Application Overview

Thank you for your interest in our Residency Training Program in Pathology. Our application requirements are listed below. Please specify the training program or programs to which you are applying:  Combined Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, Anatomic Pathology only, or Clinical Pathology only.

All applications should be made through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). Paper applications will not be accepted. ERAS information is available on their website at http://www.aamc.org/eras. Please arrange for us to receive your Dean's letter and three letters of recommendation through ERAS. 

Application deadline is typically December 1st 




ERAS Tracks

The Massachusetts General Hospital Pathology residency offers training tracks in Anatomic Pathology, Clinical Pathology, Anatomic/Clinical Pathology and Anatomic/Neuropathology. Residency applicants wishing to pursue Anatomic or Anatomic/Neuropathology tracks should select the “Anatomic/Clinical or Anatomic Pathology” choice in ERAS, since ERAS no longer allows automated separate selection of the AP or the AP/NP individual tracks. Prior to interviews, we will clarify with applicants who select “Anatomic/Clinical or Anatomic Pathology” in ERAS which specific track or tracks they wish to pursue, in order to arrange the appropriate interview day. 

All applicants are encouraged to apply through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). NRMP information is available on their website http://www.nrmp.org.

United States and international medical graduates must have passed Part 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). For United States medical graduates, documentation of successful completion of the USMLE Part 2 (Written and Clinical Skills Assessment) is not required for application or interview, but is required prior to starting residency. It is therefore strongly encouraged that applicants take the USMLE Part 2 examination by December 31 so that scores will be available by the time of match list submission. For international medical graduates, a valid ECFMG certificate is required for visa and licensing prior to starting residency; this is also required for participation in the NRMP. Please Note: to qualify for H1B status to perform clinical medicine, it is necessary to pass Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the USMLE. For a J1 visa, only USMLE Steps 1 and 2 are required. For additional information, see the FAQs for International Medical Graduates section below.

FAQ's about Residency Application Process

The Mass General Pathology training programs have changed considerably over the years, but have always maintained an emphasis on providing the highest quality education in the clinical, teaching and research components of Pathology. This list of FAQs and answers provide accurate and up-to-date information on our residency application process.

Q. What are the general requirements for applying to the program?
A. We require that the entire application for a PGY-1 position be completed via ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service). No paper applications will be accepted, except for off-match upper level positions. Information about applying through ERAS may be found on the ERAS website.

Required for a United States or Canadian medical graduates: Application, curriculum vitae, personal statement, dean’s letter, 3 letters of recommendation, and confirmation of a passing grade for USMLE (or NBME) Step I. Documentation of successful completion of USMLE (or NBME) Step II (written and Clinical Skills Assessment) is required prior to starting residency; applicants are strongly encouraged to complete the latter exams by December 31.  Successful completion of USMLE Step III is required for appointment (or re-appointment) at the PGY-3 level or higher and is also required of Canadian medical graduates seeking H-1B visa status. Canadian medical graduates do not require an ECFMG certificate.

Required for an International medical graduate: Requirements are the same as for United States medical graduates; in addition, an ECFMG certificate must be obtained by the start of residency (preferably by the time of rank list submission in mid-February). Successful completion of USMLE Step III is also required for applicants seeking H-1B visa status (see last section of this page titled FAQs for International Medical Graduates).

Visit the following websites for more comprehensive information: ACGMEECFMGUSMLE.

Q. Who must apply through the matching program (NRMP)?
A. Only seniors graduating from United States medical schools are required to apply through the match. United States graduates who have done any post graduate (post MD) training are not required to apply through the match, nor are international medical graduates or upper level candidates. However, we encourage all applicants to apply through the match. 
Information about applying through the NRMP may be found at the NRMP website.

Q. Do you accept people off the match?
A. Depending on the number of openings in a given year, a very limited number of first year positions may be filled outside of the Match. Any upper level openings that occur are generally filled outside of the Match.

