The Medical Science Liaison - Board Certification (MSL-BC®) logo with a transparent background.

MSL Board Certification (MSL- BC®)

Elevating the MSL profession through higher standards of professionalism, competence,
and industry recognition.

Why the Medical Science Liaison – Board Certification (MSL -BC®)?

The Medical Science Liaison – Board Certification (MSL-BC®) is an effort to set industry-recognized standards for the MSL profession. By providing a test-based assessment and affording them a credential, individuals can demonstrate their industry knowledge and skill set to their employers and peers, enabling career advancement and improving their overall contribution to the lives of patients whom their valued expertise ultimately impacts.


Qualification for the MSL-BC® include:

Bachelor’s Degree or higher from a regionally or nationally accredited educational institution (a copy of the candidate’s highest degree or transcript must be provided at the time of registration)
One (1) year of cumulative experience working full-time as a Medical Science Liaison (or equivalent title) or leading a Medical Science Liaison team.

NoteThis certification is NOT available for Aspiring MSLs (i.e. those trying to break into the MSL career). All applicants must legally attest that they meet all the above requirements, which is subject to verification.

MSL leaders involved in the development
of the MSL-BC® share their thoughts

“I got involved in the development of MSL board certification because I have hired and developed new MSLs and understand the broad range of skills and capabilities MSLs need to have to be effective in this demanding role.

MSL job opportunities are increasing with the recognition of the tremendous value MSLs deliver through educating clinicians and supporting medical needs just before and during commercialization of new medicines, devices and biologics. More MSLs are entering this career path without formal training or preparation due to higher demand for MSLs.

Hiring directors will benefit from a formal MSL certification which assures an MSL candidate has a standardized threshold competency across all stages of drug development and core MSL activities. When an MSL achieves this formal MSL board certification through the MSL Society, the MSL will be confident in their capabilities; colleagues and leadership can rely upon the MSL’s capacity and preparedness to deliver value within the appropriate scope of the MSL role. MSL leaders who achieve certification can attest to the comprehensive nature of the formal exam.

Leaders and MSLs with MSL board certification model excellence in the MSL profession within their organization and to MSL teams, who may also seek MSL board certification. Many professional careers such as medicine, engineering and IT have formal board certification exams. The MSL career is equally important and the MSL Society board certification exam will elevate MSLs who pass this rigorous competency board exam.”

Cherie Hyder, PharmD, Medical Excellence & Operations Lead – Biohaven Pharmaceuticals

“As each company has its own competencies, on-boarding and requirements there exists no standardization across the industry. By working with a diverse group of Medical Affairs professionals to develop fair and balanced questions in collaboration with professional testing agencies, MSLS has created a certification exam that will establish standardized criteria for Medical Science Liaisons globally.

If Medical Affairs leaders take this exam it will establish at least two important goals; one, to set an example for their team and two, to help understand gaps in their educational training programs.”

Rita Zambelas, MSN
Associate Director, Clinical Science Liaison
Amicus Therapeutics

“My first thought when the concept of a certification exam for MSLs was initially being discussed, I didn’t think that it was really feasible. There are so many entry levels into the MSL career as well as major differences in company interpretations of the role. I have nearly 18 years of experience in the MSL space,I have familiarity with creating surveys, tests, questionnaires and a basic understanding of psychometrics. And with all of that experience I couldn’t really fathom how we could create a valuable exam. So as any curious naysayer would do, I got involved.

What I learned is, yes, it can be done. And it can be done well. It took countless hours of determined team work to create an exam we all could truly be proud of. I don’t regret a moment of the energy we have put into this process. We were all very pleased to see the final product we had worked on. I can confidently say that the certification exam does accurately measure the common basic competencies that MSLs need to be very familiar with to function in the role.”

Elizabeth Kupferer, PhD
Regional Director

“Every medical profession has its excellence degree and the MSL profession is playing a huge role in advancing medicines and bringing the therapies to the right patients at the right time. Having a certification for the MSLs around the world adds value to the impact the MSLs have in the medical community and also put everybody on a high level of knowledge, which is extremely needed in the scientific and medical domain.

As an MSL being part of the creation and development of the certification allowed me to get insights on the knowledge, skills, and abilities that the peer expert panel agrees than an MSL should have, and help me to develop new training programs to enhance the capabilities of the current MSL team and help them adapt to the changing MSL career.”

