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Smile. Dental Assistant jobs have great potential for growth.

Dental assistants work side-by-side with dentists to ensure a smooth patient experience. Their responsibilities include keeping patients comfortable, making dental impressions, and exposing radiographs. With booming demand, practices are seeking experienced dental assistants. Students working toward the Dental Assistant Diploma at Vista College receive real experience built into this career training program, making them great candidates for great jobs.

We’ve designed COE-accredited dental assistant training that gets you Day 1 Ready in under 11 months*, focusing on the skills employers seek. You’ll emerge from our program with dental office experience, prepared for the DANB certification exam. Our instructors are professionals who give hands-on instruction with real equipment.

Because job preparation goes beyond classes, Vista College’s personalized career services focus on all aspects of career readiness, from finding the right jobs to resume building to interview prep. We even offer exam preparation and pay fees for your certification, going above and beyond what you’ll find at most other accredited dental assisting schools. If you are ready to put your new skills to work, we’re ready to help.

*Based on successful, full-time enrollment

What You’ll Learn

Learn the workings of a dentist’s office and get practical experience in the environment. Brush up on proper use and maintenance of equipment, including cleaning tools and x-ray machines. You’ll also study sterilization, and procedures to prevent cross-contamination.

Dental Assistant Learning Models

The Dental Assistant program has been redesigned to utilize our new Blended learning model at our College Station, El Paso, Fort Smith, Las Cruces and Longview campuses. Blended learning provides an optimal combination of both traditional and digital learning, in a format that allows you enhanced schedule flexibility. It uses a combination of faculty-led online classes, independent learning activities and on-campus lab hands-on training overseen by experienced instructors.

Our Killeen campus will continue to use a traditional on-campus learning model, using in-person training to deliver hands-on career education in an atmosphere conducive for personalized instruction.

Learn more about our ground campus learning models.

Fast Facts

Course Length: 11 Months *
Class Hours:
Lab Hours:
Clinical Hours:


Course is offered in either a Traditional or our new Blended learning format, which combines flexible online classes with hands-on lab work.

Please select a campus

College Station, TX
El Paso, TX
Fort Smith, AR
Killeen, TX
Las Cruces, NM
Longview, TX
* Based on successful, full time enrollment

Vista College’s Dental Assistant (Distance Education) program uses a blended learning model that combines the best of both worlds: the convenience of online courses with all the advantages of hands-on, on-campus labs to provide a unique educational experience. Blended learning — sometimes also referred to as hybrid learning — builds on the strengths of multiple education models with the aim of providing an optimal combination of both traditional and digital, in a format that allows you both flexibility and independence.
Blended Learning Model Icons
Our blended learning model utilizes a combination of faculty-led online classes, at-home learning activities, and in-person lab training overseen by experienced instructors. Each course in the program is 90 hours and taught over a 5-week period. We cap off our Dental Assistant (DE) program with an externship that gives you practical experience in a real work setting. To learn more about how Vista College’s blended learning model works, read the Frequently Asked Questions.

With the traditional learning model, Vista College’s Dental Assistant (Traditional) diploma program utilizes the tried-and-true methods of in-person training in order to effectively deliver the kind of hands-on career education that has successfully prepared our students for new job opportunities for decades. We’ve always kept our dedication to being student-focused and convenient, with an atmosphere conducive for learning and sharing ideas. We keep our class sizes small, with low student-to-teacher ratios so that you can take full advantage of the personalized attention and professional, experienced instructors so vital to the classroom learning process.
Traditional Learning Model Icons
Our traditional Dental Assistant program caps off with an externship in the workplace. This allows you become an active and contributing member of your community, in your chosen field, even before you graduate.

Ground Campus Learning Models

Traditional Blended
(On-Campus and Online)
Online Plus
Location/ Content Delivery Method Traditional face-to-face on-campus theory and lab instruction. Combination of on-campus and online. Online courses that may be accessed from anywhere.
Meeting Times Classes take place on scheduled days and times. Portions of the course are live real-time virtual instruction with other students at specific days/times. Other portions are independent activities that may be completed at any time each week. Most laboratory portions of the course must be completed at the campus. Portions of the course are live real-time remote instruction with other students at specific days/times. Other portions are independent activities that may be completed at any time each week. Most laboratory segments are completed online.
Labs On-campus labs allow for hands-on learning with experienced instructors and your peers. On-campus labs allow for hands-on learning with experienced instructors and your peers. Most practice labs are completed online, enabling real-world experience.
(Healthcare programs only)
Students are required to complete an externship in an applicable healthcare workplace environment.
Canvas Learning Management System The Canvas LMS provides students 24/7 access to all course materials and information. Students will access assignments as well as submit work through Canvas. Students will also be able to view course schedules, access grades, and have student-to-student or student-to-teacher conversations.

