USMLE Eligibility

Am I Eligible to Take the USMLE?

Are you wondering what you need to be eligible to take the USMLE? This quick overview should help reassure you that, in most cases, the answer is, “Yes, you’re eligible!” Passing all three tests of the USMLE sequence is required for any doctor to obtain a license to practice medicine in the U.S.

If you’re an U.S. citizen, your eligibility to take the USMLE must be in one of the following categories at the time you apply and on the day of your examination:

  • To be eligible to take USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK: You must be a medical student who is officially enrolled in, or a graduate of, a U.S. or Canadian medical school program leading to an MD degree that’s accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME)Or you need to be a medical student who is officially enrolled in, or a graduate of, a U.S. medical school leading to a DO degree that is accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).
  • To be eligible to take USMLE Step 3: Before submitting your application, you must obtain an MD degree (or its equivalent) or a DO degree from a U.S. or Canadian medical school that is accredited by the LCME or the AOA, and you must pass Step 1 and Step 2 CK.

Are osteopathic physicians eligible to take the USMLE?

If you’re pursuing licensure as an osteopathic physician, you’ll need to take either the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination of the United States of America (COMLEX-USA) or the USMLE. However, since osteopathic medical schools require the COMLEX-USA, you won’t need to take both exams.

Some DO students feel they need to take the USMLE to get accepted into an allopathic residency. While that’s not necessary, keep in mind that a few allopathic residency programs prefer not to use the COMLEX-USA because its scoring system is different than that of the USMLE.

Are IMGs eligible to take the USMLE?

If you’re an international medical graduate (IMG), your school should be listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools as meeting Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) eligibility requirements. You’re eligible to take the USMLE if you’re officially enrolled in, or a graduate of, a medical school that’s outside the U.S. and Canada.

As an IMG, you’re expected to complete USMLE Steps 1 and 2 CK to be certified by the ECFMG. This certification is also required for visa sponsorship and for you to be eligible to take Step 3 of the USMLE.

What about graduates from a non-accredited institution?

Perhaps you graduated from a non-accredited medical school in the U.S. or Canada. Maybe you’re eligible for initial licensure by a U.S. medical licensing authority, but you’re not in one of the eligibility categories. You can take the USMLE only when that medical licensing authority makes a specific request. The medical licensing authority should submit the sponsorship request to the USMLE Secretariat before you apply for each Step.