Q. Does it matter whether I apply as AP only, CP only, or AP/CP?
A. No. However, if you have a clear preference, you should state it. We would like to know as soon as possible if you are unsure about your choice. Applicants interested in AP/NP or AP/HP tracks (both offered at Mass General) should indicate their interest at the interview and/or in their personal statement.

Q. My reference letters are over a year old - will that do?
A. No, they should be dated within the past year.

Q. Do you give Harvard graduates preference?
A. No.

Q. Do you have any limit on the year of graduation (i.e., how many years the applicant 
has been graduated from medical school)?

A. No.

Q. How many positions do you have?
A. We usually offer 9 first-year positions, but may offer more or fewer positions in a given year.

Q. Does your Department offer fully funded positions?
We offer fully funded residency positions to both United States and International medical graduates. Residents are funded until they are Board eligible.

Q. What are your criteria for setting up an applicant interview?
A. Once an application is complete, it is reviewed by members of the Pathology Training Committee and a decision is made as to whether to offer an interview. We receive a large number of applications from people who are very well qualified but we can only interview a small number of them.

Q. Can I check whether my application is complete?
A. Applicants can check this via ERAS.

Q. What are your policies regarding international medical graduates?
A. See the last section of this page titled FAQs for International Medical Graduates.

Q. What resources are available at Mass General for minority applicants and trainees?
A. The Pathology Service is fully committed to the recruitment of outstanding minority applicants. The Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) at the Mass General has been set up to assist training programs in the effort. In addition, the CDI assists in career development, counseling, mentoring, and advocacy, and in assisting the trainee to affiliate with a social network of minority physicians at Mass General and within the larger Boston area. The CDI staff works collaboratively with all residency training programs by hosting a series of informal reception dinners to connect residency and fellowship candidates with minority faculty and housestaff. For further information, please visit the CDI website.

FAQs about Residency Training Program

The Mass General Pathology training programs have changed considerably over the years, but have always maintained an emphasis on providing the highest quality education in the clinical, teaching and research components of Pathology. This list of FAQs and answers provide accurate and up-to-date information on our residency training program.

Q. What are the working hours like during Mass General pathology residency?
A. Exaggerated rumors about the resident working hours at Mass General have been circulating for decades; when interviewees actually speak with our residents, they are invariably pleasantly surprised to find that these rumors are inaccurate. In fact, Mass General residents are eager to take advantage of the opportunities here and they do work hard. However, the time spent at work is comparable to other large training programs. We take great pride in graduating residents who are outstanding pathologists — ready to hit the ground running when they finish training — and this takes dedication and time investment from both the faculty and the trainees.

We have designed the program to maximize the teaching benefit residents obtain from their hard work and we are continually improving this process.  We employ five Pathology Assistants and three Laboratory Technicians to assist with grossing our large volume of cases, as well as a full-time frozen section technician. We have structured our curriculum around resident education rather than service work, so most of our surgical pathology services operate on a partially 'resident-free' basis and high-volume specialties (e.g. breast, skin, and gastrointestinal pathology) are split into two services per week. This provides a more efficient leaning experience for residents. Slides and paperwork are organized by support staff so that residents can focus on looking at slides rather than on non-educational 'scutwork.' 

Q. Mass General is famous for its clinical training, but I am also interested in getting top-notch research training. What are the opportunities?
A. Mass General Pathology has always had a robust research program divided between pathologist investigators both in the department and in many other Mass General departments (e.g., Cancer Center, Dermatology, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Pediatric Surgery). In addition, the past 5-7 years have witnessed a marked expansion of the research program within Mass General Pathology itself.  More information is available in our Research Brochure, which is available as a downloadable PDF.

For trainees, the pathology department at Mass General is committed to providing research training to our interested residents and maintains an NIH/NCI Training Grant (recently increased to fund seven positions) for this purpose. Research-oriented residents may consider following our SP-LIT (Specialized Pathologist-Laboratory Investigator Training) Program, which specifically tailors their residency experience to a future career combining clinical service with funded research and provides longitudinal mentoring by research-oriented faculty. We have had extraordinary success with many of our residency graduates going on to successful post-doctoral fellowships and research careers.