Blended Learning FAQs

What kind of program structure can I expect from a blended learning model?
All of our blended learning courses are 90 hours, taught over five weeks. Each one consists of
What is the online course structure?
Vista uses the online learning management system Canvas, which is where you’ll access all your blended learning course content and links to any other information or software you need. You’ll utilize McGraw Hill’s Connect software to complete activities and assignments. For online, real-time lectures, we utilize Zoom, which allows you to see your instructors, view any shared visuals and classroom materials, and break into small groups to interact with others for group projects and discussions.
Will I need to attend at specific times in a blended learning program?
Yes, some components of both our online and on-campus hybrid courses have some set times you’ll need to attend. These include:
Components Distance Education – Blended Schedule
Theory 4 hours per week - 2 hours twice weekly Synchronous/Scheduled in Zoom
Lab 9 hours per week - 4.5 hours twice weekly Synchronous/Scheduled
Independent Student Learning Activities 5 hours per week - Work time determined by the student outside of class time, Monday – Friday at 4:00 p.m. (CT) Asynchronous/Unscheduled
Total Weekly Attendance 18 hours
Attendance is expected and recorded for each hour.
How will I interact with my instructors
The great thing about Zoom is it implements a lot of the features of a classroom. Multiple users are able to interact at the same time, you’ll be able to ask questions and participate in discussions, and there’s also a chat feature where you can interact with your blended learning course instructors and classmates. Your instructor may even use a feature that allows for small breakout groups of students.
What kind of equipment will I need for the blended learning program?
Mostly, you’ll need Internet access in order to connect to the online components of your hybrid courses. We provide new students with a Chromebook so you’ll be assured of having a working laptop with a microphone and a webcam. This will allow you to access the Canvas Learning Management System, Zoom, and any other course materials. We make it a priority to provide you with all software and ebooks required for the program.
Will I be able to get tutoring if I need it?
Absolutely. Vista’s blended learning model still gives you access to our valuable support services. You’ll be able to connect with your instructors for online tutoring, either as an individual or in small groups, through Zoom or telephone.

Career Opportunities for Graduates

Graduates of the Dental Assistant Diploma program prepare for the DANB national certification exam. With this certification, they may seek employment as a dental assistant in dental offices. Many dental assistants hope to further advance their career by studying to become a hygienist.

Potential Job Titles: Dental Assistant

Course Title Credits
Introduction to Dentistry 7.5
Dental Sciences 9
Practical Infection Control 6
Dental Materials 6
Preventive Dentistry * 6
Dental Radiography * 6
Dental Office Management * 6
Dental Procedures * 4.5
Dental Assistant Externship * 6

Introduction to Dentistry


Students are instructed in the history, ethics, legalities, duties and responsibilities of the dental health team; knowledge of professional organizations; and proper conduct and grooming of the dental assistant. Students also will be exposed to the basic theories of psychology which enable the dental assistant to gain a better understanding of the dental patient and dental health staff.

7.5 credits
60 theory hours
30 lab hours

Dental Sciences


Students receive instruction in general anatomy and physiology principles of all body systems. The anatomy of the head and neck, as well as the face and oral cavity will be covered in depth. Oral embryology and histology as well as the formation of teeth are discussed. Methods of dental charting and common oral diseases will be covered.

9 credits
90 theory hours

Practical Infection Control


Students will be instructed in the basic concepts of microbiology and the relevance of sterilization. OSHA Regulations (including the hazard communication standard and how compliance is accomplished) will also be emphasized.

6 credits
30 theory hours
60 lab hours

Dental Materials


Students will be instructed in the fundamentals and properties of various dental materials such as irreversible hydrocolloid impression materials and dental cements, and manipulation of gypsum products, discuss final impressions for crown and bridge along with other cosmetic reconstructive procedures. The student will be exposed to the proper uses, applications and the safe handling procedures according to OSHA compliance and the FDA for dental amalgam, and composites, cements, bases and liners.

6 credits
30 theory hours
60 lab hours

Preventive Dentistry


Students will be instructed in Philosophy of Preventive Dentistry. The course provides students with the knowledge necessary to understand the importance of oral health, identifying dental caries, methods for caries intervention, identifying periodontal disease, preventative dental techniques, nutrition, and oral pathology.

6 credits
30 theory hours
60 lab hours

Dental Radiography


Students will be instructed in dental radiology, radiographic equipment and safety protocol, dental film processing, radiographic techniques, legal issues, quality control, infection control, and the foundations of extra-oral and intra-oral radiology.

6 credits
30 theory hours
60 lab hours

Dental Office Management


Students will be instructed in telephone etiquette and communication, guidelines for better interpersonal relations, methods for effective appointment control, dental bookkeeping systems and practices, business writing and techniques for collecting.

6 credits
30 theory hours
60 lab hours

Dental Procedures


This course is an introduction to dental operative procedures, charting, instrumentation, infection control, care and maintenance of equipment and utilization of dental materials. The student will become familiar with the function and use of various instruments and accessories used in the dental office.

4.5 credits
90 lab hours

Dental Assistant Externship


Students learn from hands-on dental assisting experiences in clinical, laboratory, and administrative duties. The externship is completed in a dental office, under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. The externship program has been designed to provide the student with supervised practical work experience. Externship is for students who have completed classroom training and is a requirement for graduation. Externship hours vary and may be scheduled from 20 to 40 hours per week.

6 credits
180 externship hours

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