Tiama Chaar, PhD
Advanced Accelerator Applications

“Many of us in the MSL or Medical Affairs profession at some point have thought -“I should start a professional network or community group….” I know I have. Well, the MSL Society actually executed on it. I attended my first MSL Society conference in Boston 2014. I knew immediately this was the real deal, a community of my peers that are volunteering their time to advance the profession. As a nonprofit, the MSL Society is truly serving a community. Further they are investing in setting reliable standards for the MSL professional. As a member of the Advisory Board, I have participated in the development of the Board Certification program and I am proud to stand by the benchmark we have created for our industry. As a hiring manager, when I see the MSL-BC credentials going forward, I know what it took for that individual to achieve it and I would absolutely consider it an advantage over a similar peer without it.”

Linda Traylor, PhD
VP, Clinical Development & Medical Affairs

“I was happy to support the MSL Society in their efforts to create an MSL certification and their extensive efforts to validate the certification. The MSL certification allows for demonstration of the knowledge necessary to be a credible and professional MSL. A certified MSL can be confident in their skills and practical knowledge of the guidelines relevant to the profession. The certification handbook will be a valuable tool for MSL training and program evaluation.

I view the MSL certification as another service that strengthens the MSL community and profession.”

Deborah Profant, PhD
Associate Director, Managed Care MSL
Jazz Pharmaceuticals

“The MSL-BC provides a route for the MSL professional to display their competence in the role and commitment to the profession.
It can assist in career advancement and distinguish the MSL within their peer group. The well respected credentials will signal the MSL as a member of an elite group of professionals.”

Dan Anderson, PharmD
Former Team Lead, Nephrology RMLs

“A certification is often confused with a certificate, which is often promoted as certification. However, there are key differences between them. The primary purpose of a certificate program is to simply provide training. In contrast, the primary purpose of the MSL certification will be to assess and evaluate one’s acquired knowledge, skills, and competencies related to the Medical Science Liaison role. Another key difference is that unlike a certificate program after one passes the MSL certification, they will be awarded a professional designation that will be recognized and used to highlight their certified status. Furthermore, unlike a certificate program, which is typically a one-time training event, the MSL certification will have routine requirements over time which must be met to maintain the credential.”

Dr. Samuel Dyer
MSL Society

Board certification in any field is useful to demonstrate the skills and knowledge that an expert in their area should have obtained through their professional training and experience. It establishes a higher standard than what is reflected by experience alone. Having been an MSL for more than 5 years in companies varying from small biotech with no commercial products to large pharma, I have seen various approaches to on-boarding and continuous training of MSLs. The MSL-BC Certification for MSLs allows individuals in the profession to demonstrate their competency as a professional to peers, others in their organization, and potential employers, regardless of the amount and quality of training they have received. In addition, this certification gives managers confidence that existing and potential employees are well qualified and up to date on current standards in our profession.

Josh Yoder, PhD

Certificate vs. Certification:
What’s the Difference?

A certification is often confused with a certificate, which is often promoted falsely as a certification. However, there are key differences between the two. According to the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), certificate programs and certification programs are designed to meet different needs. A credential is awarded following an advanced level examination which follows rigorous exam development protocols and standards which is psychometrically validated. The following table from their website lists the main differences between the two programs. The MSL-BC® credential is a Certification Program as outlined in the right column in the table below.

Certificate Program

PURPOSE: Build capacity and recognition of a specialty area of practice or set of skills

Provides instruction and training (non-degree granting)
Goal is for participants to acquire specific knowledge, skills, and/or competencies
Assessment is used to evaluate mastery of the intended learning outcomes; linked directly to the learning event
Assessment content may be narrower in scope
Awards a certificate to recognize mastery of the specific learning outcomes; it is NOT a certificate of attendance or participation, which is awarded to individuals who have attended or participated in a course or training program but did not have to demonstrate mastery of the intended learning outcomes
To earn accreditation, complies with the ICE 1100 Standard and follows the ACAP application procedures
Certification Program

PURPOSE: Recognize professionals who meet established knowledge, skills, or competencies

