Shepherd University (DentSTEP)

DentSTEP is one of several WVU School of Dentistry early admission programs in partnership with other universities to help guide predental students’ smooth progression into the WVU Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program. Rising sophomores at Shepherd University who are recommended by Shepherd may apply for potential early admission to WVU’s DDS program. Individuals who complete their first year at Shepherd and aspire to earn a dental degree are eligible to apply to DentSTEP.

Admission to the DentSTEP is available to a maximum of two students annually through a competitive application and interview process. West Virginia residents receive priority consideration. Because the WVU School of Dentistry values diversity and recognizes its importance in addressing access to quality oral health care, individuals from populations that are underrepresented in dental school, including African American, Latino/Hispanic, Native American, first-generation college and economically disadvantaged, are encouraged to apply. 

Shepherd is responsible for DentSTEP student recruitment since enrollment there is a key program requirement. DentSTEP students participate in prehealth professions seminars and community service activities while enrolled at Shepherd.

DentSTEP applications are available to all Shepherd students who meet the specified criteria (see below).  

For the Shepherd University/WVU School of Dentistry DentSTEP brochure, please click here.


DentSTEP Admission Requirements

Students admitted to DentSTEP must:

  • Have completed a minimum of 30 semester hours and a maximum of 75 semester hours, with a minimum of a 3.60 GPA, to include at least two of the required biology, chemistry and math core courses each semester. 
  • Take one chemistry, one biology and one math core course per semester during their freshman year.
  • Complete the physics core courses by the completion of their sophomore year.

Prior to admission to DentSTEP, students must have at least 10 hours of documented observation in one or more general dental practices.

Upon acceptance to DentSTEP, students sign a commitment statement affirming their intention to satisfy program requirements and participate in DentSTEP activities. 

DentSTEP participants typically are expected to complete all coursework required for enrollment in the WVU School of Dentistry DDS program and their undergraduate degree at Shepherd within four years.


Ongoing Requirements

To continue participation in DentSTEP while enrolled at Shepherd, students must:

  • Maintain 3.60 overall and science GPAs.
  • Maintain standards of honesty, integrity and citizenship.

Students accepted into the Shepherd/WVU School of Dentistry DentSTEP program will be guaranteed admittance to the WVU dental program if they:

  • Successfully complete all prerequisite courses for dental school admission and all other requirements, including immunizations and criminal background clearance.
  • Have overall and science GPAs of 3.60 or above at Shepherd.
  • Take the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and score at or above the average Academic and Perceptual Ability Test (PAT) scores achieved by the previous WVU entering dental class.
  • Fulfill preparatory community service (minimum 50 hours) and dental shadowing requirements (minimum 50 hours in various general dental practices).
  • Successfully complete dental school application and interview requirements.
  • Demonstrate honesty, integrity, leadership and citizenship.
  • Individuals who receive provisional acceptance to the WVU School of Dentistry educational programs must pass a Criminal Background Investigation (CBI) at their own expense prior to final acceptance to the WVU School of Dentistry.

Students interested in Shepherd and DentSTEP should also visit regarding college admission requirements.

The DentSTEP application period is Feb. 1-March 15.