American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

How many years of postgraduate training do surgical residents undergo?

Once medical school has been successfully completed the graduate school experience begins in the form of a residency, which focuses on a particular medical specialty. Residencies can last from three to seven years, with surgical residencies lasting a minimum of five years.

Surgical Specialty

Length of Residency Training

General Surgery

Five years

Thoracic Surgery

General surgery training plus two additional years

Colon and Rectal Surgery

General surgery training plus one additional year completing a colon and rectal surgery residency

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Four years: Three years entirely in obstetrics and gynecology, plus one elective year

Gynecologic Oncology

Four years in an Obstetrics and Gynecology residency training program plus a minimum of 2-3 years in gynecological oncology

Neurological Surgery

One year of general surgery training plus five years of neurological surgery training

Ophthalmic Surgery

One year of patient care in one of the following: internal medicine, pediatrics, general surgery, emergency medicine, neurology, or family practice; followed by three years in ophthalmology

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

A four-year graduate degree in dentistry plus a minimum of four years in a general surgery training program

Orthopaedic Surgery

One year in a broadly-based, patient-related program, plus four in orthopaedic surgery


One year of general surgery training plus three years of otolaryngology, followed by one year of elective training

Pediatric Surgery

General surgery training plus two years of full-time education in an approved pediatric surgery fellowship program

Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery

Three years of preparatory surgery training plus two years of plastic surgery training. Many physicians add an additional six to 12 months of training for a particular field of interest


Two years of general surgery training plus a minimum of three years, but usually four years, in urology

Vascular Surgery

General surgery training plus one to two years of training in the specialty of vascular surgery