Assesses knowledge, skills, and/or competencies previously acquired
Goal is to validate the participant’s competency through a conformity assessment system
Assessment is best used to assure baseline competencies and to differentiate professionals; independent of a specific learning event
Assessment content is usually broad in scope
Awards designations to recognize achievement
To earn accreditation, complies with the NCCA Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs and follows the NCCA application procedures
Used with permission by © Institute for Credentialing Excellence. For more information, see

Benefits of the MSL-BC®


A way to demonstrate knowledge


Personal and professional accomplishment


Recognition amongst fellow MSLs or managers


Recognition to KOLs and healthcare professionals


Demonstrates commitment to the profession


Validation of knowledge-base and visible credential

Those from the MSL community involved
in the development of the MSL-BC®

Developing a professionally recognized certification program is an enormous undertaking which requires a great deal of planning and preparation to ensure program success. In an effort to create a credible and valid certification program, 22 MSL leaders worked diligently throughout the development of the MSL-BC® certification program, volunteering numerous hours attending multiple in-person meetings to identify areas of competency for testing, developing appropriate test questions, and assisting with validation of the exam.

Samuel Dyer, PhD

Samuel Dyer, PhD

Chief Executive Officer, Medical Science Liaison Society

Avery Ince, MD, PhD

Avery Ince, MD, PhD

VP, US Scientific and Medical Affairs Strategy Lead, Janssen

Linda Traylor, PhD

Linda Traylor, PhD

VP, Clinical Development & Medical Affairs, Biodesix

Arthur Chan, PhD, MBA

Arthur Chan, PhD, MBA

Lead Medical Director, Novartis

Donna Holder, PharmD

Donna Holder, PharmD

Director, Executive Director, GMA Field Medical Center of Excellence, Merck

Ralph Rewers, PharmD

Ralph Rewers, PharmD

US Medical Science Liaison Head, Abbvie

Belinda Gist, PhD

Belinda Gist, PhD

Director, Medical Affairs Learning & Development, Kite a Gilead Company

Ellen Shannon, PhD, RN

Ellen Shannon, PhD, RN

US Head of Medical Affairs, Valneva

Scott Thompson, MS

Scott Thompson, MS

Managing Partner, Acceleration Point

Mike Abbadessa, PharmD

Mike Abbadessa, PharmD

Former Sr. Director of Management & Operations, Takeda Pharmaceuticals / Currently CEO, OPX Insights, Inc.

Kumaran Krishnan, MBA

Kumaran Krishnan, MBA

Associate Director MSL and Digital Transformation, Teva

Judi Vensak, MBA

Judi Vensak, MBA

Field Team Medical Director, CSL Behring

Dan Anderson, PharmD

Dan Anderson, PharmD

Former Team Lead, Nephrology RMLs, Amgen / Currently Retired

Cherie Hyder, PharmD

Cherie Hyder, PharmD

Medical Excellence & Operations Lead - Biohaven Pharmaceuticals

Melody Davis, PhD

Melody Davis, PhD

Managing Partner - Versant Learning Solutions

Elizabeth Kupferer, PhD

Elizabeth Kupferer, PhD

Regional Director, MSLs - Novartis

Leona Hamrick, DHSC, PA-C

Leona Hamrick, DHSC, PA-C

Medical Science Liaison, Veracyte

Deborah Profant, PhD

Deborah Profant, PhD

Associate Director, Managed Care MSL, Jazz Pharmaceuticals

Rita Zambelas, MSN

Rita Zambelas, MSN

Associate Director, Medical Affairs, Amicus Therapeutics

Tiama Chaar, PhD

Tiama Chaar, PhD

Medical Science Liaison, Sanofi Genzyme

Bernadett Mamone, PhD

Bernadett Mamone, PhD

Medical Science Liaison, Eisai

Josh Yoder, PhD

Josh Yoder, PhD

Medical Science Liaison, uniQure

Daniela Divlianska, PhD

Daniela Divlianska, PhD

Medical Science Liaison, Novocure

Value of

The MSL-BC® is the seal of excellence within Medical Affairs and the MSL community.

The MSL-BC® establishes an industry standard of professionalism and sets the standard for quality for MSLs globally.

Professional Development

By committing to becoming an MSL-BC® professional, you are promoting a higher level of professionalism, validating your competence by successfully meeting eligibility requirements and successfully passing a psychometrical validated certification exam, you’ve dedicated yourself to quality standards and have elevated yourself above your peers.

