A Member Board of the American Board of Medical Specialties


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For the current requirements for certification, please see the Booklet of Information.   August 27, 2020


Undergraduate Medical Education (UME)

UME Requirement

Applicants for certification by the ABPath must have graduated from one of the following.

  • A medical school in the United States or Canada accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.
  • An osteopathic college of medicine accredited by the American Osteopathic Association.
  • A medical school outside the United States or Canada acceptable to the ABPath.

UME Documents Required with Application

Applicants must upload a copy of their medical school diploma (along with an English translation if issued outside the United States in a language other than English), showing the medical degree and the date that it was awarded. If a copy is not available, graduates of United States or Canadian medical schools may upload a letter from the Dean’s office of their medical school certifying that they graduated from medical school, stating the medical degree and the date that it was awarded. A certificate showing that the applicant has passed a final examination is not acceptable.

Medical Licensure

There are no exceptions to the licensure requirements.

  • Applicants must possess or have applied for a full and unrestricted license in a state or jurisdiction of the United States or Canada that will be valid at the time examination results are released.
  • Canadian applicants must have taken and passed the Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC) and RCPSC examinations and obtained the appropriate licensure in a Canadian province or obtained a full and unrestricted license in the United States.
  • An institutional, training, or temporary license is not acceptable.
  • If the applicant has applied for, but not yet received a medical license, he/she may upload a copy of a letter or email received from the medical licensing board stating they are in receipt of the application for licensure and documentation of successful completion of USMLE Step 3 or other examination required by the licensing authority.
  • Applicants who upload the required informationwill be allowed to sit for the examination, but their results will not be released until evidence of licensure is uploaded to the applicant’s My Profile in his/her PATHway. If evidence of licensure is not uploaded within 2 years from the date of the examination, the examination results will be declared null and void.
  • Applicants who have a license at the time they apply will be rendered ineligible by any termination, suspension, probation or limitation of his/her license. Diplomates may not be rendered ineligible when:
  • any suspension, probation and/or limitation of the diplomate’s license is due to his/her entry into, and successful participation in and/or completion of, a rehabilitation or diversionary program for chemical dependency authorized by the applicable medical licensing authority; or
  • the diplomate voluntarily surrendered or allowed his/her license in a jurisdiction to lapse at a time the diplomate was not practicing in the jurisdiction and did not surrender or allow the license to lapse to avoid disciplinary action by the jurisdiction’s licensing authority; or
  • the licensing authority of a jurisdiction in which the diplomate does not currently practice terminates, suspends, places on probation or limits the diplomate’s license in that jurisdiction and the licensing authority(ies) of the jurisdiction(s) in which the diplomate currently practices and holds a full and unrestricted license has been fully apprised of the disciplinary actions against the diplomate’s license(s) and/or its surrender, in lieu of disciplinary action, in other jurisdictions.

Primary/Subspecialty Training Requirements


  • Applicants must have successfully completed a graduate medical education program in pathology or a pathology subspecialty accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or a primary pathology program accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). Only pathology training obtained in the United States or Canada is acceptable toward meeting the ABPath requirements.The ABPath does not accept Canadian subspecialty training. Canadian pathologists who are certified by the RCPSC in AP and NP (separate certificates) may apply for combined AP/NP or NP subspecialty certification.
  • Applicants who completed training in 2008 or later, must obtain certification within five years of the completion of training. After five years, additional training will be required.
  • Applicants/candidates who completed training prior to 2008 and completed training 9 years ago may apply for board eligibility and must provide evidence of at least 100 Category 1 CME credits earned in the past four years.
  • Applicants/candidates who completed residency or fellowship training prior to 2008 and completed training 10 years or more ago must complete additional ACGME-accredited training.
    • a. For APCP certification: the applicant must complete 36 months full-time training. Training must include at least 18 months of structured AP and 18 months of structured CP training.
    • b. For AP only certification: the applicant must complete 24 months of structured AP training.
    • c. For CP only certification: the applicant must complete 24 months of structured CP training.
    • d. For Subspecialty certification: the applicant must complete 1 full year of additional training in the area in which the applicant is seeking certification.
  • Verification of the applicant’s qualifications by the pathology training program director is required.
    • The ABPath will provide an on-line evaluation form to the most recent pathology training program director. The program director must complete this on-line evaluation, which verifies that ACGME or RCPSC-accredited training for the requested certification has been successfully completed and that the applicant has demonstrated sufficient competence to enter practice without direct supervision.
    • For applicants that have trained in more than one program, the ABPath will provide an additional online evaluation form to each pathology training program director responsible for any portion of an applicant’s training. Completing this form verifies satisfactory performance during the training in that program.
  • Each institution sponsoring a pathology training program should develop their own sick, vacation, parental, and other leave policies for the resident. Regardless of institutional policies, the ABPath defines:
    • 1 year of training to meet ABPath certification requirements must be 52 weeks in duration, and the applicant must document an average of 48 weeks per year of full-time pathology training over the course of the training program.
    • Any training less than 48 weeks must be made up.
    • Unused vacation and other leave time may not be accumulated to reduce the overall duration of training.
    • The ABPath does not allow part-time training for primary certification. 
  • The ABPath does not allow credit for student fellowships in pathology during medical school. The ABPath does not give “advanced credit” for any training outside of the US and Canada or for training in non-ACGME or non-RCPSC accredited programs for either primary or subspecialty certification.


