Adams School of Dentistry: Dental Hygiene Academic Policies


Adams School of Dentistry: Dental Hygiene Academic Policies

Unit Policy


Dental Hygiene Students (DH1, DH2)

Academic Advising

The Undergraduate Dental Hygiene Program in the Adams School of Dentistry ("ASOD") regularly monitors and assesses each student's academic performance and progression enrolled in the program. Upon entry, each class/student is assigned an Academic Advisor who will monitor the student’s progress towards degree completion. While students must have an initial meeting with their advisor upon entering the program, additional meetings may be recommended depending on specific student needs.

Academic Advisor roles and responsibilities include:

  • Onboarding first-year students,
  • Semester Check-ins (Review course updates),
  • Graduation preparation,
  • Drop/Add Courses,
  • Overload/Underload,
  • Withdrawal,
  • Connection to resources at the ASOD and/or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("UNC-Chapel Hill" or "University"), and
  • Dental Hygiene Honor’s Program confirmation.

Dental Hygiene Courses

Students may expect to receive a Dental Hygiene degree by fulfilling all the requirements of the general education, prerequisites, and dental hygiene curriculum. The Dental Hygiene Curriculum includes all core and elective pathway courses.


Course directors are responsible for evaluating and grading students. The individual faculty member's method for assigning course grades will be determined per the course syllabus. Pluses and minuses will be used following the University's undergraduate grading policy for final grades. Faculty members must publish grading scales in each course syllabus.

Grading Scale for Undergraduate Dental Hygiene Courses:

  • A: 95-100
  • A-: 93-94
  • B+: 91-92
  • B: 88-90
  • B-: 86-87
  • C+: 84-85
  • C: 81-83
  • C-: 79-80
  • D+: 77-78
  • D: 72-76
  • F: <71

Academic Eligibility Regulations

There are four levels of academic status within the Dental Hygiene Program: good standing, warning, probation, and dismissal.

The academic status of a student is assessed according to four (4) standards of academic progress:

  1. Cumulative Grade Point Average
    1. Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher.
  2. Semester Grade Point Average
    1. Students must maintain a semester GPA of 2.0 or higher.
  3. Course Completion
    1. Students must successfully complete courses with a grade of C- or higher.
  4. Clinical Development
    1. Students must demonstrate compliance with clinical skills and safety requirements.

Students who meet all four of these standards at the end of an enrolled term will have an academic status of good standing.

The status of warning can be applied to any student at the end of their first term in the program or beginning of any subsequent semesters if any of the following criteria occur:

  • A cumulative GPA range of 2.0-2.4,
  • A semester GPA range of 2.0-2.4, and/or
  • Failure to show academic promise in didactic, preclinical, or laboratory coursework (i.e. clinical skills, safety requirements, or professionalism).

Students who continue to perform below any of the standards while on warning status will proceed to the status of probation or dismissal. Students placed on warning status cannot receive an F letter grade in any course.

Students who begin an enrolled term with a status of warning or fall short of the standards at the end of that enrolled term will earn an academic status of probation. Students placed on probation status cannot receive a D or F letter grade in any course. Students who continue to perform below any of the standards under the status of probation will proceed to dismissal.

Beginning an enrolled term with the status of probation and falling short of standards at the end of the enrolled term may result in one of the following actions:

  • Dismissal,
  • Restarting the program, or
  • Repeating the academic year.

Academic Eligibility Committees

Dental Hygiene Curriculum Committee

The Dental Hygiene Curriculum Committee ("Curriculum Committee") meets regularly to discuss and review students' academic performance in the Dental Hygiene Program. The Curriculum Committee will document students earning less than a C- on coursework to monitor their progress. Respective course directors will complete academic performance memos to alert students of course performance that does not meet the required standards and create plans specified for student improvement.

Course directors will report any course concerns to the Curriculum Committee chair. The Curriculum Committee can make recommendations for students struggling with performance in courses by connecting the student to resources available within the University or ASOD that may help the student form a plan for success.

At the end of each semester, the Curriculum Committee will meet and review each student’s performance and academic eligibility. The Curriculum Committee will make recommendations on student progression to the Dental Hygiene Academic Performance Committee.

