Whether you want to become a dentist or work in a dental studio, you must first complete a higher education program.
The table below shows a quick list of the fourteen best dental schools in Arizona:
|School||Program||Duration||Tuition (AZ residents)||Attendance/Campus|
|A.T. Still University of Health Sciences||Dental Medicine, DMD||4 years||$87,452/year||Mesa|
|Orthodontics, MS||30 months||$90,454/year||Mesa|
|Midwestern University||Dental Medicine, DMD||4 years||$86,031/year||Glendale|
|Northern Arizona University||Dental Hygiene, BS||2 years||$10,650/year||Flagstaff|
|Phoenix College||Dental Hygiene, AAS||2 years||$85/credit hour||Phoenix|
|Dental Assisting, AAS||2 years||$85/credit hour||Phoenix|
|Rio Salado College||Dental Hygiene, AAS||2 years||$85/credit hour||Tempe|
|Carrington College||Dental Hygiene, AAS||3 years||$63,245/total||Mesa|
|Dental Assisting, Certificate||9 months||$18,442/total||Campus-based/multiple options|
|Pima Community College||Dental Hygiene, AAS||2 years||$89/credit hour||West Campus Tucson|
|Dental Assisting, Certificate||1 year||$89/credit hour||West Campus Tucson|
|Mesa Community College||Dental Hygiene, AAS||2 years||$85/credit hour||Mesa|
|Mohave Community College||Dental Hygiene, AAS||2 years||$81/credit hour||Bullhead City|
|Dental Assisting, Certificate||1 year||$89/credit hour||Bullhead City|
|Brookline College||Dental Assisting, Certificate||1 year||$18,000/total||Phoenix or Tempe|
|East Valley Institute of Technology||Dental Assisting, Certificate||1 year||Free (for high-school students)||East Valley, Mesa|
|University of Arizona||Pre-Dentistry Thematic Minor||3 years||$12,700/total||Tucson|
Note: The information in the table above, including program availability, duration, tuition fee, and attendance requirements, was sourced from each individual school and is correct as of June 2022.
1. A.T. Still University of Health Sciences
Focused on healthcare, the A.T. Still University of Health Sciences has various divisions, including one dedicated to oral health.
The Doctor of Dental Medicine (ASDOH) is a 4-year residential program for students with an undergraduate degree in dentistry or a related subject. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative and science grade average of 2.5, although 3 is the minimum recommended.
Other requirements include a minimum of three years’ college or university coursework from an accredited institution. A baccalaureate degree is not required, but applicants holding a BSc have an edge over those that only hold an associate’s degree or certificate.
The Master of Science in Orthodontics is a postgraduate program dedicated to dentists who want to pursue a specialization.
It has a duration of five semesters; upon completion, graduates can apply for a Ph.D. program. However, the A.T. Still University doesn’t offer one.
The Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health’s acceptance rate is around 2.2%, making it the most desirable dental school in the state.
Website: A.T. Still University
2. Midwestern University
The second university providing a DMD program, the Midwestern Dental School Arizona, is a great choice for students living in Glendale or Phoenix.
This program also has a duration of four years and a 100% graduation rate. A typical class includes 140 students, although there could be variations between one academic year and another.
Getting admitted into this university is tougher, though. Midwestern University requires a minimum GPA of 3 or more, with 4 being the minimum recommended. Applicants must also submit two letters of recommendation, one of which either from a pre-dental advisory committee or a science professor.
While Midwestern University doesn’t offer postgraduate dentistry programs, you can use this DMD degree to apply for an MS or Ph.D. at other institutions.
The Midwestern University offers the same dentistry program at its Downers Grove campus in Illinois.
Website: Midwestern University
3. Northern Arizona University
While the two universities above are the only ones in the state offering DMD programs to become a dentist, Northern Arizona University is one of the best dental schools in north-central Arizona for dental hygienists.
In fact, it is the only institution in the state that offers a Bachelor of Science degree at the end of the dental hygiene program rather than an Associate’s degree.
Those wondering what the difference is – after all, both a BS and an AAS enable you to work as a dental hygienist – should know that a BS increases the chances of getting accepted in a DMD program. Those holding a BS can also apply for MS and, ultimately, Ph.D. programs without completing a DMD first.
Sure, you won’t be able to work as a dentist without a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree; however, this qualification increases your career development opportunities.
Moreover, this is one of the most affordable undergraduate programs, with a tuition fee of only $10,650 per year for Arizona-resident students.
The Northern Arizona University Dental Hygiene program has a duration of two years and is campus-based in Flagstaff.
Website: Northern Arizona University
4. Phoenix College
Part of the Maricopa Community College family, Phoenix College is one of the best dental schools in Phoenix, Arizona.
The college offers two separate programs that allow students to earn an Associate’s degree in either dental hygiene or dental assisting. This is one of the few schools offering a dental assisting AAS, most of them offering certificates only.
Upon graduation, a dental hygienist can work alongside dentists in taking care of a patient’s oral health. Credits earned during theory and training courses can also be used to complete the BS program offered by the Northern Arizona University or to transfer to a healthcare-related 4-year program.
Dental assistants can work in dental practices or choose different career paths and become community health workers or health specialty teachers.
