Pre-Professional Program Pre-Dental Hygiene

A dental hygienist working with a patient

Pre-Dental Hygiene Pre-Professional Program Overview

Dental hygienists work with dentists to help people improve and maintain good oral health. They educate patients about oral health and provide services such as teeth cleaning, plaque removal, and preventative dental care. Dental hygienists are licensed health care professionals.

Pre-dental hygiene students at PSU complete a set of prerequisite courses designed to fulfill admission requirements for Bachelor of Science or an Associate of Sciences degree in Dental Hygiene (DH) programs at other institutions.

Pre-dental hygiene is a professional track (not a major) for students aiming to complete prerequisite courses before applying to dental hygiene programs. Most pre-DH students attend PSU for 2-3 years working on prerequisites with the goal of applying for acceptance into a dental hygiene program elsewhere. Prospective students interested in PSU can meet with a pre-dental hygiene advisor to learn about the pre-DH track.

Degree Details

  • PPT
    Pre-Professional Track
    On campus
    Total Credits
    Start Term

Pre-Dental Hygiene Pre-Professional Program: Why PSU?

PSU has dedicated pre-health advisors to help students plan their coursework, support them in gaining relevant healthcare experience, and guide them through the process of applying to dental hygiene programs.

Admission to Dental Hygiene programs is limited and competitive. PSU students can complete the prerequisite courses to apply to either Bachelor of Science (BS) or Associate of Sciences degrees in Dental Hygiene. Area programs include a Bachelors's program at Pacific University and Oregon Institute of Technology or Associates programs at Mt. Hood Community College, Lane Community College, and Portland Community College. Once admitted to Dental Hygiene programs at other institutions, students often need to complete two additional years of coursework to earn the Dental Hygiene degree.

There are a very wide range of clinical and other volunteer opportunities available in the Portland area to help students better understand the role of different healthcare providers, gain exposure to different clinical settings, and boost their application to DH programs in the future.

Many of Portland State’s departments and schools offer student research opportunities, including Biology, Chemistry, and the School of Public Health.

PSU has the Ignite Scholarship program, developed in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente and Portland Leadership Foundation, which emphasizes a culture of support and community for students in healthcare career pathways that can sometimes be complex and overwhelming. Students who receive the Ignite scholarship will be part of a program emphasizing leadership and mentorship (supported by a $5,000 scholarship), which includes serving as mentors for incoming pre-health students.

Incoming pre-health students seeking mentorship can apply to be matched with PSU's Ignite mentors. This is a nine-month commitment (fall, winter, and spring terms) for mentors and mentees.

Student organizations on campus help students to connect with peers pursuing pre-health tracks or science fields, as well as many different multicultural, social, and community involvement focused groups. Examples of student groups include the Health Promotion Student Organization, Portland State Women in STEM, Science Outreach Society, Biology Investigation and Outreach, and the Neuroscience Club at PSU.

What can I do after completing the Pre-Dental Hygiene Track?

Students who complete this program go on to dental hygiene programs, become dental hygienists, or into other healthcare fields.

Featured Courses

  • PHE 363 Communicable and Chronic Disease
  • PHY 337 Physics in Biomedicine
  • PHE 452 Gender, Race, Class, & Health
  • PHL 446 Biomedical Ethics
  • SOC 250 Sociology for the Health Sciences


Pre-Dental Hygiene is a professional track, not a major. Students can select any major of their choice.


Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).