Primary Certification in Dermatology


The following are requirements for certification. Your file must be complete by August 1 of the year of the exam. Click here to register for application process. Once registered, all required materials are listed in and should be submitted to using the login and email provided to you.

  1. A letter from the membership department of the AOA (1-800-621-1773) stating you have been a member in good standing for at least the past two years and that you have shown evidence of conformity to the standards of the American Osteopathic Association. You must be in good standing as of the date of the test (i.e. your AOA dues must be up to date at the time of the test).
  2. Letters of recommendation from TWO dermatologists certified by the AOBD. (Letters must be on letterhead with an ORIGINAL signature and mailed directly to the Administrative Assistant of the AOBD at the address below)
  3. Copy of your medical school diploma.
  4. Copy of your internship diploma.
  5. Copy of your state license. License must be valid as of date of test.
  6. Two recent passport-size photos.
  7. $1,800.00 non-refundable fee.
  8. Signed applicant statement.
  9. Completed application form.

In addition, all three years of your training program must receive final approval from the AOA. You cannot sit for the examination until your training has been declared “complete”. Be sure your program director has submitted all necessary documentation to the Education Evaluating Committee of the AOCD.

In order to allow time for complete review of applications, AOBD requires that notification of training complete must be received from the AOCD EEC no later than 30 days before the date of the examination.



The certification examination is administered yearly in one nine-hour session. It is designed to thoroughly test the candidate’s knowledge of the basic sciences and clinical aspects of Dermatology and related disciplines. The exam is psychometrically analyzed and updated yearly. There are four parts of the exam. A candidate who fails any part may apply to retake that part when the next exam is conducted. If any part of the exam is failed three times, the candidate will be required to complete additional training assigned by the Board prior to re-applying to take the exam.


In this section, candidates view unknown histopathological digital images of glass slides viewed on computer and answer multiple-choice questions about the slide. Additional questions on staining, immunohistochemistry and other laboratory techniques are included in this section and other sections. Two hours, approximately thirty slides and fifty questions. Beginning in 2013, dermatopathology slides will be presented as digital scanned images instead of glass slides. Candidates will use individual laptop computers to access the scanned digital slides. Slides will be viewed with an Aperio program called ImageScope. This program allows complete manipulation of the slide as a “virtual microscope”. Slides can be moved and rotated. Slides can be viewed from scanning power up to 40X. Each candidate will have the ability to view their own slide images at their own pace. It is HIGHLY recommended that candidates download the free Aperio ImageScope prior to the test. Candidates should practice with the program to become comfortable with manipulating digital slides.

The FREE program can be obtained here:

Alternatively, you can sign in as guest and browse this site for viewing slides: (open with ImageScope).

Please read the Orientation to using Virtual (digital) Slides for Certification Examinations for more information.


This section utilizes high-resolution clinical images of dermatological conditions with associated multiple-choice questions, emphasizing clinical and laboratory dermatology. Two hours, approximately one hundred images and questions.


This is a written essay exam that requires the candidate to demonstrate an understanding of the osteopathic concept of healthcare as it relates to the practice of Dermatology, emphasizing a multifactorial approach to disease management. Case histories are presented. The candidate then responds in writing in the requested format, which may include a hospital consult, an outpatient consult, a letter to a referring physician, or instructions to patients or family members regarding the case. The candidate will discuss how they would approach the evaluation, diagnosis and management of the case as an osteopathic dermatologist. Candidates are scored based on the appropriateness of their evaluation and management process, their communication skills (thoroughness, succinctness, clarity), and the integration of the osteopathic concepts into the evaluation and management plan. Their ability to comprehend the presented clinical findings, apply this knowledge to solve the diagnostic problem, organize and communicate this information effectively and ethically are integral to the scoring of this essay exam. Sixty minutes, three cases.


This consists of multiple-choice questions covering basic science and clinical dermatology. Three hours, approximately two hundred twenty questions.


The American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology (AOBD) and all American Osteopathic Association (AOA) specialty Boards are members of the Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (BOS) of the AOA. All specialty Boards must comply with the Guidelines for AOA Certification Exam Standards and are regularly reviewed by the Standards Review Committee of the BOS. The AOBD’s certification exam process has been audited and is in full compliance with the Guidelines. The exam process is re-audited every four years or as determined by the BOS.

The AOBD certification exam is constructed from a Table of Test Specifications (TTS). The content areas and weightings for each category of this table are developed from data obtained through job analysis surveys of practicing board certified dermatologists as well as training program analyses. Members of the item-writing committee are trained by our consulting psychometrician and follow our Examiner Writer’s Manual. New items (questions) are evaluated and referenced before being added to our computerized item bank.

The reliability and validity of the exam are maintained by the psychometric statistical evaluation of each item, yearly updating of exam questions and regular review of the TTS based on new job analysis and training program surveys. In other words, we regularly ask practicing board certified dermatologists and educators what they think a competent dermatologist should know and update the TTS to reflect this.