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J Dent Hyg. 2015 Aug;89(4):210-8.

Perceptions of Dental Hygiene Master's Degree Learners About Dental Hygiene Doctoral Education.



To determine perceptions about dental hygiene doctoral education among dental hygiene master's degree program enrollees.


In this cross-sectional national study, all dental hygiene master degree program directors were sent an email requesting they forward an attached consent form and online-survey-link to their graduate learners. The 29-item online survey assessed their perceptions about need for, importance of and interest in applying to proposed dental hygiene doctoral degree programs. A second-request was sent 1 month later to capture non-responders. Frequencies and cross-tabulations of responses were analyzed using the online software program, Qualtrics.™


Of the 255 graduate learners enrolled in 2014 reported by dental hygiene program directors, 159 completed the survey for a 62% response rate. The majority of respondents (77%) indicated that doctoral education in dental hygiene is needed for the advancement of the dental hygiene discipline and such programs are important to the dental hygiene profession (89%). Although most respondents supported both the PhD in dental hygiene and the Doctor of Dental Hygiene Practice (DDHP) degrees, more were interested in applying to a DDHP program (62%) than to a dental hygiene PhD program (38%). In addition, 43% expressed interest in enrolling in a doctoral degree program in the next 1 to 5 years and most preferred a hybrid online/onsite program format. The most frequently reported reasons for pursing a doctoral degree were: to become a better teacher, to expand clinical practice opportunities, to become a better researcher and to increase salary.


Most dental hygiene master degree learners in this study believed doctoral dental hygiene education is needed and important to the dental hygiene discipline and profession, and were interested in applying to such programs. Future research is needed in this area.


dental hygiene graduate education; doctoral dental hygiene education; doctorate of dental hygiene practice; master's degree in dental hygiene

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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