Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



School of Dentistry


Not Listed

Committee Chair

Alcinda Trickett Shockey

Committee Member

Ashlee Sowards

Committee Member

R. Constance Wiener


The entry level for the dental hygiene profession has, historically been an associate degree. In 2016 the American Dental Hygiene Association (ADHA) approved the Bachelor’s Degree level of education as the preferred for entry level degree. This study is to determine practicing West Virginia dentists preference for the education level of their entry-level dental hygiene employees. There were 1020 surveys electronically distributed to practicing WV dentists to obtain their opinions and preferences. WVU Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) was used to determine response percentages and Chi-square statistics were used to compare 2017 to 2019 response rates. Between 2016-2017 and 2018-2019, there was a statistical significant difference in dentist’s preference to hire 4-year over 2-year graduates (Chi Square, 5.090, P=.032); however additional pay or the perception of greater knowledge relating to 4-year graduates vs. 2-year graduates failed to reach significance (Chi Square, 0.174; P=.750; Chi Square, 0.368; P=.601, respectively). Dentists in West Virginia do not prefer 4-year vs. 2-year dental hygiene graduates for entry level positions; however, comparing 2016-2017, and 2018-2019, there was a trend for greater preference to hire 4-year vs. 2-year graduates. Proven by this study, there is not financial gain from obtaining the higher degree. For aspiring dental hygiene students who wish to go into other aspects of dental hygiene such as corporate, research and government sectors, a 4-year degree would be the ideal academic path.