Dental Hygiene Schools In California

Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

Dental hygiene programs are competitive, making it difficult to get accepted the first time. A large number of qualified applicants have expressed an interest in starting the program right away. A variety of science-related courses, such as microbiology and anatomy and physiology, are necessary.

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Dental Hygiene Programs in California

A lot of students get overwhelmed when it comes to the school they should attend especially if they are looking for top-notch. People who are interested in schooling and are thinking of college in the area of dentition get worried about the school they should attend. There are a few dental hygienist schools in ca. people also ask about best dental hygiene schools in California and don’t get answers.

What You Need to Know

Community colleges most commonly offer dental hygiene programs at the associate degree level, although bachelor’s programs at universities do exist. An associate program in the field typically takes two years and helps you meet the educational requirement to take the California state exam to become a licensed dental hygienist. In some cases, you need to complete prerequisite science, social science and communications courses to be admitted. In an associate degree program, you can expect to learn how to perform dental assessments, take x-rays and clean teeth. You’ll also get to practice these skills at a local facility during the clinical component of your program. A bachelor’s degree program has similar coursework, but it can lead to more career options, such as public health educator or clinician. Read on to explore some associate and bachelor’s degree programs in dental hygiene in southern California.

Dental Hygiene Program

Dental Hygiene Schools In California

Dental hygienists in California can work as independent practitioners. While the majority of hygienists in the Golden State are affiliated with a dentistry practice, you’ll also find these health professionals working as solo proprietors in their own clinics, working in clinics owned by hospitals and other health systems, or providing services to housebound patients. In order to qualify as an independent practitioner, a dental hygienist must be licensed and have worked as a hygienist for a minimum of 2,000 hours in the preceding 36 months. If dental hygiene is a professional opportunity that excites you, we’ve listed the best dental hygiene programs in California.


Which are the 15 Best Dental Hygiene Programs in California for 2021?

1) University of Southern California, Los Angeles

For almost 80 years, the University of Southern California’s School of Dentistry has been offering high-quality dental education. It boasts of an acclaimed faculty comprising of experts, authors, and editors who have made a valuable contribution to the field of dental science. Moreover, as a dental hygiene student, being part of a large dental school, you enjoy many opportunities to learn from students and faculty from other dental specialties.

USC is one of the few dental schools in the nation to offer a Bachelor’s and Master’s in dental hygiene.

Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene: With this bachelor’s degree, you will be well-equipped to kickstart your career as an entry-level dental hygienist. You must complete 76 credits in dental hygiene and 12 in general education courses. The well-rounded coursework takes five trimesters to complete and includes extensive clinical training, to help you gain real-world experience.

Master of Science in Dental Hygiene: If you are looking at advancing your dental hygiene education then you can consider this program that can be completed in 16 months of full-time study. If you are working, you can also opt for a part-time schedule. The coursework will help you gain expertise in this dental field through class work, case studies and oral presentations. Upon completion of your training you can also pursue a career in research and education.

2) University of the Pacific, San Francisco

University of the Pacific’s San Francisco campus provides an enriching learning environment, with its state-of-the-art facility, an array of dental programs, a dental clinic on-campus and a teaching approach that encourages student-faculty and community interaction. Moreover, its accessible location makes it convenient for students to commute without much hassle.

This three-year bachelor’s program at UOP prepares students with a broad curriculum that incorporates components of liberal arts in the first half of the program, and after that moving to the dental hygiene coursework from the second half onwards. This helps students to develop problem-solving skills, constantly adapt to changes in the dental field and be an efficient member of a dental team. As the college is highly selective in its admission policy, it is recommended that you complete your high school with at least a GPA of 2.7 and ensure you take biology, chemistry, and math.

3) West Coast University – Orange County, Anaheim

West Coast University provides umpteen learning opportunities to dental hygiene students, thus ensuring professional and personal growth. An advanced simulation lab, an opportunity to serve a diverse population at its free dental clinic and a host of career assistance services prepare students for this challenging yet rewarding allied dental career with much aplomb.