Academic Performance Committee

At the end of each semester, the Dental Hygiene Academic Performance Committee ("APC") will review students' academic performance and academic eligibility based on initial reviews and recommendations from the Curriculum Committee. The APC will make final recommendations to the Executive Vice Dean of Education regarding whether students will be promoted within the Dental Hygiene Program. All academic regulations specified by UNC-Chapel Hill for undergraduate students apply to Dental Hygiene Program students. Following a decision by the Dental Hygiene Curriculum Committee and Dental Hygiene APC information will be shared with the Executive Vice Dean of Education regarding program dismissals. Students will receive an official letter with information regarding their recommendation from the Dental Hygiene Program director and ASOD Executive Vice Dean of Education.

The curriculum committee and the APC will review:

  • All Dental Hygiene student progress (semester-semester, end of academic year, and graduation)
  • Students who:
    • Qualify for Dean’s List;
    • Fail to maintain a GPA of 2.0 (cumulative GPA or semester GPA);
    • Receive a grade below a C- or an Incomplete (INC,) Withdrawal (WD), Absence from final examination (AB), or Failed and Absent from exam (FA) in a Dental Hygiene course during the current semester;
    • Are currently on academic warning or probation status;
    • Fail to demonstrate professionalism and/or ethical conduct;
    • Fail to show sufficient promise in the Program; and/or
    • Fail to demonstrate clinical progression.

*Both the Curriculum Committee and the APC have the discretion to review students’ academic and clinical progress, as needed.

Academic Performance Process (Warning to Dismissal)

A student must earn at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA in all classes attempted at UNC-Chapel Hill to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene.

Students who have grades of C- or higher with a semester or cumulative GPA of 2.5 or lower will receive an official document from the Curriculum Committee and the APC referring them to meet with an academic specialist at the Office of Undergraduate Advising. Students referred under this section are required to:

  • schedule and attend an Academic Success Consultation with the Office of Academic and Advising;
  • be placed on an Academic Success Plan; and
  • return a copy of their Academic Success Plan to their Academic Advisor.

The following measures, alone or in combination, will be used to address a student who fails to achieve a semester GPA of 2.0 in Dental Hygiene courses:

  • repeating an academic year, and/or
  • dismissal from the program.

Receipt of a D+ or D in any Dental Hygiene course will result in a recommendation that may require:

  • remediation,
  • curriculum modification in subsequent semesters that may delay graduation, and/or
  • dismissal from the program.

Students who are not dismissed from the program under this section will receive a recommendation based on overall performance in Dental Hygiene GPA and overall GPA.

Receipt of a failing grade ("F") in any Dental Hygiene course may require:

  • repeating an academic year, and/or
  • dismissal from the program.

Dismissal from the Program does not necessarily constitute dismissal from the University.


A student may be granted remediation based on recommendation by the APC. Students who are offered remediation must successfully complete remediation. Notification of remediation will be sent to the student in an official letter from the program director noting the deadline to complete remediation. The course director will setup an initial meeting with the student to develop a written document outlining the required steps for remediation ("Remediation Plan"). A student's failure to successfully complete the Remediation Plan will result in one or more of the following actions:

  • recommendation for the APC committee to review or change the student’s academic status,
  • repeat the academic year, and/or
  • program dismissal.

Remediation timeline: The student will be given the semester in which the remediation plan was instituted to complete the remediation work. Note that completion of remediation will not alter the final course grade.

Incompletes (INC-)

By University standards, students have eight weeks to complete incomplete work from the previous semester. If work remains incomplete at the end of eight weeks, the temporary grade will convert to an F.

Dean’s List

Students will be named to the "Dean's List" when they have a minimum of a 3.5 semester grade point with no grade lower than a C if enrolled in at least 12 hours of letter-grade credit, exclusive of physical education activities (PHYA) courses. All student’s making the Dean's List will receive an official letter from the Program at the end of the semester. Dean's List occurs during the fall and spring semesters in accordance with the University.

Faculty Responsiveness to Email

Faculty and staff are expected to read emails on a regular basis and manage their accounts appropriately. Students should allow at least 48 hours for a response due to email overload that often ensues within academia.

Examination Policy

Examination types and delivery are at the discretion of the course director.

