• The Match: Getting Into a Residency Program

    Whether it's months or years away, your own Match day is something you probably think about often. The Match is complex, but making it work for you doesn't have to be. Educate yourself now about what to look for a residency program, what to expect as you plan for your match, how to stand out from the get-go, and how to make decisions throughout the nearly year-long process.

    Learn the basics of the Match. 

    COVID-19 and the 2021 Match

    We're here to support you through the challenges of the 2021 Match. 


    What to Watch:

    What to Read:

    Interview Season 2021 Update: Reconsidering Interviews

    In December 2020, the Association of American Medical Colleges reported a possible maldistribution of residency interviews that may be exacerbated by the virtual interview process this year. The AAMC is asking students who may be holding more scheduled interviews than needed or than they are realistically interested in to consider releasing some interviews to allow other students access to those opportunities, and for students with fewer interview offers than anticipated to reach out to their student affairs officer or career advisor to discuss additional steps to take.

    Read the AAMC's letter open letter on residency interviews.

    To learn more about the ideal number of applications for family medicine applicants, consult the AAFP's Strolling Through the Match guidebook below.


    Navigate the Match process and get tips on applying to and ranking for programs with this free AAFP resource.


    The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things, including the Match. Your questions about this season, answered.

    Residency Faculty and Staff

    If you're residency faculty or staff looking for Match information and tools for your program, we've got you covered. Visit the AAFP's Residency Program Central.

    What is The Match?

    The Match process is a uniform system by which residency candidates and residency programs simultaneously “match” to fill first-year and second-year post-graduate training positions accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The National Resident Matching Program®(NRMP®) instituted and maintains The Match system.

    Almost all first-year positions in ACGME-accredited training programs participate in The Match. Candidates for residency positions in some subspecialty programs will participate in other matches. However, these candidates must also participate in the NRMP in order to secure a preliminary position for each of those specialties.

    Who should enroll in The Match?

    All students seeking a residency position should enroll in The Match. Once enrolled, you are bound to abide by the terms of the NRMP process. However, if you are offered a position by an institution not participating in The Match (such as an osteopathic position or an unaccredited position) your dean of student affairs can withdraw you before The Match deadline for changes.

    Keep in mind that if at least one of the institution’s residency programs participates in The Match, all programs in that institution must offer positions to U.S. allopathic medical school seniors only through the NRMP or another national matching program.

    Watch: What Students Need to Know About the Match

    Hosted by guest experts who have guided hundreds of students through the Match and into residency, this webcast will help you:

    • Understand how the Match works and how current trends should affect your match strategy
    • Develop a plan for finding, applying to, and ranking residency programs that align with your goals
    • Map out a timeline and plan for key milestones in the Match

    Where do I begin?

    Now is the time to begin learning about the details of The Match, the tasks you'll need to complete, and how to make the most out of this milestone in your career.

    Know the Details

    Download the AAFP's complete guidebook to becoming a family medicine resident, Strolling Through the Match, or browse information about:

    Find Your Residency with the AAFP App

    The student resources in AAFP's app were designed specifically to simplify your residency search. Research programs, create a customized scorecard to evaluate what matters most to you, track your application process, and more. 

    Match Dos & Don’ts

    • DO rank the programs that you really want -- whether or not you think you have a chance of matching to it. A program may not get its top 10 student choices, and you might be number 11 on it's list. Ranking desired programs higher will not negatively influence your chances of matching to less-competitive programs lower on your list. Programs will not know where you ranked them on your list.
    • DO remember that the order in which you rank programs is crucial to the Match process. The Match computer is fair, but it is also indifferent to anything other than the rank order list you provide. If you rank one program above another, it will put you in the first program if it can according to the priority you indicated.
    • DON'T make your list too short. Although you may think you will match at your top choice, you increase your chance of not matching if you list only one program. Additionally, on average, unmatched students’ lists were shorter than matched students’ lists. Students selecting highly competitive specialties are advised to make longer lists.
    • DON'T list programs that you do not want. You may end up at a program that you really did not want because you placed it on your list. Decide whether it is better to be unmatched than to be matched to a program that you don’t want.


    What if I don't match to a residency program?

    On Monday of Match week, you'll learn if you matched and to which program(s). If you didn't match immediately, there's still an opportunity to match to a program through the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program®(SOAP®).

    The SOAP is an NRMP-run program that takes place during Match week to match any unfilled residency positions with unmatched applicants.There are eight rounds of offers in the SOAP from Monday through Thursday of Match week. SOAP matches are announced along with applicants who matched in the Main Residency Match on Friday. Positions fill quickly in the SOAP, and accepted offers create a binding commitment. If you participate in the SOAP, be honest, thorough, and critical in your assessment of programs and their offers before accepting.

    Not everyone will match to a position, and it is not true that only “bad” programs do not fill. A program may not fill if its rank list is at odds with the applicants who ranked it, or if it is too short. There will likely be several programs with unfilled positions that you would find desirable. In some cases, it may mean accepting a position in another specialty that you were considering as a second choice or were considering as preparation for the next year’s Match. Your dean’s office is prepared to counsel students who do not match.

    Learn more about the SOAP process on the NRMP website.