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Dental Hygiene Schools in Southern California with Degree Info

Research dental hygiene programs in Southern California, which currently has about 13 schools offering programs. Read an overview of degrees, tuition info and program options for eight of these schools and decide which program is right for you.

Essential Information

All of the 2- and 4-year schools in California that are listed in this article offer accredited dental hygiene programs. Most schools offer training through associate degree programs. Certificates are also available, but may be designed for students with an existing undergraduate degree. One school offers a relevant bachelor's degree; a master's degree program is also available and is designed for students who already possess a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene.

In addition to lectures and labs, students are required to participate in clinical experiences. For some programs, applicants may need to complete prerequisite courses in such areas as anatomy and physiology, chemistry and psychology. They may also be required to observe a professional hygienist before applying.


Cerritos College

In Norwalk, this college offers an associate program in dental hygiene that takes 2 years to complete. The clinical training portion of the program takes place at various field locations. The program includes clinical rotations and didactic courses like dental materials, preventative dentistry and dental radiology.

Cypress College

Located in Cypress, this school has a 2-year Associate of Science (AS) program in dental hygiene. A certificate is awarded to students who already have an associate's or a higher-level degree. Students need to complete prerequisites in science and general education before officially starting the dental hygiene core program. Major courses cover topics in pharmacology, dental anesthesiology and dental materials. Clinical experiences are also required.

Loma Linda University

Loma Linda University's dental hygiene program is located off-campus in Palm Desert and confers a BS degree. Applicants need to have at least 20 hours of dental hygiene shadowing experience. Students also need to complete prerequisite courses that include anatomy, organic chemistry and psychology. While the university accepts applicants from all areas, students from the College of the Desert will be given preference in the admissions process.

Moreno Valley College

Located in Moreno Valley, this college offers an associate degree in dental hygiene, and roughly 60 credits of courses are required. Students can complete this program in 2 years with the inclusion of a summer term. Prerequisites in general education and science are required. In addition to clinical experiences, students take courses in periodontology, nutrition and oral pathology.

Oxnard College

In Oxnard, this college's dental hygiene program teaches students how to clean teeth and provide anesthesia. Applicants to the program need to complete 37 credits of general education and science prerequisites. After complete these courses, students take classes in pharmacology, dental health education and periodontics. Clinical and community health experiences are also required.

Pasadena City College

Located in Pasadena, this college offers a 2-year certificate program in dental hygiene. Before being accepted into the program, students need to complete prerequisites like anatomy, chemistry and nutrition. The program includes clinical experiences, community health labs and didactic coursework.

Southwestern College

Southwestern College is located in Chula Vista and offers an associate degree program in dental hygiene. The college accepts roughly 36 applicants who have completed prerequisites. The program incorporates classroom learning, clinical rotations and community health experiences. Topics cover dental radiography, dental materials and pain control.

University of Southern California

Located in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) offers bachelor's and master's degree programs in dental hygiene. Out of the 200 applicants that apply, only 35-40 are formally received into the program. Students take courses like radiology, oral biochemistry and infection control.

Students who already have an accredited bachelor's degree in dental hygiene may complete the Master of Science program. The program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. In addition to completing core classes, graduate students must choose an emphasis like geriatric dentistry or education. USC also offers a dual bachelor's and doctoral degree program in dental hygiene and dental science to qualifying students.

Career Requirements

Dental hygienists are required to hold a state license for employment in California. Dental hygiene licenses are issued from the Dental Hygiene Committee of California. In order to earn licensure, prospective dental hygienists need to complete an accredited dental hygiene program and successfully pass both clinical and written examinations of the National Board of Dental Examiners.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Dental Hygiene Degree Program Offered Undergraduate Program Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)
Cerritos College 2-year; public; large suburb Associate of Arts in Dental Hygiene $1,346 in-state; $7,926 out-of-state*
Cypress College 2-year; public; large suburb Certificate in Dental Hygiene,
Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene
$1,138 in-state; $6,154 out-of-state*
Loma Linda University 4-year; private, not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene $32,572*
Moreno Valley College 2-year; public; large suburb Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene $1,416 in-state; $7,356 out-of-state*
Oxnard College 2-year; public; midsize city Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene $1,388 in-state; $7,050 out-of-state*
Pasadena City College 2-year, public; midsize city Certificate of Achievement in Dental Hygiene $1,152 in-state; $6,180 out-of-state*
Southwestern College 2-year; public; large suburb Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene $1,336 in-state; $5,452 out-of-state*
University of Southern California 4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene,
Master of Science in Dental Hygiene,
Dual Bachelor of Science in Hygiene/Doctor of Dental Science Program
$50,277*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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