Most specialties offer the majority of their residency positions through the National Resident Matching Program NRMP. You will join a program and plan to remain in that program for the duration of your residency (three to seven years). However, some programs require a separate, earlier matching process outside the NRMP, usually because of the need to apply for preliminary or transitional years through the NRMP. These include Urology and Ophthalmology.

For early match submission dates, please refer to the following web sites:

History and Organization

The following is abstracted from Guide to Graduate Medical Education by the Association for Hospital Medical Education:

The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) is a private, not-for-profit corporation established in 1952 to provide a vehicle for uniform methods and chronology for appointment to positions in graduate medical education (GME). The NRMP evolved from the efforts of its five sponsors, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the American Medical Association (AMA), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the American Hospital Association (AHA), and the Council of Medical Societies. The NRMP was founded to relieve the pressure and inequity of free market recruitment, and to establish a uniform playing field with educational boundaries. Participation in NRMP involves a voluntary contract between parties, as well as both real and moral obligations.

Student representatives participate in NRMP governance. They represent the AAMC Organization of Student Representatives (OSR), the American Medical Student Association, the Consortium of Medical Student Organizations and the AMA Medical Student Section. Student representatives participate actively in NRMP board meetings and have direct and positive influence on match policies and protocols.

NRMP: Information Dissemination

In May of each year, the NRMP distributes information for the following spring’s match. The process is fully web based, and schools as well as applicants log onto the NRMP web site at: NRMP.  Applicants will register for the match on the Web using cybercash for credit and debit card payments of the registration fee. Students may contact the Career Counseling Office (362-6251) for more information on the match.

During the summer of their final year, students obtain residency program information from institution web sites. Names and addresses of program directors can be found through the AMA’s online database called FREIDA.

In 1995, the AAMC introduced the Electronic Residency Application Service ERAS. Students file a single application that is formatted for electronic transmission to student-designated hospitals. Currently, all specialties except the San Francisco early match program in Ophthalmology participate in ERAS.


The ranking process begins in mid-January and culminates with the deadline for Rank Order Lists (ROLIC) of students, independent applicants and institutions during the third week of February. Students participating in the separate, early matches for Ophthalmology and Urology must be sure that their rank order lists are in by the date specified for that specialty (check with the Career Counseling Office if unsure of dates). All rank order lists will be entered on the NRMP’s web site, and data and information during Match Week will also be available on the this site. The Career Counseling Office distributes information about this process. Students can also get information online from the NRMP.

Conceptually, the ranking process is simple. Applicants and programs prioritize their respective preferences anonymously and submit them to the NRMP for data entry. The matching algorithm pairs the highest available preference of both applicant and program in search of a mutually satisfactory scenario. A variation of the algorithm accommodates the needs of applicant-couples by assuring matching in the same institution or in a different institution within geographic proximity.
Unfortunately, both applicants and program directors often try to manipulate the algorithm by “strategic” organization of their ROLIC. This is discouraged.

Notification Procedure

Both applicants and institutions receive the match results during the third week of March.  In March 2012, the NRMP instituted the new SOAP procedure (Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program) for unmatched applicants and unfilled programs.  Medical schools receive their report of unmatched students on Monday morning of Match Week.  Also on Monday morning of Match Week, applicants receive their “Did I Match?” report and programs receive their “Did I Fill?” report.  By Monday afternoon, unmatched applicants can begin sending their applications to unfilled programs via ERAS.  Tuesday through Friday are set aside for communication between applicants and programs and the offer and acceptance program.  The terms “unmatched” and “unfilled” should not be assumed to reflect on quality. Each year excellent LCME seniors are unmatched, and high levels of selectivity result in post-match vacancies in programs of high quality. Most programs and institutions, including WUSM, have a contingency plan for handling unmatched students and unfilled slots.

Students participating in the early matches of Ophthalmology and Urology are notified of their match outcomes in January.  Please refer to the AUA and SF Match website links at the top of this page.