Which Schools Offer Dental Programs in San Diego, CA?

Learn about dental programs in the San Diego, CA, area. Get information about degrees available and admission and program requirements to make an informed decision about your education. Schools offering Dental Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Undergraduate and graduate level degree programs are available in the dental field from several institutions in the San Diego, CA, area. Get important program and school information below.

What You Need to Know

There are a variety of dental programs in the San Diego area; career options range from dental assistant to dental hygienist to dentist. Regardless of level, these programs combine classroom and clinical training, and they also prepare graduates for professional licensing or certification exams. Dental assisting certificate programs may require background checks and fingerprinting; associate's degree programs in dental hygiene may require prerequisite math and science coursework; and postbaccalaureate dentistry programs may require completion of a relevant undergraduate curriculum and professional observation. Read on to learn more about your dental program options below.

Dental Certificate Programs in the San Diego Area

San Diego Mesa College

The dental assisting certificate program at San Diego Mesa College offers instruction in areas such as chair-side assisting, equipment operation and instrument sterilization, as well as business management in a clinical setting. In addition to the Certificate of Achievement, upon completion of the program you are granted a performance certificate indicating your capacity to utilize dental X-ray equipment in California. You can also expect to receive preparation for state and national dental assisting exams, should you want to become licensed or practice in another state upon graduation.

  • Program Name: Certificate of Achievement in Dental Assisting
  • Program Length: 2 semesters
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,142 per year for CA residents; $4,670 per year for non-residents (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Dental communications course (offered summers only)
  • Requirements: Background check and fingerprinting for entry into clinical practicum portion of program
  • School Type: 2-year, public; 24,159 students (all undergraduate)

Palomar College

Palomar College is located about 30 miles north of San Diego in San Marcos, which has a population of about 80,000. In Palomar's dental assisting certificate program, you are required to achieve at least a C in every course, and your hands-on clinical performance are relevant in your grade administration. This program offers coursework in topics such as managing a practice, radiography and preventative dentistry, as well as written composition and communications.

  • Program Name: Registered Dental Assisting Certificate
  • Program Length: 2 semesters
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,338 per year for CA residents; $7,078 per year for non-residents (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Completion of required English course and two specified dental courses
  • Requirements: Attendance at program orientation, very good vision and hearing, CPR certification, at least 18 years of age
  • School Type: 2-year public, 24,914 students (all undergraduate)

Dental Associate Degree Programs in the San Diego Area

San Diego Mesa College

San Diego Mesa College also offers an associate degree in dental assisting. The AS in Dental Assisting program comprises all the requirements of the certificate program, plus additional elective and general education units for a total of 60 units (the required amount to acquire an associate degree). In both programs, you are required to undergo hands-on clinical classes that include upholding the safety and ethics codes of the facility where you're practicing.

  • Program Name: Associate in Science in Dental Assisting
  • Program Length: 2 years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,142 per year for CA residents; $4,670 per year for non-residents (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Dental communications course (offered summers only)
  • Requirements: Background check and fingerprinting for entry into clinical practicum portion of program
  • School Type: 2-year, public; 24,159 students (all undergraduate)

Southwestern College

While Southwestern College's main campus is located in Chula Vista, the dental hygiene program takes place in National City, which is about five miles south of San Diego along the California coast. This program begins each fall and includes instruction in infection control, dental health in a community context, periodontics and control of pain. You'll also have the opportunity to perform professional dental services (under the supervision of dentists or registered dental hygienists) for the public at the school's Dental Hygiene Clinic.

  • Program Name: Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene
  • Program Length: 2 years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,336 per year for CA residents; $5,452 per year for non-residents (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Completion of specified courses in chemistry, biology, communications, English, social sciences and health; grade point average of at least 2.70 in science courses
  • Requirements: CPR certification; proof of immunizations for rubeola and rubella, hepatitis B, varicella; screening for tuberculosis; physical exam
  • School Type: 2-year, public; 19,000 students (all undergraduate)

Dentistry Program Close to the San Diego Region

Loma Linda University

Loma Linda University is the nearest school to the San Diego area where you can earn a DDS, the degree required to obtain licensure to practice as a dentist. The school is located in Loma Linda, which is approximately 100 miles north of San Diego. While a baccalaureate degree is not required for admission to the dental program, candidates who have one are given preference in admissions decisions. In addition to the required coursework in the subjects listed above, the dental school recommends taking courses in subjects such as mathematics, histology, microbiology and art, among others. Loma Linda's dentistry program includes ample opportunities for you to practice providing direct dental care to patients.

  • Program Name: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)
  • Specialization Areas: Maxillofacial and oral surgery, orthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, pediatric dentistry, oral pathology, prosthodontics
  • Program Length: 4 years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees: $27,180 per year (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: One year of academic and laboratory instruction in general chemistry, general physics, English literature and composition, biology (or zoology) and organic chemistry; one semester of biochemistry
  • Requirements: 144 units of college coursework with at least a C grade, written and verbal English capacities, at least 20 hours of professional dental observation, three reference letters
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; 4,600 students (1,189 undergraduate)

Students near San Diego, CA, can choose from several institutions for their certificate or associate degree in the dental field, or can pursue their Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) at Loma Linda University.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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