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The Match: Timeline and Ranking

NRMP Main Match

The Main Match is administered by the National Residency Match Program (NRMP). The Match determines final placements for residency.

How the Match Works

The NRMP uses a mathematical algorithm to place applicants in residency positions. The algorithm is “applicant-proposing,” favoring applicants by placing them into residency positions based on the order they have ranked programs.

The Matching Algorithm is described in detail by the NRMP:  How the Match Works.

Registration and Timeline

To participate in the Main Match, students must register with the NRMP Registration, Ranking, and Results (R3) system. Students should enter their NRMP No. in their ERAS application once received.

NRMP Registering for the Match Guide

2024 NRMP Main Match Calendar  

Sep 15, 2023

Registration Opens

Jan 31, 2023

Standard Registration Deadline

Feb 1, 2024

Ranking Opens

Feb 28, 2024

Rank Order List Certification

Registration Deadline

Mar 11-15, 2024

Match Week

Mar 15, 2024

Match Day

Early Matches

Students applying through the Military Match System or to Ophthalmology or Urology will participate in an “Early Match”, in which the match timeline is accelerated compared the NRMP Main Match.

Military Match

The U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy do not participate in the NRMP but make their own appointments directly. See the 2024 Military Match Guide for additional information and timelines.

San Francisco Match – Ophthalmology

The San Francisco (SF) Match Ophthalmology Residency Matching Program provides matching services for Integrated Ophthalmology Programs. See the SF Match Ophthalmology Residency website for additional information and timelines.

AUA Match – Urology

The American Urologic Association (AUA) oversees the Urology Residency Match Program.  Additional information and timeline can be found on the AUA Urology Residency Match site.

Creating your Rank Order List

The applicant’s final preference is expressed via the Rank Order List. The Rank Order List of the applicants and the programs are what determines the Match outcome.

OSA is available to discuss rank order lists and strategies to create them. 

Students may want to consider the following when creating their Rank Order List:

  • Strength and breadth of clinical training
  • Opportunities to explore subspecialties and other professional interests
  • Supportive and healthy learning environment
  • Opportunities for mentorship
  • Location for work and life
  • Patient population
  • Program culture and current residents
  • Personal support network including family and friends
  • Program reputation

When creating your Rank Order List, OSA recommends that you:

Rank programs in the order of your true preference.  The Match Algorithm is built to work for the applicant. An applicant has the best chance of matching at their top program if they rank it as the top choice. There is no benefit to creating a rank list based on where an applicant thinks they will be accepted.  

Rank ALL programs unless you would rather go unmatched than be at a particular program. The more ranks on your list the higher likelihood of a match.  However, applicants should know that the Match is a binding commitment and students are bound to matriculate at any program they matched at from their rank order list.  If you truly do not want to be at a program (and would rather go unmatched than be at that program), you should not rank that program. 

Consider creating a Rank List that includes a mix of competitive and less competitive programs including at least one safety program.

Do NOT rank programs where you did not interview.

Certify your Rank Order List

Once an applicant has created and entered a Rank Order List into the R3 system, it still must be Certified to be included in the Match algorithm. There is no benefit to certifying early, but applicants should NOT wait to the last minute to certify.  Once a list is certified it cannot be changed.

Do NOT wait until the last minute to enter your Rank Order List or Certify; close to the deadline technical issues, including overloaded serves, may impede successful certification. 

Additional Resources for Creating a Rank Order List

AAMC Evaluating programs to curate your rank order list

NRMP Guidelines for creating a rank order list

NRMP Resources for Couples in the Match