Academic Certification

Information from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Canada, including how to apply for academic certification. 


Why Academic Certification? 

The Royal College Academic Certification program is intended to assist Canadian faculties of medicine and universities in the recruitment and retention of exceptional international specialists as full-time academic faculty at the rank of full or associate professor when recruitment of qualified Royal College certificants has been unsuccessful. The program is particularly aimed at facilitating the recruitment of clinician scientists & researchers, clinician administrators/leaders and clinical educators.

Because the program is the only pathway to Royal College certification that does not necessitate writing a Royal College examination in order to gain certification, it is intended for exceptional internationally trained specialists only. It is the objective of this policy to support faculties of medicine in recruiting highly skilled unique specialists and subspecialists who have demonstrated themselves to be academic leaders in their discipline. This route to Royal College certification is not intended for those who have a reasonable chance of being eligible for another route to certification.

This program, first introduced in 1967, has been amended from time to time to take into account changes in the Canadian academic scene. Academic Certification is granted in specialties and subspecialties recognized by the Royal College and confers eligibility for the Royal College examinations in the specialty/subspecialty concerned.

Functions of Royal College

The Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) is a national organization responsible for setting standards for specialties in Canada. It ensures that the training and evaluation of medical and surgical specialists in 67 specialties and two special programs attain the highest standards. The College requires Fellows worldwide to maintain their competence throughout their careers; it acts and speaks out in support of the most appropriate context for the practice of specialty care and the best patient care. The College is not a licensing or disciplinary body; its mission is educational and dedicated to setting standards.


A physician may be certified by the RCPSC without becoming a member, i.e., a Fellow of the College. However, about 90% of certified physicians decide to become Fellows within 2 years of their certification. Fellows use the designation FRCPC (Fellow of The Royal College of Physicians of Canada) or FRCSC (Fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons of Canada) depending on their qualifications. Certificants may apply for membership in the College as Fellows and qualify to use the FRCPC or FRCSC designation. Currently, the College has over 44,000 members worldwide — comprising Fellows, residents, and Honorary, retired, and emeritus members.

Relations with other Medical Organizations

As part of its mandate, the RCPSC cooperates with the 17 Canadian medical schools and many other national healthcare organizations, including the Canadian Medical Association, the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Collège des médecins du Québec, the Medical Council of Canada, the Medical Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Council on Health Facilities Accreditation, the Federation of Medical Licensing Authorities of Canada, and more than 50 national specialty societies 

How to Apply for Academic Certification 

Please review the College’s Royal College Policy on Academic Certification for their eligibility criteria & processing details. Complete the application form and supply the additional documentation below.

Supporting Documentation 

1. Completed RCPSC – Academic Certification Application – February 2024 fillable.pdf <please download the file first to open it>.

  • This form is sent by the Royal College to the Dean’s Office each year as it is updated. The form must be signed by both the Applicant and the Dean.
  • All requests for Academic Certification MUST come from the Dean (ie, the  “sponsor”).
  • There are additional items to accompany the Application Form, as follows:

2. Letter of Support from the Department Head:  

  • Written by the Department and sent in “draft” form to the Dean’s Office for review with the application package. Once approved, the Department Head’s signature can be obtained. The letter will be included with the rest of the Application package.
  • Provides a comprehensive endorsement of the Applicant, including:
    • a description of the applicant’s position(s) and the role within the faculty, teaching hospitals and any affiliated institutions;
    • confirm the applicant has had 5 years of experience in a full-time academic position (provide the number of years and type of experience in academic work, including faculty rank);
    • a description of the applicant’s area of research focus and clinical specialty; 
    • a description of the applicant’s demonstrated exceptional leadership and advancement in scholarship, education, and research;
    • a description of how the applicant will contribute to their scope of practice within the institution;
    • a clear description of why the applicant is not eligible for another route to Royal College certification, which may include evidence of a completed credentials review conducted by the Royal College;
    • a description of the ongoing evaluation of performance and practice by a supervisor/superior;
    • a clear description of the search for a Royal College certificant that was not successful.
  • Addressed from the Head of Department to the College (not the Dean).

3. Draft  Letter of Nomination from Dean

  • Written by the Department using the Nomination Letter Template and sent in “draft” form (as a Word document) to the Dean’s Office for review and editing (as required) with the Application package. Once approved, the Dean’s signature will be obtained. The letter will be included with the rest of the Application package.

4. Curriculum Vitae

  • Ensure it is recently updated (i.e., is current) and signed and dated by the Applicant.
  • Includes relevant work experience to demonstrate that the Applicant has at least 5 years of experience in a full-time academic position (e.g., Associate Professor or Professor at a university). 
  • Includes the faculty member’s publication records.

5. Copy of the Letter of Offer

  • Include a copy of the fully signed offer letter of employment from UBC, signed by the Dean and by the Candidate.

6. Fee (non-refundable)

  • The Application fee (currently $5,260.00) is payable to the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons. 

7. Additional documents to verify degrees, licensure, registration, etc.

  • Photocopies of documents will suffice. Please do not send originals. 
  • For documents that are in English or French, notarized copies are not required. For documents in other languages, notarization is required. 
  • See Processing Information notes below for more information. 

Processing Information

  1. The Royal College’s Education Committee meets twice yearly. Meetings are usually held in April & October (subject to change), and the College will set Application deadlines usually approximately 1-2 months prior to the Committee meeting. This gives the College time to review all applications from all medical schools across Canada. 
  2. The person applying for Academic Certification or their designate (e.g., Departmental contact) completes the Application Form and assembles the required documentation package, including all additional items (above). 
  3. The assembled Application package is then forwarded electronically via OneDrive to Faculty HR, Faculty Affairs at the Dean’s Office for review. **Please keep a copy for your records. 
  4. The Application package is reviewed for accuracy, and any changes required will be communicated to the Department.
  5. Once fully approved, the Dean will be requested to sign the Application Forms/his Letter of Nomination. The Dean’s Office will then PDF the entire Application package and provide an electronic copy for your Department’s records (Please request this if you do not receive a copy). Details about this are tracked in a spreadsheet held at the Dean’s Office.
  6. The completed Application package will be sent to the Royal College for review, where their Office of Education will review the Application for completeness. 
  7. After the Royal College’s review, they will communicate their decision (approval or rejection) in writing to the Dean and copy the applicant with the outcome. If approved, the Royal College will send also inform the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons. 
  8. The B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons will send the Applicant another Application form to complete and send back to the BC College. Once completed, the B.C. College will arrange an appointment with the applicant.

Important Notes

  1. Incomplete forms or information provided to the Dean’s Office will, unfortunately, delay processing time. Please ensure all paperwork submitted to the Dean’s Office for submission to the Royal College is as complete and accurate as possible. 
  2. All required documentation included with the Application must be submitted in English or French.   Documentation submitted in other languages must be translated into English and notarized as per the guidelines by the College (e.g., transcripts, notices of license etc.). 
  3. Signature lines for the Department Head & Dean to include:
    Department Head’s letter to the College:
  4. Please contact the Faculty HR and Faculty Affairs in the Dean’s office for general questions about the process. After submission, questions about the status of each specific application can be directed to the Royal College.

Contact Information

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
774 Echo Drive
Ottawa, ON K1S 5N8
Phone: Toll–free (800) 668-3740
Fax: (613) 730-3707

Office of Education
Credentials Unit: Alternative Assessment
Phone: (613) 260-4171 ext 7740
Fax: (613) 730-3707