Ever wondered about the medical schools with best match rates? Whether you’re a premed student figuring out which medical schools to apply to or a soon-to-be MD or DO graduate waiting for Match Day, knowing the statistics about match rates could be helpful. Why do some medical schools have significantly higher match rates than others? What factors influence a school’s match rate? These are some of the questions we’ll answer in this blog. We’ll also discuss which medical schools in Canada and the US have the best match rates and whether it is important to choose to attend specific med schools when it comes to residency matching.
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Many premed students want to know which are the medical schools with best match rates before they decide which programs to apply to. Of course, there are many different factors which influence medical school rankings, such as the curriculum, faculty, facilities, affiliated hospitals, and so on. Not all medical schools release their match data nor does the residency match rate necessarily indicate the quality of education a school provides. The fact is, majority of medical schools in the US and Canada offer a high quality education and produce skilled and capable physicians. Yet, not all of these students are matched to a residency and some schools definitely have a higher match rate than others. While the status of your medical school is a factor in the residency matching process, but so are the USMLE Step 2 scores, ERAS letters of recommendation, residency personal statement, residency CV, and so on. Keeping this in mind, let’s have a look at medical schools in the US that traditionally have higher match rates than others.
Looking for more general info on the residency application process and residency matching works? Check out this video!
Which Schools Have the Best Match Rates in the US?
In the US, applicants use the ERAS portal to apply for residency positions and the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) matches applicants to medical schools across the US. NRMP does not release information about residency match rates based on medical schools, but there are some specific trends in matching that are interesting to note.
Generally speaking, elite schools such as Ivy League medical schools and UC schools have the best match rates. These are the match rates of some of the top medical schools in the US:
- Harvard Medical School: As per data released from the Harvard Medical School Office of Student Affairs, Harvard has a match rate of 95%, with 46% matched to Harvard affiliated programs. Of the unmatched students, 2 graduates pursued Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and the remaining pursued non-clinical positions.
- Weill Cornell Medical College: As per data released by the school, 99% of Cornell applicants matched to a residency and 91% of these matched to residency positions in the top 50 institutions.
- Yale School of Medicine: As per the Yale School of Medicine Office of Student Affairs, most of Yale’s medical graduates matched to a residency program. 94% matched to 1 of their top 5 choices and 91% matched to 1 of their top 3 choices.
- Stanford Medicine: A few years ago, Stanford Medicine boasted a complete 100% match rate for all 85 of their medical graduates. Stanford has not released the latest specific residency match rates, but they continue to have excellent overall match rates and their graduates get into the most competitive residencies.
- University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine: According to the latest data released by the school, they have an overall residency match rate of 98%.
It’s not just top-ranking medical schools that boast excellent match rates. Some smaller universities that focus on less competitive residencies like primary care, also have excellent match rates:
- Creighton University School of Medicine: According to the latest data released by this school, 100% of their graduating class matched to a residency, with 91% getting their first-choice residency. 53% of their students matched to primary care residency positions.
- University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine: Their latest data confirms that 96% of their graduating class matched to a residency.
- Kansas City University College of Medicine: Their latest residency match data shows that 99% of graduating students matched to a residency.
- Howard University College of Medicine: According to their latest reports, they have a residency match rate of 89%.
There are also some interesting match statistics to consider when it comes to DO vs MD matching rates. According to the latest NRMP data, the overall residency match rate is 92.8% for US MD seniors, and 89.1% for US DO seniors. Overall, allopathic medical graduates have a slight advantage over their osteopathic peers when it comes to residency matching. However, the best osteopathic medical schools could have higher match rates when compared to some lower-ranked or even top-ranked allopathic schools. For example:
- University of North Texas Health Science Center College of Osteopathic Medicine: According to the data released on the official website, in the last few years, 99% to 100% of their graduating DO students have found residency placements.
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine: Their latest data reveals that 99.1% of their graduating class found a placement in a graduate medical program.
- Lincoln Memorial University College of Osteopathic Medicine: Their latest data shows that 94.1% of their graduating class was matched to a residency.
Check out this infographic:
Top 15 Schools With Best Match Rates in Canada
In Canada, medical school seniors and graduates use the Canadian Resident Matching Service or CaRMs to apply for residency positions. According to the latest CaRMs data, the overall match rate of Canadian medical graduates to residency spots in Canada was 96.6%, with 81.7% of these applicants getting matched to their first-choice residency. The match rate for international medical graduates was 29.1% and for US medical graduates was 59.5%.
