This guide outlines the residency application timeline you should follow, including key dates and an ideal preparation schedule. We’ll break things down based on what you need to accomplish and when each aspect of your application is due, as well as what you should be working on each month as you prepare your application.
Looking for a month-by-month schedule? Scroll below for a breakdown of what you should prepare and work on each month leading up to residency.
A solid road map for the application process will help you secure a residency position without burning out along the way. We’ll cover exactly what to expect throughout the entire application process.
The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS)
The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) is the centralized online application service residency applicants use to deliver their application and supporting documents to residency programs. ERAS simplifies the application process for applicants as well as their program directors, Designated Dean’s Office, and letter of recommendation authors.
ERAS has four individual but connected applications.
- Dean’s Office Workstation (DWS)
- Letters of Recommendation Portal (LoRP)
- Program Director’s Workstation (PDWS)
Each application was created to meet the needs of each user group involved in the application process. ERAS provides a confidential and impartial transmission of all applications to residency programs.
The Steps of ERAS:
- Applicants receive a token (one-time access code) from their Designated Dean’s Office.
- Applicants use the token to register with MyERAS.
- Applicants complete their MyERAS application, assign supporting documents, select programs, and apply to programs.
- The applicant’s Designated Dean’s Office and letters of recommendation authors upload supporting documents.
- Examining boards receive and process requests for transcripts.
- Programs receive the application materials through the Program Director’s Workstation (PDWS).
2023-2024 ERAS Residency Application Dates and Deadlines
*Specific dates for 2023-2024 have not yet been released by AAMC.
The following ERAS dates and deadlines for 2023-2024 come directly from the AAMC website. Check this resource for the most up-to-date information regarding deadlines.
|End of May 2023||ERAS 2023 season ends at 5 p.m. ET.|
|Beginning of June 2023||ERAS 2024 season begins at 9 a.m. ET.|
|Beginning of August 2023||Supplemental ERAS application opens for applicants.|
|Beginning of September 2023||Residency applicants may begin submitting MyERAS applications to programs at 9 a.m. ET.|
|Mid-September 2023||Supplemental ERAS application closes for applicants at 5 p.m. ET.|
|End of September 2023||Residency programs may begin reviewing MyERAS applications, MSPEs, and supplemental ERAS application data (if applicable) in the PDWS at 9 a.m. ET.|
|End of May 2024||ERAS 2024 season ends at 5 p.m. ET.|
These dates represent the hard deadlines provided by AAMC, but there’s plenty you need to be on top of in the months leading up to application season and throughout the summer while applications are open. Below, we’ll share a month-by-month breakdown of what you should be focusing on for your residency application, including applicable resources.
Components of the Medical School Residency Application Process
Much like your medical school application, your residency application has many moving parts that you need to be working on at the same time. The application includes some familiar components, including an experiences section, personal statement, and letters of recommendation, as well as some new aspects, like the optional professional photo.
- Personal Statement
- Letters of Recommendation
Continue reading for a breakdown of each of these components, followed by our month-by-month breakdown of what you should be working on when.
The ERAS experiences section is an opportunity for you to share your experiences with volunteering, work, and research. Include all of your experiences in this section, not just the ones relevant to your specialty. It’s important to highlight and showcase all of what you have learned and been up to.
You can use the following three questions to structure your descriptions of each activity:
- What is it?
- What did you do?
- What did you learn?
Using this three sentence structure will help the reader quickly comprehend the activity and what the experience meant to you. This is where a lot of your interview questions will come from, so it’s a good idea to review this section before heading into your residency interviews.
2. Personal Statement
The ERAS personal statement is where you tell your story the way you see it and explain why you want—and are more than qualified—to join a certain specialty. Outside of interviews, this is your only opportunity to personally touch on anything that you feel is underrepresented in the rest of your application.
This is the section where you can put your accomplishments and achievements into context, as much of the rest of your application focuses almost exclusively on your grades and scores.
Your residency personal statement will differ from your medical school personal statement as you are no longer a wide-eyed premed. You have now earned your doctorate, and it’s imperative that your residency personal statement reflects this. Be confident but humble. You are now a young professional with a much deeper understanding of and commitment to medicine. Your residency personal statement must focus on your professional development and the experiences that have crystalized your ambition to pursue your chosen specialty.
While the residency personal statement allows for 28,000 characters, we don’t recommend filling all of this space. A single typed page, about 700-800 words, is all that’s required.
