Medical Specialty

How Competitive is a Pathology Residency?

You want to become a pathologist? Here's what it takes to match into residency.

If you want a career as a pathologist, here is how competitive the medical specialty is to match into a pathology residency. Pathology is the branch of medicine that involves the the study of the causes and effects of disease or injury. The word pathology also refers to the study of disease in general, incorporating a wide range of bioscience research fields and medical practices.

Statistics on the Pathology Match

In 2020, pathology had a total of 748 applicants and 603 spots. This equates to 1.24 applicants per position. Of the 197 U.S. MD seniors who applied, 11 did not match.

Total Positions Total Number of Applicants Number of Applicants per Position
603 748 1.24

Osteopathic (DO) Students Matching into Pathology

In 2020, the total number of DO Senior Applicants was 69. Of those, 64 matched, for a 92.75% match percentage. This makes pathology a Very Friendly field for osteopathic students.

Total DO Applicants Matched DO Applicants DO Match Percentage
69 64 92.75%

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) Matching into Pathology

Because there are only 0.34 U.S. MD applicants per 1 program spot, pathology is considered to be Very Friendly for IMGs students.

Honors, Research and Awards for Pathology Residency Candidates

The average matched U.S. applicant had 6.2 volunteer experiences and 3.4 work experiences. They had 3.3 research experiences and 7.3 abstracts, presentations and publications. That makes this specialty on where the number of publications needed is Medium.

Research Experiences Abstracts, Presentations and Publications Work Experiences Volunteer Experiences
3.3 7.3 3.4 6.2

Average Step 1 and Step 2 Scores for Pathology

The mean U.S. Step 1 score for matched medical students in Pathology was 233. The mean USMLE Step 2 CK score was 242.

Overall Competitiveness of Pathology Residency and Chances of Matching

The overall competitiveness level of pathology is Low for a U.S. senior. With a Step 1 score of 200, the probability of matching is 86%. With a Step 1 score of >240, the probability is 99%.

How long is a residency in pathology? What is the lifestyle like for a pathology resident?

Compared to other residencies, pathology has a Short training length. As far as lifestyle, pathologists generally have a Low stress lifestyle. Of course, lifestyle is very subjective and if you love what you do, it does not matter! And if you hate what you do, it can still be rough no matter what. In medicine, you should find the specialty that makes you enjoy your everyday interactions with patients, staff and colleagues.

What is the average salary for a pathologist?

The average salary post-graduation from a pathology residency is $318,000, provided one does not go on to sub-specialty training which can change the salary substantially. Academic versus private practice as well as location also play a large role in physician compensation.

What are fellowships one can do from a pathology residency?

Following the successful completion of general pathology residency, some physicians may choose to continue their graduate medical education with subspecialty training. Board-certified subspecialists complete additional training and qualifying examinations beyond those required for board certification in pathology. Currently, the American Board of Pathology certifies the following fellowships:

What are the best pathology residencies in the country?

The best residency for pathology, or any specialty, is very driven by personal preference and situation. How close you are to family, loved ones, the type of training environment, the opportunities available are all things to take into consideration above and beyond name recognition of a program. However, there are some highly regarded names in the world of pathology including:

    • Mt Sinai
    • Columbia
    • Johns Hopkins
    • Cedar-Sinai
    • Yale- New Haven Hospital
    • NYU

Much of the data above is available from the AAMC Charting the Outcomes report.

Explore Other Specialties:

SpecialtyAverage Step 1 Score (Matched)Average Step 2 Score (Matched)
Anesthesiology234246
Child Neurology233246
Dermatology248256
Diagnostic Radiology241249
Emergency Medicine233247
Family Medicine221238
General Surgery237249
Internal Medicine235248
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics236250
Interventional Radiology247255
Neurological Surgery248252
Neurology232245
Obstetrics and Gynecology232248
Orthopaedic Surgery248255
Otolaryngology248256
Pathology233242
Pediatrics228245
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation228241
Plastic Surgery249256
Psychiatry227241
Radiation Oncology243250
Vascular Surgery239247
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