You can opt for this accelerated dental hygiene course in California and finish your bachelor’s in dental Hygiene in just 34 months, sooner than most bachelors programs offered at other colleges. The program incorporates a broad curriculum that includes courses in general education and dental hygiene. While general education courses can be taken online, dental hygiene courses are mostly offered on-campus. By completing the coursework, you will acquire the knowledge and skills to fulfill job duties in a wide array of positions such as a clinician, dental hygiene faculty, researcher, administration and management.

4. San Joaquin Valley College, Ontario & Visalia

For aspiring dental hygiene students in California, San Joaquin Valley College offers two fully equipped campuses, to choose from. Each one comes with its own dental clinic, small sized classrooms and a reputation of excellent licensure exam pass rates.

To become a valuable member of a dental team within a short duration, the college offers an associate degree that can be completed in 16 months. You will learn vital technical skills such as the use of charting software, intra-oral cameras that help show the interior of a patient’s mouth, x-ray techniques, placing of dental and sealants, fluoride and performing advanced scaling and root planning methods by using various instruments. The curriculum also includes extensive clinical sessions each term, starting with 8 hours per week during the first two terms and thereon, 12 to 16 hours per week in term three and four. The program is rigorous in nature, and it is highly recommended that you do not work, while being enrolled.

5. Foothill College, Los Altos Hills

Foothill College has been training dental hygiene students since as long as 1964. It offers two dynamic bachelor’s programs to meet the academic needs of dental hygiene aspirants.

Entry-level Bachelor of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene: This program entails completing general education, science and social science courses in the first two years. After this, you are required to apply to the dental hygiene program, and once accepted you will complete 107 credits in core dental hygiene and upper division general education courses. This will take another two years of study, during which the curriculum includes courses such as dental radiography, oral anatomy, dental materials, periodontics, dental health education, and ethics and law applicable to dental practices.

AS to BS-DH Program: This is a bridge program for those who have already completed an Associate degree in Dental Hygiene and are looking at broadening their knowledge base and career avenues. To graduate you must complete eight courses, and all of them are offered online. This works well for a dental hygienist who is not willing to keep current work commitments on hold while earning his bachelor’s.

6) Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill

Nurturing the career aspirations of dental hygiene students, Diablo Valley College is known for its affordable and employment-ready education. Emphasizing on experiential learning, students are provided with externship opportunities at the Native American Health Clinic and La Clinica, two prominent community health centers in the region.

This dental hygiene school in California offers an associate degree that can be completed in two years. The full-time program will require you to attend classes during the day. On completion of the coursework, that includes general as well as core courses you will be able to take the National and Regional Dental Hygiene Board exams and work in dental offices, specialty clinics, hospitals, nursing, and public health clinics. The college is highly selective in its admission policy, so ensure you complete the pre-requisite coursework in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, algebra and nutrition with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

For those interested in pursuing this program, the college recommends including algebra, biology, chemistry, and physiology as preferred subjects in high school.

7) Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa

A Santa Rosa Junior College dental hygiene graduate is trained to become an efficient member of a dental team by being a critical thinker, problem solver, and evidence-based decision maker. Since the start of this program in 1999, graduates have excelled in the licensure exam with a 100% pass rate.

This Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene takes five semesters of full-time study to complete. The rigorous coursework grooms you by teaching professional skills and knowledge through classroom lectures, lab session and hands-on practice at the college’s dental clinic and various other community settings. The college advises you to complete the general education and pre-requisite courses before starting with the dental hygiene coursework. This better prepares you for the demanding schedule that you will go through to complete the core coursework.

8) Taft College, Taft

Taft College’s commitment towards training dental hygiene students is apparent from the career preparedness graduates have demonstrated at various positions they are holding in the dental field.

