The educational prerequisite for veterinary licensure in most states and for certain federal positions includes graduation from a veterinary school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education. For graduates of foreign, non-accredited schools, most states require successful completion of an educational equivalency assessment certification program—the ECFVG.
ECFVG helps bridge the gap between the dream for some veterinarians of licensure in the United States, and the reality of achieving the American Dream.
For over 40 years, the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) has helped state veterinary boards and other entities nationwide assess the educational readiness of graduates of non-accredited veterinary schools for licensure or employment.
ECVFG certificate holders enrich the US veterinary profession by increasing diversity. In 2011, more than 215 ECFVG certificates will be awarded to graduates of more than 75 different veterinary schools in approximately 40 different countries. Since the inception of the current certification program (January 1, 1973) through December 1, 2011, the ECFVG has awarded more than 5,200 certificates.
Four Steps to ECFVG Certification
STEP 1: Register and provide proof of graduation
- Completed online application and registration fees
- Signed and notarized confirmation pages with 2 photos.
- Certified or official photocopy of veterinary college diploma and final transcript.
- Final year students may register by including a letter from an official at the non-accredited veterinary college indicating the expected graduation date; however, copies of diploma and final transcript are required for completion of Step 1.
STEP 2: Pass English language ability assessment
- ECFVG candidates must pass one of three standard English-as-a-foreign-language examinations.
- ECFVG candidates who completed secondary school in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada (except Quebec) must provide acceptable documentation of successful completion of at least three years of secondary (high) school at which the complete language of instruction was English.
STEP 3: Pass basic & clinical veterinary sciences knowledge assessment
- Attain a passing score on the computer-based, multiple-choice examination assessing basic and clinical veterinary sciences knowledge.
STEP 4: Pass hands-on clinical skills assessment
- Successfully complete a postgraduate, rigorous, standardized, and multi-day hands-on assessment of
clinical veterinary skills.
A candidate is awarded an ECFVG certification once all four steps are completed. Each of the four steps is to be completed in order. Students in their final year at non-accredited veterinary colleges may register and proceed through ECFVG Steps 2 and 3 prior to graduation.
Once earned, an ECFVG certificate, like the veterinary diploma itself, is valid for life.
ECFVG certificates are recognized in all 50 states as meeting, either in full or in part, the educational prerequisite for licensure and by the federal government as meeting the educational prerequisite for certain federal positions.
To obtain a state license to practice veterinary medicine or to successfully compete for certain federal veterinary positions, ECFVG certificate holders need to comply with all other state-specific licensure or federal employment requirements. Such licensure or employment requirements might include completion of national and state licensure examinations.
Cost of Certification for New Candidates as of January 2012
Registration: $1,000 for two full years of active registration in the program.
Re-registration: $100 for each additional 2-year period.
Prices vary depending on examination taken; 2012 approximate range: $150-$200 (USD).
See BCSE Candidate Bulletin for current Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination fee.
See CPE Candidate Bulletin for current Clinical Proficiency Examination fee.
Time to Certification
As of December 2011, 214 of the 414 candidates who initially registered in the program in 2008 have been awarded ECFVG certificates and 73 are no longer actively enrolled in the program. Time from registration to certification for these 214 candidates was as little as 2 months and as long as 45 months. Seventeen of the 214 certificate holders who initially registered in 2008 (8%) completed the ECFVG program within 12 months of initial registration; 114 (53%) completed the program between 12 and 24 months of initial registration, and 63 (29%) completed the program between 25 and 36 months of initial registration.
Individual results for new candidates may differ due to a number of factors unique to each candidate.
More About the ECFVG
- Certificate holders can seek licensure in any jurisdiction, because the ECFVG is the only veterinary educational equivalency certificate that is recognized in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
- The ECFVG program provides EVERY graduate of ALL recognized non-accredited foreign veterinary schools the SAME opportunity to meet the state-mandated educational prerequisite for licensure in the US.
- Since its inception, the ECFVG has awarded more than 5,200 certificates to qualified candidates.
- Oversight of the ECFVG certification program is the responsibility of the ECFVG, an AVMA committee. Staff in the AVMA Education and Research Division assist the Commission and are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the certification program.
- See Certification Program for a quick introduction to the steps of the ECFVG certification process, or consult the Program Steps or the Policies and Procedures for detailed information.
- Because each state has specific prerequisites and requirements for licensure, the ECFVG strongly encourages candidates to contact the veterinary regulatory board in the state or U.S. territory in which licensing is desired to obtain up-to-date and complete licensure information.