The examination duration, information about absences from an examination, and other information can be found in the following document from the ASOD's Standard for Written Assessment Administration and Security.

Students will be allowed to use scratch paper. Students must attest to the UNC-Chapel HIll Honor Code on their exams, and the ASOD will rely on student's personal integrity to use scratch paper only as intended.

Unless a course director has approved the use of printed or written notes, exams will not be open note.

Final Examination Policy

The Dental Hygiene Program is governed by requirements for final examinations that apply to all University undergraduate courses. A final examination is required in all undergraduate courses unless an exception has been granted by the ASOD Executive Vice Dean of Education and the Provost. Students who are absent from an examination will receive a course grade of AB (absent), which is equivalent to F (zero quality points), or FA (absent and failing regardless of performance on the final examination).

Appeal of Decisions of the Respective Performance Review Committee

All actions taken by the APC may be appealed to the Administrative Board of the ASOD. Students must submit such appeals in writing to the Chair of the Administrative Board (a copy must also be sent to the Executive Vice Dean of Education within 10 calendar days of the APC’s decision. The appeal must state the ground(s) for the appeal as required by Section XIII of the ASOD's General Academic Policies and Procedures Manual. The Administrative Board recommendations are advisory to the Dean, who will render a decision following receipt of the recommendations from the Administrative Board. This policy is stated in the ASOD’s Policy on Student Due Process.

If, at any time during an academic appeal, a student raises a claim of prohibited harassment or discrimination, the matter will be referred to the University's Equal Opportunity and Compliance ("EOC") Office, and the ASOD will await the results of the EOC Office's assessment and/or investigation before deciding the student’s appeal.

Degree Time Limits and Course load Limitations

Bachelor of Science in Dental Guidelines

Students who need additional General Education coursework to complete University requirements to obtain their Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene must complete all coursework by end of July (end of summer session II), so that they may graduate in August of their graduating year.

Course Load Limitations

  • Due to the Dental Hygiene Program's rigor, students can only take courses outside of their normal Dental Hygiene courses during summer sessions and during the spring semester of their second year in the Program. Additional course(s) taken cannot impact any Dental Hygiene clinic, rotations, or didactic sessions.
  • Academic overload is at the discretion of the Academic Advisor and ASOD Executive Vice Dean of Education (ex. ROTC, UNC-Chapel Hill Honor Scholarship recipients).
    • Students must gain approval from their assigned academic advisor and the ASOD's Executive Vice Dean of Education.
  • Second year Dental Hygiene students can register for the maximum load of credit hours in the final semester (spring of the second year).
    • Courses taken cannot compromise or interfere with your Dental Hygiene courses, including your requirement to attend all dental hygiene classes, clinics, labs, rotations, and practicum.
    • Only students with a Dental Hygiene GPA of 3.5 or higher will be approved for academic overload if needed.
    • If taking courses outside of the University, students must keep the following facts in mind:
      • Share what course you plan to take with your academic advisor.
        • If those plans change, it is your responsibility to share that information with your advisor
      • Complete a course evaluation form.
      • All Dental Hygiene students must have 120 hours to graduate with a BS degree at UNC-Chapel Hill.
        • Ensure that you have not maxed out the number of hours that can be transferred into UNC-Chapel Hill if you are planning to take a class outside the University.
          • If you have maxed out, you will only receive credit for the course; you will not receive hours.
          • Once your course is completed and you have a grade, you must have the final transcript sent to UNC-Chapel Hill immediately to get credit for the course. (This only applies to classes taken outside of UNC-Chapel Hill.)

Dental Hygiene Honor’s Thesis Program

Each academic year the Dental Hygiene Program will recognize up to three students who have demonstrated exceptional academic ability and independent work in their major. Qualified students in the second year of the Dental Hygiene Program are paired with a committee that includes a faculty advisor who guides the student in an independent study honors project. The Dental Hygiene Honors Thesis Program is supervised through a faculty liaison.

Students are admitted to the program on the basis of the following requirements which are reviewed by the dental hygiene curriculum committee:

  • Completion of honor's thesis program application including essay style questions and verification from faculty advisor and academic advisor submitted electronically to honor's departmental liaison,
  • Cumulative GPA (includes prior to Dental Hygiene Program at UNC-Chapel Hill): 3.3 or higher,
  • Program GPA: 3.5 or higher, and
  • Candidate cannot have any grades below a B- in the program.