A brilliant personal statement can be enough to land you an interview, while a lackluster essay can ruin your chances of acceptance, regardless of your other academic achievements. View our database of Residency Personal Statement Samples, edit carefully, ask mentors for feedback, and consider professional personal statement editing.
Learn more with our Residency Application Personal Statement Guide.
3. Letters of Recommendation
The ERAS letters of recommendation, much like your medical school letters of recommendation, provide residency programs with vital insight into how the professional physicians you’ve worked with see you. Your letter writers will speak to your work ethic, professionalism, and why you are a good fit for your chosen specialty.
While you’re allowed to include an unlimited number of references, you can only include four letters of recommendation per program. Your letters should be standardized and not tailored to each specific program so that your letter writers don’t have to draft multiple letters. Your Dean’s Letter and MSPE do not count as letters.
Ideally, your letter writers should be from a range of specialties and experiences, and it’s imperative that they know you well and will speak very highly of you. Include at least one letter from an attending you worked closely with, a department chair, or a mentor in your chosen specialty. Your mentor will be able to speak directly to your suitability and aptitude for that specific specialty.
It’s also possible that programs will require a letter from someone outside the field of medicine. Each program will list specific requirements on their website. Read these requirements carefully to determine exactly what you’ll need to include.
Learn more with our ERAS Residency Letters of Recommendation Guide.
While optional, including a photo is highly recommended. A professional photo of your friendly, smiling face will help the people evaluating your application put a face to a name and remember you.
Upload your own photo in MyERAS by selecting Upload New Photo in the Actions column.
The photo file cannot exceed these requirements:
- Dimensions: 2.5 in. x 3.5 in.
- Resolution: 150dpi
- File Size: 100kb
The photo should be high-quality and look professional. Ensure you look approachable and friendly, wear professional clothing, such as your interview outfit, and keep the background subtle. You don’t want anything to distract from your face.
If you’re friends with a professional photographer, ask them to take a photo of you, but if not, we encourage you to pay for a professional photo. The cost of a quality headshot is nothing compared to the staggering amount of money you’ve already paid to attend medical school.
Learn more with our ERAS Residency Application Photo Requirements and Tips.
You must request your USMLE transcript (or COMLEX transcript for osteopathic schools) for your application, so it’s important to authorize the release of this document during the summer. Since it can take weeks for your test results to arrive, schedule Step 2CK long before the September of your residency application.
Once you make the request, your medical school will organize your MSPE (Medical School Performance Evaluation) letter and transcripts and upload them for you.
Month-by-Month Application Preparation Schedule
- Start thinking about your away rotations and where you want to do them.
- Complete small requirements so you don’t need to worry about them later (vaccinations, certifications, reviewing your CV, etc.)
- Reach out to potential letter writers.
- Keep an ongoing extracurriculars journal with dates and noted experiences.
Begin thinking about where you want to complete your away rotations and how many you’re going to do. This can vary based on specialty and whether or not your specialty requires them.
January to February is a great time to get all your vaccinations, certifications, and other small requirements out of the way, too. Some of these things can be time-consuming, and you’ll want to make sure you have these easy-to-check-off tasks complete before the stress of application season.
Most places also like to have your CV and Step 1 score report, so this is a great time to brush up on your CV and catch it up to where it needs to be. April onwards can get really busy really quickly, and it’s much easier getting your CV updated when things are less stressful. Having a good CV setup early makes the process of pasting it all into ERAS that much easier. Plus, you’re less likely to forget things before the stress kicks in.
This is also the time to reach out to potential letter writers, including those you might want to ask on your rotations. If you already have people you want to ask, there’s no harm in approaching them and politely asking if they’re willing to write you a strong letter. Asking for letters last minute can hurt your residency application, as letter writers are bombarded with requests at this time. The earlier you begin reaching out, the better.
If you haven’t already, begin keeping a journal of your extracurricular experiences. The more details you can get down while you are still experiencing the activity, the better you will be able to describe what you did, learned, and accomplished when it comes time to fill out your application. Ideally, you will have kept journals of your experiences throughout your time in medical school, but it’s not too late to begin now.
- Review the residency application process.
- Contact residency programs you’re especially interested in to learn more about specific requirements and deadlines.
- Begin reflecting and brainstorming on your personal statement.
