10 Best Neurology Residency Programs (2024) - Ranking & Fees

May 8, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 5/7/24

As recent discoveries about the human brain continue to surprise the medical community, neurology is an attractive specialization for graduating medical students and medical doctors looking to pursue a residency program.  

Neurology is not the most competitive residency program nor the easiest. According to Main Residency Match data, 146 eligible neurology programs received 1,550 applications for PGY-1 and 989 for PGY-2. The number of matches were respectively 843 and 217; making the entry ratio approximately 1 out of 2 applicants for the preliminary year and 1 out of 4 for the categorical residency. 

Compared to the widespread Internal Medicine residency program (668 different programs) or more challenging programs like Medicine Primary (approximately 1 out of 6 applicants matched), Neurology’s figures encourage applicants to seriously research beforehand the specific residency program that speaks to their personal interests and previous experience. 

Various factors are considered when assessing the best neurology programs: 

  • The ranking of their respective hospitals as well as affiliated universities, 
  • The credentials and research output of their faculty members, 
  • The level of innovation in their facilities and departments, 
  • The total number of funds awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Based on these factors, we have named the five most attractive neurology residency programs for 2024. We explain what they are, what makes them special, and provide a helpful tip to consider when applying to them.

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Best Neurology Residency Programs in the US

Below, we’ll cover the top neurology residency programs in the US to help you find the right one for you. 

1. New York University 

NYU Langone’s Department of Neurology offers three residency programs: 

  • Three years in Adult Neurology
  • Five years in Child Neurology
  • Six years in Neurology and Psychiatry.

A notable facet in the NYU Langone Neurology Residency Program is its Patient-Oriented Research Curriculum. Residents are paired with research faculty who become their mentors throughout their residency and collaborate with them within their research projects.

Another gem available to NYU Langone neurology residents is the New York Simulation Center for the Health Sciences (NYSIM). Conceived following the 9/11 attacks, a range of emergency-tailored facilities – “everything from clinical birthing scenarios to critical injuries caused by natural disasters or accidents” – are made accessible for neurology residents and their specialized training needs.  

Facts and Figures

Ranked #1 in the US News’ list of the Best Hospitals for Neurology & Neurosurgery, NYU Langone is an exciting and dynamic place to work as a neurology resident.

Neurology residents at NYU Langone also have access to faculty members with impressive careers. The work of Richard W. Tsien, Professor at the Department of Neurology, has received recognition from all the major scientific institutions, including The American Association for the Advancement of Science, The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and The National Academy of Sciences.

New York University is also ranked 14th by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research regarding NIH funding for Neurology. It amassed approximately 17 million dollars from the organizational body – around three million more than its rival on the West Coast, UCLA.

Things to Know

Adult Neurology at NYU Langone is split between Manhattan-track and Brooklyn-track students. Applicants to the program are often unsure which of the two programs they should apply to, given that each has a different application procedure. 

Their choice should depend on whether they prefer a centralized or decentralized residency experience. While residents placed in Manhattan are exposed to “diverse patient populations and the full range of neurological disorders, all within a 10-block radius,” Brooklyn-track students benefit from a more tight-knit and local residency experience within NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn. It is a tertiary referral center for neurointensive care, vascular neurology, and epilepsy. 

Life in New York City is dynamic and unpredictable. Choosing between the Manhattan-track and the Brooklyn-track is an important element, and prospective neurology residents should weigh which of the two is more fitting to them personally. 

2. The University of California, San Francisco

The Department of Neurology at the UCSF Medical Center offers two residency programs: four years in Adult Neurology and five years in Child Neurology.

Residents are exposed to the diverse range of health care populations present across UCSF hospitals, including the Veterans Administration Medical Center, the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, and the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, which serves uninsured and underinsured patients.

A unique element for neurology residents at UCSF is its Flexible Neurology Residency Program. In their fourth year, residents can opt to work on their own research component, lasting up to six months, and eligible for a range of laboratory training grants, including funds from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Residents at the Child Neurology program would also have the chance to spend a year in Adult Neurology and be incorporated within UCSF’s Pediatrics Residency Program. 

Facts and Figures

Ranked as the second best in the US News’ Best Hospitals for Neurology & Neurosurgery list, the UCSF Medical Center is one of the best hospitals to establish a neurology residency.

Former neurology residents at UCSF lead outstanding careers at the forefront of their discipline. Karen Hsiao, who completed her neurology residency at UCSF, would afterward belong to the team of neurologists that explained the genetic basis of the extremely rare neurodegenerative brain disorder, the Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker disease.

Excellent mentors will be accessible to neurology residents at UCSF. In 2011, Bill Seeley, the current Director of the UCSF Neurodegenerative Disease Brain Bank, became the first neurologist to receive a MacArthur “Genius” award.

