IMG friendly psychiatry residency programs are ones that accept international medical graduates who have completed medical school degrees in countries other than the US and Canada. Finding an IMG friendly residency program is important for international medical graduates since many residency programs in the US and Canada often do not admit IMGs. Even medical schools with the best match rates take about 54% of IMGs, which puts IMGs at a disadvantage. Luckily, there are many exceptions.

This article will look at IMG friendly psychiatry residency programs in the US and detail the most important information for international medical graduates to know.

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List of IMG Friendly Psychiatry Residency Programs Conclusion FAQs

List of IMG Friendly Psychiatry Residency Programs

1. Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science College of Medicine Program

Additional Application Requirements for IMGs: ECFMG certification

Visa Sponsorships: No

Visa Requirements: Must be naturalized US citizen, or have permanent residency

The Adult Psychiatry Residency Program at Charles R. Drew University has similar requirements for IMGs as all other programs, but it has a history of admitting more IMGs than other psychiatry programs, as 35% (percentages of IMG graduates taken from the official AMA residency program database FREIDA) of its graduating residents have been international students (average over the last three years).

The program requires that all IMGs fulfil the same application requirements as US graduates, including having passed both the USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2 CK exams (no minimum score required). But IMGs must also have ECFMG certification for all courses taken at foreign universities and medical schools. The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates is the official agency for certifying and verifying all course credits taken outside the US or Canada.

Want to know the 10 common residency interview questions? Watch this video:

Having ECFMG certification is a mandatory requirement for all international students who want to study at medical schools in the US and is also required for IMGs who apply to any residency program in the US or Canada: no residency programs or medical schools will accept international students or graduates without ECFMG, so you should be aware of that going forward.

The psychiatry residency program at CDU lasts for four years. Its central location in South Los Angeles, gives residents ample opportunities to perform their required and elective rotations in eight different teaching sites in and around the city. Students take sub-specialty rotations in emergency, adult, child, and geriatric psychiatry throughout their first two years and take elective rotations in the final two years.

2. Saint Elizabeths Hospital-DC Department of Behavioral Health Program

Additional Application Requirements for IMGs: ECFMG certification

Visa Sponsorship: No

Visa Requirements: J-1 or H-1B visa; naturalized US citizens, or permanent resident

The Adult Psychiatry residency at Saint Elizabeths Hospital DC has six resident positions available every year to US medical graduates and IMGs. The school requires all applicants to submit the following information:

  • Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE)
  • Transcript
  • Personal statement
  • USMLE or COMLEX examination scores
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Curriculum Vitae

But international students must also present their ECFMG certification, which is the only additional requirement. The school accepts degrees from foreign medical schools, provided they have been ECFMG certified. It does not sponsor visas for IMGs but accepts students who are not US citizens or permanent residents. These students must have at least:

  • A J-1 visa offered via the ECFMG


  • A H-1B visa, which is the visa given to “exceptional” non-immigrants to the US who work in specialty fields, like medicine, or scientific research

The curriculum for this program lasts four years, and accepted residents pass through a variety of sub-specialties to complete the entire program. They begin rotations in sub-specialities such as internal medicine and neurology while also being trained in patient interviewing, group therapy, and addiction medicine.

3. Christiana Care Health Services

Additional Application Requirements for IMGs: ECFMG certification

Visa Sponsorship: No

Visa Requirements: J-1; H-1B; naturalized US citizens or permanent residents

The four-year program at Christiana Care Health Services is a unique opportunity for psychiatry graduates, as there is no one main teaching site or hospital. Residents have access to many different teaching sites throughout the health care system, which is based in Delaware but has an extensive network of affiliate hospitals and clinical sites that stretch as far away as Pennsylvania and Maryland, like the Sidney Kimmel Medical College.

The program is also attractive to IMGs, as 38% of past residents of the program have been IMGs. Applicants to the psychiatry residency program must meet the general admission requirements for all residency programs, but a few programs have their own admission requirements. The general requirements include:

  • Academic records
  • MSPE
  • Letters of recommendation
  • National board scores (USMLE or COMLEX)
  • Publications and honors
  • Applicant’s state interests and plans

While IMGs are encouraged to apply, they must first contact the ECFMG to either certify their foreign medical school degree or request application materials for the residency program. The school sends all application materials via ECFMG, which means that all applicants must either have or be in the process of receiving certification before they apply.

4. University of Central Florida/HCA Florida Healthcare (Gainesville)

Additional Application Requirements for IMGs: ECFMG certification

Visa Sponsorship: No

Visa Requirements: J-1; H-1B; naturalized US citizen or permanent residents

The University of Central Florida has eight different residency sites strictly for the psychiatry program, so it offers residents a wide range of teaching and training sites, thereby exposing them to a wider variety of patients, cases, and settings across central Florida. The school does not sponsor visa applications, but it does accept non-citizen students as long as they have a J-1 or H-1B visa.

