The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) is used to apply for medical residencies in the United States. Many students aren’t sure how to prepare for residency applications or how to use the ERAS system. This blog will cover everything you need to know about ERAS, including the ERAS application timeline, application tips, and how to navigate the system.

>>Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here.<<

Listen to the blog!

Article Contents
16 min read

What is ERAS and How Does the Match Work? How to Navigate the ERAS Application ERAS Timeline and Important Dates SOAP Application Guide How to Prepare for ERAS Applications in Medical School Conclusion & FAQs

What is ERAS and How Does the Match Work?

The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) through the AAMC is used by graduates from medical schools in the US to apply to postgraduate residency training programs. Similar to the AMCAS, AACOMAS, or TMDSAS application you used to apply to medical school, ERAS is your ticket to becoming a resident doctor in the US.

Once your ERAS application is complete, you can register for and participate in the National Resident Matching Program’s (NRMP) Main Match, which pairs medical graduates with open positions in residency programs across the country. The Main Match is the method by which the NRMP facilitates the ERAS application process, allowing medical school graduates to find and select residency positions.

Completing your ERAS application and going through the Match is a long and stressful time. Our students can sum up pretty succinctly how difficult it is to juggle your multiple commitments during this time:

“We all know how stressful residency application can be.” – Qianyu, BeMo student.

“Having to get prepared for the interview process for residency while still completing hospital rotation[s], dissertation, and academic demands has been difficult.” – Gia, BeMo student.

For this reason, we’ve created this ERAS guide for residency applicants to get started and get through their applications with ease.


Looking for the ERAS fellowship application guide?


How Does the Residency Match Work?

Applicants use ERAS to apply to residency programs in the US. Programs will then respond to applicants by inviting them for interviews during the fall and winter of their 4th or final year of medical school. Once interview season has come to an end, applicants will create and submit a residency Rank Order List of programs that they would accept a contract with. Programs will also submit a Rank Order List of applicants they would like to accept as residents.

The NRMP’s Main Match algorithm plays “matchmaker” in setting up applicants and programs based on the preferences in their Rank Order Lists. Come Match week, medical graduates are notified whether they have matched. For applicants who are not successful in matching to any programs, residency positions that remain unfilled are made available for applicants to attempt to secure them before the official Match Day results are released through the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP). Students are notified on the third Friday of March about where they were matched. From there, medical graduates accept offers and prepare to begin their residency training.

How to Navigate the ERAS Application

Now it’s time to break down how to tackle and navigate the information-dense world of ERAS! The official AAMC resources and this guide will help make your application process go smoothly. Use this reference guide or the ERAS applicant checklist to double-check your work and monitor your progress.

Step #1: Check Program Requirements and Deadlines

You can check the requirements and application deadlines of a program through the ERAS portal or by going directly to the program's listed website. It is time-consuming, but it is better to research these programs to make sure they are right for you and that you are the type of candidate they’re looking for. Our student, Erin, secured a residency position by reviewing her application materials and tailoring them to fit her desired programs.

“I had a hard time figuring out personal examples to use in certain interview questions … in reviewing my CV, my personal statement and my interview prep, I was able to secure a general surgery residency at St. Luke's University Hospital.” – Erin, BeMo student.


Also make note of the programs you’re interested in and any important dates to guide your application submission.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can use residency match services or resources like FREIDA residency database to explore ACGME-accredited programs and start narrowing down your list of potential residency programs.

Step #2: Get Your ERAS Token

Contact your Designated Dean’s Office to receive your ERAS token. The token is a one-time code you will use to register with the MyERAS system and begin your residency application. You will receive your code via email. You MUST have your ERAS token to register.

Note that Canadian medical school graduates (CMGs) participating in ERAS use the Canadian Resident Matching System (CaRMS) as their Designated Dean’s Office. CaRMS has a separate process for CMGs who want to participate in the US match here.

