American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Certification FAQ

What are the requirements for certification?

1. You must be a graduate of an AOA-accredited college of osteopathic medicine.

2. You must hold an active license to practice in a state or territory. If you have a restricted license, you may petition the specific Specialty Certifying Board in order to enter the certification or recertification process based upon a review of the restriction.

3. You must be able to show evidence of conformity to the AOA Code of Ethics.

4. You must be a member in good standing of the AOA or the Canadian Osteopathic Association at the time of application.

5. You must meet any specialty-specific requirements for board certification, which may include training and/or documented professional experience.

6. You must take and pass the certification examinations, which may include written, oral and/or clinical practice components.

When and where are exams administered, and how much do they cost?

Contact the Specialty Certifying Board for information on exam dates, locations and cost. The AOA Calendar of Events also lists some exam dates.

How long does it take to become certified?

This varies by specialty. Once the AOA Division of Certification receives your recommendation for certification, your certification can take up to eight weeks to process. The AOA is the final approving body for board certification. Prior to activation, the Division of Certification staff check to ensure that your training has been deemed complete by the program, specialty college and by the AOA.

I've taken and passed my Board exams and have a letter stating so, but when I try to verify that I am certified I am told I am not?

After completion of the examination requirement, your training information and AOA membership is verified by the AOA office. Once the verification is complete, your certification is updated on your record. If you are a newly-activated diplomate, you will receive written confirmation in the mail that certification has been conferred. During this process:

1. You should maintain AOA membership in good standing at all times.

2. You should make sure to complete all residency and specialty college requirements to ensure there is no delay in conferring certification.

3. You must not claim to be certified until you receive the AOA letter conferring certification.

I received my letter from the AOA; where’s my certificate?

Once the AOA awards your certification and you receive your letter, the AOA notifies your Specialty Certifying Board. They process your certificate, and you should receive it no later than 90 days after you receive your letter from the AOA.

Now that I’m certified, what do I need to do?

Each specialty certifying board has developed osteopathic continuous certification (OCC) requirements for implementation as of Jan. 1, 2013. If you hold a time-limited certificate, you are required to participate in the five components of the OCC process in order to maintain your osteopathic board certification.

I am being credentialed and they are having difficulty verifying my certification. I have had certification for many years and have a certificate. How is this possible?

If at any time an osteopathic physician does not meet the requirements of OCC, certification is inactivated. Contact the AOA Division of Certification at to find out what requirement(s) you did not meet.​