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Competitiveness: Extreme

Neurological Surgery or Neurosurgery is not a career path to be taken lightly by any prospective medical professional. Residency training can take up to 7 years of intensive surgical training. Neurological Surgery is among the most competitive specialties and will require a lot of extra work and forethought to prepare a competitive application. It is suggested that that three main ways to improve your application for Neurosurgery is to get a very high USMLE Step 1 exam score (+240), complete a sub-Internship or away rotation in Neurosurgery, and have lots of related research. Since Neurosurgery is such a small specialty, Letters of Recommendation from Neurosurgeons can go a long way.

ENTER YOUR CREDENTIALS Customize your Neurosurgery program list

IMG Profile

Average Stats for a Matched US IMG in 2018:

  • No data for 2018

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

  • USMLE Step 1 score: 246
  • USMLE Step 2 CK score: 243
  • Research: 3.9
  • Abstracts/Presentations/etc: 46.6
  • Work: 5.7
  • Volunteer: 3.3

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 Neurosurgery Application Factors

Percentage of Programs Citing Each Factor

  1. USMLE Step 1 score (100%), Specialty specific Letters of Recommendation (100%)
  2. Audition elective/rotation within department (88%), Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) membership (88%)
  3. Evidence of professionalism and ethics (84%)
  4. Class ranking/quartile (80%), Perceived commitment to specialty (80%), Personal prior knowledge of applicant (80%), Grades in clerkship in desired specialty (80%)
  5. MSPE (76%), Grades in required clerkships (76%), Leadership qualities (76%), Consistency of grades (76%), Demonstrated involvement and interest in research (76%)

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

  1. Flagged by NRMP (4.8)
  2. Evidence of professionalism and ethics (4.7)
  3. USMLE Step 1 score (4.6), Specialty specific Letters of Recommendation (4.6), Personal prior knowledge of applicant (4.6), Demonstrated involvement and interest in research (4.6)
  4. Any failed attempt in USMLE (4.5), Perceived commitment to specialty (4.5), Interest in academic career (4.5)
  5. Grades in clerkship in desired specialty (4.4), Leadership qualities (4.4)

Fast Facts

Total Training 7 years neurosurgical residency
4.5 years must be core clinical surgery 12 months as chief resident; » 3 months of basic neuroscience; » 3 months of critical care relevant to neurosurgery patients, and » 6 months of structured education in general patient care
2.5 years of electives
Average Work Week 58.2 Hours
Peak Interview Months October
Key Organizations and Societies: American Board of Neurological Surgery

Match Statistics

Main Residency Match and Post-Match Stats


IMGs Matched

110 /

Number of Programs/Positions


Post-Match SOAP Unfilled Positions

Main Residency Match


Post-Match SOAP

Program Track
Participating Programs 0
Filled Programs 0
Positions Available 0
Filled Positions 0


  • Cerebrovascular & Skull Base Surgery
  • Endovascular Surgical Neuroradiology
  • Functional Neurosurgery
  • Neuro-Intensive Care
  • Neuro-Oncology
  • Neurotrauma
  • Pediatric Neurosurgery
  • Spine Service