Medical Specialty

How Competitive is a Radiation Oncology Residency? Updated for 2023

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

If you want a career as a radiation oncologist, here is how competitive the medical specialty is to match into a radiation oncology residency. Radiation oncology is concerned with the generation, conservation, and dissemination of knowledge concerning the causes, prevention, and treatment of cancer with particular emphasis on the role of ionizing radiation. Radiation oncologists employ a variety of treatment modalities, including external beam radiotherapy, radioactive implantations, hyperthermia, and combined modality therapy such as surgery and radiotherapy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, biological modifiers and radiotherapy.

Statistics on the Radiation Oncology Match

In 2022, radiation oncology had a total of 162 applicants and 185 spots. This equates to 0.88 applicants per position. Of the 102 U.S. MD seniors who applied, 2 did not match.

Total Positions Total Number of Applicants Number of Applicants per Position
185 162 0.88

Osteopathic (DO) Students Matching into Radiation Oncology

In 2022, there were no DO Senior Applicants – zero. This makes radiation oncology a Not Friendly field for osteopathic students.

Total DO Applicants Matched DO Applicants DO Match Percentage
0 0 n/a

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) Matching into Radiation Oncology

Because there are only 0.56 U.S. MD applicants per 1 program spot, radiation oncology is considered to be Not Friendly for IMGs students.

Honors, Research and Awards for Radiation Oncology Residency Candidates

The average matched U.S. applicant had 6.6 volunteer experiences and 3.5 work experiences. They had 4.5 research experiences and 13.3 abstracts, presentations and publications. That makes this specialty on where the number of publications needed is Very High.

Research Experiences Abstracts, Presentations and Publications Work Experiences Volunteer Experiences
4.5 13.3 3.5 6.6

Average Step 1 and Step 2 Scores for Radiation Oncology

The mean U.S. Step 1 score for matched medical students in radiation oncology was 240. The mean USMLE Step 2 CK score was 249.

Overall Competitiveness of Radiation Oncology Residency and Chances of Matching

The overall competitiveness level of radiation oncology is High for a U.S. senior. With a Step 1 score of 200, the probability of matching is 97%. With a Step 1 score of >240, the probability is 99%.

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

Compared to other residencies, radiation oncology has a Medium training length. As far as lifestyle, radiation oncologists 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 radiation oncologist?

The average salary post-graduation from a radiation oncology residency is $377,000, 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 radiation oncology residency?

Radiation oncology is already considered a subspecialty; it is certified by the American Board of Radiology. There are no officially recognized fellowships, although many radiation oncologists further specialize in specific cancer types.

What are the best radiation oncology residencies in the country?

The best residency for radiation oncology, 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 radiation oncology including:

    • University of Miami/Jackson Health System
    • University of Pennsylvania Health System
    • University of South Florida Morsani
    • University of Tennessee College of Medicine
    • University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center
    • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
    • Harvard University MGH/BWH

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)
Child Neurology233246
Diagnostic Radiology241249
Emergency Medicine233247
Family Medicine221238
General Surgery237249
Internal Medicine235248
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics236250
Interventional Radiology247255
Neurological Surgery248252
Obstetrics and Gynecology232248
Orthopaedic Surgery248255
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation228241
Plastic Surgery249256
Radiation Oncology243250
Vascular Surgery239247


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