Taft offers a two-year associate in dental hygiene. This four-semester long coursework offers sequential courses that build upon each other. You gain expertise in patient assessment, monitoring the patient and keeping records, evaluating and planning patient dental hygiene plan, dental hygiene intervention, and ethics & laws that are relevant to your dental hygiene practice. By the end of the last semester, you will be prepared to take the national and state level licensure exams and start working in private and community dental clinics. Some Graduates also go one to pursue a career in research and education.

9) Concorde Career College, San Bernardino, Garden Grove & San Diego

Concorde Career College offers the dental hygiene program at three campus locations in the state that are well-equipped with labs, resource centers, and a dental clinic.

To become a dental hygienist in CA you can consider this 111.5 credit hour associate program offered by the college. This 17-month long training divided into nine terms prepares you with workplace-ready skills and knowledge in areas such as extraoral and intraoral exams, periodontal and dental exams, patient assessment and checking vital signs. The curriculum also incorporates practical training, mainly at the college’s dental clinic where students provide supervised patient care to a diverse patient population.

10) Southwestern College, Chula Vista

Southwestern College, with its policy of inclusion and diversity, prepares dental hygiene aspirants to competently serve a diverse patient population. Students achieve their academic goals under the mentorship of an experienced and dedicated faculty.

The dental hygiene program offered by SWC is an associate degree that can be completed in two years. It is offered in fall of each year with the classroom clinical sessions being held at the Higher Education Center at National City. The curriculum being rigorous requires a commitment of 60 to 65 hours per week. Courses are taken in a sequence as each course builds upon the previous one. The 53 credits in the core dental hygiene coursework include subjects such as clinical concepts, dental radiography, oral anatomy and physiology, periodontics, pain control, dental pharmacology, dental materials, community health and ethics and laws relevant to the dental practice. Your clinical training will take place in the dental hygiene clinic at National City, which is a teaching facility facilitating student learning.

11) Carrington College, Sacramento & San Jose

Carrington College has been synonymous with quality healthcare education in the state of California. With its many healthcare programs, dental hygiene being one among them, it is transforming the lives of its students and the community they serve.

This dental hygiene program in CA is an associate that takes two years to complete. The coursework is deigned, to help you gain technical skills required to perform routines tasks such as cleaning and scaling of teeth, removing plaque and stains, applying fluoride and sealants, taking oral x-rays, recording patient data and evaluating and planning an oral hygiene plan for patients. Upon completion of the coursework, you will be able to take up entry-level positions at dental offices, community dental clinics, and public health agencies.

To be eligible for this program you must complete the pre-requisite coursework from an accredited college with a minimum grade of “C” and an overall GPA of at least 2.75.

12) Sacramento City College, Sacramento

Sacramento City College provides for a robust foundation in the field of dental hygiene, with a curriculum and teaching methodology that stays abreast of changing trends in the industry. The dental clinic on its campus facilitates enhanced learning by providing real-world clinical experience to students, all this while serving the local community.

SCC’s dental hygiene program is an associate degree that can be completed in two years. It combines classwork, lab sessions, and clinical experiences to take you through a curriculum that includes 39.5 credits of pre-requisite courses and 45.5 credits of dental hygiene courses. Upon completion of the curriculum, you will be eligible to take the national and state licensing examinations. The college recommends that you include algebra, biology, chemistry and physiology in high school, to be better prepared for this program.

13) Cabrillo College, Aptos

Cabrillo College has been providing quality and affordable dental hygienist training in California since 1967. Its 100% pass rate on the national and state licensure exams speak volumes of the college’s commitment towards a positive academic outcome.

This two-year associate in dental hygiene is a full-time program that starts in the summer semester. A maximum of 22 students are admitted each year and classes run Monday through Friday during the day. The dental hygiene specific coursework of this curriculum takes you through a broad base of topics, including anatomy of the oral cavity, oral health education, knowledge of dental materials, dental radiography, periodontics, dental terminology, law and ethics relevant to the dental field, dental insurance, pain management, and interim therapeutic restorations.

To be eligible for this program, you must have scored a minimum GPA of 2.70 in all pre-requisite science courses and a minimum “C” grade in your general education courses.

