The Most Popular Medical Residency Specialties?

There comes a time in every medical student's life when they make the critical decision of which Medical Residency program they will pursue. While this decision is paramount to you, it is also weighing heavily on the minds of thousands of other students desperate to get into their program and specialty of choice.‌ With a current match rate running 79% for first year applicants, it helps to know what choices your fellow applicants are making1. To help you gain insight into these choices, consider this list of specialties receiving the largest number of applications in 2019*.

Internal Medicine

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, Internal Medicine tops the list when it comes to the largest number of applicants each year. Approximately 25,137 medical students applied to this specialty in 2019, making it a top pick.

Family Medicine

This specialty is a popular career choice for many students, attracting over 14,000 applicants last year. It is also remarkable for attracting both genders with nearly an even split between male and female applicants.

General Surgery

Working in the operating room on a wide variety of patients is a top calling for many young Physicians. A little over 7,000 aspiring Residents interested in pursuing a challenging surgical career applied for this specialty in 2019.


This specialty boasts the unique distinction of attracting almost double the number of female applicants as it does male. Over 6,000 applicants chose to pursue further training in this specialty focused on the care of newborns, adolescents and teens.


Psychiatry is a top choice for many hopeful Residents wanting to unravel the many mysteries of the mind and its pathology. This specialty is notable for attracting just over 5,000 applicants with close to an even split of both male and female applicants.

Emergency Medicine

This fast paced and dynamic specialty attracts many Residents interested in a challenging yet flexible medical career. With just over 4,000 applicants, this is a competitive specialty choice due to a reduced numbers of available training slots.


Anesthesiologists make some of the highest incomes in the business according to, averaging $387,000 a year2. This specialty's lucrative income may help explain why 3,769 applicants applied for its 1,337 available first year Residency slots, making it an especially competitive specialty choice1.