  • Candidates must have current primary or subspecialty certification from the ABPath or another ABMS Board. Applicants may apply to take a subspecialty examination, but will not be declared a qualified/eligible candidate and not allowed to sit for the exam until primary certification is achieved.
  • Candidates with time-limited certification must be participating in CC and up to date with all CC reporting requirements.
  • Applicants may not use training to qualify for subspecialty certification if all or part of that training was used to meet the training requirements for primary certification.
  • Residents must complete at least 2 years of training in AP/CP, AP, or CP before beginning subspecialty fellowship training, except for Dermatopathology, for which completion of all primary certification training requirements is required prior to the fellowship.
  • The period of eligibility for subspecialty certification is 5 years from the completion of subspecialty training or primary certification, whichever is later.
  • Applicants whose period of qualification has expired must successfully complete 6 months of additional pathology training in an ACGME-accredited training program in the area(s) in which certification is desired.
  • Part-time training for subspecialty certification is acceptable if the part-time training occurs in an approved position in an ACGME-accredited program. The duration of training may not exceed twice that required for qualification.


Physician-Scientist Research Pathway


  • To increase the number of physician-scientists in pathology
  • To attract exceptional and committed young physician-scientists to pathology
  • To prepare trainees for careers in academic medicine centered on basic science or clinical research
  • To provide flexibility in training pathways, while assuring the clinical competency of trainees that select this pathway


  • 1. The ABPath Physician-Scientist Research Pathway is intended for those physicians who are committed to contributing to new scientific knowledge in basic science, and clinical or translational medicine through a career that will involve funded research.
  • 2. Training programs do not need ABPath approval or notification to offer this Pathway; however, a program will be asked to provide information regarding candidates completing this Pathway for purposes of tracking and outcomes assessment.
  • 3. Residents may enter the Physician-Scientist Research Pathway while training in AP, CP, AP/CP, or AP/NP. A trainee may enter this program following completion of a subspecialty fellowship.
  • 4. Trainees are encouraged to complete their core training prior to their research year(s) and to become ABPath certified as soon as they are eligible.
  • 5. The GME training requirements to apply for board certification are the same as for trainees that are not in this Pathway (See section III).  Trainees should apply to take the certification examination as soon as GME training requirements are completed.
  • 6. Trainees must become certified within five years of completion of GME requirements.
  • 7. A trainee may transfer into or out of the Pathway at any time without ABPath approval.
  • 8. Current ABPath graduate medical education (GME) training requirements allow for up to six months of research during core training.  ACGME Program Requirements must be followed during the six months of research that is part of the core GME training; however, the additional Pathway research time is not subject to ACGME Program Requirements.  All additional research time must occur in blocks of at least six months and should be protected by not being commingled with substantial clinical training.
  • 9. The Program Director is responsible for the core GME training and must approve the six months of research completed as part of the core.
  • 10. Trainees in the Physician-Scientist Research Pathway must complete at least one additional year of research. Research is defined as scholarly activities expected to develop and contribute to generalizable knowledge, typically involving grants supporting the activities, and may include basic science, clinical, or translational research.  Trainees may complete additional years of research, depending on their institution, and are encouraged to do so, especially if they wish to seriously pursue a career in basic science or clinical research.
  • 11. Supervision of the trainee’s additional year(s) of research should be the responsibility of a faculty research mentor. An ideal research mentor is a successful investigator with an active research program and peer-reviewed research funding. Establishment of a research review committee that meets at least every six months to provide advice and feedback to the trainee is strongly encouraged.  Research may be done at more than one institution, but the experience should have oversight and coordination by a single mentor.
  • 12. The ABPath will not oversee the research training.  An applicant for ABPath certification must indicate on their application form that they are in the Physician-Scientist Research Pathway, what their research topic is, and the name of their research mentor.  The Program Director must verify this information. The Program Director should notify the ABPath if a candidate/diplomate does not complete the Research Pathway.
  • 13. The ABPath certification examination and ABPath certificates are the same for all candidates, whether they are in the Research Pathway or standard pathology training.
  • 14.  A research year, like a fellowship year, will meet the Continuing Certification Part II and Part IV requirements (except for peer evaluations) for that period of the CC cycle.








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