The University of California, San Francisco has also previously ranked 1st by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research in NIH funding for Neurology. It amassed almost a whopping 74 million dollars from the organizational body – around 10 million more than Washington University at 2nd place. 

Things to Know

Applicants to the UCSF neurology residency program should be aware that it is  “primarily motivated in training future academic neurology physicians.” According to an internal study, more than 75% of UCSF-trained neurologists were still occupying academic posts two decades after the end of their residencies.

Therefore, prospective residents should showcase their research interests, and any relevant academic publications in the field of neurology. Applicants can also highlight research interests and experiences that speak to the specific focus of UCSF’s leadership. For example, Andrew Josephson, the Chair of the Department is known for his research on neurovascular disorders, while Robert Edwards, the Vice-Chair for Research works on Parkinson’s disease. 

3. Columbia University

The Columbia University Department of Neurology offers two residencies: four years in Adult Neurology and five years in Child Neurology.

A highlight of the Adult Neurology residency program is its Ambulatory Neurology Continuity Clinic, which aims to “provide high-quality neurologic care to the members of our community and advance resident education and engagement in ambulatory neurology.” 

The training component is rigorous (week-long blocks every six weeks) and is meant to facilitate the post-residency transition of neurology residents. Most of them will practice in the outpatient setting once their program is completed.

Those interested in the Child Neurology residency program will be happy to learn that pioneering work at the Neurological Institute at Columbia University led to “the birth of child neurology as a subspecialty of neurology, the formation of the Child Neurology Society and the implementation of a formal Child Neurology Training Program.” 

Sidney Carter, the arguable founder of child neurology, headed Columbia’s Neurological Institute for thirty years.

Facts and Figures

Ranked 3rd in the US News’s Best Hospitals for Neurology & Neurosurgery ranking, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, affiliated with Columbia University and Weill Cornell Medicine, is a great place for ambitious medical doctors to grow as neurology specialists. 

Neurology residents at Columbia will also have the chance to be taught by humane neurologists working at the front of global social justice. Hiral Shah, assistant professor of neurology at Columbia, worked with the World Health Organization on public health aspects of neurological illnesses; she is also a Global Health and Aging Policy Fellow. Residents under Shah’s supervision will also appreciate that she used to be a neurology resident at Columbia University.

Columbia University is also ranked 3rd by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research of NIH funding for Neurology. It amassed almost a whopping 50 million dollars from the organizational body – around 15 million more than Stanford University at 4th place. 

Things to Know

It is important to note that the Department of Neurology recently added a new component to its neurology residency program, called Residency Tracks. The goal of the initiative is to encourage neurology residents to develop skills and knowledge in one of the four fields that Columbia University finds especially important for a holistic residency program: 

  • Basic, Clinical, and Translational Research
  • Medical Education
  • Global and Community Health
  • Quality Improvement

Applicants who can use their experience to elaborate on this new addition to the residency curriculum and reflect on its importance would help their application stand out from the rest. Columbia University advocates for a holistic residency experience that connects neurology with the larger domain of healthcare, and prospective residents should make clear their readiness to see the bigger picture. 

4. Johns Hopkins Hospital

The Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital offers three residency programs: three years in Adult Neurology, three years in Pediatric Neurology, seven years in Neurosurgery Residency Program. 

Neurology residents at Johns Hopkins have recently benefited from the latest expansions to the hospital, especially after the unveiling of the Sheikh Zayed Tower in 2012. 

As a result of a $1.1 billion investment in patient care, the Sheikh Zayed Tower hosts several centers. This includes a brand new 24-bed neurosciences critical care unit, a Brain Recovery Unit, as well as a state-of-the-art intraoperative MRI machine that provides real-time images of the brain during surgery.

Johns Hopkins also prides itself on having an Adult Neurology residency program “distinguished by its collegial and investigative atmosphere.” 

Facts and Figures 

Ranked 7th in the US News’ list of the Best Hospitals for Neurology & Neurosurgery, the Johns Hopkins Hospital is an appealing alternative for aspiring neurology residents.

Johns Hopkins has prepared its former neurology residents for great leadership positions nationwide. In 2021, John F. de Groot, who completed his neurology residency at Johns Hopkins in 2002, was named Division Chief of Neuro-Oncology at UCSF Medical Center. Similarly, James B. Brewer, the current Chair of the UC San Diego Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, had also finished his neurology residency in Baltimore. 

Neurology residents at Johns Hopkins have access to professors who hold memberships at some of the world’s most prestigious science academies. One-third of the select number of faculty members from Johns Hopkins elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2021 belonged to its Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery. 

Johns Hopkins is also ranked 8th by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research in NIH funding for Neurology. It amassed approximately 27 million dollars from the organizational body – almost as much as the amount collected by Boston University and the University of Pennsylvania combined. 

