Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Do I need to complete all my prerequisites before I apply?

Yes, all prerequisite courses must be completed prior to application.  In-progress courses will not be accepted.  Each semester in the dental hygiene program have 11 to 14 units and will have students in class upward to 30 hours. 

2. Can prerequisite courses from other schools be used?

Yes, if the school is WASC accredited and if the course is equivalent to our requirement.  Check with a Southwestern College counselor.  If the course can be substituted, forms must be submitted to the dental hygiene program to complete the substitution process.

3. I took some of my science courses over 5 years ago, will they apply to the prerequisites for the program?

Yes.  UPDATE!  All science prerequisite courses  now have a recency requirement of 7 years (formerly 5 years).  If courses were taken over 7 years ago or getting close to that, you must retake the course.  

4. Do I have to meet with a counselor before applying?

It is highly recommended to establish a Student Education Plan (SEP) at Southwestern College.  This plan helps students confirm all AS Degree Dental Hygiene required course work is complete.  Counseling appointments can be made by  emailing Student Services at the Higher Education Center at National City at hecnc@swccd.eduYou must obtain a Southwestern College Student ID number to make an appointment.  Apply to the college online to obtain an ID number.

5. How do I apply to Southwestern College?

Click the Apply Now link on the college home page.

6. Is there an Advanced Placement option in the Dental Hygiene Program?


7. Is California residency required for admission to the Dental Hygiene Program?

No.  See the Admissions and Records web site for detailed information on Residency requirements and out of state tuition.

8. How do I request an application to the Dental Hygiene Program?

Application is available online only once the filing period opens.  Application period opens in January of every year.  See the Admission Process page for details.

9. Is there a waiting list to get into the Dental Hygiene Program?

No. See the Admission Process page for full details.

10. When does the program start?

The Dental Hygiene Program starts once a year, every Fall semester.  Incoming students receive current information at orientation.

11. Approximately how much time must one devote to the Dental Hygiene Program once enrolled?

Total hours, including study time, is approximately 60-65 hours per week.

12. What is the estimated cost of program?

The cost for the 2-year program is approximately $13,000 to $15,000.  This cost includes instruments, materials, supplies, textbooks, uniforms, etc.  It does not include replacement materials or equipment, national and clinical board examination cost, or living expenses.

13. Do I need dental office experience?

No.  Any office experience will give you a better idea of the dental hygiene career.  If you can volunteer or observe in a dental office it would provide more information to ensure you have chosen the right career.

14. I am a dental school graduate from a foreign country.  Do I have priority for admission to the dental hygiene program?

While we value your past education and degrees, we are unable to give you advanced standing.  Prerequisite courses must have been taken within the past seven years.  Additionally, you must meet with a SWC counselor to ensure you have met all general education requirements.

15. If I am a graduate of a dental assisting program, do I have to take all course offered in the dental hygiene program.

YES. Incoming students may want to meet with the program director for more detailed information.

16. Do I have priority having been or being an RDA?

Persons with a dental assisting certificate or RDA license are not given priority placement in the program.