Home » Acceptance Factors for Matching into Radiology for Residency

Acceptance Factors for Matching into Radiology for Residency

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Two radiology residents looking at an x-ray on a computer monitor.


This post was originally uploaded on September 22nd, 2019 and edited on July 9th 2023 by Dr. Anup Bhattacharya.


How to Match into a Radiology Residency Program


Residency application season is here! Today we’re looking at what it takes to match into a Radiology residency! The NRMP conducts an annual survey to determine what factors Program Directors consider when deciding which candidates to interview and rank for their residency program. The results are compiled into an “at a glance” tool. This is extremely helpful in gauging where your application packet stands compared to the applicant pool, and whether adding additional components, like a letter of recommendation (LOR) in the specialty, could give you a leg up as programs review your application. Additional helpful resources include the “The Residency Explorer Tool” and the “EMRA Match” tool.


The interactive tableau tool can be found here. We recommend taking a look at the specialty you’ll be applying to before submitting your ERAS packet.



Factors Considered for Radiology Residency Acceptance:


Selection Criteria for an Interview –


Your Step 2 CK score, MSPE and having a LOR in the specialty are very important factors.

    • Your Personal statement matters in Radiology, so spend some time writing and revising. Get someone to take a look and give you feedback (especially the PD at your home institution if they’re willing)


Summary Statistics on US MD seniors - Diagnostic Radiology.


Step 1 and Step 2 Scores:


  • Step 1 Score – 245+ looks solid in Radiology. Note that most traditional applicants will not have a USMLE Step 1 score given that the exam has now gone to pass/fail.
  • Step 2 – Score a 250+
  • Failing Step 1 is NOT a show-stopper. While Failing Step 1 is a BIG deal in ANY specialty, 50% of radiology programs MAY still consider you if you’ve failed Step 1/Step 2. So, if you’ve failed an exam, you can still apply. But you should apply to a large number (100+) of programs.


  • International Grads Need to be Strong!: Only 1/4 of programs routinely consider IMGs, and most seldom do. Do your homework to determine which programs are more likely to consider IMGs. We advise you to apply to a lot of programs. IMGs who have completed their residencies abroad may also consider applying for a temporary license in Tennessee.



Interviewing and Ranking


  • Interviewees Get Ranked!: If you get an interview invitation, you’re 90% likely to end up on the rank list if you interview. We recommend ranking at least 10-15 programs. Once you’ve got 15 interview invitations, you can feel okay with starting to prioritize and cancel as more come in given you’re likely to get ranked.
  • Expect interview invitations from late Sept to early Nov: If you’re falling short of 10-15 interviews by the second week in Nov, start reaching out to programs you are REALLY interested in to express interest in interviewing to beef up your rank list.
  • Expect to interview in November through January. West Coast programs tend to have lateral interview cycle dates. For information on preparing for your interview see our blog post on How to Crush your Residency Interview.


What’s Less Important for a Radiology Residency?:


  • Research isn’t important for radiology (like it is for Plastics or Derm)
  • Having “connections” and personal relationship with the program isn’t as important for radiology



Radiology Residency Application Summary: 


  • The radiology residency application process has become particularly competitive, as the job market continues to soar in 2023 and beyond.
  • A solid Radiology application would include a 245 on Step 1 (if you have a score, or pass if you have taken the pass/fail version), 250+ on Step 2, an LOR from a Radiologist, and strong MSPE and Personal Statement.
  • IMGs can apply in Radiology, but it’s a tough market, and IMGs need a strong application to be considered.
  • If you’ve failed an exam, you can still apply in Radiology, but you should apply very broadly
  • Expect Interviews Late Sept-Early Nov. Reach out to programs you have high interest in if you haven’t heard from them by Mid-Nov. Once you have about 15 interview invitations, you can start being picky about which ones you actually take (but not before).



Good Luck!

Wondering about your chances of matching into other specialties for residency? Check out our analysis of the NRMP directors survey “at a glance” tool for areas including anesthesia, dermatology, family medicine, transitional year, psychiatry, emergency medicine, neurology and more under the Residency Applications category of our blog! If you need further or specialized assistance understanding which residency specialties you are best suited to apply to, you can contact us or visit our residency advising page to learn more about how Elite Medical Prep residency advising services.

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