who:

  • Make evidence-based decisions within the dental hygiene process of care and legal scope of practice and professional code of ethics.
  • Advance the five roles of the professional dental hygienist: clinician, educator/oral health promoter, researcher, advocate, manager.
  • Acquire specialization in one of the key areas of: education, community health, administration/management, research, marketing, or modeling and simulation.
  • Acquire initial competence in conducting interprofessional and multiprofessional oral health research.
  • Are lifelong learners, users of technology and discriminating consumers of information.
  • Employ leadership strategies for improving the oral health of people and advancing the dental hygiene profession worldwide.
  • Advance the knowledge, values, and influence of the profession.
  • Acquire a foundation for doctoral-level education.

For more general program information, click on the link on the left to the Office of Graduate studies >Master's Degrees > Dental Hygiene >Masters of Dental Hygiene

Contact for Information

Gayle B. McCombs, RDH, MS
Professor, Graduate Program Director and
Director, Dental Hygiene Research Center
G. W. Hirschfeld School of Dental Hygiene
Health Sciences Bldg #3102
4608 Hampton Blvd.
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, VA. 23529
(757) 683-5150 Work
(757) 683-5239 FAX

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training

Training in Responsible Conduct of Research at ODU

Old Dominion University has a policy of training all graduate students in the fundamentals of Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). This policy was adopted with the understanding that the knowledge and philosophy presented in the RCR training can enhance the professional development of all students, regardless of discipline. The following requirement is presented on page 57of the Graduate Catalog:

All graduate students must complete the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) seven core RCR training modules. These modules address the following: Misconduct (falsification, fabrication and plagiarism); Data acquisition, management, sharing and ownership; mentor/trainee relationship; Publication practices and responsible authorship; Peer review; Conflicts of interest; and, Collaborative research. Completion of the RCR modules will be tracked through the CITI website and must be completed within twelve months after first enrolling.

Disclaimer:These Web pages provide general information as a courtesy to viewers. The catalog of the University (General Information, The Undergraduate Catalog, and The Graduate Catalog) is the document of authority for all students. The requirements given in the catalog supersede information issued by any academic department, program, college, or school. The University reserves the right to change the requirements given in the catalog at any time.