International medical graduates can receive their ERAS token through the ECFMG, or the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates once they have received their ECFMG certification through one of the ECFMG pathways.

If you are a non-matched graduate reapplying to programs through ERAS and have had a previous token, you will have to purchase a new token for the upcoming year.

Step #3: Register on MyERAS

You will want to register early and as soon as you’ve received your ERAS token to ensure that all of your uploaded documents and information are in order. Certain documents take a few days to upload.

Visit MyERAS to proceed with registration. Read through and answer the ERAS registration questions carefully and thoroughly to prevent mistakes. You can only register once!

Once you’ve successfully registered on MyERAS, you can access your account and begin creating your application.

What are the least and most competitive residencies? Watch this video!

Step #4: Fill Out Your Personal Information

Now that you’ve successfully registered on MyERAS, it is time to fill out your personal information. You can always come back and update the information on your Personal Information page, even after you submit your ERAS application. Ensure that your permanent address is correct, as this is one section of the Personal Information page that cannot be changed after submission.

Aside from personal information required the following information may be required of you:

  •   AOA ID (Required of all DO applicants)
  •   NBOME ID (Required of all DO applicants)
  •   ECFMG Certification (Only applies to foreign medical graduates)
  •   A checkbox to indicate participation in NMS/Couples Match (Optional)
  •   A checkbox to indicate participation in NRMP/Couples Match (Optional)
  •  ACLS, BLS, and PALS Certification information and dates. Be aware of the dates you will be attending your training sessions and which certifications you have already completed successful training for.

Step #5: Start Your MyERAS Application

Click on "My Application" in the MyERAS portal to begin. You only complete one application, and once certified and submitted, it is sent to the residency programs you choose.

Your additional documents like ERAS letters of recommendation and your residency personal statement can be customized per program and are attached later. Take your time completing your primary application. You can save your work and continue as you want. If you have not clicked “Certify and Submit,” you can change any information you have filled out at any time.

Step #6: Certify and Submit Your Application

Now it is time to Certify and Submit your application. Review it one last time before submission! Check spelling and grammar and that all fields are filled out.

Prior to submission, there is a section titled “Designated Dean’s Office” authorization to view your application once it has been submitted and certified. Make sure to select yes.

Watch this video to learn residency application red flags to avoid!

Step #7: Upload Your Application Documents

This section is for uploading your personal statement, residency CV, letters of recommendation and transcripts. This is a work area where you will tailor your application to market yourself to programs and bring you one step closer to securing your residency spot.

Remember that some residency programs ask you to complete the ERAS supplemental application. You should take the time to complete this and submit it before the mid-September deadline. While the supplemental ERAS application is optional, it allows students to answer additional questions and share more information about themselves with specific programs. Much like medical school secondary application essays, this is an opportunity to increase your chances of matching and set yourself apart from other competitors for the most competitive residencies. Right now, there are 16 specialties that offer students the supplemental ERAS application.

Test Transcripts

Residency programs need your USMLE Step 1 transcript if you’re an MD applicant, and you’ll need to submit your COMLEX Level 1 transcript if you’re a DO. You will have to know your ID number for the type of transcript you are requesting and authorize the release of your scores to programs. You must assign the transcript to each residency program you apply to.

Personal Statements

Different residency personal statements can be assigned to different programs, so you can personalize your statement to a specific program. Sending a generic personal statement is one of the residency personal statement mistakes you can easily avoid! BeMo admissions expert Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, says writing the personal statement was one of the most challenging parts of his residency application, and advises students to take their time and prepare early.

“Writing the personal statements … are particularly hard because there is so much you can talk about, and what may appeal to you may not necessarily appeal to the admissions committee. It is advisable to start as early as possible (possibly months from due date) so that you can extensively revise the statements, have others review it and provide feedback.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Saskatchewan, Diagnostic Radiology


Also be sure to check the ERAS personal statement requirements beforehand. You may upload as many personal statements as you want, but you can only send one PS per program, so title them accordingly so that you recall where to send them. Remember that you cannot edit or update a personal statement once it has been sent to a program.

