How to Apply and FAQs

We accept applications for our Categorical and Preliminary programs through Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).  Please do not send your CV via email (it actually eats up a lot of space and stops us from being able to send out responses!). If you have a particular reason for your application to be flagged to us, feel free to send a note saying so, and we will gladly look up your application through ERAS.

Some commonly asked questions:

Do you have a minimum Step 1 Score?

We have stopped using Step 1 as a screening tool and are dedicated to holistic reviews of applications. That said, we typically receive over 1,800 applications annually, so bear with us as we work through this large volume of applicants. And for those wondering, no, we aren't using Step 2 scores in lieu of Step 1 either! 

How many letters of recommendation do I need?

In general, we ask for three letters of recommendation. Students often worry about who these letters should come from. For our purposes, we prefer to hear from those who know you best. That said, if obtaining a Chair's letter is customary at your school, please do so, but feel free to include letters from non-surgeons you have directly worked with who can tell us how amazing you are.

What kind of resident are you looking for?

We want really hard-working physicians who aim to be leaders in a variety of settings. The benefit of our size and resources is that we can help you become a community general surgeon just as easily as we can begin your career in academic surgery. Characteristics that we use to describe our current residents include resilient, adaptable, and compassionate!

Do you take foreign medical graduates?

We do have residents from foreign medical schools. You must be ECFMG certified and your application must meet all of our other standards. U.S. clinical experience is not required for our international applicants. Please note, UT Southwestern Medical Center is only able to sponsor J-1 visas for residents.

Do you require a research year(s)?

Nope! This is a 5-year training program. While we pride ourselves on being one of the premier research institutions in the world (and Nature's #1 Ranked Healthcare Research institution for 2 years in a row), we do not mandate that our trainees spend extra time in training.

Early on in your time here, you will meet with our career development team, which included Drs. Herbert Zeh, Kareem Abdelfattah, Adam Yopp, and others who are interested in helping you get to where you want to be. These meetings help us shape what your time at UT Southwestern will look like, and make connections that will help you create the network you need in your career. We are just as excited to create a pathway to leadership in academic surgery as we are to help you serve the community through private practice.

While the number of residents who choose to go into the lab varies from one year to the next, roughly one-third to one half of each class has opted for the career development time (and, in the case of our 2020 PGY3 class, 75% chose this route). Be sure to look over what our research residents are doing, along with the research opportunities we offer, to get an idea of what our trainees are engaged in! Whether you are interested in healthcare advocacy, basic science, outcomes research, or surgical education, we offer a wide range of opportunities for you to grow as a surgeon leader. Furthermore, if you have an interest that we can't fulfill, we are happy to help you find that opportunity at another institution. In recent years, we have sent residents to labs all over the country, such as pediatric surgery at the Children's Hospital of LA and Stanford, vascular surgery at Wisconsin University, and plastic surgery at Johns Hopkins. Our goal is always going to be to help you get the experience and skills that you need to succeed in your career.

What options do you have for surgeons interested in global health?

Right now, we don't offer fellowships or academic development time in global health. While this is a critical mission for us, and for the field of medicine in general, we don't offer a structured experience to develop the quality leaders that we aim for in each of our pursuits. That said, we have had trainees who have been dedicated to this mission, and have successfully launched careers in this area with mentors on campus.