Diagnostic Radiology

Frequently asked Questions by MS1s and MS2s

Exposure to the field and creating positive relationships with diagnostic radiologists are very important. Doing an elective in Radiology, shadowing radiologists, reviewing the American College of Radiology website, and participating in a Radiology Interest Group all are valuable to pursue.

Research is considered very important for a Diagnostic Radiology residency application. A variety of research can be pursued, including case reports, clinical series, participation in larger studies, and technical innovations all can enhance one’s application. Recent data suggest 3-5 projects are typical for applicants who matched into Diagnostic Radiology.

Research opportunities can be accessed through academic radiologists who are involved with the medical school. In addition, the Scholarly Project office may have ideas and a list of radiologists who would like medical students to be involved with their research.  Feel free to reach out to your Career and Professional Advisor for making connections with radiologists who may be helpful in this process. Two Advisors in the Student Affairs Department are radiologists, one a Diagnostic Radiologist and the other an Interventional Radiologist.

Those candidates who recently matched into Diagnostic Radiologist typically had 1 to 3 volunteer experiences. Both volunteering and extracurricular activities, such as student government and clubs, have many benefits, but the Step 1 score and the Block grades are most important.  We recommend that these kinds of activities never supersede focus on your academics.  

Recent NRMP data note that the average Step 1 score for those applicants who matched is around 240. The average Step 2 score is around 247. The percentage of students in AOA is nearly 20%.

Frequently asked Questions by MS3s and MS4s

The applicant should request at least 3, and preferably 4, letters of recommendation. A spectrum of appropriate letters for Diagnostic Radiology would include one from a radiologist, one from the applicant’s Sub-I in either Internal Medicine or Surgery, one from a faculty member with whom the applicant has done research, and one final letter from another faculty member who knows the applicant well. Letters should be requested in the summer before the September 15 ERAS application deadline. It is often beneficial to request a letter soon after working with a faculty member when the applicant’s work is fresh in the mind of the faculty member.  

As noted, 4 letters are suggested, with the specific types of letters as noted in the response to question 6.

For Diagnostic Radiology, letters should come from various specialties including from faculty members in clinical rotations, such as Surgery and/or Internal Medicine. A letter from a faculty member with whom the applicant has done research also is valuable.

Not for Diagnostic Radiology. A similar question is whether a letter from a renowned radiologist is beneficial. The answer to both is that only if either of these radiologists knows the applicant well. Otherwise, and more typically, a Diagnostic Radiologist who knows the applicant well is preferable.

Not necessarily for Diagnostic Radiology. However, if the applicant knows that he or she would like to match into a specific program or into a specific diagnostic region of the country, then doing away rotations in those areas can be beneficial.

Information specific to Diagnostic Radiology

Radiology utilizes numerous diagnostic and image-guided therapeutic procedures through the use of ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance, and fluoroscopy.  Residency is 5 years long.  Diagnostic Radiology (DR) is a 4 year residency (Advanced Program) with the need for a preliminary or transitional 1 year internship in either Internal Medicine or General Surgery.  Categorical programs in Diagnostic Radiology are far less common.  Diagnostic Radiology is a competitive specialty, so strong Step scores are essential, as is specialty specific research.


Interventional Radiology (IR) is a subspecialty of Radiology and can be pursued in fellowship after residency or DIRECT pathway (Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology Enhanced Clinical Training).  The DIRECT program requires 2 years of Preliminary clinical training and can be entered immediately after graduation from medical school or as a PGY-3, for a total of six post-graduate training years.

Diagnostic Radiology Student Interest Group

Click here to visit the Diagnostic Radiology Interest Group website

Additional Resources

AMSER Guide to Applying for Radiology Residency

Click here to visit the American College of Radiology (ACR) website