As per CaRMs data, these are the medical schools in Canada with the highest residency match rates for Canadian medical graduates:
1. School: Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Number of Students Entering Match: 59
Match Rate: 100%
2. School: University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine
Number of Students Entering Match: 161
Match Rate: 99.7%
3. School: Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty of Medicine
Number of Students Entering Match: 81
Match Rate: >95 %
4. School: University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine
Number of Students Entering Match: 263
Match Rate: >95%
5. School: University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine
Number of Students Entering Match: 293
Match Rate: >95%
6. School: Queen's University School of Medicine
Number of Students Entering Match: 100
Match Rate: >95%
7. School: Université Laval Faculty of Medicine
Number of Students Entering Match: 235
Match Rate: >95%
8. School: Schulich School of Medicine at Western University
Number of Students Entering Match: 172
Match Rate: >95%
9. School: University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry
Number of Students Entering Match: 168
Match Rate: 90-95%
10. School: Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University
Number of Students Entering Match: 203
Match Rate: 90-95%
11. School: Université de Sherbrooke Medical School
Number of Students Entering Match: 197
Match Rate: 90-95%
12. School: Université de Montréal Faculty of Medicine
Number of Students Entering Match: 326
Match Rate: 90-95%
13. School: Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine
Number of Students Entering Match: 114
Match Rate: 90-95%
14. School: McGill University Medical School
Number of Students Entering Match: 193
Match Rate: 90-95%
15. School: Cumming School of Medicine at University of Calgary
Number of Students Entering Match: 165
Match Rate: 90-95%
As can be seen from the list above, Canadian medical schools have excellent match rates for Canadian medical students. The main reason for this is that Canadian residency programs generally prefer placing Canadian medical graduates i.e., applicants from Canadian medical schools. It’s much more difficult for US and international applicants to get a placement via CaRMS.
Interested in a recap of the most competitive and least competitive residency programs?
Factors That Influence Match Rates for Medical Schools
As we can see from the above data, it’s not just a medical schools’ ranking and reputation that influence their residency match rates. There are some other crucial factors that could impact how many students from a medical school are matched to a residency.
Competitive Specialty Preferences
An important factor to consider in residency matching is how the match rates of different specialties influence the overall match rates for a medical school. Applicants from elite medical schools are more likely to apply for the most competitive residencies such as surgery, dermatology, etc. These residencies generally have the fewest spots and high admission standards; statistically speaking, this means students applying only to competitive residencies are least likely to get their first-choice residency match and may sometimes not get a match at all simply due to their choice of residencies. Some medical students are focused on these competitive residencies and do not want to compromise with any safe options, which could lead them to not get any matches, even if they have excellent USMLE scores and belong to top-ranked medical schools.
This could also work in reverse – applicants opting for least competitive residencies like family medicine and internal medicine are more likely to get matched and hence schools that are otherwise low-ranked could have excellent match rates due to their students largely applying only to these “safe” residency choices.
This also explains why some DO schools have better match rates than allopathic schools. The osteopathic medical curriculum is focused on primary care specialties like internal and family medicine and primary care residency programs, especially those with a pre-existing osteopathic affiliation, could give their students preference.
The flip side of this consideration is that many of the most competitive specialties give preference to students from the top medical schools. This could be due to several other reasons than the perceived “prestige” of the school. For instance, most of the top medical schools have excellent research facilities and often have the resources and connections to help their students gain early, significant experience in a specific specialty. They may have a wider list of affiliate hospitals for students to complete their rotations in, and they may offer specialized medical training in the highly competitive specialties. Due to a combination of these factors, applicants from these schools may have a more impressive resume for competitive residencies.
Every medical school has a different focus and set up when it comes to the medical training they offer. Though the basic medical school curriculum is the same, some programs may offer more training opportunities in a specific specialty, in the form of additional elective courses, a more focused curriculum, clinical rotation options, research exposure, hospital affiliations, and so on. As a result, some medical schools have a reputation for training students in a specific specialty. Students from such schools are more likely to choose and get matched to the same type of specialties and this influences the residency match rates for those programs.
This could be simply because those schools attract students interested in that specific specialty, and those students seek out residency spots in the same specialty. And residency directors are more likely to accept students with extensive previous experience in that field and with a perceived commitment to their specialty. For instance, students who graduate from the best medical schools for surgery such as Johns Hopkins or Harvard University have a higher chance of getting into competitive surgery residencies.
Moreover, many medical schools affiliate with hospitals belonging to a specific specialty and students, while completing their rotations in those institutions, use the chance to form useful connections and gain meaningful experience that gives them an edge when they later apply for a residency position in the same program. Both “perceived commitment to specialty” and “audition elective/rotation within department” are key factors for residency directors determining who to accept. That is why, for example, certain primary-care oriented medical schools like New York Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, and the top osteopathic schools have a great residency match rate, equal to the elite medical schools.
It’s important to remember that overall and school specific match data changes from year to year. While we can discuss overall trends and probabilities, it’s hard to predict exact numbers because there are a number of factors that could change the results. Every batch of medical students has a different composition, and every med student has a different priority, and these intangible changes add up to cause minor fluctuations in match rates.
