Best Schools in San Jose, CA, for a Dental Assisting Degree

There are at least 17 schools within 50 miles of San Jose, CA, that have dental assisting and dental hygienist certificate and/or degree programs. Read an overview of the programs, requirements and admission info at three schools less than 30 miles away and find out which is right for you.

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San Jose Dental Assisting and Dental Hygienist Schools

Several schools in the San Jose area offer certificate and degree programs in dental assisting or dental hygiene. This article looks at three schools that are within 35 minutes of downtown San Jose. It also includes a table that presents information prospective students should consider, such as costs and school size, in a format that makes it simple to compare the schools.

  • San Jose City College is about three miles from downtown San Jose and offers a certificate and an associate's degree in dental assisting.
  • Situated about 15 miles from downtown San Jose in Los Altos Hills, Foothill College offers a certificate and an associate's degree in dental assisting, in addition to an associate's degree in dental hygiene.
  • San Jose students will travel about 26 miles to attend classes at Chabot College in Hayward. An associate's degree in dental hygiene is available through this school.

San Jose City College

Dental students in these fully-accredited programs gain their lab experience on campus with mannequins and their clinical experience through community dental offices. Applicants should have current certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Certificate of Achievement in Dental Assisting

Full-time students take courses in dental assisting at beginning, intermediate, expanded and clinical levels, for a total of 31.5 units. In the clinical dental courses, students fulfill supervised internships in dental offices.

Associate of Science in Dental Assisting

In addition to meeting the requirements for the certificate program, associate's degree candidates complete general education courses, a physical activity class and general electives. This brings the total required units to 60.

Foothill College

Many of the dental programs' faculty members serve as instructors in both the dental assisting and dental hygiene programs. Dental assisting students complete clinical experience hours in dental offices and at the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry, while students in the dental hygiene program serve their internships on-campus in the Foothill College Dental Hygiene Clinic.

Certificate of Achievement in Dental Assisting

Candidates for this accredited program should have a minimum 2.0 high school grade point average. Classes required for this 10-month, 45-unit certificate program include chair-side dental assisting, dental sciences, radiography, infection control, office emergency procedures, dental health education, dental office business practices, special patient populations and instruction in pit/fissure sealants. In addition, students must earn CPR certification and demonstrate minimum English/math achievement.

Associate in Science in Dental Assisting

Students complete all courses included in the certificate program, as well as required courses in English and math and electives, to fulfill the 90-unit degree requirement.

Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene

This 2-year program begins in the summer and requires completion of 152 units for the major. Candidates are chosen for this selective program according to previous coursework, grade point average, background in science and related work experiences. Courses include human anatomy/physiology, pharmacology, radiography, oral biology, clinical technique, dental materials, microbiology, pathology, periodontics, nutrition, anesthesia and dental ethics.

Chabot College

The dental faculty at this school is comprised of 4 full-time members and 10 adjunct instructors. This school's dental hygiene clinic is located on campus.

Associate in Arts in Dental Hygiene

This accredited program begins in the summer and spans 2 years. Courses include dental anatomy/morphology, oral health education, radiology, oral pathology, dental materials, medical emergencies, educational theories, periodontics, pharmacology, nutrition, expanded functions, patient management and dental office practice. During the 3rd summer of this program, students take part in an advanced clinical rotation. In addition to the major courses, students complete general education requirements to earn this degree.

Comparison of Schools

The following table offers information that prospective dental assisting or hygiene students can use to make a decision about their education. They should be aware that, in addition to books, most programs have extra expenses for uniforms, kits and supplies.

San Jose City College Foothill College Chabot College
School Type 2-year; public 2-year; public 2-year; public
Total Enrollment (2011-2012) 10,107* 15,765* 13,865*
Campus Setting Large city Large suburb Midsize city
Tuition and Fees (2011-2012) $1,042 in state; $6,664 out-of-state* $1,215 in-state; $6,210 out-of-state* $892 in-state; $6,052 out-of-state*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Any Form of Aid (2010-2011) 62%* 28%* 65%*
Acceptance Rate (2013) N/A - Open admissions* N/A - Open admissions* N/A - Open admissions*
Retention Rate (2010-2011) 59% for full-time students; 28% for part-time students* 69% for full-time students; 32% for part-time students* 72% for full-time students; 39% for part-time students*
Graduation Rate (2011) 19% (19% transfer-out rate)* 53% (15% transfer-out rate)* 24% (14% transfer-out rate)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

Other School Options

Cabrillo College, situated about 36 miles from San Jose in Aptos, offers an associate's degree in dental hygiene. Located in San Mateo, about 32 miles from San Jose, College of San Mateo offers a 2-semester, 29.5 unit certificate in dental assisting.

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