Upon admission into the honor’s thesis program, students must complete two independent study courses: DHYG 691H and DHYG 692H. Students must also complete a learning contract which will highlight all program requirements including:

  • GPA requirements for the duration of the program,
  • completion of the written honor’s thesis submitted to the UNC-Chapel Hill Honor’s Thesis Repository, and
  • an oral or poster presentation at the ASOD.

A student's failure to complete any components of the learning contract will result in that student being dismissed from the honor’s thesis program. The Dental Hygiene Program also follows rules established by the UNC-Chapel Hill Senior Honors Thesis.

Second Major or Minor Approval

The process for seeking approval for a second major or minor includes the following steps:

  1. Student must meet with Academic Advisor to discuss details of the request.
  2. Academic Advisor for the Undergraduate Program analyzes the request with assistance from the Registrar to determine:
    1. Student’s current academic standing in the Dental Hygiene Program,
      1. Students that are not in good standing in the Dental Hygiene Program will not be approved for second major or minor.
    2. Number of remaining courses to achieve the second major/minor (student generally provides this information),
    3. Feasibility of taking the required course(s) during summer session I /II and final spring semester of Dental Hygiene, and
    4. Student’s ability to meet the second major or minor requirements without extending the Dental Hygiene program of study.
  3. Academic Advisor approves/denies the request and notifies the student.
  4. If approved, the Academic Advisor sends a letter to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences indicating second major and/or minor approval.

Process for Addressing Course and Faculty Related Issues

Students may have concerns during their educational experience about a particular course, clinical experience, and/or faculty teaching style.

When addressing course or faculty related issues, students should follow the recommended steps in Figure 1.

  1. Student issues or concerns that do not involve prohibited discrimination or harassment related to a faculty member should first be discussed directly with the faculty member. If the problem remains unresolved following the discussion, the student should bring the issue to the Program Director, who will involve any other relevant parties.
  2. Student issues or concerns related to a course or clinical practice should first be discussed with the course or clinical faculty member. If the problem remains unresolved following the discussion, the Program Director should become involved. Preferably this would be accomplished in a meeting that includes the faculty member and other relevant parties.
  3. If the faculty or course related issue remains unresolved after working with the Program Director, the Program Director will contact the Executive Vice Dean of Education as deemed appropriate.
  4. The University prohibits discrimination or harassment based upon age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, religion, sex, or veteran status. If a student believes that they have experienced prohibited harassment or discrimination, the student should contact the EOC Office by calling 919-966-3576 or sending an email message to Additional information regarding the University’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct is available on the EOC Office’s website.

Figure 1

Guide to help students address course or faculty related issues

Professional/Ethical Conduct Guidelines

The APC may dismiss, place on probation, or recommend reclassification of a student at the end of any semester if the student does not, in the APC’s judgment, demonstrate professional conduct consistent with the American Dental Hygienists' Association Code of Ethics, regardless of the student's demonstrated academic performance.

A student may be deemed ineligible for promotion or may be dismissed or reclassified if the student has displayed a lack of professionalism concerning the management of patients or during interactions with other students, staff, or faculty. These factors, among others, are regarded as equally important to other academic standards in that they reflect the developing capacity to deliver a high standard of health care service.

The Dental Hygiene program follows the ASOD’s Technical Standards Policy that all ASOD students must adhere to.

Students must adhere to all University policies, including but not limited to the ASOD's Code of Professional Conduct Policy and the University's Instrument of Student Judicial Governance. When an ASOD student has violated a University policy, the APC will make recommendations for dismissal or reclassification to the Dean of the ASOD.

Contact Information

Topic, Officer, and Contact Information Table
Topic Officer Contact Information
Questions about this Policy Director, Undergraduate Dental Hygiene Program
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Article ID: 131270
Thu 4/8/21 9:05 PM
Thu 8/31/23 3:47 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Adams School of Dentistry
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Dental Hygiene Program Director
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
07/14/2024 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
07/07/2023 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
07/07/2023 12:00 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
07/14/2023 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
05/04/2018 12:00 AM

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