The college also offers the possibility of earning a certificate of completion (CCL) for dental assistants if you want to graduate faster. A certificate might improve your chances of getting accepted into a BS program.
Admission criteria for both programs require a high school diploma or GED equivalent and the completion of program prerequisites with a C or better.
Website: Phoenix College
5. Rio Salado College
Like the Phoenix College, Rio Salado College is part of the Maricopa Community College. It has similar admission requirements and tuition fees as Phoenix College and is one of the best dental hygiene schools in Arizona.
The main difference between the two schools is the educational offer. Rio Salado only offers a dental hygienist program. Students are awarded an Associate’s degree upon successful completion and can use the degree to pursue further higher education or to find employment in a dental clinic or practice.
Because the academic requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, Rio Salado College only offers this program to local students. The course meets the academic requirements for a Licensed Dental Hygienist in Arizona.
Website: Rio Salado College
6. Carrington College
If you’re looking for the best dental school in Mesa, Arizona, to become a dental hygienist or assistant, Carrington College is a top choice. The two upper education programs are offered to students with a high school diploma.
The dental hygienist tuition is expensive compared to other dental schools in the state. However, this is one of the few colleges that provide real-life experiences to students.
Here, you will work in a real dental studio alongside experienced dental hygienists and dentists, so you’ll be ready to embark on an exciting career upon graduation. Dental assisting students also get real-life practice.
Carrington College is open to resident and non-resident students. In Arizona, the school only offers the dental hygienist program in Mesa. However, dental assisting students can attend classes in Mesa, Tucson, Glendale, and Phoenix.
Website: Carrington College
7. Pima Community College
Pima Community College is one of the best dental schools in Tucson, Arizona. Its offer is not that different from the schools above: those with a high school diploma can apply for admission to the dental hygienist or dental assistant program.
The former offers an Associate degree upon completion. The latter, a certificate. Both programs are designed to offer real-life experience, preparing students for a career in oral healthcare.
It goes without saying that you can also use the credits to apply for a BS or DMD program.
Tuition is charged per credit hour, with the general tuition fee being $89 for one credit. However, the college uses different tiers for various courses. It is challenging to calculate the total or yearly costs on your own, so the best thing to do is to contact an advisor.
Generally, most students complete the dental hygiene program in around two years, and the dental assisting one in nine to 12 months.
Until recently, the college also offered an Associate program in dental laboratory technology. This program is now suspended, but it could be reintroduced in the future.
Website: Pima Community College
8. Mesa Community College
Mesa Community College joins Carrington on the list of best dental hygienist schools in Mesa (and central Arizona).
Part of Maricopa Community Colleges, Mesa Community College proposes a dental hygiene program similar to Rio Salado.
Applicants must have a high school diploma and complete all program prerequisites. You must also be available to participate in all classrooms, laboratories, and clinical setting activities, or you could struggle to earn credits.
Like all Maricopa colleges, Mesa Community College charges $85 per credit hour as tuition. However, other fees and taxes may apply.
Website: Mesa Community College
9. Mohave Community College
Like most community colleges and schools on this list, the Mohave Community College offers dental assisting and dental hygiene programs to high school graduates.
Students attending full-time can expect to complete the program in one or two years, respectively. However, you can also opt for part-time attendance.
One thing to keep in mind is that Mohave Community College is highly selective. The dental hygiene program is offered to a maximum of 18 students per academic year, and you must complete all admission prerequisites to be considered.
Students earning their AAS degree are eligible to transfer their credits to a university – this is a great opportunity if your purpose is to complete a four-year program but didn’t get accepted in the college of your choice the first time around.
No doubt, this is the best dental school in Bullhead City, Arizona.
Website: Mohave Community College
10. Brookline College
Brookline College is one of the best dental assisting schools in Arizona if you’re looking for an affordable program.
Students can attend classes at Phoenix or Tempe campuses, and you can get your certificate in as little as 40 weeks. This is generally about one academic year, although you might be able to opt for part-time studying if you also want to work.
Transferring your credits after graduation is not possible since you’ll only be earning a certificate. However, some schools might consider your studies if you decide to apply for a full degree.
Website: Brookline College
11. East Valley Institute of Technology
East Valley high school students looking at a career in dentistry can take their first steps into higher education with the dental assisting program offered by the East Valley Institute of Technology.
With a duration of one academic year (two semesters), the program introduces students to dental office operations and operational procedures.
The first semester is mostly classroom-based, while the second term focuses more on practice. Upon successful completion, students will receive a Dental Assisting X-Ray Certification from the institute.
The EVIT program addresses senior students only who have a 2 GPA or equivalent and at least one credit (C or higher) in biology or anatomy and physiology. That said, this is undeniably one of the best dental schools for high school students in Arizona.
Website: East Valley Institute of Technology
12. University of Arizona
The University of Arizona doesn’t offer an academic program in dentistry, but thanks to its thematic minor, it is one of the best pre-dentistry schools in Arizona.
Once graduated, the minor gives you the possibility to transfer the credits to a university of your choice. It is a good option for those looking to get admitted into a DMD program while also specializing in a different discipline.
Generally, the minor has a duration of three years. The tuition fee varies depending on the chosen major, and other fees may also apply. All courses are offered at the Tucson campus and require in-person attendance.
Website: University of Arizona