14) Chabot College, Hayward

Since the start of its dental hygiene program in 1968, Chabot College has trained over 900 graduates who are successfully serving patients across the state and beyond. To help achieve their academic goals, students are provided with a rich learning environment, where they use the college’s learning resources, participate in group discussions, and undergo rigorous lab and clinical training.

The dental hygiene program offered by the college is an associate degree that entails completing 60.5 units in general as well as dental hygiene courses. A minimum of “C” grade is required in all these courses to graduate. This curriculum is reviewed regularly to provide for the most relevant and current education. On completion of the program, you will be able to think critically and use evidence-based knowledge to effectively evaluate and plan the oral hygiene treatment required by the patient.

15) Fresno City College, Fresno

Fresno City College provides dental hygiene education with a goal to improve the oral health of the community. Students are trained in workplace skills and knowledge through extensive experiential learning sessions.

The full-time, 4-semester dental hygiene associate degree program is offered in a cohort format, meaning you will move through the coursework, together with your peers. To complete the coursework, you must attend classes and practical training on its campus along with clinical rotations at affiliated clinical sites. Oral Biology, oral radiography, oral pathology, local anesthesia, periodontology, pharmacology, dental specialties, nutrition in dentistry are some of the courses you will take. In order to graduate you must complete all courses with a minimum grade “C.”

21 Best Dental Hygiene Schools In California

Dental Hygiene Associate’s Degree Programs in Southern California

Cerritos College

Located in a small city southeast of Los Angeles, this college’s accredited program will prepare you for employment in a variety of settings, including private dental offices, governmental health departments, hospitals, schools, private industries, correctional facilities or health maintenance organizations. You’ll be responsible for your own transportation to your clinical courses, which would be held in facilities 5-30 miles from the college. Most classes meet during the day, but be aware that some extend into the evening.

  • Program: Associate in Arts in Dental Hygiene
  • Program Length: 2 years, including 1 summer
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,346 per year for in-state; $7,926 per year for out-of-state (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Required courses include anatomy and physiology, chemistry, microbiology and nutrition (‘C’ or better is required in each course)
  • Admission Requirements: Application for admission to program, transcript evaluation and clearance in math, reading and English; current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification, including automated external defibrillator (AED)
  • School Type: 2-year, public; 21,774 undergraduate students

Pasadena City College

This school is situated in a mid-sized city northeast of Los Angeles. In order to progress in this accredited program, you’ll be required to earn at least a 75% in each of the dental hygiene courses. Upon completion of the program, you’ll be eligible to take your national and state licensing examinations.

  • Program: Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,152 per year for in-state; $6,180 per year for out-of-state (2015-2016)
  • Admission Requirements: Application to program, official transcripts, health clearance, current CPR certification and malpractice insurance
  • School Type: 2-year, public; 26,611 undergraduate students

Southwestern College

Situated in a large suburban area near San Diego, this school’s accredited program will teach you to perform oral health assessments and to devise strategies for providing dental health education. You’ll also learn how to take x-rays, remove deposits from teeth and apply fluorides. In this program, you’ll provide services to the public in the Dental Hygiene Clinic under the supervision of a licensed dentist or registered dental hygienist.

  • Program: Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene
  • Program Length: 2 years, including 1 summer
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,336 per year for in-state; $5,452 per year for out-of-state (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Courses include biology, chemistry, nutrition, communications, psychology, sociology and English (overall GPA 2.70 or higher required)
  • Admission Requirements: Program application, transcript evaluation, demonstration of proficiency in math and reading, current CPR certification with AED and various health screenings
  • School Type: 2-year, public; 19,000 undergraduate students.

Dental Hygiene Bachelor Degree Programs in Southern California

University of Southern California

This accredited program emphasizes disease prevention and health promotion. In your hands-on learning, you’ll work with dentists, treat patients, complete preventive procedures and evaluate outcomes. As a graduate of this program, you might work as a clinician, researcher, educator or public health professional.