In the months leading up to residency application season, familiarize yourself with the application process, components, and deadlines. When does the application portal open, and what do you need to prepare between now and when you submit your application? Just like with your medical school application, submitting your application as soon as ERAS begins accepting applications is to your benefit.
It’s best to think about your personal statement ideas early so that you have time to ruminate.
Start jotting down thoughts and ideas as they come to you and begin completing personal statement prompts for more ideas. Some away rotations require one, which will help get you a kickstart on your residency application essay.
Early June 2023
- Gain access to MyERAS.
- Obtain your token (one-time access code) by contacting your Designated Dean’s Office.
- Determine whether or not you’ll need to take the Casper test or complete any other aspects of the Altus Suite.
The beginning of June is when it all starts to happen. Obtain your token (one-time access code) at this time by contacting your Designated Dean’s Office. You will need this to gain access to MyERAS.
You should also find out whether or not you will need to take the Casper test (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) or any other aspects of the Altus Suite, which includes Snapshot and Duet.
- Begin filling in your application with your work, volunteering, and research experience.
- Take full advantage of the ERAS Tools and Worksheets for Residency Applicants.
- Narrow down your programs of interest.
- Begin writing your personal statement.
- Choose letter of recommendation writers if you haven’t already.
In June, you can begin filling out your application through your MyERAS account. Start filling in your work, volunteering, and research experiences, taking time to look back on your past notes and journals from those experiences.
Search for programs you’re interested in and save them for later so that you can organize the correct documents for each program.
By now, you should be working on your personal statement and narrowing down possible letter writers. How will you use your personal statement to continue your application narrative? Focus your personal statement on your professional development and why your experiences have made you want to join your chosen specialty.
Narrow down your letter writers and begin asking those you believe would write you a strong letter of recommendation. The key word here is strong. You must choose letter writers who know you well and who will be able to positively speak about your skills and character.
- Fine-tune your application and compile the materials you need to complete the experiences section.
- Choose which residency programs you’re going to apply to.
- Request relevant transcripts.
- Continue editing and revising your personal statement.
- Confirm letter of recommendation writers and follow up to ensure they submit them on time.
- Begin interview prep, especially if you struggle with interviews or haven’t interviewed recently.
During the summer, you should be finalizing all of the aspects of your application so that you are ready to submit it as soon as ERAS begins accepting applications at the beginning of September. Choose which residency programs you want to apply to, and ensure you request all relevant transcripts and evaluations well in advance.
Continue editing and refining your personal statement and finalize and confirm all of your letters. Interview season will begin right away, so now is also a good time to begin interview prep.
- Be ready to submit your application when ERAS starts accepting applications at the beginning of September.
- Prepare for residency interviews and be ready to schedule them as soon as possible.
- Apply for The Match, the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).
ERAS begins accepting applications at the beginning of September, and we highly recommend you submit your application well before the deadline. Due to a high volume of applicants, the site may crash or slow down near the deadline, so ensure you don’t leave it to the last minute.
Applications are released to programs at the end of September, and interview invitations can be sent out as early as the next day. If you submit your application close to the day ERAS releases your application, you may miss out on the first round of interviews.
This is also the time to apply for the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), also known as The Match, which requires a separate application.
October 2023-February 2024
- Schedule and complete residency interviews.
- Keep an open schedule and continually check your messages for interview requests.
Interview season will begin in October and last until February. During this time, keep an open schedule and pay close attention to your computer or phone. Ideal interview slots fill up fast, so schedule your interviews as soon as you can. Keep your calendar updated at all times so that you can pick optimal dates as soon as they become available.
March 2024: Match Week
- During Match Week, you will find out if you matched and what program you matched into.
- Unmatched applicants will need to spend Match Week applying for unfilled positions.
Match Week takes place during the third week of March. It begins at 9 am ET on Monday and ends at 12 pm ET on Friday, when the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) releases the results of the Match simultaneously to all graduating medical students.
On Monday, applicants find out at 9 am if they matched, but not where they matched. Any unmatched or partially matched applicants will need to spend Monday through Thursday applying and interviewing for unfilled positions. On Match Day (Friday) at 12 pm ET, Match results are sent by email to the applicants who matched initially as well as the applicants who matched through SOAP.
Take Your Application to the Next Level
Med School Insiders can help you prepare a stand out residency application that will help you match into your ideal program. We offer a number of Residency Admissions Consulting Services tailored to your needs, including personal statement editing, USMLE tutoring, interview prep and mock interviews, and overall application editing.
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