Q. What type of residents train at Mass General?
A. The program aims to train leaders in the field of Pathology. As such, we tend to attract dynamic individuals who are interested in taking forward-thinking roles in moving the field of Pathology forward, whether in the clinical, teaching and/or research realms. As discussed in point 2 above, we have an active research training program.  Given our clinical strengths, however, most residents who join our program want to thoroughly learn the clinical aspects of anatomic and/or clinical pathology. Our residents are typically individuals who enjoy 'rolling up their sleeves' and taking an active role in managing clinical cases and in teaching colleagues. Each resident class tends to be closely knit and the individuals within the class are highly supportive of one another. The residents come from varied backgrounds: about 35% of the current residents have PhD degrees and 90% have graduated from United States or Canadian medical schools. Please click here for a list of our current residents and fellows.

Q. How much interaction do residents have with faculty?
A. All of our faculty, including many world-famous pathologists with busy schedules, work very closely with the residents. Mass General residents are encouraged to develop independence in managing clinical cases, but are always supervised and taught by faculty. Our faculty encompasses individuals across a spectrum of age and experience in diagnostic and investigational pathology. Residents benefit from the faculty's wealth of knowledge through working directly with them in managing clinical cases, attending teaching conferences in all branches of diagnostic pathology, and being mentored by staff in research projects and presentations.  Importantly, our entirely subspecialty approach to diagnostic anatomic and clinical pathology provides extensive interactions between residents and experts in particular fields of pathology, which increases both the efficiency and depth of the teaching experience. The daily Surgical Pathology Unknown 'Outs' Conference and Clinical Pathology 'Outs' Conference — in which faculty share 'bread and butter' as well as unusual 'zebra' teaching cases with the residents — is felt by the residents to be among the strongest aspects of our program and is very popular. Most faculty offices are located in close proximity to the residents' working areas. Our faculty maintain an open door policy and frequently interact informally with residents. Residents and faculty mingle outside the hospital setting at several departmental social events — including an annual Resident Graduation Dinner in which residents (and the Chairman) 'roast' faculty members!

Q. What sort of supervision do residents have during evening and weekend call coverage? 
A. In keeping with our philosophy that residents benefit greatly from being given responsibility at the appropriate time, our senior residents take first call for the sign out of frozen sections and rush cases on evenings and weekends.  We maintain a full system of supervision and backup for the residents: a surgical pathology fellow covers the senior resident and there is also always a frozen section attending available on call. We find that this level of backup provides an ideal balance of allowing the resident to develop his/her confidence and independence, while maintaining full clinical supervision as needed. Our residency graduates confirm that these roles greatly enhanced their level of confidence in their first post-residency job experiences.

Q. What career paths do Mass General resident graduates pursue?
A. Our current residents include 20% pursuing AP training, 20% pursuing CP training, and 60% pursuing combined AP/CP training.  We realize that career plans change and our program has been flexible in allowing residents to change training tracks during residency.   Many of our residents pursue fellowship training following residency (see below). The majority of our alumni go on to academic careers that vary considerably in the level of clinical work. Many of these alumni play major roles in teaching and others are engaged in cutting-edge research. We are very proud of our residency alumni, who include leaders in pathology all over the world. 

Q. What fellowships does Mass General offer and how are the positions filled?
A. Mass General has its own ACGME fellowships in Cytopathology, Hematopathology and Neuropathology and participates in Harvard-wide fellowships in Molecular Genetic Pathology, Dermatopathology, and Transfusion Medicine. Mass General also offers surgical pathology fellowships encompassing nearly all sub-specialties and certain subspecialty combinations. Fellowships are increasingly competitive and are often filled by Mass General residents; however, we also consider qualified candidates from other programs. In fact, currently about 25% of our fellowship positions are filled by individuals who trained at other programs. Please see our Fellowship Training site for application information.