When Can I Apply?

NOW! The MSL-BC® is available to any MSL or MSL leader who meets the eligibility requirements.

Testimonials from MSL-BC® certified Professionals

“I took the exam to prove to myself that after all these years in this role as an MSL and Manager, I still got it and that I am good at it. I highly recommend this exam to any MSL or MSL manager as a touch point in their career to showcase their abilities, skills and knowledge, as well as demonstrate that they have what it takes to succeed in this role. It verifies and certifies to others that you have the necessary capabilities and competencies and that you understand all the regulations and strict rules of engagement. Having taken the exam myself, it will definitely be a positive advantage if an MSL has passed it when I am making hiring decisions.”

Jihad (JR) Rizkallah, MD, MSL-BC
Director, Team Lead MSL West
Sunovion Pharmaceuticals

After more than 10 years of being an MSL, the MSL Board Certification (MSL-BC®) appears. Although I had my doubts about such a certification, after taking the exam myself, I can attest the exam evaluates the core knowledge that any MSL should know regardless of where one is located or the type of company they work for. I believe that an evaluation tool like this is necessary to allow us to have a global standard for our profession and something that has been needed for a long time!

Victor Sastre, MS, MSL-BC

“I wanted to take the MSL-BC Certification Exam to support another initiative that helps our profession to continue to grow and develop. The MSL Certification exam and the scoring process was developed by a cross-functional group of highly regarded medical affairs experts. This certification exam and those who eventually will hold the credential, will help to raise the professional standard and the level of integrity in our profession.”

Larry Dollar, PharmD, MS, MSL-BC
VP of Medical Affairs
Syneos Health

“There is paucity of Medical Affairs certification bodies globally hence when I saw the opportunity to participate in the Medical Liaison Society’s pilot exam I simply couldn’t pass it by. Certification communicates to employers and professional peers globally that I am well qualified and grounded in my role. It is important for the global MSL universe by providing a platform for standardization of proficiency in MSL and MSL leadership roles”

Gabriel Muthuri, MB, MSL-BC
Medical Affairs Manager

“Having been a MSL at multiple companies throughout my career, it’s amazing how differently a MSL can be defined. When I was approached to take the pilot exam, I wasn’t sure what to think. Then I learned about the epic effort that the MSL Society put into developing, refining, and validating this test to set a definitive standard for a profession that desperately needed it. Let me be clear, this is not a throw-away certificate you get for just showing up and paying dues. Being a Board Certified MSL gives me confidence that I really do understand my profession and I don’t have to let others make stuff up about what a MSL does. I am extremely fortunate to be part of this inaugural class of Board Certified MSLs.”

Jamie Tobitt, PharmD, MSL-BC
Bluebird Bio

“When I received the email with the opportunity to participate in the MSL-BC exam, I didn’t hesitate for a moment. We are at a time of our profession as MSLs in which the growth and extension of our role requires the establishment of valid standards. We are defining the path for those who will come later. I want to thank the MSL society and all of those involved in the development of the Board Certification for your efforts on setting high standards to work by day by day!”

Lara Lapyckyj, PhD, MSL-BC
Global Medical Collaboration Lead

“The MSL-BC® pilot exam was a unique and exciting opportunity to support the advancement of the MSL profession. The board certification establishes a global benchmark in competencies and standards which will elevate the credibility of MSLs. Achieving this credential demonstrates my proficiency as defined by my peers and leaders in the MSL community. As an early career MSL, it is a validation of my growth in the role.”

Thomas Hughes, PharmD, MSL-BC
Boston Scientific

More about the Exam

Eligibility Requirements

The Medical Science Liaison – Board Certification (MSL-BC®) is designed for professionals that have experience working as a Medical Science Liaison (or equivalent title) or leading a Medical Science Liaison team. As a result, experience working as a Medical Science Liaison or MSL leader is required of all certification candidates; those aspiring to break into the MSL profession are NOT eligible.

All MSLs and MSL leaders, including international applicants outside of the United States, are encouraged to take the examination if qualified. However, be advised that the exam and many references used to develop it are US based and reflective of US regulations as well as global guidance documents.

