Master's program gives dental hygiene students more options

New MSc in dental hygiene is the first of its kind in Canada.

14 April 2014

On the heels of a successful accreditation review, the University of Alberta's dental hygiene program is leading the way in education with a new master of science degree. The master's program-the first of its kind in Canada-gives U of A students even more options in addition to the diploma and degree programs already offered in the dental hygiene program.

The dental hygiene program recently underwent an accreditation review by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada. The commission is responsible for accrediting dental, dental specialty, dental residency, dental hygiene and dental assisting education programs in Canada.

Accreditation is the public recognition awarded to universities and academic programs that meet established criteria and educational standards, and it occurs every seven years. In simple terms, it is a peer review of the dental hygiene program.

"The news of the approved MSc degree program couldn't have come at a better time," said Sharon Compton, director of the dental hygiene program. "Our accreditation review went very well, and now this-my entire faculty are elated over what we've been able to achieve."

The thesis-based master's program has no prescribed courses, but will give students flexibility in deciding on the area they want to pursue and choosing courses accordingly. Providing flexibility for individualizing the master's degree can help broaden students' academic and professional career scope.

Before students are accepted into the master's program, they need to secure a research supervisor from within the School of Dentistry.

The supervisor will then work with the student to select courses. Course work is interdisciplinary, and students have access to courses from other faculties and departments such as rehabilitation medicine, interdisciplinary studies and public health sciences.

"I am very proud of Sharon and her team," said Paul Major, chair of the School of Dentistry. "They run an exceptional academic program, which continues to lead the evolution of dental hygiene education in Canada."

"For over 50 years, the dental hygiene program has had a reputation for excellence," said D. Douglas Miller, dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. "Additional programs, such as the establishment of the MSc program, will serve to enhance our teaching mission."