Neurological surgery is a complex specialty focused on the surgical management of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous systems.1

Neurosurgery is considered one of the most competitive specialties in the United States among US medical students and is even more competitive for international medical graduates (IMGs). According to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), in 2018, only 23% of the 43 IMGs who applied for neurosurgery residency were matched to a US program. Per NRMP data, 100 neurosurgery residency programs provided approximately 225 positions in 2018.2

In this chapter, we provide detailed information to help guide prospective IMG applicants who are interested in applying for neurosurgery residency in the United States. For more relevant information, please also consult the guide to the original Medical Student Guide for Matching in Neurosurgery section of the Atlas that is written for US graduates but contains certain content that applies to the IMGs.

The following sections are included in this guide:

We hope that this guide is a comprehensive and useful resource for IMG applicants from anywhere on the planet who are driven to work hard and pursue neurosurgery residency in the United States.


Ali S. Haider, BS


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The Atlas appreciates the great efforts of Ali Haider in organizing and leading the team to make this guide possible. 

The Atlas appreciates the great efforts of Ali Haider in organizing and leading the team to make this guide possible. 

Senior Reviewers

Raymond Sawaya, MD, FAANS

Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh, MD


  1. American Board of Neurological Surgery. Definition of neurological surgery. Available at: https://www.abns.org/definition-neurological-surgery/. Accessed March 15, 2019.
  2. National Resident Matching Program. Charting outcomes in the match: international medical graduates. Available at: http://www.nrmp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Charting-Outcomes-in-the-Match-2018-IMGs.pdf. Accessed March 16, 2019.


This is a well-thought-out and extremely valuable resource and guide for international medical graduates (IMGs) who are pursuing neurosurgical research and training in the United States. As getting accepted into a neurosurgery residency program becomes more and more challenging, it is important to learn, early on, the key elements and steps that need to be taken to put you on the right track. This guide is an excellent start that can point you in the right direction. Good luck!
Apr 25, 2020 10:04 AM

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