5 Best Psychiatry Residency Programs (Key Info & Data)

Psychiatry is an interesting medical specialty that’s attracting increased attention thanks to a renewed cultural and societal focus on mental health.

With an average US base salary of $236,000, it’s also less competitive than other higher-paying medical specialties.

The best psychiatry residency programs offer those interested in the field the greatest training possible and boast some of the finest psychiatrists on earth as alumni. But they are competitive; you’ll have to be a top candidate (within the top 1500 medical grads who match annually into psych) to stand a chance.

This article takes a look at the top programs in the country (as ranked by the US News Best Grad Schools Report 2022), taking a deep dive into what’s offered by each and what you can expect if you’re lucky enough to match.

We’ve also included key info on facts/stats for each program (where publicized) too.

Ready to get started? Let’s go.

Before you dive into our article on the best psychiatry residency programs, make sure you take a look at our Best Residency Programs page to get all the critical info on other specialties.

1. Yale University

Length of Accredited Training:4
Positions By Year:20/23/20/23
PGY1 Annual Salary:$73,832

Highlights of the Yale Psychiatry Residency include outstanding clinical training, the balance between psychotherapy and biology, and a flexible schedule providing time for academic activities. Current residents cite the individualized education plan, the faculty of leading clinicians, or the vibrant campus life as appealing reasons to train at Yale.

The PGY-1 year includes 4-week long blocks in medicine, neurology, and psychiatry to solidify the resident’s identity as a physician. A PREP rotation exposes trainees to care systems in day hospitals, community treatment teams, and forensic settings. It also sets time aside to develop projects on which the CASE rotation will focus in the following year.

Residents begin working with long-term psychotherapy patients in PGY-2 and continue throughout the residency. Second-year residents complete a psychiatry inpatient rotation, a geriatrics rotation, and a one-month emergency psychiatry rotation. A three-month CASE rotation allows them to work on an academic project or with specialized populations of patients.

The PGY-3 year is focused on outpatient psychiatry. It usually includes supervised clinical experience in addiction psychiatry and child psychiatry. And the PGY-4 year is entirely dedicated to pursuing a career interest or an academic project with an individualized program.

See the video below for more on Yale’s innovative program…

DETAILS

  • Name: Yale University 
  • Location: New Haven, CT 06520
  • Program director: Richard Belitsky
  • Contact: 203-785-2094/jennifer.dolan-auten@yale.edu
  • Website: medicine.yale.edu/psychiatry

2. Harvard University

Length of Accredited Training:4
Positions By Year:16
PGY1 Annual Salary:$68,000

Harvard Medical School offers five psychiatric residency programs in different medical centers of the Boston area. These programs attract the nation’s top applicants, and graduates are fully equipped for the practice of modern psychiatry.

The Massachusetts General Hospital – McLean Hospital Adult Residency Training Program in Psychiatry prepares physicians for the present-day practice of psychiatry. Residents receive a rich experience where advances in clinical science and the growing contributions of neurosciences are emphasized.

The Cambridge Health Alliance Adult Psychiatry Residency is one of the most psychotherapy-focused residencies in the country. The program has an enduring commitment to teaching psychodynamic formulation and dynamic psychotherapy. During their training, residents are exposed to a diverse patient population with a broad spectrum of mental health problems and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Three other programs are affiliated with Harvard Medical School. These are the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and the Harvard South Shore (HSS) psychiatry residency training programs.

The video below provides a nice intro to Mass General’s Psychiatry Department…

DETAILS


3. Johns Hopkins University

Length of Accredited Training:4
Positions By Year:11/13/13/13
PGY1 Annual Salary:$57,160

The Residency in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The Johns Hopkins Hospital trains excellent clinicians and leaders in the field of psychiatry. Recent graduates have reported feeling well prepared for academic, private practice, or public sector psychiatry. Residents are offered a multitude of didactic learning opportunities, including lectures, tutorials, and recitations. And mentorship and elective experiences begin in the PGY-1 year.

The first year of residency provides a foundation in Internal Medicine and Neurology. By the end of the PGY-1 year, residents can assess patients and apply methods of formulation. They’re also expected to manage acute medical and neurological conditions in the inpatient setting.

Residents begin their own office-based outpatient practice — under supervision — during the PGY-2 year. The second-year introduces more advanced psychiatric knowledge and methods of assessment and treatment. Residents are then competent to treat the most seriously mentally ill patients.

With intensive outpatient and general hospital experiences, third-year residents continue their development and become more independent. They’re now expected to assess and manage the most common psychiatric issues seen in outpatient settings.

In the PGY-4 year, residents use the elective experience to develop an advanced understanding of a psychiatric subspecialty. By the end of this year, they’ve acquired confidence in office-based psychiatric practice, including long-term psychotherapy.

