If you’re considering a career in surgery and are wondering which program to apply for, and what to specialize in, you’re in the right place!  This blog details the top programs for general surgery, along with other subspecialties and program options for future surgeons. 

>>Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free initial consultation here <<

Article Contents
4 min read

Top 3 Best Residency Programs for General Surgery Top 3 Best Residency Programs for General Surgery: Canada Best Residency Programs for General Surgery: Honorable Mentions Best Residency Programs for Surgery: Other Specialties Tips on How To Match With the Best Residency Programs for Surgery FAQs

Top 3 Best Residency Programs for General Surgery

Based on criteria such as program accreditation, research opportunities, clinical opportunities and reputation, here are the current top programs:

General Surgery Residency program at University of Michigan

Ranked #1 in the nation for public institutions, based on  , this program features a comprehensive curriculum, extensive clinical and research opportunities, and strong career outcomes. With over 100 full-time faculty, including members of the National Academy of Medicine, the program offers two years of protected research time. The curriculum covers all aspects of surgery, including trauma, burn management, and specialties like transplantation, vascular, thoracic, bariatric, and pediatric surgery.

General Surgery Training Program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

The highly ranked General Surgery Training Program at Johns Hopkins welcomes only seven individuals from all over the world each year, making it a very competitive and challenging program. Because the number of residents is low, each resident is offered a customized academic development experience.

The first two years of the program focus on foundational skills and experiences in general surgery along with its sub-specialties. The majority of the time will be spent at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The third and fourth years bring further training in various areas such as endocrine, transplant, oncologic, pediatric, hepatobiliary and trauma, and vascular surgery, among others. At the end of the five clinical years of the General Surgery Training Program, residents in recent years have performed around 1,000 operations.

Surgical Residency Program at Massachusetts General Hospital

Mass General's five-year Surgical Residency Program is a highly rated program, as it offers extensive hands-on experience, with trainees performing 1,100-1,200 major operations. Though not mandatory, most students spend two years on research and career development, supported by six endowed fellowships. The program provides over $50 million annually in research funding, one of the largest in the US. Additionally, residents can pursue international work through the Global Surgery Pathway, and the Chief Research Officer helps tailor research mentorship teams.

What Makes a Residency Program the Best for Surgery?

Before diving into what makes a surgery residency program the best, remember that "best" is subjective. One program might excel in clinical opportunities, while another shines in its core curriculum, and another, by reputation and general consensus.

When deciding for yourself, key factors should include a comprehensive curriculum, alignment with your career goals, diverse facilities, distinguished faculty, affiliate hospitals, research focus, and more. Your definition of "best" will depend on what aspects matter most to you, so please, take these rankings with a grain of salt and always make decisions that best suit you. If your chosen school is not on this list, it will very well still be an excellent experience.

Top 3 Best Residency Programs for General Surgery: Canada

The three highest-ranking general surgery residency programs in Canada, based on clinical opportunities and overall excellence, are:

General Surgery at the University of Toronto

Ranked #4 in the world, and thus the best in Canada, this program is the largest and one of the most diverse, offering outstanding clinical training and research opportunities. Residents benefit from a variety of teaching hospitals, including Mount Sinai Hospital and Toronto General Hospital, and have access to rural training opportunities through the Rural Ontario Medicine Training Program​

General Surgery at McGill University

Known for its long history of excellence in surgical training and research, McGill's General Surgery Residency Program prepares residents for both community hospital practice and academic careers. The program includes robust clinical rotations and opportunities for research, particularly through the Surgical Scientist Program.

Department of Surgery at the University of British Columbia (UBC)

UBC provides comprehensive surgical training with a strong emphasis on clinical excellence and innovation. Residents have access to state-of-the-art facilities and diverse clinical experiences across multiple affiliated hospitals​.

For detailed information on these programs, you can visit their respective websites or refer to the FREIDA Residency Program Database.

Curious about the least and most competitive residencies?

Best Residency Programs for General Surgery: Honorable Mentions

As we noted at the beginning on this article, the “best” programs for one individual might not be the best overall for your expectations, experiences and goals. We’ve compiled a few other highly-ranked programs using FREIDA Residency Program Database, NRMP Main Residency Match Data and Doximity and based this list on USMLE pass rates, clinical opportunities, overall reputation, match rates and research experiences.

Best Residency Programs for Surgery: Other Specialties

Of course, you may be curious about some of the top programs for your surgery residency. Perhaps you’d like to dedicate your career to operating on a specific organ or part of the human body, rather than general surgery. According to Doximity Residency Navigator, FREIDA Residency Program Database and Becker's Hospital Review, here are the top 5 surgery specialties (based on 2023 data) and schools that rank highly for each:

Tips on How To Match With the Best Residency Programs for Surgery

Residency match services like the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) for the US and CaRMS for Canada pair students with residency programs on their residency rank order list which includes all the program’s a candidate is interested in. Note that the application process for residency positions in the US is administered by ERAS but the residency match itself is managed by NRMP.

There are some steps you can take to increase your chances of getting matched. These include working on the individual components of your application, such as:


1. What application system do US medical schools use for residency programs?

Medical schools in the US use the ERAS application system. It is a centralized solution for residency applications and documents. 

2. What application system is used by Canadian medical schools?

Canadian medical schools use the CaRMS application system. 

3. How many residents does Johns Hopkins Medicine take in for its surgery residency?

Johns Hopkins Medicine welcomes only seven residents each year to its General Surgery Training Program; thus making it the most competitive and difficult to get into.

4. Is there a way I can find out what my chances of matching are?

You can use our residency match calculator to assess your match chances. 

5. How can I prepare for my CaRMS residency interview?

You can prepare for the CaRMS interview by identifying your interview format, researching the program, reflecting on and recognizing what you have to offer, answering practice interview questions, and taking mock interviews.

6. Is there a limit to the number of residency programs I can apply to?

In the US, you can include up to 300 residency programs in ERAS. However, we recommend being more strategic and applying to no more than 30-35 programs, at most.

7. What other medical schools in Canada offer a surgical residency programs?

Memorial University of Newfoundland, Dalhousie University, University of Ottawa, and the University of Saskatchewan, are some of the schools in Canada that offer a surgical residency through their medical program; although not mentioned in this article, they are great institutions!

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

Want more free tips? Subscribe to our channels for more free and useful content!




Apple Podcasts