The Supplemental ERAS Application is an additional chance for residency applicants to demonstrate their suitability for their chosen programs. While you should focus your attention on preparing the standard MyERAS application first, the supplemental application gives you an opportunity to disclose some additional preferences and characteristics to some of the most competitive residencies out there.

In this article, we will go over the purpose of the Supplemental ERAS Application, how you can prepare it, and give you tips for completing each section of the supplemental application. Be sure to review our sample supplemental entries to prepare your own!  

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Article Contents
13 min read

What is the ERAS Supplemental Application? How and When to Submit the Supplemental ERAS Application General Tips for Preparing for the Supplemental ERAS Application How to Complete the Past Experiences Section How to Complete the Geographic Information Section How to Complete the Preference Signaling Section Conclusion FAQs

What is the ERAS Supplemental Application?

Currently, only three medical specialties ask you to complete the supplemental ERAS application. These include:

It’s important to clarify that all programs require the completion of the MyERAS standard application, but if you are applying to any of the three specialties we mention above, you will also be able to complete the supplemental application to further demonstrate your experiences and skills to your chosen programs.

You should know that the supplemental ERAS application is optional. It is offered to applicants as an opportunity to further reveal how their experiences and goals align with their chosen programs. And while the optional nature of the application may discourage you from completing it, we advise you to complete it as an additional chance to demonstrate your interest and commitment to your chosen specialties. Consider these points:

That being said, you will need to carefully plan your ERAS timeline to submit both the standard MyERAS and the supplemental ERAS application on time.

How and When to Submit the Supplemental ERAS Application

When you fill out which programs you are applying to in MyERAS, if you enter any programs in internal medicine residency, general surgery, or dermatology, you will receive a personal invitation to complete the supplemental application within 24 hours after indicating which programs you want to apply to.

Each application cycle, the supplemental application will be open for a limited number of days. For example, in the current cycle, this window is from September 1 to September 30. Applicants can complete their supplemental application at any point during this window. Please check with the AAMC for exact dates for the supplemental application window to make sure you submit everything on time.

Keep in mind that you do not have to complete the supplemental application in one sitting. As with other ERAS application components, you can complete some of it, save it, and return to it when it’s convenient for you. You will complete only one supplemental application for all programs, so once you complete it and are ready to submit, simply click “yes” when asked “Would you like to submit your supplemental ERAS application?”

Want to learn more about the ERAS Application Process? Check out this infographic:

General Tips for Preparing for the Supplemental ERAS Application

While the supplemental application is slightly different from the standard ERAS app, there are some overlapping components, which means you can kill two birds with one stone as you start preparing for your residency applications. You should work on your standard application first. By working on your primary application first, you will also prepare for the supplemental app.

Here're some general tips for not only preparing for your supplemental but also your standard application as well:

Keep an activities log.

As you are wondering how to prepare for your residency applications, you might want to look back on your medical school application process and how you prepped for it. If you filled out a section like AMCAS work and activities, you will recognize the structure of the supplemental application without any difficulty. In the supplemental app, you will be asked to provide concise but informative entries about experiences that affected your decision to pursue medicine and your chosen medical specialty specifically.

Throughout your undergrad and medical school, we strongly advise you to keep a log of your activities and experiences. Record your position titles, organization names, start and end dates of your involvement, as well as the frequency of your participation. This log will be incredibly useful when you sit down to fill out your residency apps, including the supplemental application. We will speak in more detail about what the supplemental app consists of, but make sure to keep this log handy when you begin your applications.

Struggling to fill out your entries? Here's a refresh on making effective AMCAS work and activities selections. You can use it to narrow down entries in your ERAS supplemental app:

Make sure to treat the supplemental ERAS application as an independent, autonomous application.

Your supplemental app is separate from the standard MyERAS application. This means that when program directors and faculty review your supplemental application, they may not have your standard application in front of them. Do not simply refer to your standard application components like residency CV or residency personal statement when you fill out the supplemental application. You must provide enough context and information in your supplemental app to make it a stand-alone document.

Be mindful of format and character counts.

Simply put: follow the instructions and rules of the application. If an entry requires only 100 characters, stick to this limit. 

