What Are the Education Requirements to Be a Cardiologist?

Research what it takes to become a cardiologist. Explore details of the doctoral program and specialty training, as well as licensure and continuing education. Schools offering Cardiovascular Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Summary of Cardiologists' Education

Cardiologists use science and medical knowledge to understand and repair heart function and cardiovascular system defects. Entering this field requires completion of a Doctor of Medicine program, residency, and fellowship.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Degree Levels Doctor of Medicine
Non-Degree Programs Residency, fellowship
Continuing Education Most states require it to maintain licensure
Possible Careers Physician, surgeon
Median Salary (2019) $243,170*
Job Outlook (2016-26) 11%** (for physicians and surgeons, all other)

Sources: *PayScale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

All doctors must complete a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) program. You must have at least three years of college to enter a M.D. program, but many students complete a bachelor's degree in a science-related subject before entering a M.D. program. Additionally, entrance into medical school requires passing scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

The M.D. program takes four years to complete, and it includes classroom courses and clinical work. Typically, the first two years of a program cover biology, anatomy, chemistry, pathophysiology, organ systems, and disease. The last two years are usually reserved for on-site clinical experiences, but some programs begin incorporating clinical experiences during the first two years. Clinical experience allows you to observe procedures and patient treatment to learn about diagnosis illness and recognizing symptoms.

Practical Training

Upon completing medical school, you will enter into an internal medicine residency program, which typically lasts three years. During that time, you have the opportunity to experience all aspects of internal medicine, including cardiology, pulmonary, and neurology. To gain the specialized training needed for cardiology, you will enter a cardiology fellowship program, which usually takes an additional three years to complete. This training covers diseases of the heart and arteries, as well as imaging tools and intervention. You gain training on advanced technology used in the cardiology field, as well as delve into advanced clinical sciences.


All doctors practicing in the U.S. are required to be licensed. While state licensing requirements may vary, you generally need to pass a criminal background check, be a graduate of an accredited M.D. program, and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Continuing medical education may be needed for license renewal and allows you to stay current with new medical advancements and learn about new discoveries in the field of cardiology. Cardiologists can also gain voluntary board certification in the field of cardiology through the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Career Overview

Cardiology is the medical sub-specialty of the diagnosis, intervention, treatment, and care of the heart and its related diseases. As a cardiologist, you are trained in using tests and technology such as electrocardiography (ECC) or coronary catheterization. You may work with other physicians, such as cardiac surgeons, as it relates to patient care.

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