Using ERAS to apply for a fellowship program involves very much the same process as applying for residency. Luckily, as you plan your future after residency, you can re-register for ERAS and the NRMP match to get into a fellowship program just as you did for a residency position. During your residency years, you may think about choosing a medical subspecialty or want to continue your training in your chosen specialty. In preparation for fellowship applications, the first step is to learn how the fellowship match and ERAS fellowship application works. This blog is our guide to an ERAS fellowship application and match, including requirements, timelines and how to match to your dream fellowship program.

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Article Contents
5 min read

ERAS Fellowship: How the Fellowship Match Works ERAS Fellowship Application Guide ERAS Fellowship Application Timeline ERAS Fellowship: How to Match Your Top Program FAQs

ERAS Fellowship: How the Fellowship Match Works

Once your medical residency is finished, you may be interested in pursuing a subspecialty and completing a medical fellowship. Applying for a fellowship program is the same process you likely went through—or will go through—for your residency applications.

The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) has a match specifically for fellowship applicants and fellowship programs, called the Subspecialties Matching Service (SMS). Just like with residency applicants, you’ll first need to register with the Electronic Resident Application Service (ERAS) and fill out an ERAS application. Then, you’ll have to register for the SMS match, create your rank order list, submit your application and attend interviews with fellowship programs.

So, the process of applying for fellowship programs is functionally the same as applying for residency, so if you are currently a resident doctor or in the middle of your residency applications, this will be familiar to you.

If you’re an international medical graduate (IMG) applying to fellowship programs in the US, the process is will also be the same for you. Note that you’ll need to secure ECFMG certification first, and get either a J-1 or HB1 visa to apply to a fellowship.

ERAS Fellowship Application Guide

You’re likely to start preparing for your fellowship applications in the final years of your residency. Before you get to the actual application and match stage, it’s important to research the preliminary steps you need to take, the requirements to apply for a fellowship and the process of matching into a program.

First, we’ll go over the overview of how to apply for a fellowship:

ERAS Fellowship Eligibility and Requirements

To apply to any medical fellowship program, you must be eligible and meet all the requirements. The specific requirements may vary from program to program, or even by subspecialty, but in general, you’ll need to meet these eligibility criteria:

  • Graduate from medical school
  • Complete your residency training
  • An active medical license (if in clinical practice)
  • Minimum years of clinical experience in your chosen specialty
  • Continuing medical education (CME)
  • Publications
  • Additional educational activities or teaching experience
  • Leadership experience
  • Some type of teaching experience 

ERAS Fellowship Application

On top of these requirements, you’ll need to fill out an ERAS application. This means completing all the same materials that you submitted for your residency application, such as your letters of recommendation, resume and residency personal statement.

Note that some programs may participate in the Match but don’t accept ERAS applications! Check with the program’s application materials if they do not participate in ERAS and what the application requirements are.

Here’s how to answer “tell me about yourself” during a residency or fellowship interview:

ERAS Fellowship Application Timeline

Below find some of the important dates you need to know for the ERAS fellowship application. Make sure your NRMP fellowship match calendar aligns with your ERAS application timeline!

  • Early June – ERAS application season opens. EFDO will release ERAS fellowship tokens to applicants.
  • Early July – July cycle applicants can begin submitting their ERAS fellowship applications to programs.
  • Mid-July – Fellowship programs can begin evaluating applications for July cycle.
  • Mid-November – December cycle applicants can begin submitting their ERAS fellowship applications to programs.
  • Early December – Fellowship programs begin reviewing applications for December cycle.
  • May 31 – ERAS application season ends.

ERAS Fellowship: How to Match Your Top Program

Getting into a fellowship program can be quite competitive, depending on the subspecialty and how many fellowship positions are available. Just like the most competitive residencies, fellowship programs in subspecialties like surgery, pediatrics and oncology are highly competitive. However, it is possible to get into your top-choice program with the right preparation and strategies. Next, we’ll cover some of our top tips to matching into your dream fellowship program.

1. Fulfill the requirements

To avoid common application mistakes, always double check the program requirements, both the common eligibility criteria and any specific requirements a program might list. Some requirements vary by specialty or subspecialty, so it’s vital to know exactly what you need to do to get into a program.

