Procedures for Obtaining Board Certification in Clinical Neuropsychology
The ABCN certification process is designed to assess one’s scientific knowledge
and clinical skill in the practice of neuropsychology, and to provide external evidence
of competence in this area of specialty practice. All qualified individuals are
invited to apply for the examination and participate in the maintenance of quality
standards for the profession.
An individual seeking board certification in Clinical Neuropsychology proceeds through
the following steps:
1. Review Candidate Manual, Review Online Application Instructions, and Download
Applicants should be advised that admission to candidacy through credential review
and progression through stages of the ABCN examination process do not constitute
any form of credential. Phrases such as ‘board eligible’, ‘ABCN
Candidate’, or similar designations must not be used in any written or oral
public statement, as this has the potential to mislead the public about certification
2. Credential Review
All application materials should be submitted to the ABPP Central Office along with
the initial application fee. Application materials are first reviewed by ABPP with
regard to the following generic eligibility guidelines:
- A doctoral degree from a program in professional psychology which
at the time the degree was granted was accredited by the APA, CPA, or was listed
in the publication Doctoral Psychology Programs Meeting Designation Criteria.
Applicants credentialed in the most recent directory of the National Register of
Health Service Providers in Psychology, the Canadian Register of Health Service
Providers in Psychology, or the Certificate of Professional Qualification in Psychology
(CPQ) (ASPPB) qualify as meeting the doctoral degree requirements.
- Completion of an APA/CPA accredited internship program, or equivalent
year of supervised experience.
- Licensure or Certification. All ABPP candidates in the U.S., its
territories or Canada must be licensed as a psychologist for independent practice
at the doctoral level in a jurisdiction in the U.S., its territories or Canada.
ABPP grants limited exceptions for doctoral preparation prior to 1983, degrees granted
outside the U.S or Canada, formal retraining, substantial equivalents to accreditation
requirements, and licensure in jurisdiction of practice for some Federal employees.
In most cases, ABCN will accept ABPP’s decision regarding program accreditation
at the generic level. Questions regarding the adequacy of an applicant’s generic
credentials should be directed to the ABPP Central Office
Specialty Specific Requirements
Once the generic credentials are approved by ABPP, the applicant's materials are
forwarded to the ABCN credentials committee to determine eligibility specific to
Clinical Neuropsychology. The specialty credential review examines both the content
and the process by which the applicant has acquired their foundational knowledge
and functional competencies in neuropsychology. As such, candidates are asked to
document their didactic and experiential training.
- Didactics must be documented across 8 core knowledge areas that
may be obtained through a combination of formal graduate coursework and less formal
educational activities (e.g., seminars, brain cutting conferences, specialty rounds,
case conferences). The core domains include:
- Basic neurosciences
- Functional neuroanatomy
- Clinical neurology
- Psychological assessment
- Clinical neuropsychological assessment
- Psychological intervention
- Postdoctoral Training. The mission of ABCN is to promote competence
in the practice of clinical neuropsychology. One way in which this is accomplished
is by promoting uniformity in training standards. Towards this end, ABCN has endorsed
Conference guidelines for specialty training in Clinical Neuropsychology.
With the understanding that training standards have changed significantly over the
relatively short period during which clinical neuropsychology has been a specialty,
eligibility criteria for postdoctoral training are defined in relation to the criteria
in place at the time the candidate obtained training in neuropsychology. As such,
ABCN encourages applications from neuropsychologists trained during all eras (including
those who completed training prior to the Houston Conference).
For candidates whose Neuropsychology education and training occurred primarily during
their graduate education (including relevant course work, practica, internship and
post-doctoral training), eligibility for ABCN is tied to the completion date of
their graduate training.
Applicants initially trained in another specialty who complete a formal re-specialization
program in clinical neuropsychology are expected to meet criteria for eligibility
in place at the time they complete their re-specialization program, not the date
of their original graduate education.
Applicants must demonstrate a formal foundation for the acquisition of the neuropsychological
skill set. Experiential or informal training models will be considered only for
those trained prior to 1981; detailed documentation of those experiences will be
helpful in the credential review.
Specific postdoctoral training criteria are described below. Applicants who completed
their postdoctoral training in Canada should refer to our Canadian Guidelines for
For applicant’s completing their doctoral degree or respecialization program:
- On or after 01/01/2005:
- Training conforms to guidelines of The Houston Conference
- The length of the residency must be the equivalent of 2 full years of education
and training in clinical neuropsychology and neuropsychology-related disciplines,
completed on at-least a half-time basis. Training in neuropsychology-related activities must comprise a minimum of 50% of the resident's time and may include supervised clinical activities done as part of research. ABCN will accept minor deviations from
these requirements that may arise based on medical, personal or professional factors.
Such situations are reviewed by the Credentials Committee on a case-by-case basis
and require written documentation from the residency director that the candidate:
1) left the residency in good standing,
2) met all requirements of the residency,
- ABCN requires that the postdoctoral program reflect a structured and sequenced set
of clinical and didactic experiences, provide on-site supervision of all clinical
cases, and put the learning needs of the candidate ahead of the operational needs
of the program.
