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The Ins and Outs of Accreditation

At this time, O'Hehir University is not accredited. In the USA, there are two types of accreditation: specialty and regional. Specialty accreditation applies to professional programs that lead to a license, such as medicine, dentistry, dental hygiene and law. Regional accreditation applies to the institution itself, not specific programs within those universities. 

In dentistry and dental hygiene specialty accreditation is controlled by the American Dental Association through their Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Dental hygienists are the only licensed health professional whose education is controlled by another professional, the dentist. Other health professions like nursing, speech pathology, audiology and physical therapy control their own education and their appropriate entry level to practice.

Dentistry does not view dental hygiene as an autonomous profession. They see dental hygiene as a supervised auxiliary. Under accreditation by CODA, entry level to practice must be held at an associates degree level, no matter what the curriculum content. The ADA encourages the ADHA to participate in the revision of the standards for accreditation by adding additional courses and clinical requirements. Thus, the associate level dental hygienist actuallycompletes more credit hours than are needed for a bachelor’s degree, but only receives an associate degree. That is CODA Accreditation. Dental Hygienists complete the equivalent of five years of college (two years of prerequisites and three years of dental hygiene squeezed into two years - 150 contact credit hours) all for an associate’s degree! And these programs are “accredited.”

The primary reason for regional accreditation is money. Regional accreditation allows for participation in the Federal Student Loan Program and the Pell Grant Program. Without regional accreditation, students have no access to federally funded student loans. Regional accreditation is also said to ensure the quality of education, but that accreditation process asks only if the goals set by the school were met. No outcomes are measured that would equate to quality. This type of accreditation is restricted to brick and mortar institutions, with no strictly online educational institutions being eligible to even apply. Regional accreditation is a closed system by which the accredited schools accredit each other. If you are not like all the other schools - brick and mortar - you are not welcome in their cartel.

Congress recommended changes to accreditation, since today it is a closed system that locks out innovative educational approaches that show desirable outcomes, like learning, employability or student debt repayment. Regional accreditation doesn’t have to account for learning outcomes, graduation rates, employment or debt repayment. 

Degree completion programs for dental hygienists are not individually accredited. Most are simply part of a regionally accredited, brick and mortar institution and are therefore never evaluated for learning outcomes or graduation rates.

O’Hehir University (OHU) will remain a strictly online institution, accepting all credits from dental hygienists and offering a reasonably priced degree completion program. OHU is not pursuing regional accreditation, which requires the increased expense of buildings, libraries, parking lots, etc. OHU will continue to work with graduates as they apply to master’s degree programs to challenge the accreditation requirement by showing that the OHU Bachelor of Science Degree in Oral Health Promotion is equivalent to degrees earned through brick and mortar schools and their online programs.


OHU recognizes all the credits earned by Associate Degree or Diploma dental hygienists.  Many dental hygienists complete four or more years of college to receive only an associate's degree.  Into those years are often squeezed more courses than average college students are required to complete.  Dental Hygiene education should have granted a BS Degree many decades ago, but instead, courses were devalued and credit reduced.  In many cases, associate degree dental hygienists are less than one semester shy of what is required for a BS Degree in Dental Hygiene. 

OHU provides an inquiry-based approach to oral health promotion, together with an Action Research experience.  The online video class meetings allow for live conversations between students which add to the learning environment.

O’Hehir University

Bachelor of Science Degree in Oral Health Promotion



The O’Hehir University Bachelor of Science Degree in Oral Health Promotion is open to all licensed/registered dental hygienists, internationally.  All previous credits earned are accepted and applied toward completion of this BS/BSc Degree.  Each class/cohort of approximately four to seven students meets regularly over the six months using online video conferencing software.  OHU has an online community, libraries, and classrooms for O’Hehir University.   Students are expected to attend all class meetings, upload written assignments to their personal online page, and engage in discussions during class meetings.  

The following courses are completed by each student with a cohort of four to seven students over the six-month program.


OHU 450  Reflective Practice, 3 credits

The effectiveness of current oral hygiene instructions and outcomes are observed within current dental hygiene practice.  The outcomes of traditional practice are critically analyzed and success rates determined.  Alternative approaches to oral health promotion are presented and discussed. The textbook for this OHU 450 and OHU 460 is:  Reflective Writing Pocket Study Skills by Williams, Woolliams, and Spiro. 

OHU 460  Reflective Writing, 3 credits

Weekly student reflections are posted on their personal online page within the online classroom.  Reflective paragraphs relate to the state of oral health they encounter within their daily practice/life.  Reflections are discussed during class to cover all sides of the situation, seeking feedback from classmates.    


OHU 470  Oral Health Promotion, 4 credits

Students evaluate the oral health of those around them, family, friends, colleagues and/or patients/clients, delving into the concept of disease prevention and beliefs held by professionals and consumers about oral health.  A personal philosophy of oral health promotion is developed by each student through the completion of a SWOT Analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) relating to oral health and their career.       


OHU 480  Health Behavior Change, 8 credits

Students investigate patient’s values and goals and work with them individually to jointly create a personal oral health program the patient commits to follow.  Outcomes are measured to determine the behavior change achieved and the impact on oral health.  The textbook for this is Health Behavior Change in the Dental Practice, by Ramseier and Suvan. 


OHU 490  Thesis:  Action Research Project  12 credits

Identification of a significant problem that contributes to oral disease.  Development of an Action Research Question which identifies what the clinician will change in their interaction with patients to achieve better oral health.   A clinical research plan is created to test the Action Research Question.  The plan is implemented and the project completed.  A 3,500-5,000 word thesis will include:  Abstract, Action Research Question, Introduction, Methodology, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, and Clinical Relevance.   The thesis is graded by students in an online peer assessment software program.  The textbook for this is 100 Questions about Action Research by Duesbery and Twyman.



The Next Generation of You.™ The aim of O'Hehir University is to recognize the academic and clinical accomplishments of licensed dental hygienists by providing a path to degree completion that enhances their success as clinicians. O'Hehir University supports and encourages its degree completion students to continue their education with post-graduate degree work.



Allowing dental hygienists to think differently about their role as oral health specialists will achieve different results, leading to optimal oral health. O'Hehir University sees the potential, promise and passion in each student to become a catalyst for change in the Oral Health Industry. By positively and significantly impacting the careers of Dental Hygienists worldwide, O'Hehir University leads the way in discovering innovations and best practices necessary for preventive care to successfully end dental disease.

O’Hehir University is founded on the principles of self-directed, reflective, inquiry learning with each student contributing to the dental hygiene body of knowledge with their Action Research Project. Each student completes a SWOT Analysis of both the state of oral health today and their professional career. This information provides a foundation for developing their degree project.


Action Research Projects are designed to enhance the career development of the student in his or her role as an Oral Health Specialist. See the Action Research Library for Projects completed by O'Hehir University graduates.


Action Research Library