Letters of Recommendation

The documents section of your ERAS application has an area that allows you to compose a list of faculty members that you have verified will write a letter of recommendation (LOR) for you to submit to your programs of interest.

You can include as many LORs as you feel are necessary in your ERAS documents section. Remember that residency programs typically ask for up to 3 letters of recommendation. Always make yourself aware of the LOR requirements and deadlines for each program. It can take a few days for letters to upload to ERAS before you can assign them. Make sure you give yourself and your recommendation letter writers enough time.

Keep in mind you should ask for letters of recommendation from individuals who have a strong, positive relationship with you for the best possible reference.

“An approach that would sour me is if a student asks for a LOR despite putting an average or below-average performance during the rotation, if they feel entitled to a LOR, and if the student asks for a LOR after having worked only a few shifts with them.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Saskatchewan, Diagnostic Radiology

MSPE and Dean's Letter

An important part of your residency application is your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE), which will share with residency programs how you performed during your clinical rotations in medical school.

Your “Designated Dean’s Office” will be the party responsible for uploading both your medical school transcript and your MSPE/Dean’s Letter to your electronic ERAS file. It will be electronically sent to each program that you apply to.

Step #8: Register for the Match!

Visit the NRMP website to register for the Main Residency Match. Registration for the Match will open in mid-September. Remember your MUST register for the Match separately from ERAS!

Step #9: Attend Interviews and Create Your Rank Order List

In late September into October, residency programs will begin reviewing residency applicants and sending out interview invitations. This period can lengthy and stressful, so be ready! Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, one of our admissions experts, says interview invitations can be sent out with very little notice and require careful planning.

“Balancing interviews with rotations [is the hardest part]! At my medical school, it was well accepted that 4th years would take time off for interviews, so most rotations are forgiving when you need time off. However, it was still difficult to map out an interview schedule as many times interviews would come with little notice or time to schedule.” – Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, Harvard South Shore, Psychiatry


Aside from excellent organizational skills, you need to practice your interview skills. How to prepare for residency interviews therefore includes not just preparing yourself to answer common residency interview questions, but remember the best questions to ask residency programs in return.

One of the best ways to practice for your residency interviews is to use residency mock interviews, but expert feedback and implementation of that feedback is also key, says Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, an admissions expert at BeMo:

“To prepare for my residency interviews, I did lots of practice for a few hours every day. This would be a mix of group and individual practice. It is important to seek feedback from others as to what you can improve on, where you are going wrong, etc., and at the same time, spend time reflecting on your experiences and how they have aptly shaped you to excel in the specialty you are applying for. It is good practice to prepare by going over general interview questions, coming up with a personal example for each of the … physician competencies, and building a strategy to approach different types of questions.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Saskatchewan, Diagnostic Radiology


Remember this is your opportunity to meet with programs and evaluate them as they are evaluating you. Interviews will help you to create your rank order list (ROL) and decide what your top-choice programs are. Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, suggests keeping your interviews a two-way conversation, a way to assess whether the fit with a residency program is mutual.

“I found that the most important piece to residency interviews is having a natural conversation. There is a lot more in common between you and the people you are talking to then when I had medical school interviews. I made sure to know my 2-3 key talking points, but focused on just having a good conversation with my interviewer. This is really important when you are talking to a resident, as the most important thing to them is making sure you would mesh well into the program.” – Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, Harvard South Shore, Psychiatry


Need practice with residency interview questions? Watch this!

Step #10: Assign Your Documents to Residency Programs

After you have finalized the list of programs you want to apply to you will then assign documents to each program. Every program you select to apply to will receive the same skeleton application of documents, which include your ERAS application, Dean's Letter/MSPE, transcript, and photo. The documents you must personally assign to each program are your USMLE/COMLEX transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal statements, as well as any additional documents such as a residency letter of intent. Double-check your documents to make sure they are going to the correct program. An LOR is ready for assignment after you have "Confirmed" the letter once it has been uploaded by either you or the author.

