The California-based colleges and universities below offer education for the aspiring dental hygienist. Students can learn at the certificate, associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels according to their previous education. A pre-dental hygienist program, which is designed to transfer to a dental hygiene program, is also featured at one of the schools. Clinical experiences, capstone projects, independent study opportunities and internships are included in these programs. Students may attend classes full or part time.
Cerritos College is located in Norwalk and enrolls about 21,000 students. The college offers an Associate in Arts in Dental Hygiene program that requires two years and five semesters to complete. Classes cover topics like head and neck anatomy, dental hygiene radiology and preventive dentistry. The program's curriculum also includes clinical experiences.
Located in Cypress, this college offers both associate's degree and certificate programs in dental hygiene. The associate's program requires students to complete approximately 56 credit hours. Required courses cover topics like dental jurisprudence, dental anesthesiology and oral pathology.
The certificate program is designed for individuals who possess an associate's degree at minimum and want to gain additional knowledge in the dental hygiene field. Students in this program also complete approximately 56 credit hours of study.
A pre-dental hygiene transfer program is also available for those who wish to take some major required courses at Cypress before transferring to a dental hygiene program at another school.
Diablo Valley College
Diablo Valley College's dental hygiene programs in Pleasant Hill awards a Certificate of Achievement or Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene. Each program takes two years to complete and requires approximately 88 units. The associate's degree program requires ten more units of dental hygiene courses than in the certificate program. Classes in both programs offer courses covering topics such as periodontics, and head and neck anatomy.
The Biological and Health Sciences Division at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills houses the Bachelors in Science in Dental Hygiene program. Students complete 193 quarter units of study and take classes in subjects such as soft tissue curettage, periodontics and radiographic interpretation. Students also complete clinical internships.
Fresno City College
Located in Fresno, this college awards an Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene to graduates of this two-year program. Coursework covers topics like general and oral pathology, pharmacology and local anesthesia. Students also take courses that allow for participation in clinical experiences.
Pasadena City College
Located in Pasadena, this college enrolls approximately 26,000 students and offers a Certificate of Achievement in Dental Hygiene. Classes in this program cover topics like dental hygiene theory, dental materials, morphology and occlusion, pathology and community dental health. Students also participate in labs, independent study and clinical experiences.
Sacramento City College
This college in Sacramento enrolls about 24,000 students. The associate's degree program in dental hygiene requires earning 83 units to complete. Classes cover topics like infection control, dental radiology and oral pathology. Students must pass courses in the major with a C or higher to graduate. They are also required to take a half-credit course on the affects of aging on healthcare.
Santa Rosa Junior College
Situated in Santa Rosa, this college offers programs to approximately 24,000 students. The Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene program consists of prerequisites, courses required by CODA and core requirements in the major. Classes cover topics such as pharmacology, medical emergencies and oral health education.
The Associate in Science program in dental hygiene at Southwestern College in Chula Vista requires completion of 55 credits in the major. Courses focus on subjects such as pathology, preventive dentistry and oral anatomy. Besides classes in dental hygiene, students also take courses in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.
University of Southern California
Located in Los Angeles, this university enrolls about 38,000 students. The four-year Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene program includes coursework that covers topics like periodontal diseases, radiographic techniques, periodontal therapy and oral biochemistry. This program also includes lab work and clinical experiences.
The university also offers a Master of Science in Dental Hygiene program that requires 30 credits of study and takes full-time students approximately 16 months to complete. Pursuing this program part-time is also an option. Students choose one area of emphasis from three dentistry options: pediatrics, education or geriatrics. In addition to coursework, students in this program complete a capstone project. This is also offered as a progressive degree program for those who want to apply after completing 64 units toward their bachelor's degree and have received approval from administration and recommendations from faculty.
Dental hygienists must be licensed by the Dental Hygiene Committee of California in order to practice in the state. To earn licensure, an individual must graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association. They must also pass the written exam offered by the National Board for Dental Examiners and a clinical exam. Also required is the completion of California Board-approved classes in the administration of local anesthetic and of nitrous oxide-oxygen analgesia, as well as in gingival soft tissue curettage. The state of California's ten largest schools with dental hygiene programs are discussed below. All are accredited by CODA.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Dental Hygiene Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Cerritos College||2-year, public; small city||Associate in Arts in Dental Hygiene|| $1,346 in-state,
|Cypress College||2-year, public; large suburb||Pre-Dental Hygiene Transfer Program,
Associate in Arts in Dental Hygiene,
Certificate in Dental Hygiene
| $1,142 in-district,
|Diablo Valley College||2-year, public; large suburb|| Certificate of Achievement in Dental Hygiene,
Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene
| $1,312 in-state,
|Foothill College||2-year, public; large suburb||Bachelors in Science in Dental Hygiene|| $1,563 in-state,
|Fresno City College||2-year, public; large city||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene|| $1,304 in-state,
|Pasadena City College||2-year, public; midsize city||Certificate of Achievement in Dental Hygiene|| $1,166 in-state,
|Sacramento City College||2-year, public; large city||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene|| $1,104 in-state,
|Santa Rosa Junior College||2-year, public; midsize city||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene|| $1,328 in-state,
|Southwestern College||2-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene|| $1,338 in-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
Source: *College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics.