get certified

Certification Process

Surgeons certified by the ABS have completed at least five years of residency training following medical school, met all ABS training requirements, and successfully completed the ABS initial certification examination process.


The process through which surgeons achieve initial certification in their chosen specialty area

Education and Training

Application for Certification

Examinations for Certification

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Required Training

All surgical training must be completed at an accredited program

The ABS requires that all training completed following medical school be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in the U.S., or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). The director of the training program must attest that a surgeon has completed an appropriate educational experience and attained a sufficiently high level of knowledge, clinical and ethical judgment, and technical skills for the individual to be admitted to the certification process.

The ABS does not offer reciprocity with board certification earned in another country but, in certain cases, will grant credit for prior foreign training toward certification in general surgery or vascular surgery.

Residency Requirements

Primary certification in general surgery or vascular surgery is a prerequisite for certification in all other ABS specialties

Below is a general overview of the training requirements for general surgery certification. For a full list of requirements with complete details, please see General Surgery Training Requirements (see also Vascular Surgery Training Requirements).

Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs)

Now being implemented at all U.S.-based general surgery residency programs

On July 1, 2023, the ABS introduced Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) at all ACGME-accredited general surgery residency programs as part of a shift to competency-based assessment of surgical trainees. EPAs are also in the early stages of development for the other ABS specialties, including vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, complex general surgical oncology, and surgical critical care, with plans to introduce this trainee assessment model to those specialty programs in the coming years.

International Candidates

The ABS does not offer reciprocity with certification in other countries

Generally, surgeons who have completed some or all of their surgical training outside the U.S. and wish to become certified by the ABS must first enroll and complete training in an accredited U.S. or Canadian residency program. 

The ABS may consider granting partial credit for foreign graduate medical education to a resident enrolled in a U.S. ACGME-accredited general surgery or integrated vascular surgery residency program upon request of the program director. The ABS will NOT consider requests from individual trainees. The ABS may accept in certain circumstances rotations completed outside the U.S. or Canada toward its general surgery or integrated vascular surgery residency training requirements.

Exam Dates & Fees

Upcoming examination dates, application deadlines and related fees

2/3 - 2/5
Complex General Surgical Oncology Certifying Examination
Location: Virtual
Fee: $1,700

Registration available following the release of 2024 CGSO QE results.

1/24 - 1/28
ABS In-Training Examination (ABSITE®)
Location: Proctored at program
Fee: $90 per exam

Any order changes submitted after the deadline (TBD) will incur a $300 fee per change.

International programs: Dates to be determined. These programs should contact ABS for pricing.

10/15 - 10/28
Continuous Certification Readmission Examination
Location: Pearson VUE testing centers
Fee: $1,700
Registration Start: 8/1/2024 - 10/21/2024

This exam is for surgeons who either: (1) did not successfully complete the lapsed pathway; or (2) are not eligible to enter the lapsed pathway.

10/7 - 10/11
Neurocritical Care Subspecialty Examination
Fee: TBD
Application Deadline: 4/1/2024
Fee: $550

Application will be available late February via the ABS website. Following application approval, candidates will receive information from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) regarding exam registration.

Surgical Critical Care Certifying Examination
Location: Pearson VUE testing centers
Fee: $1,725
Application Deadline: 7/1/2024
Fee: $550
Late App Deadline: 7/15/2024
Fee: $750
Vascular Surgery Qualifying Examination
Location: Pearson VUE testing centers
Fee: $1,575
Application Deadline: 7/1/2024
Fee: $550
Late App Deadline: 7/15/2024
Fee: $750
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ABS Policies

Policies related to initial certification

The ABS has many important policies related to certification in any given surgical specialty area, and candidates will be expected to be aware of and abide by these policies throughout the certification process.

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A career in surgery could be one of the most rewarding opportunities a medical professional has in their life