Cosmetic Dermatology Degree and Course Facts

Becoming a physician and completing your residency in dermatology could prepare you for a career as a cosmetic dermatologist. Read on to learn about degree, residency and certification requirements. Schools offering Esthetics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Cosmetic dermatology is a specialization within the medical field and is often studied after completing standard pre-med and medical programs. You'll be exposed to a wide range of medical settings, treatments and conditions as you prepare for licensure as a physician.

Programs Pre-med studies, Doctor of Medicine degree
Training Clinic and hospital experience, residency in dermatology
Courses The Brain, Scientific Foundations of Medicine, Introduction to Clinical Reasoning, Skin/Endocrine Systems, The Nervous System, Microbiology

Sources: Tufts University, Stanford University

What Degree Do I Need to Be a Cosmetic Dermatologist?

To become a cosmetic dermatologist, you'll need to complete medical school and earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. Afterward, you can specialize by focusing on training in dermatology during your 4-year residency. Starting your academic career as an aspiring cosmetic dermatologist requires you to obtain a minimum of three years of pre-med college education to qualify for medical school. You can apply for your residency in dermatology once you've earned your M.D. from a program accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and passed the United States Medical Licensing Examination.

Which Courses Might I Take?

As an undergraduate student planning on applying to medical school, you'll want to focus on pre-medical subjects. The first two years of medical school are usually spent in laboratories and classrooms. You may expect to take classes in subjects like:

  • Math
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Anatomy
  • Immunology
  • Human physiology
  • Pathology
  • Genetics
  • Medical ethics

The last two years of medical school include rotations between clinics and hospitals, where you gain hands-on experience from supervising physicians.

How Will My Residency Training Progress?

If you plan on being board certified, the American Board of Dermatology stipulates that your first year of residency needs to be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education ( The first year of your 4-year program needs to cover clinical instruction in a broad-based program of medical specialties followed by three years of training in the direct care of patients. Based on your career goals, you might consider applying to dermatology residencies that offer specific training in cosmetic dermatology.

What Will I Learn in My Residency?

While completing your residency, you'll observe and participate in such clinical responsibilities as performing cosmetic or surgical dermatological procedures. You could also learn how to treat various skin conditions as well as perform injections and laser treatments.

How Do I Become Board Certified?

When you have obtained licensure as a physician and finished your residency, you can qualify to become a board-certified dermatologist. The American Board of Dermatology requires you to pass an 8-hour exam to earn the designation. The exam involves 300 multiple-choice questions as well as a series of questions using glass histopathologic slides. Certification is valid for ten years, and you can renew your credential by passing the recertification exam.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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