General Surgery

Competitiveness: High

General Surgery is a highly competitive specialty that 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 of at least 230 or higher. Those looking to apply to General Surgery programs should be aware that residency programs prefer younger residency candidates (in their 20s). While it is possible for physically older applicants to Match, it can be much more challenging. To improve your chances for placement in General Surgery, it is highly suggested to do well in any surgical rotations or experiences and obtain Letters of Recommendation directly from surgeons. 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 2020:

  • USMLE Step 1 score: 237
  • USMLE Step 2 CK score: 245
  • Research: 2.9
  • Abstracts/Presentations/etc: 5.0
  • Work: 4.8
  • Volunteer: 4.9

Average Stats for a Matched Non-US IMG in 2020:

  • USMLE Step 1 score: 242
  • USMLE Step 2 CK score: 246
  • Research: 3.1
  • Abstracts/Presentations/etc: 12.0
  • Work: 5.0
  • Volunteer: 4.7

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 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 (90%)
  2. Specialty specific Letters of Recommendation (88%)
  3. USMLE Step 2 CK score (86%)
  4. Personal Statement (81%)
  5. Grades in required clerkships (71%)

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

  1. Any failed attempt in USMLE (4.9)
  2. Applicant was flagged with Match violation by the NRMP (4.7)
  3. Perceived interest in program (4.6)
  4. Evidence of professionalism or ethics (4.5)
  5. Perceived commitment to specialty (4.5)

Fast Facts

Total Training 5 years
Average Residency Salary $61,000
Average Physician Salary $394,500
Average Work Week 59.4 Hours
Peak Interview Months November, December
Key Organizations and Societies: American College of Surgeons
Association of Women Surgeons
American Board of Surgery
American College of Osteopathic Surgeons
American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery
American Society of General Surgeons
Association for Surgical Education
  • 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

586 /

Number of Programs/Positions


Post-Match SOAP Unfilled Positions

Main Residency Match


Post-Match SOAP

Program Track Categorical Preliminary
Participating Programs 4 170
Filled Programs 4 135
Positions Available 5 580
Filled Positions 5 537


  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Colon and rectal surgery
  • Gynecology and obstetrics/span>
  • Gynecologic oncology
  • Hand Surgery
  • Neurological surgery
  • Ophthalmic surgery
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Plastic and maxillofacial surgery
  • Surgical critical care
  • Urology
  • Vascular surgery