Things to Know

Residents in Child Neurology benefit from the close collaboration between their work at Johns Hopkins and its affiliate, the Kennedy Krieger Institute, a pioneer institution in autism spectrum disorders. 

Applicants who have worked with persons with a disability are encouraged to highlight that facet of their past experiences. Experience can be clinical, but it can also occur  outside typical hospital settings. 

For example, working with NGOs that champion neurodiversity is especially welcome and shows a prospective resident’s desire to impact others both inside and outside the hospital they are applying to. 

Therefore, applicants are encouraged to learn about Kennedy Krieger Institute’s recent work of the and frame their applications according to these developments. 

5. Northwestern University

The Ken & Ruth Davee Department of Neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine offers only one type of residency program: four years in Adult Neurology.

Current neurology residents have access to the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, “the first-ever translational research hospital where clinicians, scientists, innovators and technologists work together in the same space, applying research in real time to physical medicine and rehabilitation.” 

The lab is currently at the forefront of research in neuroplasticity and neurostimulation. It hosts a Neurorehabilitation, a Neural Engineering Laboratory and a Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory.

Future neurology residents will also benefit from a new neuroscience institute. Forbes revealed that Northwestern received a record donation worth 480$ million from the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Family, a lion share of which will be going to improve studies of the brain.  

Facts and Figures

Ranked 10th in the US News’ list of the Best Hospitals for Neurology & Neurosurgery, Northwestern Memorial Hospital is an esteemed working environment for prospective neurology residents.

Former neurology residents at Johns Hopkins have led successful careers in their fields. Binit B. Shah, who completed his neurology residency at Northwestern, now serves as the associate director of the University of Virginia Medical Center’s neurology residency program. Another former neurology resident at Northwestern, Adam J. Wolff, is currently the Director of Neurology and Stroke at Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver.

Neurology residents at Northwestern also have the chance to be taught by faculty members who stood in their shoes. Scott Heller, current Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology at Northwestern, also completed his neurology residency there.

Northwestern University is also ranked 5th by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research in NIH funding for Neurology. It amassed almost 33 million dollars from the organizational body – slightly more than Yale University at 6th place. 

Things to Know

A specific highlight of Northwestern’s residency program is its investment in the close relationship between neurology and radiology. Not only does Northwestern find that “close collaboration with neurosurgery and interventional radiology is a highlight” of its residency program, but that “a monthly combined neurology – neuroradiology didactic conference is also a popular part of the didactic curriculum.”

Applicants who can build on these fertile connections as part of their application, perhaps by elaborating on their previous experience with medical imaging, will especially attract the attention of Northwestern’s neurology team.

6. UConn Neurology Residency Program

The UConn Health Department of Neurology offers a Neurology Residency Program in which residents get extensive hands-on training at hospitals such as Hartford Hospital, UConn John Dempsey Hospital, Saint Francis Hospital, and the Hospital for Special Care. This program aims to train top-notch neurologists and is designed to be flexible and supportive.

7. University of Alabama School of Medicine - Department of Neurology

The Neurology Department at UAB trains nine adult neurology residents who excel in various fields, such as specialized research, fellowships, and general neurology practice.

During their training, residents at UAB get hands-on experience with various neurological conditions. 

They're supported by over 90 experienced and approachable neurologists who help them learn how to manage patients effectively. Their program fosters a welcoming atmosphere where discussion, respect, and careful decision-making are encouraged.

8. Mayo Clinic and College of Medicine

The Adult Neurology Residency at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, gives you hands-on experience with all aspects of neurology and chances to explore neurology education and research interests.

The goal is to train leaders in neurology practice, education, and research. During the four-year program, residents experience:

  • A wide variety of neurological conditions, from common to rare
  • Access to advanced facilities for diagnosis, treatment, and research
  • Gradual increase in patient care responsibilities
  • Opportunities for outpatient care
  • Comprehensive training in clinics, research, and classroom learning
  • Full-time faculty support in all neurology specialties
  • Collaboration with other medical disciplines across Mayo Clinic's integrated systems

9. SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University Program

Downstate trains top-notch neurologists, equipping them to face any challenge. As Brooklyn's main academic center, it provides top-quality care to a diverse community and is dedicated to compassionately serving the local community.

Residents receive excellent mentoring, education, and clinical resources, becoming neurology experts and future leaders. Residents work in different hospitals such as:

  • The University Hospital of Brooklyn is a major medical center in Brooklyn, providing care to thousands of patients annually, including pediatric neurology services.
  • King's County Hospital Center, a Level 1 Trauma center, serves many patients and specializes in general neurology and stroke care.
  • Maimonides Medical Center is a community hospital that serves a diverse population. It offers comprehensive stroke care and general neurology services.

10. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai Hospital Neurology Residency Program offers broad training in neuroscience and clinical skills to treat various neurological diseases. By graduation, residents are well-versed in neuroscience, experienced clinicians, and ready to excel in neurology.

The school's mission is resident wellness, diversity, and collegiality. It aims to equip residents with top-notch patient care skills. Faculty provide close guidance and a robust curriculum. Residents receive feedback to improve their clinical skills and engage in research to advance the field. 

Best Neurology Residency Programs in the Canada 

Now that we’ve covered the neurology residency programs in the US let's take a look at the programs in Canada. 

1. Cumming School of Medicine

The Cumming School of Medicine Neurology Residency Program, accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, offers three to four PGY-1 positions annually and spans five years with a three to six-month research block. 

The curriculum includes weekly academic sessions and seminars covering ethics, communication, and evidence-based medicine.

2. Memorial University School of Medicine

The Memorial University School of Medicine Neurology Residency Program aims to train outstanding future neurologists through diverse clinical experiences, a comprehensive academic curriculum, research opportunities, and a flexible training schedule tailored to resident interests.

Memorial University's Neurology Residency Program is smaller, offering greater independence and exposure to complex cases early in residency. Their close-knit community fosters meaningful relationships between residents, faculty, and support staff.

3. University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine

The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine Neurology Residency Program is a five-year residency program, the largest in Canada with 38 residents. The curriculum covers clinical and subspecialty neurology over two years, with lectures and teaching blocks lasting four to six weeks. 

Residents participate in weekly academic sessions, including case discussions and Professor's Rounds for relaxed learning. The program combines inpatient and outpatient services, focusing on general neurology in the first two years and subspecialties in the latter. 

Residents gain experience in various clinics, including a unique "Women's Neurology" elective. Additional opportunities include a neuromuscular disease course and participation in international educational exchanges through NIRVE.

4. Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University

The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry neurology division aims to offer top-notch training in neurology. Trainees work with many patients using the latest diagnostic methods and treatments.

During the five-year program, trainees gain experience in various medical areas, such as internal medicine, surgery, psychiatry, and emergency medicine, as well as neurology specialties like inpatient and outpatient care, emergency neurology, and research.

The program meets the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada's standards, providing consistent and excellent clinical and scientific learning opportunities. 

5. University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

The University of Alberta Adult Neurology Residency program has a resident-to-faculty ratio of about 1:2. Residents build strong relationships with faculty dedicated to teaching.

They prioritize resident well-being and involve residents in shaping their program. The program’s strengths include diverse subspecialties and dedicated time for electives and research, and provide unique medical cases for learning. Residents also have opportunities to teach medical students and other residents.

FAQS: Best Neurology Residency Programs

1. Is There Any US Clinical Experience Requirement For Admissions Into the Top Neurology Residency Programs?

Yes. UCSF Medical Center requires its neurology residency applicants to have completed a minimum of 4 months of evaluated clinical experience in the US. Northwestern’s Department of Neurology requires one year of US experience.

2. I Graduated From Medical School a While Ago. Can I Still Apply to These Neurology Residency Programs?

It will depend on the hospital you apply to. Like the UCSF Medical Center, some hospitals will only consider applicants who graduated from medical school within the last five years. Columbia University, however, does not have any graduating cut-off date. 

3. Do Neurology Residency Programs Sponsor Visas?

Yes. Northwestern sponsors H1B and J1 visas for its accepted neurology residents. Most neurology residencies sponsor these visas too. 

4. How Many Recommendation Letters Do I Need to Include In My Application?

Most residency programs require applicants to submit 3 to 4 recommendation letters.   

5. Will I Be Able to Teach Medical Students As a Neurology Resident?

Absolutely. At Columbia University, for example, Residents as Teachers is an integral component of its neurology residency program. 

6. How Many Positions Are Available at Neurology Residency Programs?

The number of accepted residents depends on the hospital. UCSF Medical Center usually advertises 11 to 12 positions for Adult Neurology each year. Johns Hopkins, however, welcomes eight residents every intake.

Final Thoughts

There is no simple formula for picking the best neurology residency programs. We showed the different angles with which neurology can be considered from one hospital to another, and applicants should look for similar insights as they choose their preferred program. 

Prospective neurology residents should choose programs that speak to their research and career interests. After completing their residency, they will have the chance to pursue research fellowships with some of the leading minds in the field of neurology. It would be an advantage if their mentors shared their own interests and pushed them to follow in their footsteps during their residency program.

Now that you have an idea of the top country's neurology residency programs, researching how to ace the residency interview and pen your best personal statement can help you maximize your chances of acceptance. Best of luck!

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