Specific eligibility requirements include:

  1. Bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally or nationally accredited educational institution. A copy of the candidate’s highest degree or transcript must be provided at the time of registration.
  2. One (1) year of cumulative experience working full-time as a Medical Science Liaison (or equivalent title) or leading a Medical Science Liaison team. (See Appendix A in the MSL-BC® Candidate Handbook for equivalent titles)

Note: This certification is NOT intended for sales, marketing, or other non-MSL related functions within a company. All candidates must legally attest that they meet all the above requirements, which are subject to verification.

Individuals have the right to appeal decisions made by the Medical Science Liaison Society regarding certain eligibility requirements for certification.

Pass/fail examination scores are not appealable.

An individual may submit a written appeal regarding eligibility requirements for certification via email to

Exam Contents

  • The exam consists of 140 multiple-choice questions. Of these, 125 questions will be used to calculate your test score. The remaining 15 items serve as pretest questions, and do not affect your final score.
  • You will have a total of four (4) hours to complete the exam.
  • The exam is virtual and can be completed at your home or office (we do not recommend using company issued computers as there are often company firewalls which prevent the individual from properly accessing and completing the exam).
  • The exam will be administered through the Medical Science Liaison Society’s Learning Management System (LMS) and will be remote proctored live through ProctorU.
MSL-BC Examination Detailed Content Outline

(Effective January 31, 2020)

The MSL-BC® DCO was constructed from the results of the Job Task Analysis Meeting and a Job Task Analysis Survey which were both conducted in 2017. The results of these provided the framework for the knowledge and tasks important to the roles of an MSL and MSL leader and therefore the content of the exam. To be certified, an MSL or MSL leader is expected to have proficiency in three (3) main content areas, 14 tasks, and 60 steps.

The specific knowledge and tasks identified as important are provided in the MSL-BC® Detailed Content Outline (DCO) listed in the MSL-BC® Candidate handbook.


The best preparation is to understand the MSL-BC® knowledge requirements and their application to the MSL Role. Therefore, to prepare to take the MSL-BC® Exam, one should study this outline and especially consider the underlying knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform as an MSL or MSL leader. It is recommended that an eligible candidate use this outline to identify knowledge gaps for constructing a relevant preparation plan. Because of the nature of the exam, there is not one single comprehensive source to go to in order to study or prepare. Choice of study aids will depend upon learning style and current knowledge base.

A detailed content outline serves as the basis for the development of the examination and its test specifications. A valid examination accurately reflects the knowledge and skills required for competent practice. All questions appearing on the examinations have been validated using accepted psychometric rating scales. Subject matter expert volunteers from the MSL profession developed the questions on the examination. The Test Development Committee reviewed and finalized all questions for the examination. Each stage of the MSL-BC® examination development is an intensive peer review process. Each scored examination question has been verified for accuracy, and referenced to a United States published source.


Application Checklist

Before you begin the certification application process, be sure to:

  1. Read the entire Medical Science Liaison – Board Certification (MSL-BC®) Candidate Handbook

The Certification Handbook contains all the information you need to know about the exam and it is important that the document be read in full. You are required to attest to having read this information when submitting an exam application.

  1. Verify Your Medical Science Liaison Society Membership Status

In order to take advantage of the reduced member fee, you must be a current member of the Medical Science Liaison Society before beginning the application process. Log into to verify your membership status.

If you wish to join before applying for your exam, you may join online at If you are not interested in joining, proceed with the application process. Participation in the certification program is voluntary and open to anyone meeting the eligibility requirements. Membership in the Medical Science Liaison Society is not required.

  1. Submit Your Application

Submit your application online. All required elements (application and supporting documentation) must be submitted at the same time. Applications must be completed online. All communication with applicants will be administered via email only.

The application must be completed by selecting “yes” on the “Attestation and Eligibility Requirements Agreement” section of the application. Incomplete applications will be unprocessed.

An acknowledgement of the candidate’s application will be provided via email within 24 business hours of application submission.

Scheduling the Exam and Fees

After Submitting Your Application, an acknowledgement of the candidate’s application status will be provided via email within 10 business days of receipt of the Application.

If approved, an Authorization to Test letter (ATT) will be included in the acknowledgement email regarding the candidate’s application status. The ATT will include instructions on how to complete the payment, schedule the exam date with ProctorU, and other details about the exam.

If you are approved, you will have three (3) weeks to schedule and complete the exam.

