Program Overview

Length: 1-year Dental Assisting diploma, beginning in the Fall semester
Application Period: June through mid-January.  See the Dental Assisting Bulletin for specific dates.
Number of Students Accepted: 28

Tuition & Estimated Costs

See the Dental Assisting Bulletin for specific details.

  • Costs may vary slightly from year to year.  Tuition is set by the North Carolina Legislature and can change without notice.
  • Each student will also be responsible for providing their transportation to the campus and to off-campus clinical rotation sites.  Also, students will need to budget for miscellaneous expenses such as binders, paper, pens, pencils, etc.
  • Candidates should complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), College Foundation scholarship paperwork, and other scholarship forms as early as possible.  See the Financial Aid and Scholarships page for more details.
  • Candidates should consider other related expenses and issues such as transportation and child care.
  • Because of the scheduling demands of the Dental Assisting program, it is important to consider limiting working schedules.

Dental Assisting Program Goals

  1. To provide a student-centered teaching environment that engages the students as active learners.
  2. To educate dental assisting students in the ethical, legal, and competent practice of dental assisting.
  3. To comprehensively prepare students to assist the dentist in the delivery of dental treatment.
  4. To prepare students to function as integral members of the dental team while performing chairside and related office and laboratory procedures.
  5. To prepare dental assistants with the interpersonal skills and necessary competencies to provide patient-centered care.
  6. To educate students on current technologies and the skills necessary to adapt to a rapidly changing healthcare system.
  7. To engage students in the promotion of dental health ideals through service to the community and involvement with professional organizations.

FAQs for Dental Assisting Students

What does a Dental Assistant do?
The tasks performed by a Dental Assistant are varied.  Here are a few of the things a Dental Assistant does.

  • Assists the dentist during a variety of treatment procedures.
  • Takes and develop x-rays.
  • Serves as infection control officer.
  • Helps patients feel comfortable before, during. and after treatment.
  • Teaches patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies.
  • Performs office management tasks.
  • Counsels patients about good nutrition.
  • Helps provide direct patient care in general dentistry and the dental specialties.
What is the difference between a Dental Assistant and a Dental Hygienist?
While there are some functions that both the Dental Assistant and Dental Hygienist perform, the Dental Assistant primarily assists the dentist in providing treatment for the patient.  A Dental Hygienist works more independently by providing oral hygiene care to the patient.  Basically, the Hygienist “cleans teeth” by removing hard and soft deposits.  Both the Assistant and the Hygienist are trained to teach patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies and counsel patients on good nutrition.
Do I have to go to school to be a Dental Assistant?
Formal training is NOT a requirement for working as a Dental Assistant in North Carolina.  However, many functions commonly delegated to Dental Assistants can only be performed by Assistants who have attended an accredited program or those who have challenged and passed the Dental Assisting National Board.  Most dentists prefer to hire trained Assistants so that they can perform all the tasks needed.
How much do Dental Assistants earn?
Pay varies greatly depending upon location and office.  Visit the College Foundation of North Carolina’s Find a Career page to learn more about salary ranges in this field.
Is Coastal’s Dental Assisting program accredited?
Yes.  The Dental Assisting program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association.  More information can be found in the Bulletin.
How long is the Dental Assisting program?
The Dental Assisting program is one academic year in length.  Students begin in the fall semester in mid-August.  They complete requirements for graduation at the end of the summer session of the following year.
Is it possible to attend the Dental Assistant program on a part-time basis?
No.  All Dental Assisting students are full-time students and must take all required courses when they are offered.  This is a block scheduled program so courses are only offered once each year.
Is it difficult to get into the Dental Assisting program?
The Dental Assisting program is a limited enrollment program.  The admissions process is designed to choose the best qualified students who have a greater chance of successful completion of the program.  More information on the admissions process can be found in the Dental Assisting Bulletin.
What can I do to improve my chances of being accepted into the program?
The best way to position yourself well for admission into the Dental Assisting program is to accumulate the greatest number of points possible.   See the Dental Assisting Bulletin for more details.
Is it possible for me to compete for a spot in the Dental Assisting program straight from high school?
Yes, it is!  Please see the Dental Assisting Bulletin for details.
About how many hours will I be in school each week?
The actual schedule for Dental Assisting courses varies from semester to semester.  A full load in the Dental Assisting program ranges from 25-31 hours per week.  If you have taken all of the related courses prior to entering the program, the schedule ranges from 21-24 hours per week.
Is the program difficult?
The course work in the Dental Assisting program is challenging.  It is necessary to cover a large amount of material in a short amount of time . It takes a big commitment on the part of the student to successfully complete the program.  That said, the faculty works hard to provide assistance to students who need additional help.  Information is provided using a variety of teaching styles. Counselors are also available to provide information on learning styles, study techniques, and time management.  Our goal is to retain the greatest number of students possible.
What can I do to improve my chances of success in the Dental Assisting program?
One thing you can do is take as many related college courses as possible prior to entering the program.  This allows you more time to focus on your Dental courses.  Also, the ACA 111 College Student Success course (though not required to complete the program) provides students with proven strategies for achieving success in college courses.  There has been a lot of research conducted concerning the factors that make college students successful.  One of the most important factors to consistently arise form this research focuses on attendance.  Students who regularly attend class perform better than those who don’t.
How much time should I set aside for studying on a weekly basis?
This depends upon you and your study skills.  A general rule of thumb is that you should plan to spend about two hours of time outside of class for every one hour of class time.  That means that if you are in class for 20 hours each week, you should plan to study an additional 40 hours.  Of course, in the Dental Assisting program, many of the class hours are lab and clinic hours which do not require as much outside study time.  The Dental Assisting program is a full-time commitment.
How many hours can I work each week and still keep up with my school work?
That’s a tough question to answer because it varies from student to student.  The Dental Department recommends that students not work while in the Dental Assisting program.  Aside from the approximately 25 hours per week you will spend in lectures, labs, and clinics, there will be times you will need to spend doing additional lab work.  Also, you will need sufficient study and rest time. While we recommend you not work, we realize that it is simply not financially feasible for some students not to have an income while in the program.  If you must work, try to limit your hours to no more than 10 per week if possible and seek a job that allows you flexibility in scheduling.
Do most graduates find a job easily?
The majority of Dental Assisting graduates find employment very quickly.  In fact, many students already have jobs offers when they graduate.  The goal of the program is that at least half of the graduates responding to the Graduate Survey will report that they are employed in the dental field or that they are enrolled in further education.  The Dental Assisting program always exceeds this goal.
What do employers say about Coastal’s Dental Assisting graduates?
The dentists who hire our graduates consistently give them an overall rating of excellent on the Employer Survey.  100% of the employers have said that they would hire future Coastal graduates!
Why should I consider a career in Dental Assisting?
One year in the Dental Assisting program can prepare you for a challenging and rewarding career.  There is a high demand for well-trained dental assistants in Onslow County, surrounding areas, and across the country.  Graduation from the Dental Assisting program prepares graduates to work in private dental practices, public health clinics, hospital dental clinics, military dental clinics, and in dental schools.
Who do I contact if I want to learn more about the Dental Assisting program?
Please contact the Admissions Office at or 910.938.6394 for more information.