General U.S. residency program requirements

Application via ERAS, personal statement, curriculum vitae, letters of recommendation, common application form, being in ECFMG certification process (for IMGs), USMLE STEP 1 passage, medical student performance evaluation, participating in the (NRMP, SF or Urology) match, etc. are common for near all residency programs with rare exceptions. Read How to apply for medical residency in the USA for more details.

Most common program specific requirements by type

1. Cut off scores

The most frequently used filtering criteria are the USMLE STEP 1,2(CK) scores. Most programs use some minimum score to select candidates for further consideration.

2. Preferred scores.

Many programs do not use some absolute minimum scores as criteria but use the term preferred. For example, the program can write: We do not have an absolute cut-off, but we prefer scores greater than 220. In general, it means that candidates with Step 1 218 but Step 2 255 can be selected for further consideration.

3. First-time passage.

Programs often require that candidates must pass USMLE Step 1,2 on the first attempt to shortlist candidates. All programs definitely prefer first attempt passage, but while some may consider candidates with a second successful attempt under special circumstances(very high scores, etc), others can accept candidates with failed attempts more often.

4. The number of attempts

Many programs do not have a first-time passage rule. Such programs often limit the number of attempts but still may accept IMGs with first-time passage only.

5. Time since graduation

One of the most frequently used criteria is the time passed from graduation till application. The time should be calculated from the date of receiving the medical diploma to the date of application. In rare cases, programs count time to the date of matriculation. Very often time since graduation requirement is strict, but in some cases, residency programs have exceptions. Participating in other residency programs or continuous medical practice can be listed among such exceptions.

6. U.S. clinical experience (USCE)

Inpatient(hands-on), outpatient, or research clinical experience in the United States can be among important requirements for many residency programs. Programs require hands-on clinical experience in most of the cases. Some programs specially mention that outpatient or research experience can be accepted.

7. USCE duration

Very often programs strictly require some minimum number of USCE months. Less often programs use uncertain statements like: we prefer from 6 to 12 months of USCE.

8. Equivalent clinical experience

In rare cases, programs mention that Canada, UK, Australia, Israel, or other equivalent clinical experience can be accepted.

9. LORs from U.S. physicians

Programs often specify the minimum number of LORs from U.S. physicians as a requirement for interviews.

10. USMLE Step 2 for interview

Near half of the programs require USMLE Step 2 to be passed and submitted before the deadline for interview consideration.

11. ECFMG certificate for interview or before deadline

Some programs require that IMG must be ECFMG certified before interview. Most programs require ECFMG certificate before rank order list submission deadline.

12. USMLE Step 3 for interview

Passage of the USMLE 3 is a relatively rare requirement for many specialties. At the same time, Step 3 can be required more frequently for psychiatry.

13. Medical school restrictions

Sometimes programs require that medical school must be listed in a special list of approved schools or must not be included in some disapproved list. For example, Kansas list, California list, Indiana list, New York list, etc. The reasons and lists vary from state to state.

14. Special requirements for personal statement.

In rare cases, a residency program can strictly require some special information included in a personal statement. For example, an applicant can be asked to answer about the reasons for choosing a program or specific location.

15. Special format LORs

For example, many emergency medicine residency programs require a certain amount of letters of recommendation to be prepared in standardized SLOE format.

16. LORs time limits

Also, some programs require only fresh LORs, written within a certain amount of months before application.

17. U.S. citizenship

Often programs can't sponsor H1B visas and can't accept ECFMG sponsored J1 visas. Under such conditions, a program strictly require that IMG applicant must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

18. Requirements for H1B sponsorship

Programs that sponsor H1-B visas usually have early deadlines for visa application. Such programs often have special requirements to select candidates (very high scores, etc.).

19. Application deadline

The most common requirement for interview consideration is to submit all required documentation via ERAS before a specific deadline determined by a program.

20. Rank order list submission deadline

ROL submission deadline is another deadline that programs use to shortlist candidates. For example, programs may require to be ECFMG certified before this deadline.