Certification Exam


To be eligible for certification in Public Health/Community Medicine, candidates must meet the criteria below:

  • Be a graduate of a COCA-accredited college of osteopathic medicine
  • Satisfactorily complete a one-year internship in an AOA approved training program.
  • Satisfactorily complete one year of AOA-approved training in Public Health and Preventive Medicine.
    • If you earned your degree prior to 1990 but did not complete Public Health and Preventive Medicine training, you may be eligible for certification via the clinical practice pathway if you have a minimum of four years full-time practice experience (immediately preceding application) and have accumulated 200 hours CME in Public Health/Community Medicine.
  • Must have obtained a Master of Public Health, or its equivalent, post graduate degree with course content covering biostatistics, epidemiology, health services management and environmental health.
  • Successfully sit for and pass all sections of the certification examination.
  • Hold an unrestricted license to practice in a state or territory.
  • Adhere to the AOA Code of Ethics.


Along with your completed application, you must submit the following to the AOBPM:

  • A notarized copy of the institutional certificate indicating satisfactory completion of an AOA-approved internship.
  • A notarized copy of the institutional certificate indicating the satisfactory completion of your residency (along with the AOA OPT approval letter for those in non-AOA approved residency programs).
  • A letter of recommendation from your residency program director OR, if applying via the clinical practice pathway, documentation of having met the practice requirements.
  • Ten multiple-choice questions (which must be textually referenced) in the area of interest. Multiple questions from common information sources are allowed. See the AOBPM item writing guidelines.
  • Copy of your current state medical license.

Exam Fees

A fee of $1,600 must accompany your completed application. This includes the non-refundable application fee of $500 and the $1,100 exam fee. No application will be considered complete until all fees have been paid.

If an applicant fails any part of the exam, the fee for re-examination is in one part is $500 and two or more parts is $750, along with a re-application fee of $150.

Exam Dates and Deadlines

The Public Health/Community Medicine Certification Exam is offered one weekend per year, generally every spring in conjunction with the American Osteopathic College of Occupational & Preventive Medicine Mid Year Conference. The application period opens in fall and applications are due Dec. 1.

Exam Content Outline

The certification exam consists of two parts: a written section and an oral exam.

For the written portion, the candidates will have two hours to answer 100 multiple-choice questions in the specialty area. Then the candidate will have two hours to answer three essay questions.

Primary Certification
Epidemiology 7%
Statistics 9%
Acute Disease Prevention 11%
Chronic Disease Prevention 4%
Maternal Health 7%
Health Care of Young 3%
Injuries 8%
Mental Health 7%
Mental Retardation 4%
Substance Abuse 3%
Occupational Medicine 7%
Environmental Medicine 2%
Legal Aspects of Medicine 8%
Medical Ethics 3%
Health Care Professionals 6%
Health Care Services 6%
Health Care Finance 5%

For the oral portion, the exam will cover administration, environment and clinical topics (33% each). The oral exam lasts approximately 45 minutes.

Exam Scoring

Scoring Criteria

AOA reports candidates’ certification results using standardized scaled scores. Scaled scores are more valid and reliable compared to raw scores and make scores comparable across different forms of the exam. The AOA reports scores on a 200 to 800-point scale with a scaled score of 500 or higher required to pass.

  • A scaled score of 500 represents the minimum level of knowledge and skill necessary to pass the exam as established by AOA Certifying Boards.
  • The highest possible scaled score is 800.
  • The lowest possible scaled score is 200.
  • Overall scores are based on the total number of items answered correctly, regardless of content area.

Results by Content Area

  • When possible, a breakdown of exam scores by content area is provided to help you identify your areas of strength and areas that may need more development.
  • The number of items for each content area indicates the relative amount of test questions on the exam for that content area.
  • Content area scores are not weighted to calculate your overall score; each content area is scored separately after the overall analysis is complete.


Exam Failure

If a candidate fails any part of the exam, they may apply to re-take the exam components. Board-eligible candidate may sit for re-examination three times in a six-year period. This Board may require evidence of further training prior to re-examination.