How to Get Your Massachusetts Medical License

The process of getting your medical license will naturally vary from state to state. Anticipating what to expect in advance can simplify the process, empowering you to swiftly settle in and launch your career. Let’s imagine, for example, that you want to get your medical license in Massachusetts. If this is your goal, this article will walk you through Massachusetts licensing requirements, considerations to have prior to making the move, and other vital information you’ll need to be confident that everything is in place for your license.

Why Should You Get Your Medical License in Massachusetts?

Before we dive into all of the requirements and information you need to know in order to successfully get your license, you might wonder, why should I become a physician in Massachusetts in the first place?

It’s important to take a look at two things when you’re considering getting a medical license in any state: the benefits of living there and the benefits of practicing there.

Some of the highlights of living in Massachusetts that physicians and citizens have noted include the four-season experience (which you might not always receive in other states), the strong emphasis on k-12 education, an excellent job market, a focus on popular values like eco-friendly legislation, and, of course, quality healthcare. Speaking to the state itself, Massachusetts offers plenty of outdoor recreational activities and ample natural beauty to enjoy.

Why might you wish to practice medicine there? Physicians are happy with the tight-knit community experience that allows them to offer higher-quality care to their patients. They have the opportunity to practice both in larger city environments as well as in more rural areas, giving you the option to do what appeals to you most.

If you’re looking for a good state to settle down and practice in, Massachusetts certainly seems to be a solid option.

Looking to get licensed in a differen state? Check out our Medical Licensing Library

Getting Your Massachusetts Medical License: A Comprehensive Breakdown

In Massachusetts, the process of obtaining your license may look different than in other states. That’s why we may present the following information in a way that differs from what you typically encounter in other licensing guides. Massachusetts actually offers three different license options for physicians: full licenses, limited licenses, and temporary licenses. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of each and everything you need to know to get the license you want.

Obtaining Your Full License

A full license is a type of license that allows you to practice in Massachusetts independently.

Here’s a breakdown of the eligibility criteria and requirements necessary to get your full medical license in Massachusetts:

Age and Character:

    • Must be 18 years or older.
    • Must demonstrate good moral character.


    • Pre-Med: At least two years in a recognized college with courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, and physics. The Board approves specific course equivalency.
    • Medical: Four academic years in a recognized medical school, obtaining a doctor of medicine degree from an LCME or AOA-accredited institution.
    • International Graduates: A medical degree from a program deemed by the Board to be on par with LCME/AOA accredited programs. If more than 3 months of clinical study took place off-site without proper supervision, you must request a waiver. Graduates from St. George’s University, SABA University, Ross University, The American University of the Caribbean, and the American University of Antigua College are considered equivalent to LCME/AOA graduates. They must have a valid ECFMG certificate at the time of licensure.
    • Postgraduate: Two years of accredited postgraduate medical training.


    • Must pass USMLE Steps 1, 2, and 3 or COMLEX Levels 1, 2, and 3.
    • You must complete all steps/levels within 7 years. Waivers might be available in specific situations.
    • You must pass each step/level by the 4th try. No waivers are available for those who fail a step/level more than 3 times.
    • If Step 3/Level 3 is failed three times, an additional year of postgraduate training is required before the next attempt. Waivers might be available in specific situations.
    • Alternatively, FLEX Components 1 and 2, NBME Parts I, II, and III, all parts of the MCCQE, or a state exam taken before June 19, 1970, can be considered.

Keep reading: USMLE, CBSE NBME, MCCQE, + More: Medical Licensing Exams Explained

Additional Training:

    • Opioid and pain management.
    • Electronic health record proficiency.
    • Child abuse or neglect recognition/reporting.
    • Domestic and sexual violence training.
    • Enroll in MassHealth.

Legal and Application Requirements:

    • Adhere to laws of the Commonwealth.
    • Submit and attest to the accuracy of a complete full license application.
    • Pay the full license application fee.