Start early.

This is standard advice for all applicants, but it's an important one to repeat. As you prepare for your residency applications, you already know if you’ll be applying to any of the three specialties that ask for the supplemental app, so plan ahead to commit some time to complete it. Additionally, keep in mind that creating concise and clear entries takes time. Give yourself at least a couple of months to draft and redraft your entries so you can perfect them over time.

How to Complete the Past Experiences Section

The Past Experiences section is composed of 4 segments. If you have had the opportunity to fill out AMCAS most meaningful experiences section as part of your medical school application, then you will recognize this format. The Past Experiences section is organized in the following way:

Segment 1: Identify up to 5 most important experiences

You are asked to emphasize up to 5 experiences before or during medical school that had a great impact on your decision to pursue medicine and your chosen specialty. You may provide fewer than 5 experiences.

It is of course completely up to you to decide which activities to include in this section. Considering that the other parts of this application section ask additional questions about medical, volunteer, and research experiences, you might want to consider including a couple of experiences from these categories. However, it is completely up to you to decide what kind of activities you want to emphasize and talk about in more detail.

Segment 2: Series of questions

You will then be asked a series of questions relating to the experiences you identified as most important. In addition to General Experiences Questions, you will be asked to answer additional questions for medical, volunteer, and research experiences. This means that depending on the experience you include, you may be required to fill out 2 question sets for it. For example, if you include a research experience, you will fill out the General Experience Questions and the Research Experience Questions.

In this part of the Past Experience section, your activities log, which we spoke about earlier in this blog, will be especially useful. Keep in mind that there are some character limits indicated in this section of the application. For example, your position title and organization name cannot be longer than 100 characters, including spaces.

Pay close attention to any other instructions in this section. For example, take note of how the start and end dates should be indicated.

While choosing which experiences you want to include in your supplemental app will require some thought and reflection, keep in mind that this second part of the Past Experiences section is very straightforward in terms of the information you are asked to provide. No creativity is necessary. If you have your activities log and the required information readily in front of you, you will complete it in no time.

Segment 3: Meaningful Experiences Description

This is your opportunity to give more detail as to why the experiences you included in your supplemental app were significant in your journey to residency. For each experience you include, you will be asked to provide a concise and clear description of 300 characters or less.

When you are wondering what to include in the description reflect on the following questions:

The key to these types of descriptions is always showing rather than telling your story. 300 characters is not a lot. To leave a lasting impression and demonstrate the kind of skills and qualities you acquired through an experience, make sure to paint a vivid picture of your experience by using concrete examples of what you did, rather than what kind of qualities you think you possess. For example, do not simply write:

"Through my volunteering experience at the X community clinic, I learned how to be hardworking."

Use concrete actions and accomplishments to demonstrate your qualities and skills instead:

“At X clinic, working with populations of various socio-economic backgrounds instilled my sense of responsibility to all patients. I took on duties to expose myself to a variety of clinical work, such as rounding on patients’ rooms, assisting in discharges, and turning over surgical suites after cases.”

Segment 4: Other Impactful Experiences Question

In this part of the application, you can reveal any other circumstances or experiences that have influenced your journey to residency. You can discuss anything that you might not have had the chance to discuss so far, such as your family background, socio-economic circumstances, educational experiences, or any other personal or general life events that affected you. You will have up to 750 characters, including spaces.

This question is not unlike the medical school secondary essay prompts about adversity. While you can certainly talk about positive and uplifting events, if you closely read the description of this question in the Supplemental ERAS Application Guide, you will note that a lot of the suggested experiences echo the type of experiences you would include in an adversity medical school essay

Want to see some adversity medical school essay examples? Check out this video:

Be mindful that not everyone must fill out this part of the application. If you do not have an experience similar to the ones included in the description of this question, you might want to skip this one.

Check out a sample description for this part of the application:

“My last year at X university was an arduous time in my life. My father had health complications and had to stop working. During this time, I had to begin to support myself financially. I already worked as a tutor, but I needed to find a second job. I joined the department of biology as a TA. Worrying about my father, in tandem with long working hours weighed heavily on me. I reached out to colleagues to see how they maintained a work-life balance. With their advice in mind, I began to regiment my work, strictly adhering to appointed blocks of time in which I worked. I expect residency training will bring with it a multitude of challenges, and with them, I will grow to be the best physician for my patients."

