General Surgery

Competitiveness: High

General Surgery is a highly competitive specialty which demands a high level of excellence and dedication from residency applicants who are interested in becoming a surgeon. General Surgery training is five years and serves as a gateway to a number of advanced surgical specialties such as Orthopedic Surgery or Vascular Surgery. Applicants are expected to have high USMLE Exam scores, at least 230 and above. Those looking to apply to General Surgery programs should be aware that residency programs prefer younger residency candidates who are in their 20s. While it is possible for physically older applicants to Match, it can become much more challenging. To improve your chances for placement in General Surgery, it is highly suggested to do well in any surgical rotations or experience, and obtain Letters of Recommendation directly from surgeons if possible. Any evidence of your surgical skills will be priceless additions to your residency application.

ENTER YOUR CREDENTIALS Customize your General Surgery program list

IMG Profile

Average Stats for a Matched US IMG in 2018:

  • USMLE Step 1 score: 237
  • USMLE Step 2 CK score: 245
  • Research: 2.2
  • Abstracts/Presentations/etc: 4.2
  • Work: 3.2
  • Volunteer: 4.4

Average Stats for a Matched Non-US IMG in 2018:

  • USMLE Step 1 score: 242
  • USMLE Step 2 CK score: 249
  • Research: 5.2
  • Abstracts/Presentations/etc: 15.0
  • Work: 5.4
  • Volunteer: 3.5

Specialty Factors

Every specialty has unique factors they want each candidate to have in their residency application. NRMP conducts regular Program Director surveys to identify which parts of the residency application are most important in differing specialties. Among the information gathered, Program Directors were asked to to cite factors they used to select candidates for interviews. They were also asked to rate each factor on a scale from 1 (least important) to 5 (most important).

The Top 5 Most Important General Surgery Application Factors

Percentage of Programs Citing Each Factor

  1. USMLE Step 1 score (94%)
  2. Specialty specific Letters of Recommendation (88%)
  3. USMLE Step 2 CK score (81%)
  4. Class ranking/quartile (76%), Grades in clerkship in desired specialty (76%)
  5. MSPE (74%), Personal Statement (74%), Grades in required clerkships (74%)

Average Importance Rating for Each Factor (scale of 1 to 5)

  1. Any failed attempt in USMLE (4.8)
  2. Flagged by NRMP (4.7)
  3. Evidence of professionalism and ethics (4.6)
  4. USMLE Step 1 score (4.4)
  5. Perceived commitment to specialty (4.3), Personal prior knowledge of applicant (4.3), Leadership qualities (4.3)

Fast Facts

Total Training 5 years
Average Residency Salary $56,000
Average Work Week 59.4 Hours
Peak Interview Months November, January
Key Organizations and Societies: American College of Surgeons
Association of Women Surgeons
  • Is one of the only age biased specialties (not older candidate friendly)
  • Preliminary General Surgery positions are typically the most unfilled during Post-Match SOAP
  • It is important to join and network within surgical societies and organizations. Many have student sections which can be very helpful

Match Statistics

Main Residency Match and Post-Match Stats


IMGs Matched

606 /

Number of Programs/Positions


Post-Match SOAP Unfilled Positions

Main Residency Match


Post-Match SOAP

Program Track Categorical Preliminary
Participating Programs 3 138
Filled Programs 3 105
Positions Available 5 486
Filled Positions 5 442


  • Complex General Surgical Oncology
  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
  • Pediatric Surgery
  • Surgery of the Hand
  • Surgical Critical Care
  • Vascular Surgery