Initial Certification for Diagnostic Radiology

Certification Requirements

Last verified on March 7, 2024

Certification Overview

  • Complete one year in clinical training
See Section III.A.2.b) of the ACGME Diagnostic Radiology Program Requirements for information on ACGME clinical year training requirements. Credit for accredited training in other specialties may be granted on an individual basis after submission of the appropriate documents to the ABR. If there is an elective in diagnostic radiology, it must be in a department with an ACGME-accredited diagnostic radiology residency program and cannot be longer than two months. No more than a total of three months may be spent in radiation oncology and/or pathology.
Residents training in an RCPSC-accredited residency may fulfill this requirement by completing a minimum of eight (four-week) blocks of clinical experiences other than radiology.
  • Complete an ACGME- or RCPSC-accredited diagnostic radiology program
The program must be approved for training in diagnostic radiology by the Review Committee (RC) for diagnostic radiology of the ACGME, or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). A minimum of four months of the four-year diagnostic radiology training program must be spent in nuclear radiology. A minimum of three months must be spent in mammography/breast imaging. No more than 16 months may be spent in any one subspecialty or in research. Those considering careers in research may want to participate in the Holman Research Pathway.
  • Pass the ABR Qualifying (Core) Exam
Click here for more information on the Qualifying (Core) Exam.
  • Pass the ABR Certifying Exam
Click here for more information on the Certifying Exam.
  • Provide proof of valid state or provincial medical license
For those in training, a valid training license is acceptable.
  • Demonstrate high moral and ethical principles
The American Board of Radiology expects candidates for initial certification to uphold fundamental moral and ethical principles.  

Clinical Year and Credit for Fellowship Training

  • Clinical year
    • ACGME: the prerequisite for entry into an ACGME-accredited DR residency requires the completion of an ACGME- or RCPSC-accredited clinical year. The clinical year cannot be completed outside the U.S. or Canada and must take place before the candidate’s DR residency training. This does not apply to IMGs on the Alternate Pathway. These regulations, which match ACGME requirements, are in effect for DR candidates entering in 2020 and later.
    • RCPSC: entry into an RCPSC-accredited DR residency may be accomplished with as few as eight (four-week) blocks during the clinical year. The clinical year cannot be completed outside the U.S. or Canada and must take place at the beginning of the candidate’s DR residency training. This does not apply to IMGs on the Alternate Pathway.
  • Credit for fellowship training
    Approval will be granted by the ABR for up to one year of credit toward the four-year DR residency for candidates who have served corresponding time in an ACGME-accredited radiology fellowship or accredited nuclear medicine residency prior to beginning DR residency, subject to approval by the residency program director. There cannot be more than a one-year interval between completion of applicable fellowship and start of residency. This could allow for a shortened duration of the residency by up to one year. Candidates are advised that time spent in an ACGME-accredited fellowship that is associated with an ABR subspecialty certificate (nuclear radiology, pediatric radiology, and neuroradiology) may not be applied in support of eligibility for the subspecialty certificate.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Stimulating Access to Research in Residency (StARR) R38

Candidates who are participating in ACGME-approved training programs with research orientation and funding through the NIH R38 grant award mechanism, with requirements equivalent to those of the Holman Research Pathway, and have met all other requirements for initial certification, will be considered as eligible for initial certification.  

Residency Transfers

Residents are expected to remain in the same program for all four years. If a resident wishes to transfer for any reason, that transfer must be approved by the initial program director as well as by the new program director. A list of satisfactorily completed rotations must be provided to the new program director, who can accept all or some of them. To process the transfer, the ABR must receive a signed letter from the initial program director and the new program director confirming the resident’s start and end training dates, if the resident left the initial program in good standing, and if prior training will be accepted by the new program.  

Leaves of Absence

Leaves of absence may be granted to residents at the discretion of the program director in accordance with the institution’s rules. Depending on the length of absence, an extension of training may be required for a resident to remain eligible for Initial Certification. Please see the ABR’s Residency Leave Policy for details. (Individuals who have successfully completed an RCPSC-accredited residency that does not include specific requirements for total time in residency are not required to comply with the Residency Leave Policy. They are, however, required to comply with minimum time requirements in Breast Imaging and Nuclear Radiology, as detailed elsewhere in the eligibility requirements.)  

Failure to Qualify

If a program director fails to indicate in writing that a resident will have the required training and will have achieved adequate professional qualifications before the exam, documentation of the reason(s) must be submitted, along with evidence that the resident has been appropriately apprised of these deficiencies. If a program director states that a resident has not successfully completed one or more rotations, that statement must have the signature of two other faculty members from the same program, supporting the claim of unsatisfactory completion.  

Time Limit for Completing Residency Training

Effective July 1, 2026, residents must have completed their four-year residency within eight years of the start date of the residency program. See Residency Completion Policy for additional details.