In order to receive a medical residency, you must have completed medical school. That is, you need an M.D. or D.O. degree, from an accredited medical school. You also need to have taken the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX); depending on the requirements of the individual schools you choose, you may have to take both. The application process usually encompasses the fourth year of medical school, with interviews taking place between October and February.
While each hospital has its own requirements, they're relatively uniform between hospitals. Typically, applicants are required to hold a degree from a U.S. or Canadian school accredited through the Liaison Committee on Graduate Medical Education (LCME) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Applicants who attended medical school outside the U.S. or Canada need a certificate from the Educational Council on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) [source: University of Wisconsin].
Graduates of medical schools outside the U.S. and Canada must be eligible to work in the U.S., either through citizenship, a visa or a resident alien permit. Hospitals outside the U.S. have their own criteria for applying for medical residency, which varies from country to country. Check with the individual hospital to determine if you're eligible.
Of course, there's a lot more to applying for a residency than just your degree and your USMLE score. We'll explain the rest in the next section.