Q. What should I expect on my interview day?
A. We strive to make our interview day as informative to the applicant as possible: we really want you to get a good picture of what it would be like to train at Mass General! Applicants invited to interview are typically asked to show up between 8 am and 9 am and the last scheduled activities end between 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm.  The day typically includes:

  • Four to five interviews with faculty: we try to match faculty with the applicant’s interests whenever possible and we will try to accommodate applicants’ requests to meet with specific faculty
  • Meeting with the Chief of Pathology. The current chair, David Louis, who started in the fall of 2006, has made education a priority and has been closely involved in the resident recruiting process. As his schedule allows, he tries to meet with all interviewees
  • A tour of the department
  • Lunch with residents: Each applicant has a private lunch with from one to three Massachusetts General Hospital residents.  Residents are also available at the end of the interview day to informally meet with the applicants
  • Attending at least one resident teaching conference
  • Attending some clinical activity in which residents interact with faculty, such as surgical pathology sign-out, transfusion medicine rounds, or coagulation signout

FAQs for International Medical Graduates

The department preferentially fills its positions with graduates from United States and Canadian medical schools, but will consider applications from outstanding graduates of top-quality international medical schools.

Q. Does the Department sponsor visas, if so which ones?
A. The Department sponsors J-1 visas via ECFMG. In certain circumstances, the Department will sponsor H-1B visas or will extend someone in H-1B status by assisting in transferring the visa. To qualify for H-1B status to perform clinical medicine, it is necessary to have passed USMLE Steps I, II and III, hold a valid ECFMG certificate, and hold a full or limited Massachusetts Medical License. Graduates of U.S. and Canadian medical schools are exempt from the ECFMG requirement. Processing at the Department of Homeland Security varies and can take as long as six months. It is strongly recommended that applications for H-1B visas be submitted to the Partners International Office as soon as possible in advance of commencing residency training in order to reduce the likelihood of delay in starting the residency program.

Q. What visa documents are required for International applicants?
A. J-1: Exchange Visitor (Clinical): The ECFMG is authorized by the United States Immigration Agency (USIA) to sponsor foreign national physicians as exchange visitors in accredited programs for graduate medical education or training. ECFMG is the sole sponsor of J-1 physicians in clinical training programs in the United States. Foreign national physicians applying for ECFMG sponsorship must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a valid ECFMG certificate (note: graduates of LCME-accredited United States and Canadian medical schools are not required to be ECFMG certified, but must submit a certified, translated copy of their medical school diploma.)
  • Hold a contract or an official letter of offer for a position in an accredited training program that is affiliated with a medical school.
  • Provide a statement of need from the Ministry of Health of the country of nationality or last legal permanent residence. This statement must provide written assurance that the country needs specialists in the area in which the exchange visitor will receive training and that she/he will return to the country upon completion of training.

Processing time for sponsorship applications is generally 4 to 5 months. Application for renewal is recommended at least eight weeks prior to the expiration of the current DS2019 Form. J-1 visa holders may not participate in moonlighting or activities outside of their training program.

Q. Do I need to have United States research/clinical experience?
A. No, but some clinical experience in the United States is very helpful for International Medical Graduates.

Q. Do you require previous formal residency training in the United States?
A. No.

Q. When do I need to take the Step II exam?
A. Mass General requires successful completion of Step II (written and Clinical Skills Assessment) prior to starting residency. For this reason, we strongly encourage applicants to complete these examinations by December 31.

Q. Which tests are required for licensure in Massachusetts?
A. Most physicians beginning residency training will obtain a Massachusetts Limited License. The Limited License is a training license that is valid only at the institution where the MD is located and is available for J-1 and H-1B applicants also. In order to qualify for the limited license, the applicant must have passed parts I and II of the USMLE. Applicants on an H-1B visa (including Canadian medical school graduates) must also have passed USMLE part III for the purpose of obtaining the visa. To qualify for a permanent Massachusetts license, physicians must also pass part III of the USMLE and have completed two years of clinical training in the United States. We will arrange licensing when an applicant has been accepted into the Program.

Q. Do we have a minimum USMLE score?
A. No, we do not have a minimum requirement above the passing level.