Residency Application Timeline: When is the best time to start applying?

The residency application process for medical students applying to training programs begins as early as the June before the start of their 4th year of medical school, as candidates begin preparing their applications. It comes around fast, so impending graduates—be prepared!

In late summer/early fall, the application season begins. For the next several months, candidates travel to interview at hospitals throughout the US. Then, in late winter/early spring, they learn where they have matched and will ultimately begin their training on July 1st.  The 2020 residency application timeline follows this standard process, but varies based on the specialty to which a candidate is applying.

ERAS and beyond

The majority of medical students apply using a common application system called the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) and match in a system known as the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP).  

However, there are some exceptions:  

  1. Urology candidates:  Apply in ERAS, but match into residency through the American Urological Association (AUA) Match.  
  2. Ophthalmology candidates:  Apply and match with a service known as the San Francisco (SF) Match.  
  3. Plastic Surgery candidates: Also apply and match with the SF Match but on a slightly varying timeline. (*Note: integrated plastic surgery uses ERAS/NRMP and not SF Match).

In all cases, the process is quite involved and there are several important dates of which candidates should be aware, to ensure meeting critical deadlines and a successful application and match process.  

Previously, we have written our blog on “The Ultimate Guide to the Medical Residency Match Process,” which details the specifics of the application and match processes.  This post will complement that blog, but focus directly on important dates and deadlines, in this case, of the 2020 residency application timeline.

Given the complexities and slight variations managing these similar processes, we have provided the official timelines for each organization, but then created one master schedule that includes all processes and all timelines.  Our goal is to provide all information in one centralized location for all applicants, in all specialties, graduating from medicals both within (domestic graduates) and outside (International Medical Graduates (IMGs) the United States.  We encourage applicants to visit the official timeline webpages for more information.

What’s the best time to apply?

The short answer:  Ensure that your entire application is completed and submitted on the day that the application process opens for your given specialty:

September 4th, 2019 for Ophthalmology (SF Match)

September 15th, 2019 for all ERAS specialties, including Urology.

November 13th, 2019 for Plastic Surgery (SF Match) 

Official timeline web pages

Note:  The ECFMG is a service used by IMGs to apply to residency programs throughout the US. For IMGs, the application process starts here and then candidates, after being certified, are provided tokens to access their application in ERAS. Domestic graduates are provided these same tokens directly from their medical schools and do not interact with the ECFMG.

And now, the Centralized Thalamus 2020 Residency Application Timeline

June 6th, 2019: ERAS 2020 candidate registration and application opens on MyERAS.

June 25th, 2019:  (IMG Only) ERAS Support Services at ECFMG start distributing electronic tokens to access applications in MyERAS.

September 5th, 2019:  Applicants start applying to ACGME-accredited programs in ERAS

September 15th, 2019:   ACGME-accredited residency programs receive applications for review in ERAS.

2020 NRMP registration opens.

October 1st, 2019:  Medical Student Performance Evaluations (MSPEs) or “dean’s letters” are released to residency programs for review.

October 2019:  Residency interviews

November 2019: Residency interviews

November 30th, 2019: NRMP Applicant Standard Registration Deadline  

December 1st, 2019:  Military match results made available

December 2019: Residency interviews

January 2020:  Residency interviews

February 2020:  Residency interviews

February 26th, 2020:  NRMP Rank Order List Certification Deadline. NRMP applicant late and Match withdrawal deadline.  

March 16th, 2020:  Match Week Begins. 11 am EST: Applicant match status made available. Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program opens.

March 19th, 2020:  11 am EST: SOAP ends

March 20th, 2020:  MATCH DAY 2020!  12 pm EST: Medical School Match Day Ceremonies. 1 pm EST: Applicant match results available in NRMP R3 System

April 2020:  Finish medical school

May 2020: Finish medical school

May 31st, 2020:  ERAS 2020 season officially ends: MyERAS closes at 5 pm EST.

June 2020:  Medical school graduation and moving for residency. Orientations begin.

July 1st, 2020:  Intern year training begins.

Specialty-Specific Schedules 

 As mentioned above, three specialties stand out with application and match processes that vary from the predominant ERAS/NRMP. These include Urology (ERAS/AUA Match), and Ophthalmology and Plastic Surgery which use the SF Match.

Urology (ERAS/AUA Match)

Urology uses ERAS for application processing, which follows the same timeline as above. For Match, the process is run by the AUA rather than the NRMP, with dates below as follows:

June 12th, 2019:  Applicant registration opens

November 13th, 2019: Applicant Rank List opens

December 20th, 2019: Applicant registration deadline

January 2nd, 2020:  Rank List certification/submission deadline.

January 17th, 2020:  MATCH DAY!  AUA Match results released.

July 1st, 2020:  Intern year training begins.

Ophthalmology (SF Match)

June 3rd, 2019:  Applicant registration opens

September 4th, 2019:  Computer Application System (CAS) target/deadline date.

January 7th, 2020:  Rank list submission deadline

January 14th, 2020:  MATCH DAY! SF Match results released to applicants  Post-match vacancies are posted.

July 1st, 2020:  Intern year training begins.

Plastic Surgery (SF Match)

August 26th, 2019:  Applicant registration opens

November 13th, 2019:  Computer Application System (CAS) target/deadline date.

May 5th, 2020:  Rank list submission deadline

May 12th, 2020:  MATCH DAY! SF Match results released to applicants  Post-match vacancies posted.

July 1st, 2020:  Intern year training begins.

Concluding thoughts 

Taken in its entirety, it’s obvious that the residency application and match process (specifically the 2020 residency application timeline) is a lengthy one.  It involves several key components and steps across multiple organizations within the undergraduate and graduate medical education communities. The work doesn’t stop there, either—beyond planning and knowing the important dates, candidates actually have to go through and complete the process!  

Thalamus aims to make the whole thing a little bit easier for applicants and programs alike. Along these lines, we hope our 2020 residency application timeline provides key information to save you time in managing the application, interview and match season. Our scheduling software uses automation to manage the residency application process in a way that’s streamlined and cost-effective. Here’s how it works—take a look to see whether Thalamus could be right for you as an applicant (or a residency (or fellowship) program)!