- Recognizing that some aspects of the Houston Conference model remain aspirational,
ABCN will not require that the program faculty include an ABCN certified neuropsychologist.
The candidate may be asked, however, to provide additional materials regarding details
of the residency program and/or curriculum vitae for their primary neuropsychology
- From 01/01/1990 to 12/31/2004:
- From 01/01/1981 and 12/31/89:
- 1600 hours of clinical neuropsychological experience supervised by a clinical neuropsychologist
at the predoctoral or postdoctoral level.
- Prior to 1981:
- 4800 hours of postdoctoral experience in a neuropsychological setting, involving
a minimum of 2400 hours of direct clinical service.
3. Written Examination
Once credentials are approved, candidates are notified by ABPP Central Office of
their eligibility to take the ABCN written examination.
The written examination consists of 125 multiple choice items across topic areas of Neuropsychological
Assessment, Clinical Neuropsychology, Basic and Clinical Neurosciences, Behavioral
(Clinical) Neurology, and General Clinical Psychology. The 125 items represent 100 test items plus a block of 25 unscored pretest items included to provide important psychometric data to inform future editions of the exam. Performance on the pretest items do not count toward the final score, which will continue to be based on the core 100-item examination with a passing criterion cut-score of 70.
to view more information about the written examination, the upcoming
schedule of exams, and registration deadlines.
4. Review of Practice Samples
Once the written examination is passed, the candidate is invited to prepare two
practice samples for review. Each practice sample includes a candidate's original
clinical report with appropriate confidential and identifying information obscured,
a summary sheet of test scores with appropriate normative scores, and scanned copies
of the raw data. Optional supplementary materials may also be submitted in the form
of a 3 page document (double-spaced, no smaller than 11 point font). This document
may be used to provide reviewers with the context of the candidate’s clinical
practice or to explain any aspects of test/norm selection, diagnostic considerations,
or clinical decision making that may not have been necessary or appropriate to include
in the original report. For detailed information regarding the format and content
of the Practice Sample submission, please review the guidelines
ABCN uses the ScholarOne portal for submission of practice samples. Click here
learn more about the submission process.
Once received, practice samples are forwarded to three ABCN Specialists who evaluate
whether the clinical practice can be defended at the oral examination. An affirmative
decision by at least two reviewers is required to pass the candidate to the oral
5. Oral Examination
When practice samples are accepted, the candidate is scheduled for oral examination.
Oral examinations are typically held twice per year in Chicago, in the spring and
fall. Click here
for the schedule of oral examinations.
The oral examination consists of three parts, each of which is designed to allow
examiners the opportunity to evaluate the candidate’s scientific knowledge
and clinical expertise in assessment, consultation, intervention, and ethical practice.
The three portions of the examination include:
- Practice sample examination. The candidate is questioned
about their practice sample cases, including their rationale and approach to assessment,
interpretation, and conclusions. The practice sample also offers a point of departure
for the examiner to query the candidate about related psychometric, diagnostic,
scientific, or practice-related issues.
- Ethics and professional issues. The candidate is asked
to provide an ethical analysis of a presented vignette and to describe the nature
of their professional development, current professional activities, and efforts
to foster continuing education.
- Fact Finding Examination. The candidate is given a brief
clinical vignette and instructed to elicit from the examiner all relevant clinical
information (history, test results, etc) required to conceptualize the case and
Immediately following the examination, the examiners meet to discuss how well each
candidate was able to demonstrate his or her scientific knowledge, clinical expertise,
ethical practice, and professional commitment. After discussion, the examiners vote
to either award or not award board certification based on the candidate’s
overall performance across the entire examination. Candidates do not pass or fail
individual portions of the examination. A favorable decision of two out of three
examiners is required to award certification.
6. Awarding Certification
The decision to award or not award board certification following oral examination
is summarized and forwarded to ABPP Central Office. Upon approval by the board,
a decision letter is sent to the candidate from both ABPP and ABCN. Specialists
who are awarded certification are invited to join the American Academy of ClinicalNeuropsychology
and to participate in the ABPP Convocation ceremony held in conjunction
with the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. Candidates who
are not awarded certification are provided feedback from the ABCN Central Office,
including a summary evaluation from their oral examination team and information
on how to resume the board examination process.
To Obtain Application Materials:
Please follow the online links provided above
For further information regarding ABPP, review of generic credentials
(i.e., graduate and internship training programs), fee structure, payments, or early
entry student option, please contact:
ABPP Central Office
600 Market Street, Suite 300
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Fax: (919) 537-8034
For further information regarding ABCN, specialty specific credential requirements
(neuropsychology didactics, postdoctoral training, ABCN specialty-specific online
application), registration deadlines, or specific components of the ABCN Examination
process, please contact:
American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology
Department of Psychiatry
The University of Michigan Hospitals
1500 East Medical Center Drive, SPC 5295
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-5295
Phone: (734) 936-8269
FAX: (734) 936-9761