Competitiveness: Low

Pathology is the study of the causes and effects of disease and injury. It is a fascinating medical specialty in which pathologists use the clues the body has to offer to determine diagnoses. This specialty is best for medical professionals who like working in labs as opposed to direct primary care. Pathology training is typically 3 to 4 years (depending on the program), and most residents will receive training in both anatomic pathology (AP) and clinical pathology (CP). From there, Pathology also has a diverse amount of subspecialty options to delve into. While Pathology is a relatively small specialty, it is not considered one of the more competitive specialties, especially for residency candidates truly interested in Pathology. It is suggested that applicants applying to Pathology residency programs should try to do a few away rotations in Pathology and research.

ENTER YOUR CREDENTIALS Customize your Pathology program list

IMG Profile

Average Stats for a Matched US IMG in 2020:

  • USMLE Step 1 score: 223
  • USMLE Step 2 CK score: 232
  • Research: 2.5
  • Abstracts/Presentations/etc: 6.9
  • Work: 5.5
  • Volunteer: 3.5

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

  • USMLE Step 1 score: 229
  • USMLE Step 2 CK score: 233
  • Research: 3.2
  • Abstracts/Presentations/etc: 10.0
  • Work: 6.0
  • Volunteer: 2.7

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 Pathology Application Factors

Percentage of Programs Citing Each Factor

  1. Perceived commitment to specialty (100%)
  2. Letters of recommendation in the specialty (100%)
  3. Personal Statement (100%)
  4. USMLE Step 1 score (92%)
  5. USMLE Step 2 CK score (83%)

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

  1. Applicant was flagged with Match violation by the NRMP (5.0)
  2. Perceived commitment to specialty (4.8)
  3. Letter of recommendation in the specialty (4.6)
  4. Evidence of professionalism and ethics (4.5)
  5. Any failed attempt in USMLE (4.5)

Fast Facts

Total Training 3 to 4 years
Average Residency Salary $66,500
Average Physician Salary $308,000
Average Work Week 49.2 Hours
Peak Interview Months November, December
Offers the following program training tracks: American Board of Pathology
College of American Pathologists
United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology
  • Some combined programs take 4 years of training while others only require 3 years
  • Most Pathology residency programs finalize their Rank Order Lists in February
  • While research looks good on your MyERAS Application, do not see it as mandatory. Many sources call Pathology research “icing on the cake” for applicants to have

Match Statistics

Main Residency Match and Post-Match Stats


IMGs Matched

164 /

Number of Programs/Positions


Post-Match SOAP Unfilled Positions

Main Residency Match


Post-Match SOAP

Program Track PGY-1
Participating Programs 9
Filled Programs 9
Positions Available 13
Filled Positions 13


  • Anatomic Pathology
  • Blood Banking-Transfusion Medicine
  • Advanced Heart Failure & Transplant Cardiology
  • Chemical Pathology
  • Clinical Pathology
  • Cytopathology
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Hematology
  • Immunopathology
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Molecular Genetic Pathology
  • Neuropathology
  • Pediatric Pathology
  • Radioisotopic Pathology
  • Selective Pathology