Selection process

When evaluating an applicant for admissions, the Dental Hygiene Admissions Committee considers both his/her academic and non-academic qualities. In assessing an applicant's academic qualities, the committee members ask, "How likely is it that this applicant will be able to successfully complete the rigorous, science-based dental hygiene curriculum?" Answering this question begins by considering the applicant's math/science GPA and overall GPA.

As the applications are received by DHCAS, they are placed into one of three categories, or tiers, based upon the following MS GPA criteria. The minimum overall GPA is 2.5, the average overall GPA of admitted students is 3.2 or higher. All Tiers are reviewed for admissions with consideration given to other academic and non-academic factors.

 Math/science GPA
Tier I3.60 - 4.00
Tier II3.10 - 3.50
Tier III2.70 - 3.00
  • Tier I applicants contain excellent academic records based upon a MS GPA of 3.6 or higher and a strong overall GPA. At the beginning of the process, the assumption is, generally, a student with a previous record of academic excellence is more likely to successfully complete the program.
  • Tier II applicants have good academic records based upon their academic indices. In deciding whether a given Tier II application warrants further review, the academic record is thoroughly evaluated to determine if factors such as academic rigor, work responsibilities or family commitments might have contributed to a more modest performance. Applicant motivation is also evaluated.
  • Tier III applicants are those who meet the minimum required MS GPA for consideration into the program and those in which the overall GPA may or may not support a presumption of academic success.

Non-academic criteria

The fundamental question the admissions committee poses to evaluate an applicant’s non-academic qualities is, “Does the applicant possess the qualities of a good dental hygienist?” In order to answer this question, the committee considers various non-academic criteria, such as work ethic, knowledge of the profession, motivation, compassion, integrity, communication skills, leadership and desire to contribute to society.  Shadowing a dental hygienist is not required but highly encouraged.  In addition, the committee will assess an applicant’s ability to work in teams, resiliency, willingness to accept responsibility and maturity.  Please review the Dental Hygiene Program Application Review Rubric, posted under the Program Information section of the DHCAS application, on how the Dental Hygiene Admissions Committee evaluates each applicant.

Community service activity

Community service activities are viewed as an indication of an applicant’s desire to contribute to society. These activities do not need not be directly affiliated with dentistry/dental hygiene. The applicant should clearly and succinctly describe his/her level of participation in these activities.

Letters of recommendation

Each applicant should obtain two letters of recommendation – one academic (from a faculty member or adviser) and one professional (from an employer or a person you volunteered with) – to assist the admissions committee in measuring the applicant’s personal character. Individuals best chosen to complete an applicant’s evaluation are those who know the applicant well enough to provide meaningful detailed comments. In addition, evaluations should come from individuals who can evaluate and speak to the background of the applicant, to include a reflection of your leadership, teamwork and critical thinking skills. The admissions committee reserves the right to check references for verification and accuracy.

Personal statement

The personal statement portion of the application is a candidate’s opportunity to make a case as to why he or she is the best possible candidate for the dental hygiene program at VCU. It is a chance to set yourself apart from other candidates, give the application committee background information that might not otherwise be included in the application, explain special situations or circumstances that have influenced you as a person and where you see yourself in the future. The personal statement should be limited to 1000 words, double-spaced, Arial 12 font.  

Please address the following questions when writing the personal statement:

  • Who or what inspired you to become a dental hygienist?
  • Why did you choose VCU and which of your strengths will help you succeed in the dental hygiene program?
  • Where do you see yourself in the next five years?


The dental hygiene program application deadline is February 1st. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible for review.

All application materials, including transcripts from all attended institutions, the electronic copy of the letters of recommendation and personal statement must be received by the American Dental Education Association Dental Hygiene Centralized Application Service (ADEA DHCAS) by the deadline, in order for an application to be reviewed.  To ensure transcripts are received by the DHCAS office on time, it is highly recommended that they be submitted as soon as fall semester grades are posted. 

Final evaluation

After all information has been accumulated on qualified applicants, the admissions committee will meet to decide which applicants are best suited to enter the dental hygiene program. Both academic and non-academic factors will be used to reach a final decision.

Notification procedures

All candidates who have successfully submitted their application and meet the dental hygiene program’s requirements will be notified on a rolling basis. Note that the admissions committee only reviews applications that are verified by the ADEA DHCAS. All unsuccessful candidates will be notified of their status by April 30.

Final Transcripts

Only applicants who are admitted to the dental hygiene program and are enrolled in spring semester courses need to submit final academic transcripts to the Dental Hygiene Program Office as soon as possible, prior to enrollment. All others do not need to submit transcripts directly to VCU or the Dental Hygiene Program.

Reapplying through DHCAS

Unsuccessful applicants who wish to be considered for the following year must apply again through the ADEA DHCAS and resubmit all application materials including transcripts. Data from the previous application is not carried over to the new application cycle.

Advanced placement policy

Each dental hygiene program is unique with regard to sequencing of courses and program requirements. Because of this, it is extremely difficult to award advanced placement for coursework from dental hygiene or dental programs while maintaining the appropriate sequencing essential for student learning and preparation for graduation and board examinations. Such a delicate decision requires in-depth evaluation of previous coursework and its transferability into our program. Advanced placement students are considered for admissions on a space available basis.

Foreign education

Any prospective student who has attended a foreign university or other institution of post-secondary-level education outside the United States will be required to complete the entire dental hygiene education curriculum in the United States at an accredited college or university. No coursework or degree, including dental or dental hygiene training, completed abroad will exempt a student from any of the dental hygiene education coursework. Additionally, the university must receive complete official records of study (transcripts) from each foreign and United States institution as part of the review process.