With the above in mind, there are additional steps you will need to take. As of January 1, 2020, the Board requires individuals applying for a full license to provide primary source verification of their core credentials through the Federation Credentials Verification Service (FCVS). In addition to the Massachusetts Full License Application, applicants should have an FCVS Physician Profile. The FCVS validates documents related to a physician’s identity, educational background, postgraduate training, and examination records directly from the original source. Those aiming for a Massachusetts full license can complete an application with FCVS online or update an existing FCVS profile. As described by the guidelines provided by the Massachusetts government, you must designate the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine to receive the FCVS “Medical Professional Information Profile”.

To obtain the Initial Full Physician License, you can create an account at, upload the required documents, and make a digital payment of the $600 fee through the online application process. You can request an application by calling 781-876-8230, but they warn that this can significantly drag out processing times and highly recommend filing applications online instead.

Obtaining Your Limited License

Individuals accepted into and currently enrolled in post-graduate training programs offered by healthcare facilities in Massachusetts receive a limited license, which is a type of medical license.

Here’s a breakdown of the eligibility criteria and requirements necessary to get your limited license:

Age and Character:

    • Must be 18 years or older
    • Must demonstrate good moral character


    • Pre-Med: At least two years in a recognized college with courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, and physics – specific course equivalency to be approved by the Board
    • Medical: Four academic years in a recognized medical school, obtaining a doctor of medicine degree from an LCME or AOA-accredited institution
    • International graduates: A medical degree from a program the Board considers equivalent to LCME/AOA accredited programs. If more than 3 months of clinical study took place off-site without proper supervision, a waiver must be requested. Graduates from specific institutions (St. George’s, SABA, Ross University, American University of the Caribbean, American University of Antigua College) are considered equivalent to LCME/AOA graduates. International graduates must have a valid ECFMG certificate at the time of licensure.


    • Must pass USMLE Steps 1 and 2, COMLEX Levels 1 and 2, or all parts of MCCQE (LMCC)

Position Proof:

    • Evidence of being appointed to an ACGME or AOA-approved postgraduate training program in Massachusetts or a related fellowship in a Massachusetts health care facility that offers ACGME or AOA-approved programs

Legal and Application Requirements:

    • Enroll in MassHealth
    • Adhere to laws of the Commonwealth
    • Submit and attest to the accuracy of a complete limited license application
    • Pay the limited license application fee

Much like with a full license, there is additional information you need to know before you move forward with an application. All training for physicians must occur in programs accredited by the ACGME, or, if in a subspecialty clinical fellowship, it should be in a training facility recognized for its parent specialty.

Applicants have to receive an invitation code from their respective training facilities in order to complete the application process, and physicians who either have or have previously held a full license are not eligible to apply for a limited license.

The fee for those applying for a limited license is $100.

Related: ECFMG Certification and Getting Your Medical License in the U.S.

Obtaining Your Temporary License

Getting a temporary medical license in Massachusetts is a bit different than getting a full license or a limited license. This is due to the fact that there are four types of temporary licensure. These include:

  • A temporary faculty license for use by a physician with a faculty appointment at a medical school in Massachusetts. An affiliated hospital is a prerequisite for this medical school, and the license will primarily serve for teaching purposes.
  • A temporary license for physician coverage (locum tenens). This license allows a physician to substitute for another physician for a period of up to three months.
  • A temporary CME license. This license will allow a physician to attend a course of medical education in Massachusetts.
  • A short-term faculty license, permitting physicians with short-term faculty appointments at a Massachusetts medical school (given their affiliation with a hospital), allows them to practice for a period of up to 30 days.

While the Massachusetts government website doesn’t outline the eligibility requirements for short-term faculty licenses in the same manner as they do for full licenses and limited licenses, it does provide some insights into the necessary criteria for each type. Some more information that might be helpful in securing your temporary license includes:

Temporary Faculty Appointment – Category 1

    • For visiting physicians licensed in another state/territory.
    • Must have a temporary faculty position (instructor, associate professor, assistant professor, or higher) verified by the dean of a Massachusetts medical school.
    • Medical education in a hospital is tied to the medical school.
    • You can renew this License but only up to three years in total.

