Initial Certification for Radiation Oncology

Certification Requirements

Last verified on March 7, 2024

Certification Overview

  1. Complete one year of clinical training (PGY 1)
  • Clinical training, accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC)
  • Training in any combination of these disciplines:
    • Internal medicine
    • Pediatrics
    • Surgery or surgical specialties
    • Obstetrics and gynecology
    • Family practice
    • Transitional or categorical radiation oncology
  • Specialties other than those listed, including pathology and psychiatry, do not satisfy the ABR’s PGY 1 requirement.
  1. Complete an ACGME- or RCPSC-accredited radiation oncology residency (PGY 2 – 5)
  • Four years of approved training in radiation oncology
    • In a department approved for training in radiation oncology by the radiation oncology Residency Review Committee (RRC) of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC)
    • 36 months of clinical radiation oncology with exposure to pathology and medical oncology
    • No more than six months in elective rotations outside the parent institution, as defined in the program requirements of the RRC
  1. Pass the computer-based Qualifying Exam
  2. Pass the oral Certifying Exam
  3. Provide proof of valid state or provincial medical license
  4. Demonstrate high moral and ethical principles
    The American Board of Radiology expects candidates for initial certification to uphold fundamental moral and ethical principles.

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

Candidates are expected to remain in the same radiation oncology training program for the duration of the training. If a candidate desires to or must transfer:
  • the program director or chair of the initial program must verify that the candidate has satisfactorily completed the portions of the training that were undertaken in that program, and
  • this training must be accepted by the program director of the new program.
If the candidate’s initial program director states that he or she has not successfully completed training, or is unwilling to attest to that completion, an alternative attestation may have the signatures of two other faculty members from the same program, supporting the satisfactory completion.  

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.  

Failure to Qualify

If a candidate’s program director fails to indicate in writing that he or she has 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 candidate has been appropriately apprised of these deficiencies. (See the ABR’s Appeals Policy.)  

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.