Shepherd University (DentSTEP)

Dentists are integral members of the healthcare team. Today's oral health professionals focus not only on the diagnosis and detection of oral health problems, they also stress the importance of oral health to systemic health and well-being. Oral-systemic health linkages and profound oral health disparities are indicated in emerging research. The West Virginia University School of Dentistry engages students in an abundance of educational, outreach, and research experiences to help reduce these disparities and prepare them to provide exemplary and culturally sensitive oral healthcare. There are many career options in dentistry, including private practice, public health, and academic dentistry. Dentists in private practice serve as their own bosses, allowing them flexibility to balance their professional and personal lives. A career in public health focuses on community health. Academic dentistry careers combine teaching, research, community service, and patient care. There are nine recognized dental specialties: Dental Public Health, Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontics, and Prosthodontics. The need for dentists is expected to continue to increase as the demand for oral healthcare grows.

Capitalizing on the strength of partnerships, the WVU School of Dentistry and Shepherd University College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (College of STEM) are joining together to promote students' seamless progression from college to dental school through the Shepherd University and WVU School of Dentistry Dental Early Admission Program (SU/WVU DENTSTEP). This joint program helps simplify the dental school admission process while easing the financial burden of the application. DENTSTEP gives a select number of motivated Shepherd University College of STEM students an early introduction to the WVU School of Dentistry faculty, students, and alumni while also providing unique opportunities to help prepare them for WVU's challenging dental program.

The WVU School of Dentistry has partnered with SU College of Stem to offer highly qualified second year students’ potential early admission to WVU's Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) program. Individuals who complete their first year at SU 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 healthcare, individuals from populations that are under-represented in dental school, including African American, Latino/Hispanic, Native American, first-generation college, and economically disadvantaged, are encouraged to apply.

Shepherd University is responsible for DENTSTEP student recruitment since enrollment in SU is a key program requirement.

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

DENTSTEP is one of several WVU School of Dentistry early admission agreements with colleges and universities to help guide pre-dental students' smooth progression into the D.D.S. program.

Participating students take part in pre-health professions seminars and community service activities while enrolled at SU.

DENTSTEP Admission Requirements

Students admitted to DENTSTEP must:

  • Have completed at least 30 semester hours but no more 75 semester hours, with a minimum of a 3.60 GPA, to include at least two (2) of the required Biology, Chemistry, and Math core courses each semester. Core courses are listed under “Undergraduate Curriculum.”
  • Take one Chemistry, one Biology and one Mathematics 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 20 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 their undergraduate degree at SU within four years.

Dental School Application

In the summer following their junior year at Shepherd University, DENTSTEP students are required to apply to the WVU D.D.S. program via the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) and, when prompted, complete the WVU School of Dentistry Supplemental Application for Admission in the fall semester of their senior year. The latter application fee is waived. An interview with the Dental Admissions Committee is required to verify that the candidate has fulfilled all D.D.S. program admissions requirements. DENTSTEP applicants are informed about their dental school application status via letter from the Associate Dean for Dental Admissions, Recruitment, and Access on or after December 1.

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.

DENTSTEP Application

DENTSTEP Ongoing Requirements

To continue participation in DENTSTEP while enrolled in Shepherd University, students must:

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

Students accepted into the SU/WVU 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 University.
  • 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 75 hours in various general dental practices).
  • Successfully complete dental school application and interview requirements.
  • Demonstrate honesty, integrity, leadership and citizenship.

Undergraduate Curriculum

  • Biology/Zoology-Introductory class plus 2-4 upper division classes
  • Chemistry-General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry with labs
  • Biochemistry-1 year with labs
  • Physics-1 year with labs
  • Mathematics-Statistics/epidemiology
  • Psychology-Normal and abnormal, 1-2 classes
  • Philosophy/Ethics-1-2 classes
  • General Studies-U.S. History, World History, etc.
  • One year each-English, computer literacy, sociology
  • One semester-Art of Music appreciation

 *Shepherd University determines the additional courses necessary to fulfill undergraduate degree requirements.