How to Complete the Geographic Information Section

This part of the supplemental ERAS application provides an opportunity to disclose any territorial preferences you have about where you want to receive your residency training. Additionally, you will be able to indicate whether you have a preference for urban or rural training and practice.

If you do not have a geographical preference or a setting preference, you can indicate that you do not have one. You can also choose not to disclose your preference.

Important note: your geographical preferences will be shared only with dermatology and internal medicine programs, not with general surgery programs.

If you choose to identify your territorial preferences, you will have the chance to choose three geographical territories out of the 9 US geographical divisions provided by ERAS. Please refer to the map provided in the Supplemental ERAS Application Guide to see what territories you can choose from.

Important to note: if you do indicate any geographical preferences in your application, this information will be shared only with programs in that geographical division. Your preferences will not be shared with programs outside of these territorial areas. So, do not be afraid to offend programs outside of your preferences – they will not be informed of your inclinations.

Once you check off your preferred territories, you will be asked to explain your choices in 300 characters or less for each division. A separate textbox will be available for each division you select. For example:

“I grew up and attended college in the Pacific West. As I mature as an individual and professional, I am drawn to return to my hometown of Olympia, to tend to the needs of my community and the underserved populations."

If you do not have a preference, you should check off this option in the questionnaire. All programs you apply to will be informed that you do not have a geographical preference. You will also be given the opportunity to explain why you do not have a preference, in 300 characters or less. Not having a geographical preference is totally normal, as other factors can be much more important in selecting which residency programs you want to attend, such as research facilities, clinical opportunities, specialist training, and so on. You can honestly discuss why the program elements are more important to you than the geographical location of the program you might attend. Remember that all programs you apply to will receive your response. Check out an example of such a response:

"As a child of a military family, I am used to relocations and change, so geographic location of my training is not a priority. My main objective is to have access to the top research facilities in the United States, regardless of the program's location."

You also have the option not to disclose your preference. In this case, you will not be required to provide any additional information.

Finally, in this section of the supplemental ERAS application, you will be asked to indicate if you have a preference for rural or urban settings. After choosing rural vs urban, you will indicate how strong your preference is:

  1. No preference
  2. Slight preference
  3. Strong Preference

Keep in mind that you will be asked to submit a short, up to 300 characters long response as to why you choose a certain level of preference. This response will be shared with all programs. For example:

"I grew up in Brooklyn. Tired of endless crowds and noise, I moved to Little Rock, Arkansas to attend medical school. Smaller towns were more fitting for my personal and professional goals and practicing in a rural or remote area would be an ideal setting for my growing family."

TIP: While your answers to this section of the supplemental app will totally be based on your preferences and goals, do keep in mind that if you want to increase your chances to match in your top-choice programs, you may want to look at the programs’ missions and goals, as well as what kind of graduates they produce and where they tend to practice. Some programs might be more focused on developing research in rural and remote areas, while others focus on providing quality medical care to underserved populations of a huge urban center. You might also want to check out if the majority of your chosen program’s grads work in rural areas. While your preferences may not significantly affect your interview chances, the closer you are to the mission and goals of the program, the more likely you are to get that interview.

How to Complete the Preference Signaling Section

This is an especially attractive feature of the supplemental app for anyone who has very strong feelings about attending specific programs in their chosen specialty! Before you ever get to write your letter of intent for residency, explaining to your top-choice program why you are the perfect candidate, this part of the supplemental app gives you the chance to signal to your top-choice programs that you give them preference before all others.

Preference signaling will not affect how many residency programs you apply to. This is simply a way to give a heads up to your programs of choice that you would love to interview with them. NOTE: only the programs you signal will receive this information. Signaling your chosen programs will not negatively affect your chances with the programs you do not signal. The fact that you signaled programs at all will not be visible to anyone other than the programs you signaled.