Step #11: Check Status of Your Applications

There are two vital MyERAS electronic sections that you should routinely check to keep an eye on the progress and status of your ERAS applications, once you have submitted them: programs applied to and message center. The message center displays any correspondence from the programs. Check on it to make sure you are receiving all your messages.

The “My Profile” section has important information for how the programs can get in touch with you. If you move or change phone numbers, update this immediately. Keep your NRMP match participation up to date. Are you an International Medical Graduate? Make sure your visa status and ECFMG status are current.

ERAS Timeline and Important Dates

Here’s a closer look at the ERAS timeline and important Main Match dates you need to know:

SOAP Application Guide

The Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP), offered through the NRMP, is a way for applicants who went unmatched or partially matched to secure a residency position before the official results are released on Match Day.

SOAP has a very short timeline, so if you want to improve your residency application after going unmatched, you must do so quickly and apply to unfilled positions through SOAP. SOAP applications open on the Monday before Match Day and close on Thursday.

During SOAP, you can apply to new programs or reapply to programs you applied to during the Main Match, and try to secure a spot that went unfilled. For instance, you can upload additional letters of recommendation or submit a new personal statement. If you’re participating in SOAP, also be ready for SOAP residency interview questions and answers, as these will be different from typical residency interview questions and you’ll have less time to prepare!

How to Prepare for ERAS Applications in Medical School

As a medical student, you will begin preparing for your residency applications in the third year of medical school and will be working on your ERAS application by your fourth year. It’s important to get started as soon as possible by not just thinking about what medical specialty you want to pursue or whether you’re interested in a medical fellowship, but by forging relationships with supervisors, participating in research, and gaining valuable clinical experience.

Dr. Taneja, MD, shares how she demonstrated her passion for psychiatry:

“I showed preparedness and interest in psychiatry by engaging in research and taking advantage of unique psychiatry rotations offered at my medical school. These both gave me plenty of stories to talk about how I validated the field and showcase how I see my career progressing in psychiatry [during residency applications].” – Dr. Monica Taneja, MD. Harvard South Shore, Psychiatry.

At this time, it may be a good idea to start looking at the Match outcomes for specialties. You can compare their qualifications and match rates for each specialty. It is good to get an idea of what specialties might require. Knowing what scores you will need on licensing exams and how many letters you will need in that specialty will improve your chance of success and your level of preparation when you start your ERAS application. It might be wise to review the most competitive and least competitive residencies to see how you measure up.

It is also never too early to get started on your residency personal statement. Make notes of interesting cases you see or memorable patients. Getting ideas early on will keep you from stressing as more deadlines approach. Still nervous about your personal statement? You may feel more confident with residency personal statement editing with the help of your advisor.

Choose a Medical Specialty

Wondering how to choose a medical specialty for your residency training? Med school is YOUR time to explore various fields and specialties in the world of medicine. Take the time to be honest with yourself regarding your likes and dislikes when figuring out how to choose medical school electives. Each specialty has pros and cons. Make notes of these as you are exposed to them during electives, rotations, clinicals, and research. Create a pros and cons list for the specialties you are interested in.

More importantly, immerse yourself in the specialty you’ve chosen and learn what attributes and skills are most valuable for that particular specialty. You’ll need to showcase those attributes when you apply to residency programs, Dr. Neel Mistry, our admissions expert, says.

