ECFVG Policies and Procedures - Overview of the ECFVG Certification Program

January 2013

An ECFVG certificate may be accepted by state veterinary medical licensing agencies as fulfilling the educational prerequisite, either in full or in part, for state licensure eligibility. The majority of states require graduates of non-AVMA accredited veterinary schools to hold an ECFVG certificate. However, because licensing requirements can change, the ECFVG and AVMA urge all veterinarians to contact the licensing agency in the state in which they wish to become licensed to determine current requirements, including educational prerequisites.

The ECFVG certification program comprises 4 steps, each one designed to build from the previous. The purpose of the first step is to confirm an applicant's veterinary college credentials. The second step is designed to assess a candidate's English language ability. The purpose of the third step is to assess a candidate's basic and clinical veterinary science knowledge, whereas the purpose of the fourth and final step is to assess a candidate's hands-on clinical veterinary medical skills.

The examinations used within the ECFVG certification program are rigorous. The program assesses educational equivalency of graduates of veterinary schools that are not accredited by the AVMA Council on Education (COE). Therefore, the program reflects veterinary educational and practice standards within the USA and Canada. All potential and current ECFVG candidates are encouraged to critically consider whether the veterinary education they received is sufficient to provide them with the necessary knowledge and skill level to perform well on the ECFVG Step 3 (Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination [BCSE]) and Step 4 (Clinical Proficiency Examination [CPE]) examinations. For example, to succeed in the surgery and anesthesia sections of the BCSE and CPE, candidates will need to not only have knowledge about performing surgery and anesthesia in small and large animals (for the BCSE), but they should also have experience performing small-animal surgery and anesthesia in an instructional or clinical setting prior to attempting the CPE. For candidates who believe they need additional veterinary education or clinical instruction, the ECFVG provides a list of postgraduate entry-level instructional opportunities at Neither the AVMA nor the ECFVG endorse or have an opinion as to the usefulness of any of the listed opportunities for any given individual. Interested candidates will need to contact the program directly to determine requirements, costs, and restrictions. Candidates are also encouraged to contact the AVMA/COE-accredited veterinary schools to determine whether they offer additional postgraduate experiences. Contact information for the accredited schools is available at

Communication skills and service to clients are also a high priority in veterinary practice in the USA and Canada. Throughout the ECFVG program, candidates will be assessed on their ability to communicate clearly and effectively in English (or French in Canada). Lack of adequate entry-level communication skills in English (or French in Canada) will negatively impact a candidate’s performance in the ECFVG certification program.

An applicant who satisfactorily completes the following 4 steps (in order) will be awarded an ECFVG certificate:

  1. Provide proof (diploma and final transcripts) of graduation from an AVMA-listed college of veterinary medicine. The ECFVG will seek verification of the applicant's credentials by direct request to the college from which the individual claims graduation.
  2. Provide proof of comprehension and ability to communicate in the English language by attaining passing scores on the internet-based TOEFL (iB-TOEFL) as administered by Educational Testing Service of Princeton, NJ; or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) as administered by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, the British Council, and IDE Education Australia; or the Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL) as administered by Carleton University in Ontario, Canada. For candidates completing secondary school in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada (except Quebec), the English language examinations may be waived, provided such candidates submit documentation attesting to at least three years full-time attendance at a secondary (high) school located in one of the above countries and at which the complete language of instruction was English or, for graduates of US high schools only, a certified, notarized, or official copy of the final diploma or transcript. A degree from a US college or university is not considered adequate proof of English language ability.
  3. Attain a passing score on the Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination (BSCE).  Candidates who enrolled in the program prior to January 1, 2014, and have successfully completed the NAVLE prior to July 2007 administration, OR prior to spring 2000, the National Board Examination (NBE) and Clinical Competency Test (CCT). Step 3 is considered complete when the ECFVG verifies a passing BCSE score has been obtained OR the ECFVG receives an official score report indicating a passing score on the NAVLE (April 2007 and previous administrations only) or the NBE and CCT from the Veterinary Information Verifying Agency (VIVA) of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. Please note that ECFVG candidates MUST first complete Step 2 (English language ability) to be eligible to take the BCSE.
  4. Attain a passing score on all sections of the Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE) approved by the ECFVG.