The school has a history of accepting IMGs, as 55% of all graduates from the program in the past three years were international students. This number is more than the US graduates who have passed through the program, so the UCF psychiatry residency program is especially welcoming to foreign medical school graduates.

All applicants must apply via the ERAS system and must be either:

  • A medical school graduate from the US or Canada
  • A foreign medical school graduate with ECFMG certification
  • A DO school graduate
  • A foreign medical school graduate who has completed a Fifth Pathway program at a LCME-accredited medical school in the US

All applicants must also have graduated from medical school within the past two years of applying. There are exceptions for students who have spent time as active-duty military members or have participated in research or scholarly activity during this time.

5. Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Psychiatry Residency Program

Additional Application Requirements for IMGs: ECFMG certification

Visa Sponsorships: No

Visa Requirements: J-1; H-1B not accepted; naturalized US citizens and permanent residents

The Mount Sinai Medical Center in South Florida accepts only three residents into its psychiatry resident program every year but only accepts IMGs with a J-1 visa sponsored via the ECFMG. In addition, foreign medical graduates must also hold ECFMG certification to apply to the program. IMGs do not have any additional requirements to follow, and the school is well-known as an IMG-friendly program, as 61% of its past graduates have been IMGs.

However, even though the program is IMG friendly, it has other, more stringent admission requirements for its program. For example, the program has a minimum USMLE score (170 for both parts) and require IMGs to pass the Clinical Skills Assessment given by the ECFMG. The program has several teaching and training sites throughout South Florida, and the entire psychiatry residency program lasts four years.

6. University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria

Application Requirements for IMGs: ECFMG certification

Visa Sponsorships: No

Visa Requirements: J-1; HB-1 are accepted; naturalized US citizens, or permanent residents

The acceptance rates for the psychiatry residency program at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria are some of the lowest among all the medical schools in Illinois. The program accepts around 50 applications a year for only four positions, which puts its acceptance rate at 8%. But, in the past three years, 54% of the program’s graduates were international medical graduates.

The school accepts various visa types, but it does not sponsor visa applications. The psychiatry program has specific requirements, but they are not that different from other residency programs like the internal medicine residency or the family medicine residency. Applicants must apply via ERAS and fulfil requirements like having a medical school degree from an accredited program, or having ECFMG certification for a foreign degree.

7. St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center Psychiatry Residency Training Program

Additional Application Requirements for IMGs: ECFMG certification

Visa Sponsorships: Yes (J-1 visas only; processing fees paid by students)

Visa Requirements: J-1 and H-1B accepted; naturalized US citizens or permanent residents

The St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center psychiatry residency program accepts only five graduates every year and has a documented history of graduating IMGs. Not only do over 1,000 IMGs apply every year, 80% of previous graduates from the last three years fit the IMG criteria (having trained at a medical school outside of the US and Canada).

The residency program highlights are that it is centrally located and part of the Boston Medical School and Tufts Medical School, so, it gives applicants various teaching sites where they can complete their training and take advantage of the world-class faculty and teaching facilities. IMGs must submit their application via ERAS, and they must include similar elements to US medical graduates like their USMLE or COMLEX scores, as well as documents like:

  • Residency CV
  • ECFMG certification
  • Medical school transcript
  • Dean’s letter or MSPE
  • USMLE or COMLEX scores
  • Personal statement
  • Three letters of recommendation

As this program requires a personal statement, applicants – foreign and domestic – should read over psychiatry residency personal statement examples to see what successful graduates have written in the past. The residency lasts four years, and students pass through various sub-specialties (internal medicine, emergency medicine, and pediatrics) while also benefitting from professional development opportunities with area hospitals.

8. Central Michigan University College of Medicine Psychiatry Residency

Additional Application Requirements for IMGs: ECFMG certification

Visa Sponsorships: No

Visa Requirements: J-1 sponsored by ECFMG; naturalized US citizens or permanent residents; H-1B visas not accepted

The Central Michigan University College of Medicine psychiatry residency has seven open positions for qualified first year applicants. The school has graduated many IMGs in the past: 46% in a recent year. CMU accepts foreign medical school graduates who meet American requirements to practice medicine (passing USMLE Step 1 and 2, or COMLEX) while also requiring them to meet all the qualifying requirements of the medical licensing regime in their home countries.

The program’s location in central Michigan is also a boon to IMGs, who will study in a multicultural, multi-ethnic setting. This diversity is another hallmark of this residency program, which seeks to expose residents to various types of clinical experiences, whether inpatient or outpatient, one-on-one or group psychotherapy.

The application requirements for CMU are similar to other programs in and around the US. Applicants must apply via ERAS and submit the following:

  • ERAS application form
  • Personal statement
  • Dean’s letter/MSPE
  • Medical school transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • USMLE or COMLEX transcripts
  • ECFMG certificate

9. Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center

Additional Application Requirements for IMGs: ECFMG certification

Visa Sponsorships: Yes (J-1 visas)

Visa Requirements: J-1 and H-1B accepted; naturalized US citizens or permanent residents

The Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center is an acute-care hospital that offers a four-year residency program for qualified applicants, both IMGs and US graduates. Foreign graduates are encouraged to apply, provided they meet the other entry requirements and have their ECFMG certificate.