  1. Complete the online registration process with ProctorU.
  2. Follow the instructions in the ATT letter (which includes a detailed step-by-step process) to schedule your exam date and time.
  3. An electronic confirmation will be sent to the candidate containing the candidate’s name, identification number, the date/time of the test, and the name of the test.

The exam schedule is considered rolling enrollment, meaning you can schedule and take your exam at a date and time that is convenient for you. However, you must schedule your exam through ProctorU and adhere to that schedule. Candidates must sign onto the testing portal no later than 15 minutes after the scheduled time of the exam. It is recommended that you arrive 15 minutes early to set up your equipment and conduct the verification process. You will have four (4) hours to complete the exam. There are no scheduled breaks.

Exam Fees
Initial Examination Attempt

Medical Science Liaison Society Member* – $450.00 USD
Non-Member – $550.00 USD

Subsequent Examination Attempts (failed exams)

Medical Science Liaison Society Member* – $300.00 USD
Non-Member – $400.00 USD

*MSL Society member discount only applies to “professional level membership”

The application fee must be paid by credit card or PayPal in US Dollars.

Rescheduling the Exam

Rescheduling an exam appointment is permitted. However, rescheduling availability may vary, depending on the new date selected to take the exam. Candidates must reschedule by logging back into ProctorU, click on “My Session” and click reschedule.

Candidates can only request to reschedule if they have canceled their examination appointment with ProctorU at least 3 business days before the scheduled appointment.

Candidates who do not take the exam during the rescheduled date will forfeit all examination fees.


Withdrawal Policy/Requesting a Refund

Candidates who have scheduled an examination appointment as well as those who have not yet scheduled an appointment with ProctorU may withdraw from the MSL-BC® examination and request a refund or request a reschedule to another exam date. The steps for withdrawing and requesting a refund include:

Step One

If you have a scheduled examination appointment, you must first cancel your appointment with ProctorU at least 3 business days prior to your scheduled appointment date. To cancel your examination appointment, contact ProctorU. If you fail to cancel your exam within 3 business days prior to your scheduled appointment, you will forfeit all fees. After you have canceled your examination appointment, proceed to Step 2.

If you have not scheduled your exam appointment, proceed to step two.

Step Two

To withdraw from the examination and obtain a refund, all candidates must notify the Medical Science Liaison Society of their intent to withdraw by submitting a request via email to Candidates will receive a refund minus an administrative fee.

Candidates who submit a request for refund but did not cancel their examination appointment with ProctorU or do not cancel at least three days before their scheduled appointment date will forfeit 100% of all fees.

Refunds will be issued no later than 4 weeks after the request is received.

Required Identification

Candidates must present a valid, non-expired form of government-issued identification prior to being admitted into the certification online portal.

  • The identification document must:
    Be government-issued (e.g., driver’s license, passport, state-issued identification card or military identification card); and
  • Contain both a current photo and the candidate’s signature; and
  • Display a first and last name that matches exactly to the name provided on the application (including designations such as “Jr.” and “III”).

Candidates who cannot provide the identification listed above, should contact the Medical Science Liaison Society before scheduling their exam appointment to arrange an alternative way to meet this requirement.

Important: Failure to provide appropriate identification at the time of the exam is considered a missed appointment. If a candidate misses an appointment, the candidate’s exam fee will be forfeited and the candidate will be required to register again and pay another examination fee. If your name changes for any reason prior to your scheduled exam, you must contact the Medical Science Liaison Society BEFORE scheduling your exam; failure to do so will result in a missed appointment.

Preparing for Your Exam

Candidates should prepare thoroughly prior to taking the MSL-BC® examination. To help prepare for the examination, candidates should review the References in the candidate handbook as well as the Detailed Content Outline sections in the handbook.


Refer to the References section of this handbook for a list of references which can be used to prepare for the examination. These references should not be considered the only possible study option nor should examination candidates feel like they need to read all of the references and are provided for informational purposes only.

Detailed Content Outline

After carefully reviewing the Detailed Content Outline section and identifying individual learning needs, examination candidates should identify additional references and study opportunities as necessary.