Location is a key concern when it comes to residency matching. Residency is a long-term commitment to a specific hospital and location, and applicants may prioritize applying to residency programs only in specific locations, especially if they have family commitments. On the other hand, some residency programs may prioritize applicants from local medical schools, as part of their official policy or simply because these students are more likely to have completed rotations in their department. Therefore, medical schools in that region will naturally show higher match rates.
Some residency programs have a strong preference for applicants who meet specific language requirements. For instance, residency programs based out of Quebec service mostly French-speaking communities and hence prefer applicants who are fluent in French and have received their medical training in French. This gives applicants from French language medical schools, such as Université Laval Faculté de Médecine, an edge, and their residency match rates could be boosted as a result.
How Important is Your School in the Residency Matching Process?
Recent NRMP data shows that in the US, the overall match rate is 78.5% for all applicants including international medical graduates.
This means that quite a few applicants don’t get a residency match at all. This is simply because the residency matching process in the US is very competitive and there simply aren’t enough residency positions to match the number of applicants. Nevertheless, it’s a scary prospect for any medical student to not get a residency match after all the time, money, and hard work invested in medical school.
So, what does influence residency matching? How do residency directors make their decisions?
A recent NRMP report explored the key factors that programs consider when matching residents and how important each factor is. According to this report, “Graduate of highly‐regarded medical (MD/DO) school” was a selection factor for 46% of programs and the median importance they gave this factor was 3.6 (out of 5). But, it was only 25th on the list, which means 24 other factors are, on average, considered more important this one! Traditionally, your experiences, scores, and other application components have a much higher influence on your match chances than the reputation of your school.
Ultimately, belonging to a medical school with an excellent match rate is not a guarantee you’ll be matched to the residency program of your choice. Your USMLE scores, resume, letters of recommendation, interview, etc. will be the final determinant of your success. Success and excellence are not a direct result of which school you go to, but of your own efforts and skills!
1. Which medical schools have the best match rates in the US?
NRMP, the residency matching service for US residency programs, has not released the school-specific data about residency matching rates. However, based on the data released by some schools and other reports and studies, it’s clear that top-ranked medical schools such as Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Stanford, and University of Pennsylvania all have excellent match rates. Many smaller medical schools with a greater focus on less competitive specialties like internal medicine also boast excellent match rates. This includes Creighton University, Kansas City University, etc. The top DO schools also have great residency matching rates.
2. Which medical schools have the best match rates in Canada?
In Canada, medical schools such as Northern Ontario School of Medicine, University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, and Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty of Medicine have almost perfect residency matching rates of 95% or higher. In fact, as per the latest CaRMS data, most medical schools in Canada have great residency matching rates.
3. Is my medical school an important factor in residency matching?
As per an NRMP report, residency directors rated “Graduate of highly‐regarded medical (MD/DO) school” as 25th on their list of considerations for why they selected a candidate for their programs. This means that several other factors such as letters of recommendations, CVs, USMLE scores, are all considered more important. It’s important to note that these figures reflect only the reported data and don’t account for other influencing factors such as students’ specialty preferences.
4. Why do some medical schools have better match rates than others?
This could be for a number of reasons. Top-ranked medical schools attract the best students, and they are more likely to successfully meet the various admission requirements for residency programs. The prestige and reputation of the school could also influence the match rates. At the same time, some smaller medical schools focus on providing training related to less competitive specialties, and majority of their students apply to those specialties and are hence more likely to get accepted, thus boosting the match rates of these schools. Other factors that are less easy to document such as location and language preferences, experiences match, etc., also play a role in why some schools have better match rates, irrespective of their rankings.
5. How do I get my first-choice residency match?
Residency programs look at a few important considerations when deciding how to fill their available positions: USMLE scores, letters of recommendation, clinical experiences and extracurriculars on your CV, residency personal statement, and so on. You should make sure each of these application components are as competitive as possible. Additionally, it’s important to consider which specialties you’re applying to. If your CV and experiences do not align with the requirements of the specialty you’ve applied to, you are much less likely to get a match.
6. Which DO schools have the best residency match rates?
NRMP has not released any official data about which schools have the best residency match rates. Based on the data released by the schools themselves, the DO programs with excellent match rates, similar to the best allopathic schools, include: University of North Texas Health Science Center College of Osteopathic Medicine, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Lincoln Memorial University College of Osteopathic Medicine.
7. What are the overall residency match rates for US MD and DO seniors?
According to NRMP, the overall residency match rate for MD seniors graduating from US medical schools is 92.8%. For DO seniors, the match rate is 89.1%.
8. What is the residency match rate for international medical graduates applying to residency programs in the US?
As per NRMP, the residency match rate for international medical graduates is 54.8%.
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