  • Program: Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene
  • Program Length: 5 trimesters
  • Tuition and Fees: $50,277 per year (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Courses include anatomy, biology, chemistry, English composition, psychology, sociology, speech, nutrition, physiology and microbiology
  • Admission Requirements: Program application, fee, official transcripts, small photo, health documentation and interview
  • School Type: 4-year, private, non-profit; 42,453 total; 18,739 undergraduate students

Of the four previewed schools, Pasadena City College, Cerritos College, and Southwestern College all feature associate’s degrees in dental hygiene, while the University of Southern California provides a bachelor’s degree.

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:

  • What Are My Career Options in Dental Hygiene?
  • Online Dental Hygiene Associate Degree Programs
  • Which Schools Offer Dental Hygiene Programs in Virginia?
USC's dental hygiene program is ready for a new generation of students

Dental Hygienist School Tuition California

Dental Hygiene Program Length & Cost in California

There are three educational tracks to becoming a dental hygienist in the Golden State. You can get an associate degree at either a community college or a technical college; you’ll be able to finish your degree in 20 to 30 months, and you’ll spend between $5,310 – $58,970 doing so. An increasing number of four-year colleges and universities are also offering dental hygiene training; if you’re a Cal state resident and you go to a state-funded school, your tuition may be as low as $24,600 while training through a private university may cost you as much as $107,850. Finally, if you’d like to do research or teach other aspiring dental hygienists, you may want to get a master’s degree. A master’s degree will take between one and two years to complete, and you will end up spending between $32,060 and $99,020.

Type of ProgramLengthCost
Associate Degree20 – 30 Months$5,310 – $58,970
Bachelor’s Degree4 – years$24,600 – $107,850
Master’s DegreeBetween 1 and 2 years$32,060 – $99,020

Dental Hygiene Schools In California List

Popular Schools

  1. Brightwood College Brightwood College responds quickly to information requests through this website. Popular programs at Brightwood College:
    • Certificates
      • Dental Assistant Campus Locations:
    • California: Salida 
  2. George Mason University George Mason University responds quickly to information requests through this website. Popular programs at George Mason University:
    • Master
      • Master – Health Informatics Online Programs Available  
  3. Colorado State University Global Colorado State University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website. Popular programs at Colorado State University Global:
    • Master
      • Graduate Specialization – Healthcare Administration Online Programs Available  
  4. Strayer University Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website. Popular programs at Strayer University:
    • Master
      • Master of Science in Health Services Administration: Clinical Care Management
      • Master in Health Services Administration
    • Bachelor Degrees
      • Bachelor in Business Administration: Health Services Administration Online Programs Available  
  5. Northcentral University Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website. Popular programs at Northcentral University:
    • Master
      • Master – Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration Online Programs Available  
  6. Southern New Hampshire University Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website. Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:
    • Master
      • MSM in Healthcare
    • Bachelor Degrees
      • BS Business Admin w/conc in Healthcare Administration
      • BS Healthcare Administration
      • BS Healthcare Admin in Patient Safety & Quality Online Programs Available  
  7. American InterContinental University American InterContinental University responds quickly to information requests through this website. Popular programs at American InterContinental University:
    • Master
      • Master of Healthcare Management
      • MBA – Healthcare Administration
    • Bachelor Degrees
      • Bachelor – Business Administration: Healthcare Management
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management – HSA Mgt.
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management Online Programs Available  
  8. American University American University responds quickly to information requests through this website. Popular programs at American University:
    • Master
      • Master of Science – Healthcare Management Online Programs Available  
  9. Saint Joseph’s University Saint Joseph’s University responds quickly to information requests through this website. Popular programs at Saint Joseph’s University:
    • Master
      • MS in Health Administration Online Programs Available  
  10. Grand Canyon University Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website. Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:
    • Doctoral
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership – Health Care Administration
    • Master
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
    • Bachelor Degrees
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
      • BS in Health Care Administration Online Programs Available
What Makes a Good Dental Hygiene Program?

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