On top of fulfilling the requirements, you’ll need to go above and beyond to get into the most competitive programs. This means fulfilling all those “unwritten” requirements. This is to say showing a fellowship program that you have not only the skills and experience but that you are a good fit for their program. Show them that you are a strong communicator, a positive and effective team member and have a genuine passion for the subspecialty. These traits should be exemplified in your interview, your personal statement and your experiences.

2. Apply early!

Applying early is always a good idea! Fellowship programs want to fill vacant positions as much as you want to match into them. Get your application in early, ahead of most of the competition, and you’re likely to have your application reviewed first. A program may choose to offer you a tentative acceptance before match day. While this not a guaranteed offer, it shows you are eager and may convince a program to keep you at the top of their list of potential applicants. You can also send a residency letter of intent if you want to tell a program why they are your top choice, adding a nice little bonus to your application.

4. Research fellowship programs

It’s vital to research fellowship programs ahead of time. Not only to start creating your rank order list, but you can learn what a program director is looking for, what a program values and what type of applicant they hire. With this information, you can essentially tailor your application to match a program’s values and preferences. If a program looks kindly on applicants with medical volunteering hours, extensive research experience or maybe strong presentation skills, highlight these experiences in your application materials. If a program is prone to hiring fellows with a strong background in community healthcare, be sure to showcase how you have contributed to your local community.

5. Find a mentor as a resident

Networking is one of the key ways in which residents and fellows secure a spot in their top program. During your residency years, establish strong relationships with your supervisors and attendings. Ask someone to mentor you, as they can have invaluable advice in not only choosing a subspecialty or how to get into a competitive program, they may have resources or connections you can use to gain the right experiences. Having a mentor and strong professional network also means you have a better chance of securing good recommendation letters and good word-of-mouth. 


1. Is there a match for medical fellowships?

Yes, the NRMP has a match for medical fellowship programs called the Subspecialties Matching Service. Residents can register for this match to get into a medical fellowship program.

2. How do I get my ERAS fellowship token?

To obtain your ERAS fellowship token, you’ll need to contact the ERAS Fellowship Documents Office. Then you can register your token on your AAMC account, start your ERAS application and register for the NRMP fellowship match.

3. What is the difference between ERAS and NRMP?

The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) is offered through the AAMC and basically streamlines the process of applying to residency and fellowship programs. If you’ve previously applied for a residency program through ERAS, you can import your information for a fellowship program application within 7 years.

The National Residency Matching Program is a separate organization which hosts the Residency Match in the United States. The match pairs residency applicants with residency programs through the use of an algorithm to fill vacancies in residency and fellowship programs.

4. Can I use ERAS to apply for fellowship?

Yes. You can use ERAS to apply for both residency and fellowship programs. To apply for a fellowship using ERAS, you’ll need to obtain your ERAS token, register with both ERAS and the NRMP, and complete an application through the MyERAS portal.

5. What are the pros and cons of fellowship?

Completing a medical fellowship can be a good option if you’re interested in studying further within your chosen specialty. For residents who are interested in subspecializing, a fellowship may be required. A fellowship can provide an intense and focused deep dive into a particular subspecialty. However, a fellowship does add to the time it will take you to become a doctor in your chosen field and the application process can be competitive. Lastly, the pay during a fellowship does tend to be lower than that of a practicing physician, meaning it might take you longer to pay off any medical school debt.

6. What happens if you don’t match fellowship?

If you don’t match to a fellowship through the SMS, there is no SOAP program for fellowships. You’ll need to reach out to the programs with unfilled positions yourself, or wait to apply again next year. Once the match is complete, the NRMP will provide you with a list of programs with unfilled positions, so long as you registered for that year’s match.

7. How do I match to a fellowship?

To match to a fellowship, you’ll need to have completed your residency and may even have a few years of clinical experience under your belt. Many fellowship programs require you to have publications, teaching and leadership experience, too. For the best chance of matching to a fellowship, you should ensure you meet all the requirements and eligibility criteria, submit a strong application and ace your fellowship interviews. 

8. Is fellowship harder than residency?

A fellowship is a more intensive and in-depth training program into a medical subspecialty, so in some ways the training can be harder than completing a residency. Fellowships tend to be shorter than most residency programs, but they can be just as demanding. As far as matching to a fellowship program, the level of competition is also quite high for certain subspecialties, just like some of the most competitive residency programs. The most competitive fellowship programs tend to be in surgery, internal medicine and reproductive health.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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