The video below provides a nice “inside perspective” on Johns Hopkins residency programs…

DETAILS

  • Name: Johns Hopkins University
  • Location: Baltimore, MD 21218
  • Program director: Graham Redgrave
  • Contact: 443-287-4506/sthom175@jhmi.edu
  • Website: hopkinsmedicine.org/psychiatry

4. University of Pennsylvania (Perelman)

Length of Accredited Training:4
Positions By Year:12
PGY1 Annual Salary:$62,000

The Penn Psychiatry Residency program provides its residents with well-balanced training, mentored individual development, and various educational and training experiences. One of the highlights of this program is excellent psychotherapy training. With many electives to explore, residents can develop their interests and take advantage of new opportunities.

Interns gain experience in multiple clinical sites, alternating between psychiatry and off-service rotations. PGY-1s are paired with a senior resident and assigned to junior calls. This experience prepares them for unsupervised calls during the PGY-2 year.

The second-year strengthens the foundations from the intern year with additional inpatient psychiatry. PGY-2s typically begin their first outpatient psychotherapy case in January of this year. Residents can also individualize their clinical experience with electives.

Third-year residents practice ambulatory psychiatry in a variety of settings. An observed assessment clinic provides residents with an opportunity to practice their interview skills, discuss case formulation, and receive feedback from peers and faculty. The volume of call shifts decreases from PGY-2.

Each resident develops a unique educational program in the fourth year and two days per week available for elective experiences.

The video below provides more info on UPenn’s program…

DETAILS

  • Name: University of Pennsylvania
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA 19104
  • Program director: E Campbell
  • Contact: csacco@pennmedicine.upenn.edu
  • Website: med.upenn.edu/psychres

5. University of California San Francisco

Length of Accredited Training:4
Positions By Year:16
PGY1 Annual Salary:$62,487

The UCSF Adult Psychiatry Residency is a four-year program across three main training sites in San Francisco. The program provides broad exposure to a diversity of patients, therapies, and environments.

During the PGY-1 year, residents spend six months completing rotations in medicine and neurology. Four months are dedicated to learning the principles of inpatient psychiatric assessment and treatment. Finally, first-year residents spend one-month providing emergency psychiatric services at Zuckerberg San Francisco General.

In the Longitudinal Clinical Experience (LCE), residents work in teams with faculty and resident peers (PGY-1 to PGY-4). They provide assessment and therapy to a cohort of patients that they will follow throughout their residency.

The didactic curriculum developed at UCSF helps residents develop expertise in several authentic health care roles. Assessment and Formulation, Developmental Foundations, Treatment Delivery, and Scientific Inquiry are four key areas that link the didactic curriculum to the clinical curriculum.

The residency program aims to create future leaders in the field who will be agents of change in health care systems. And from the PGY-3 year, residents develop their skills beyond the core training requirements with elective time.

You can get a glimpse into UCSF’s Psychiatry Department in the video below…

DETAILS

  • Name: University of California, San Francisco
  • Location: San Francisco, CA 94143
  • Program director: Erick Hung
  • Contact: 415-476-7527/rtpadm@lppi.ucsf.edu
  • Website: psych.ucsf.edu

How Do Psychiatry Residency Programs Work?

Training in psychiatry involves completing four years of graduate medical education first before moving on to dedicated residency programs.

Psychiatry programs are medium in training length, averaging 4 years.

The specialty is one of the least competitive in the US. The probability of matching with a Step 1 score >240 is 92%

After residency common subspecialties (fellowships) pursued include addiction, forensic, geriatric psychiatry.

How Many Psychiatry Residency Programs Are There?

There are over 300 psychiatry residency training programs according to AMA.

The examples above are considered the finest offered among those programs in the US and are ranked on criteria via peer assessment, residency director assessment, student selectivity, the mean MCAT score for the institution, the mean GPA of its matriculants, faculty resources, research activity and more.

The exact methodology is detailed in the U.S. News Best Medical Schools Rankings pages

How to Get Accepted Into a Top Psychiatry Residency Program

Gaining admission into the top residency programs involves submitting a competitive application via ERAS, The Electronic Residency Application Service.

This is a centralized online application service that you’ll need to use in order to “match” into the programs above.

Most programs begin reading applications over the first couple of weeks of autumn/fall and invite applicants to interview in the weeks following.

Generally, psychiatry residency program applications include the following:

  • A completed ERAS application
  • Personal statement/s
  • Supplemental statement/s (where requested)
  • Letters of recommendation from dermatologists (usually following the SLOR format)
  • A full, official medical school transcript
  • Your USMLE Step 1/COMLEX transcripts
  • Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)

Selection criteria are specific for each program but commonly applicants are scored on a combination of grades, clinical and research experiences, special interests, and anything else surgical departments/programs find relevant.

To be competitive, and stand a chance at matching into the best programs, you’re going to need great Step 1 and Step 2 scores, research experience, impressive extracurriculars, and a solid letter of recommendation.

Sources

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