“Demonstrating preparedness for your specialty is key to convincing the application committee and ultimately securing your top residency program. To do so, you want to highlight [in your application] specific personal experiences where you have demonstrated key skills required for your specialty. For instance, collaboration, communication, and independent problem solving are essential to the job of a radiologist. I made sure to give specific (and ideally different) examples to demonstrate how I have developed each of these skills throughout medical school.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Saskatchewan, Diagnostic Radiology

Also, consider where you want to live in the future and the type of practice you want to have. Certain areas are in need of different specialists or have different positions available. This may factor into your decision. If you are undecided between a few specialties, spend more time on rotations with those doctors. Immerse yourself in the field to get a feel of what your life would be like. Do not be afraid of consulting doctors and your medical school advisor. They are valuable resources. 

Apply for Clerkships

There are advantages to setting up clerkships, and they may give you an edge. Students are given the option of pursuing a sub-internship and additional elective clerkships toward the end of their 3rd year and the beginning of their 4th year. Dr. Shaughnelene Smith, DO, one of our admissions experts and a graduate from Kansas City University osteopathic medical school, encourages students to pursue these electives to begin exploring potential residency programs.

“As a final year medical student in the United States, you will be completing something called 'audition rotations': these are rotations at hospitals/programs you hope to potentially 'match' with … My advice would be to research specific residency programs before getting started. If you are someone interested in a specific specialty or in a specific institution, you can easily go onto the program's residency website … This will allow you to get a better feel of what type of students a program is looking for, and you can make an informed decision.” Dr. Shaughnelene Smith, DO, Kansas City University Osteopathic Medical School

You should take advantage of this opportunity to work more closely with patients, residents, and attendings, as well. These electives and internships are your chance to really stand out and demonstrate your interest in the field. Showing dedication to a field like family medicine is very important come interview season. Elective clerkships are an ideal time to request those letters of recommendation from attendings.


Applying through ERAS is a time-consuming process. Altogether, your residency application, interviews, and match will take at least a year to complete, and your preparation for residency begins even earlier during medical school. The best way to make sure you ace your ERAS application is to follow instructions carefully and start as early as possible. Make sure you start researching residency programs, putting together your supporting documents, and gathering the information you need to succeed.


1. Which specialties and programs participate with ERAS?

You can find a list of ERAS participating specialties and programs here.

2. How do I apply to programs that are not participating with ERAS?

There are programs that do not use ERAS for residency applications and do not participate in the Main Match. If you are applying to one of them, be sure to contact the program directly to determine how to apply. 

3. How do I access MyERAS?

You need to contact your Designated Dean’s Office that will issue you an ERAS token, which is a one-time access code used to register for MyERAS.

4. How do I contact my Designated Dean’s Office?

US Seniors/Graduates can contact the medical school from which they are graduating/have graduated. International medical graduates should contact Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

5. When I register with MyERAS, am I automatically registered to participate in NRMP or any other matching service?

No, registering with ERAS does not register you for the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) or any other matching service. You must register separately through the matching service you choose to use.

6. When should I start applying to residency programs?

Applicants may begin applying to programs in September of the application cycle.

7. When will the programs be able to view my application?

Programs can begin reviewing your applications in mid to late October of the application cycle.

8. Which supporting documents should I include in my application?

The ERAS application should include a personal statement, letters of recommendation, test scores, your MSPE, your medical school transcripts, and more.

9. How many letters of recommendation should I submit?

You can upload an unlimited number of references, but a maximum of 4 letters can be assigned per program.

10. Does MSPE or Dean’s Letter count as one of the 4 LORs?

No, they are not considered a reference and will not deduct from the 4-letter limit.

11. Should I submit my USMLE scores or COMLEX scores as part of MyERAS application?

Many programs will require your transcripts as part of the application. Please check with programs of your choice whether it’s an option or a requirement.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

Want more free tips? Subscribe to our channels for more free and useful content!




Apple Podcasts




Like our blog? Write for us! >>

Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!



What process should one go through in order to apply and get into SOAP for those getting ERAS tokens after 1st January, now that most programs have completed accepting application letters. Kindly advice.


BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Aaron! Thanks for your comment. Please visit the official NRMP website for details on SOAP.