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San Diego Dental School Degree Programs with Course Information

There are three schools within 35 miles of San Diego that have dental degree programs. Read an overview of these three schools' programs, requirements and admission info and find out which school is right one for you.

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Comparison of San Diego Dental Schools

One option for students who want to complete a dental program in San Diego is San Diego Mesa College. The college offers a Certificate of Achievement and an Associate in Science program in dental assisting. Located about six miles outside of San Diego, students can complete an associate's degree program in dental hygiene at Southwestern College. The college's main campus is in Chula Vista, but the dental program is offered at the college's Health Education Center at National City. Another option is Palomar College in San Marcos. This school is located approximately 33 miles from San Diego's downtown area. Students attending this school can train to become a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) by completing a certificate or associate's degree program in dental assisting.

San Diego Mesa College Southwestern College (Health Education Center at National City) Palomar College
Dental Programs Offered Certificate of Achievement in Dental Assisting,
Associate in Science in Dental Assisting
Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene Certificate of Achievement in Dental Assisting (Registered Dental Assistant),
Associate in Arts in Dental Assisting (Registered Dental Assistant)
Related Programs Offered Certificate of Achievement in Medical Assisting,
Associate in Science in Medical Assisting
Associate in Science in Medical Assistant Administrative,
Associate in Science in Medical Assistant Clinical,
Associate in Science in Medical Office Management
None
School Type 2-year; public 2-year; public 2-year public
Total Enrollment (2011) 25,504* 20,409* 25,427*
Campus Setting Large city Large suburb Small city
Tuition and Fees (2011-2012) $898 in-state; $5,290 out-of-state* $1,052 in-state; $6,372 out-of-state* $1,052 in-state; $5,084 out-of-state*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Any Form of Aid (2010-2011) 54%* 73%* 49%
Acceptance Rate (2011) N/A - open admissions N/A - open admissions N/A - open admissions
Retention Rate (2011) 62% for full-time students, 30% for part-time students* 70% for full-time students, 43% for part-time students* 66% for full-time students, 42% for part-time students*
Graduation Rate (2011) 22% (18% transfer-out rate)* 12% (8% transfer-out rate)* 26% (13% transfer-out rate)*
Relevant Resources State-of-the-art building includes dental clinic, radiography room, intra-oral cameras, digital x-ray equipment and a CAD/CAM dental system Dental Hygiene Clinic offers educational training where students administer dental care for the general public None
Noteworthy One of the top 10 dental programs in California based upon students' passing rates on the RDA exam The Dental Hygiene Clinic offers services at no cost One of only two colleges in San Diego County recognized by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB)
Distance from Downtown San Diego (Driving Time) 7.4 mi. (13 min.) 5.9 mi. (12 min.) 33.5 mi. (40 min.)

Source: NCES College Navigator


San Diego Mesa College Dental Programs

This community college is the largest school within the San Diego Community College District. Through the School of Health Sciences and Public Service, students may complete a certificate program and an associate's degree program in dental assisting. These programs are accredited by the American Dental Association's Commission of Dental Accreditation (CODA) and the Dental Board of California (DBC).

Certificate of Achievement in Dental Assisting

Students enrolled in this program will complete a prerequisite course during the summer term. Students receive training in performing chairside dental procedures, providing coronal polishing, operating dental x-ray equipment, using dental business administration software and implementing sterilization procedures for infection control. Students also complete directed clinical practice sessions and must attain 35 credits to complete the program. Graduates of the program qualify to take the California RDA and the national Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exams.

Associate in Science in Dental Assisting

This degree program is essentially the same curriculum as the dental assisting certificate program. The only difference between the two programs is that students earning an associate's degree must meet the 60-credit degree requirement by taking elective courses. Students complete the 35 credit hours of core courses in areas such as advanced dental assisting, basic dental science, clinical business management and preventative dental care. Completion of this program also qualifies students to take the RDA and CDA examinations.

Southwestern College Dental Program

Southwestern College was founded in 1961 and is a part of the California Community College System. The school is located between San Diego and the U.S.-Mexico border. The dental program is offered during weekdays at the college's Higher Education Center at National City.

Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene

Students in this program learn how to provide oral health assessments, remove particles from teeth and use machines to take dental x-rays. Courses offered include head and neck anatomy, oral anatomy, dental radiography and infection control. Through the Dental Hygiene Clinic, students get to work on actual patients under the supervision of licensed dentists and registered dental hygienists. Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to take the California Registered Dental Hygienist Licensure Exam, the California Dental Law and Ethics Exam and the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination.

Palomar College Dental Programs

This school is a member of the California Community Colleges System. The school offers over 300 certificate and associate's degree programs in areas such as performing arts, journalism, environmental technology, special education and business.

Certificate of Achievement in Dental Assisting (Registered Dental Assistant)

Students in this program are required to complete 36-37 credit hours of coursework. The curriculum is designed to prepare students to become RDAs. Students who meet all of the program requirements are eligible to take California's RDA exam, as well as the CDA exam offered by the DANB. Graduates also receive certificates in California Practice Act and Infection Control, pit and fissure sealants, coronal polishing and dental radiography.

Associate in Arts in Dental Assisting (Registered Dental Assistant)

Students complete the same major courses offered in the certificate program, along with electives to meet the requirements for a degree. All courses must be completed within two years from enrollment to avoid losing credits earned. Students complete several hours of clinical lab training in areas such as advanced dental procedures, dental materials, dental practice management, dental radiography and preventative dentistry. In the final semester, students participate in a clinical rotation where they perform procedures under the guidance of licensed dentists. Students who successfully complete this degree program also receive the certificate awards mentioned in the previous section and are able to take certification exams.

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