The program is willing to sponsor qualified students for a J-1 visa, but not the HB-1 visa some foreign medical school graduates apply for. However, applicants with an H-1B visa will be accepted as well. All applicants, regardless of origin, are required to apply via ERAS and submit the standard residency application package, including:

  • Residency CV
  • Essay on the applicant’s interest in psychiatry
  • Medical school transcript
  • MSPE
  • ECFMG Status Report (students without ECFMG can apply for certification and apply to residency while they wait)
  • USMLE transcript
  • Three recent letters of recommendation

10. Rutgers Health/New Jersey Medical School

Additional Application Requirements for IMGs: ECFMG certification

Visa Sponsorship: Yes (J-1 visas)

Visa Requirements: J-1 and HB-1 visas accepted; naturalized US citizens or permanent residents.

The Rutgers Health/New Jersey Medical School hosts a four-year psychiatry residency program that gives residents ample research and clinical opportunities throughout those four years. The program’s central location in Newark means that you will perform a majority of your rotations at either the Rutgers University Hospital or University Behavioral Health Center. There are also several VA hospitals in the area, along with the Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, where specialty rotations like forensic and geriatric psychiatry are done.

Residents complete their rotation requirements in their first two years, as they undergo training in everything from outpatient house calls to specialties like neurology, which take up two four-week blocks in their first and second years. A General Medicine rotation, where you learn basic medical practitioner skills, takes up four four-week blocks in the first two years.

The school’s past graduates have been a mix of USMGs and IMGs, but more than 50% of previous residents were IMGs. Application requirements for IMGs are no different from regular US residents, aside from the mandatory ECFMG certification. Students without a J-1 visa can ask the school to sponsor their visa application, provided they receive ECFMG certification if they do not already have it.


A psychiatry residency program is where medical school graduates who want to specialize in psychiatry or other mental health professions complete their training. IMG-friendly psychiatry residency programs are programs that have a history of accepting foreign-trained doctors, but only those who have ECFMG certification, which is a mandatory requirement for all foreign-trained doctors who want to either study or perform their residency in the US or Canada.

Some of these programs go the extra mile for IMGs by sponsoring visas if applicants do not already have them. However, many of the programs listed here do not sponsor visas, so if you need one, you should look to other sources, like the ECFMG itself, which does sponsor visas for foreign medical school graduates.


1. What are IMG-friendly residency programs?

IMG-friendly residency programs (regardless of the specialty) regularly admit foreign-trained doctors who completed their medical school training outside the US or Canada. Getting into a residency program can be difficult, even for US medical graduates, but IMGs face more hurdles getting accepted, since many programs show preference for US or Canadian medical graduates. 

2. What do I need to improve my chances of getting into a residency program as an IMG?

As an IMG, you can improve your chances of getting into a residency program in a number of ways, like getting clinical experience in the US or Canada, passing all your board certification exams with high scores, getting a letter of recommendation from an American or Canadian source, and reviewing residency interview questions or, more specifically, psychiatry residency interview questions, if you are applying to a psychiatry residency.  

3. Is there a medical specialty that is more friendly to IMGs than others?

Statistically, primary care specialities like family and internal medicine are the most popular with IMGs. Other specialties like pathology and neurology are also among those that attract the most foreign students. 

4. Who qualifies as an international medical graduate?

An international medical graduate is anyone who has completed a four-year medical degree outside the US or Canada. With that said, US or Canadian citizens who earn a degree from a foreign school are also considered international medical graduates. The designation is not based on citizenship or country of origin but rather, where you graduated from medical school. 

5. Are Canadians who apply to US residency programs and vice versa considered IMGs?

It depends on the program and school. Some residency programs in the US do not accept Canadian applicants, while others treat Canadian applicants like US citizens and do not have extra application requirements for them. The same goes for Canadian residency programs, with some accepting US and foreign applicants, while some programs do not admit any foreign applicants, American or not. 

6. What exams do I have to pass to enter a residency program in the US or Canada as an IMG?

Residency programs in the US and Canada require all applicants to have passed either the USMLE (allopathic) or COMLEX (osteopathic) tests in the US, while Canadian residency programs ask for your NAC OSCE, as well as the MCCQE. 

7. Should I hire an IMG residency consultant?

If you have doubts about whether you will be matched to a residency program as an IMG, you can hire an IMG residency consultant to help with your application. 

8. Can I apply to a residency program that is not listed here?

Of course, you should do your own investigation to find a program that suits your professional and career goals, while also being friendly toward IMGs. You can use the American Medical Association’s online database, FREIDA, to find a program that is IMG friendly. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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