Temporary License for Physician Coverage -Category 2

    • For physicians either licensed in another state or eligible for a Massachusetts license and recognized by an AMA or AOA-approved specialty board.
    • Designed for those looking to stand in for a Massachusetts licensed physician who is unavailable due to sickness, vacation, or maternity leave.
    • License duration is limited to three months.

Enrollment in Medical Education Course – Category 3

    • For physicians holding a full license in another state, territory, the District of Columbia, or a foreign country.
    • To support those who want to attend a continuing medical education course in Massachusetts.
    • License ends automatically after the course finishes or after three months, whichever comes first.

Visiting Short-Term Faculty – Category 4

    • For physicians seeking to serve as temporary faculty.
    • Designed for those who work in a Massachusetts hospital affiliated with a medical school.
    • License duration is limited to thirty days.

They state that a physician seeking a temporary faculty or CME license must already have a full license from another U.S. state, territory, the District of Columbia, or another country. Those applying for a temporary license specifically for physician coverage should possess a full license from another U.S. state or territory. They also emphasize that a temporary license is not a transitional license awaiting full license processing, nor is it for those partaking in residency or fellowship training.

The fee for getting your temporary license is $250.

Read this: What it Takes to be a Traveling Physician

How Long Does It Take to Get Your License?

It takes approximately 16 weeks for the Board to process and approve your application, which doesn’t include the shipping time for your license and certificate of licensure to make their way to you. This will generally happen within two weeks of the Board approving your license. While this is the expected processing time, there are factors that could result in a longer approval process, including legal challenges, malpractice, and competency issues.

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What Do I Need to Know About Renewal?

Renewing your full medical license should happen on the first birthday after the license issue date unless it’s within 90 days of the license issuance. If your first birthday falls within this 90-day window, the renewal will be postponed until the next birthday. Subsequent renewals occur every two years on your birth date.

To renew, you must complete 100 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) each renewal period. Most of these hours should align with the physician’s primary practice area. At least 40 hours should be in Category 1, with a maximum of 60 hours in Category 2. Additionally, a minimum of 10 hours should focus on risk management.

If you’re a physician prescribing controlled substances, you need to have at least three hours of opioid education and pain management. This education should cover the identification of high-risk patients and counseling them about side effects, addiction risks, and the correct storage and disposal of medicines. You can apply these credits to the risk management CPD requirements.

All physicians, regardless of their specialty or licensing status, must complete two credits on end-of-life care issues as well as 2 hours studying its regulations for risk management credit. For more on CPD, you can visit the Board’s website.

Speaking to continuing education, Category 1 programs are sponsored by an organization that is accredited to offer AMA Category 1 credits for CPD activities. In contrast, Category 2 includes non-accredited medical lectures, seminars, reading medical literature, medical consultations lasting over an hour, patient care review, self-assessment, and more. Meanwhile, risk management revolves around medical malpractice prevention, focusing on areas like medical ethics, quality assurance, medical-legal issues, patient relations, EHR, and opioid management, just to name a few.

A full license renewal costs $600.

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Do I Need to Get My Full License in Massachusetts if I’m Licensed Elsewhere?

Massachusetts does not offer reciprocity. This means you will need to apply for your full medical license in order to practice there. You can contact the board if you have any questions about this process that you’re unclear about.

Undergoing the licensing process can be extensive and confusing, especially if you don’t have a solid idea as to what the process entails. Hopefully, the guide above gives you everything you need at a glance to understand how getting your medical license in Massachusetts works. Interested in learning more about other states you might wish to work in? Read our guide on the top 10 places to live and work to get started. Subscribe to our newsletter for more tips on contract negotiation, income protection, and more!

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