What Are the Education Requirements to Be a Gynecologist?

A gynecologist is a physician whose job involves providing healthcare services to women. Read on to learn more about the educational requirements for entering this medical specialty. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

An Overview of Gynecologists

Gynecologists specialize in women's reproductive health. They diagnose and treat issues that affect women, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, menopause and hormone imbalances. Typically, gynecologists have also studied obstetrics, and they're oftentimes known as obstetrician/gynecologists (OB/GYNs). This means that in addition to women's health, they are trained in providing care related to pregnancy, including assisting with labor and childbirth, treating fertility issues and providing prenatal care.

Important Facts About Gynecologists

Median Salary (2018) $238,320 (for obstetricians and gynecologists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 16% (for obstetricians and gynecologists)
Work Environment Private practices, most work in hospitals and clinics
Specializations Critical care medicine, maternal and fetal medicine, reproductive endocrinology/infertility, and gynecologic oncology
Similar Occupations Family nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, registered nurse, certified nurse assistant, and surgical technician
Continuing Education Training and education required as certification must remain current

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Bachelor's Degree Requirements

Entering into medical school requires a bachelor's degree. Typically, medical schools don't mandate a specific major, though nearly all of them require coursework in biology, chemistry, organic chemistry and physics. Some schools offer pre-med majors or pre-med courses of study that you can take in addition to your major. Pre-med programs include all the required science courses, along with math, liberal arts and courses that bridge the sciences and liberal arts, such as bioethics and medical anthropology.

Medical School

Becoming a gynecologist requires completion of a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) program, which generally takes four years to finish. Typically, the first two years cover topics in anatomy, physiology and the sciences, as well as the multiple systems of the human body and diseases and illnesses associated with those systems. During years three and four, you may begin to take part in clinical clerkships, in which you rotate through many areas of medicine, including general practice, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology.


To continue your training and become specialized in gynecology, you must complete a residency program. A residency is like a paid internship in which you work under supervision in order to gain experience in your specialty field. Residencies are typically four years in length. In an OB/GYN residency, you should gain a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the specialty, as well as subspecialties of gynecological surgery and reproductive endocrinology.


Once you've completed a residency program, you might choose to gain additional training in one of the subspecialties of gynecology through a fellowship program. Fellowships can be found in gynecologic oncology, female reconstructive surgery and maternal-fetal medicine, among other areas. Depending on the subspecialty, a fellowship program can require an additional 3-4 years of training.

Licensure and Certification

Physicians and surgeons are required to be licensed in all states. This means that you must graduate from an accredited medical school and pass a 3-step exam called the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Steps 1 and 2 are taken while you are still in medical school, usually at the ends of your second and fourth years, respectively. Step 3 is typically taken during your first or second year in residency.

Board certification in your specialty is optional, but it can be helpful because it can boost your patients' confidence in your abilities. To earn board certification, you must complete a residency program and then pass an exam. Maintaining your board certification requires that you engage in lifelong learning and demonstrate both cognitive and practical expertise in your specialty.

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