The best preparation is to understand the MSL-BC® knowledge requirements and their application to the MSL Role. Therefore, to prepare to take the MSL-BC® Exam, one should study this outline and especially consider the underlying knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform as an MSL or MSL leader. It is recommended that an eligible candidate use this outline to identify knowledge gaps for constructing a relevant preparation plan. Because of the nature of the exam, there is not one single comprehensive source to go to in order to study or prepare. Choice of study aids will depend upon learning style and current knowledge base.

Important Information

WARNING: The Medical Science Liaison Society DOES NOT sponsor or endorse any specific educational courses; even if the course is advertised as a “prep” or “review” course for the exam. Those creating these courses do not have ANY inside information about the exam. The Medical Science Liaison Society is not affiliated with any organizations claiming to prepare one for the MSL-BC® examination. You should not expect them to directly cover exam content. The same information that is included in this handbook to help you prepare is publicly available to those creating any “review” courses or materials.


    • After completing the exam, the results will be verified and an official score report will be emailed to the candidate within 3 weeks. The score report provides information on whether the candidate passed or failed the examination and the number of questions correctly answered. The passing score reflects the standard a committee of experts has determined to be appropriate for certification, according to accepted testing development guidelines.
    • For those who achieve a passing score, details explaining the MSL-BC® credential, how to use it, and information regarding the 3-year certification period will be included. In addition to a score report, passing candidates will also receive a downloadable version of the certificate from the Medical Science Liaison Society Certification Committee.
    • For those who do not achieve a passing score, a confirmation email will be sent which will include information regarding the retake process, fees, and details on how to prepare for the exam.
    • Under no circumstances will scores or passing information be released over the phone or online.
    • Examination questions and answers will not be released to candidates.

MSL-BC® Certification Development Timeline Highlights

March 2017

The MSL Society conducted the first phase of a Job Task Analysis (JTA) initiative to identify specific job duties and requirements for MSL professionals. Utilizing Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in the field, as well as expert guidance from a Psychometrician employed by a professional testing organization, we met in person to create a content outline for the certification examinations by means of thorough consideration and identification of the knowledge, skills, and abilities that an individual in the field of medical science should demonstrate regardless of employer type, therapeutic area of concentration, or geographic location. The JTA is a process which contributes to test validity by ensuring that the critical aspects of the job become the domain of content which the test measures. During this first phase of the JTA, a list of job-related tasks was generated and refined.


December 2017

Phase two of the JTA involved validation of the list of job-related tasks defined in phase one, by a broader group of SMEs representative of the overall occupation through a validation survey process. Individuals who participated in the survey indicated whether or not they agreed that each job task listed is actually used in the field, as well as whether the listed activities are important to the job, and how frequently they are conducted as part of the job. After survey responses are received and the survey was closed, the data was carefully analyzed by a group of SMEs to determine what the examination should specifically measure with regard to on-the-job competency areas, which were then built into the examination program’s test specifications.


February 2018

The MSL Society hosted two back-to-back in person meetings where in the first session SMEs wrote the actual questions that will be used for the official MSL certification examination, based on the feedback of the validation survey, and the second session was to review the newly written questions. Both meetings resulted in the creation of what is referred to as an Examination Blueprint. 

March 2018

Exam Question Webinar Review:
Following the Item Review meeting, a 3-hour webinar was held with those in attendance of the Exam Question Writing and Review Meetings to review and approve the final MSL-BC® exam questions.


May 2018 - July 2019

Learning Management System:
The last step has been a lengthy process to identify and develop the technology to administer the exam. We began working with Crowd Wisdom, an LMS developer to develop the software to support the MSL-BC® for online live proctored exam. This was completed in July 2019 and we are now launching the pilot program.


July 2019 - November 2019

Pilot Exam:
A total of 68 MSLs and MSL leaders from 8 countries completed the exam under the same conditions as expected on the official exam. The exam was proctored remotely and live through ProctorU. Participant backgrounds included a wide range of years of experience, varying levels of education, and represented pharma, biotech, medical device and other healthcare companies.

November 2019

Standard Setting Score:
The Standard Setting Study was conducted on November 8, 2019 and led by a psychometrician with a group of MSLs and MSL leaders who had previously participated in either the Item Writing or Item Review Meetings. During the Standard Setting Study, all items on the examination were systematically discussed and evaluated based on the typical minimally qualified candidate which ultimately determined the final passing score.

February 2020

First-ever professional certification for MSLs and MSL Leaders