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Application Timeline

Note: This timetable is geared towards people doing ERAS (the computerized common application for residency) for the regular Match. Early Match programs are Military, Ophthalmology, and Urology. For early Match, move this schedule ahead by 1-2 months.

Getting Started

  1. Choose a specialty. This can be a difficult decision. Start by talking to as many people as possible. Good resources include:
    • Deans: Dr. Parker, Dr. Martinez, Dr. Lamos, Dr. Allen
    • Seniors
    • Residents
    • Attendings
    • Doctors in the community
  2. Remember that your clinical experience is affected greatly by your team and work environment for those several weeks. If something interests you, try to find out what it is like elsewhere.
  3. Check out the AAMC’s Careers in Medicine website for help with choosing a specialty, the application process, interviews, etc. OSA should provide a login code for you if they have not already. 
  4. Start thinking about letters of recommendation. You generally need 3-4 letters, depending on your specialty and each program’s requirements. Consider getting letters from attendings on your electives, sub-I’s, away rotations, research mentors, community service advisors, etc.
  5. Typically the chairman of the department will write you a letter as well. ERAS allows you to pick which letters you want to go to each program, so you could have more than 4 letters to mix and match if you wanted.
  6. Consider peeking at Iserson’s Getting Into a Residency for further information about the process. It’s a widely used book that some students find helpful.


  1. Each specialty has different recommendations for this, so refer to each section. Typically, you will want to do your electives, away rotations, and sub-I’s in your field of interest early in the fourth year (July-October). This will allow you to get further exposure, check out other programs, and get letters.
  2. Start talking with seniors, residents, and faculty in your field of interest to determine good places for away rotations, home rotations, etc.
  3. November-January is typically a busy time for interviews
  4. Start to investigate and schedule electives at other schools, as the application process for these varies entirely by program/school, and often begins in April.



  1. After deciding on a specialty, start thinking about programs you might want to apply to. Slowly make a list, with the help of mentors/advisors. FREIDA is a good place to start for program information.
  2. CV: Update it! This will make your ERAS application and requesting letters of recommendation much easier.
  3. Personal Statement: start thinking about it. It is nice to be able to give it to letter writers along with your CV and transcript.


  1. MSPE: Meet with Dr. Martinez, Dr. Parker, Dr. Lamos, or Dr. Allen about your MSPE (Medical Student Performance Evaluation). The MSPE is written according to specific guidelines and will include grades, a synopsis of your CV, verbatim transcriptions of your third-year clinical evaluations and a brief statement about your rank in your class.
  2. Review your transcript online to make sure that all your grades have been correctly submitted.


  1. LOR’s: Ask for letters of recommendation. Letter writers will usually ask for your CV and personal statement. You will need to fill out a form to give to each letter-writer (available on ERAS). These forms identify the letter-writer and allow you to waive your right to view the letter.
  2. ERAS: OSA will send out a token allowing you to begin your ERAS application. You can familiarize yourself with it and start filling out information. You will be able to submit them end of August/early September. OSA hosts an information session on how to complete your ERAS application.
  3. NRMP: Register for the match through the NRMP.


  1. Narrow down your program list. Talk to your advisor, residents, attendings, etc.
  2. Complete your ERAS application. Details below under ERAS section.

**It is in your best interest to submit your completed ERAS application on the first day (this year it was September 15th) or as close to the first day as possible. This will require a lot of work on the application in the weeks leading up to that date. Do not put this off until the day before!**

  1. Interviews
    1. Schedule interview dates with programs you are interested in. If you need to cancel later because of conflicting dates, do so as early as possible. Usually cancelling with at least 2 weeks notice is ideal.
    2. Interview! This is a tiring process, so try not to schedule too many in too short a time period. Remember that interview season is in the winter and travel plans can get fouled up by the weather. Take notes at the interview, get a card from your interviewers (so you can write them a thank you note if you want), and record your impressions soon afterwards. Interviews can really run together if you don’t do this!
  2. Send thank-you notes within 24 hours if possible. Buy nice stationery. Send notes to program directors, department chairs, and also to interviewers if you want.
  3. Schedule second-look visits if applicable or necessary.
Late January-February
  1. Enter your Rank Order List online. You will need your AAMC ID number.
  2. At this time, you may schedule a meeting with your OSA advisor, department chair, or mentors to discuss your rank list.
  1. Match Day! Unmatched applicants will initiate contact with directors of unfilled programs through ERAS with the SOAP Program (Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program), which has replaced the “scramble.” With the help of OSA, on Monday at noon the week of the Match students that did not match will have access to the List of Unfilled Programs and began submitting for unfilled positions 2:00pm Monday the week of match day. The Match Day ceremony takes place on Friday. The day starts with a mandatory meeting about commencement and the class picture. Match results start at noon. Envelopes are handed out to students in random order. The ceremony is usually followed by a luncheon sponsored by the Alumni Association.
At some point 4th year
  1. Take USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK). Many programs are now requiring Step 2 scores before ranking. OSA encourages most students to take the exam by early January. A few programs require Step 2 before offering interviews, so check each school you are interested in to see what their policy is. Generally, take it when you have time to study, either on an off month, or light elective. If you feel you need to improve on your Step 1 score, it may be beneficial to take Step 2 very early in your 4th year, if you can devote a few good weeks of study so that residency programs can see your improvement. Most people this year did better (or at least the same) on Step 2 compared to Step 1.
  2. Take USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS). This is essentially a day of standardized patients, testing your clinical abilities (focused history, physical, assessment, plan). This can be taken anytime, but the closest site is in Philadelphia and slots fill up quickly. Nothing to stress about – the pass rate is ~98%, and you will have a similar standardized patient session (OSCE) at school to prep. Schedule this exam early to avoid expensive travel to more distant sites.

Last Revision: January 28, 2019