And here’s how it works: the questionnaire begins by asking you to identify which of the specialties you are applying to:

  • Dermatology
  • General surgery (categorical only)
  • Internal Medicine (categorical)
  • Internal Medicine (preliminary)

Remember to select all the specialties that apply to you. After this step, you will be asked to use a drop-down menu to select up to three programs in dermatology, five programs in general surgery, five internal medicine-categorical programs, and five internal medicine-preliminary programs to signal.

Please note that you should not signal the programs at your own medical school or programs where you completed in-person training, such as rotations or electives. Most students will want to complete their residency training at their home school or in institutions where they completed some of their medical learning. You are still more than welcome to apply to these programs and do your best to match there, but do not signal them using your supplementary app. However, you can signal programs where you attended virtual training or where you did research only. For more information on which programs you can signal, please review the Supplemental ERAS Application Guide.

TIP: Signaling can be a useful tip for programs in selecting applicants to interview, but signaling any program is not enough. You must be selective. Always consider how well your experiences, goals, and application fit in with the programs you want to signal. Make sure that your application clearly identifies qualities, experiences, strengths, and skills that would be valued by the programs you choose to signal.

While you can choose to signal programs that are a little bit out of your reach to increase your chances of interviewing and matching, do not feel that you cannot signal programs where you clearly have a great chance to interview. Signaling programs that are a great fit for your profile will not only provide additional assurance to the program to invite you to an interview but also will eventually help them rank you as their number one choice, thus securing your spot there. 


Residency applications, whether you complete them via ERAS or CaRMS, are laborious and time-consuming. Completing another additional application may seem like a waste of your time, but we strongly advise you to do it. While your standard application will not be damaged if there’s no accompanying Supplemental ERAS Application, you should use this chance to elaborate on your journey and use all the available opportunities to indicate any of your preferences.

Your next step, after submitting both the standard and the supplemental apps is to start your ERAS interview prep. This vital part of the candidate selection process should not be left to the last minute. Start gathering information about the interview formats you might face and looking at sample residency interview questions to plan your responses. Don’t forget that the only failproof interview prep strategy is to participate in mock interviews, so plan ahead to schedule your mocks with professionals who can provide you with personalized feedback.


1. What is the Supplemental ERAS Application?

The supplemental app is meant to provide your chosen programs with more details about your candidacy. You will be able to expand on your most meaningful experiences in medicine and personal life, your geographical preferences for training and practice, and signal to a select number of programs that they are some of your top-choice residencies.

2. Which programs require the supplemental application?

Only three specialties are participating in the supplemental application at the moment: dermatology, internal medicine (categorical and preliminary), and general surgery (categorical only).

3. Is there a fee for the supplemental application?

No, there is no additional fee.

4. Is it part of the standard MyERAS application?

No, it is a separate application. You should make sure not to reference your standard application too much or rely on the information you included in the standard app. They are not submitted together.

5. When should I submit the supplemental app?

Supplemental app and standard app have different submission deadlines. You will have a month to complete your supplemental application. The deadline for the supplemental app in this application cycle is September 30th.

6. What should I include in the Past Experiences section?

In this section, you will be asked to indicate up to 5 important experiences that affected your decision to pursue medicine and your chosen specialty. Please review the "How to Complete the Past Experiences Section" portion of this blog for more tips and guidance.

7. What should I include in the Geographical Preferences section?

In this section, you will be able to identify any territorial preferences you have regarding where you want to train and practice. Firstly, you will be able to indicate a preference to 3 out of 9 territorial divisions provided to you. Only programs in these 3 divisions will be notified of your preference. Secondly, you will be able to indicate whether you have any preference regarding practice in rural vs urban areas. Please review the "How to Complete the Geographical Preference Section” portion of this blog for more tips and guidance.

8. What should I include in the Preference Signaling section?

In this section, you will be able to select a limited number of programs in dermatology, internal medicine, and general surgery and signal to them that they are your preferred programs. This may help programs decide who to select for interviews. Please review the "How to Complete the Preference Signaling Section” portion of this blog for more tips and guidance.

9. Do I tailor my supplemental app for each program?

No, you only complete 1 supplemental application.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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