How Much Does It Cost to Apply to Residency?

August 22, 2022
Reviewed By: Amy Rontal
Applying to residency is an important and exciting milestone in your medical school journey. It represents the culmination of your educational experience as you start the transition from student to physician and begin the process of securing your dream residency program. You understandably may have questions about how to navigate this process, including how much it will cost to apply to residency. Read on to understand which expenses to expect and learn more about the process in general.

So, how much does it cost to apply to residency? There are many variables that can factor into your overall expenses. Overall, the more planning you put into the application process, the better idea you’ll have about how much to budget.

Here are the main steps to consider when applying for residency and estimating your expenses.

1. Starting your ERAS application

The first step in the application process is to obtain a token to access the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). An ERAS token is free for U.S. medical students, while the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) token fee is $165. A token gives you access to the interface to begin working on your personal statement, input your work and research experiences, and upload letters of recommendation.

You should work on trying to finalize your application in the first two weeks of September. The first day you can submit your materials for the upcoming 2022-2023 cycle is September 7th. You can submit materials until September 28th, but it’s always a good idea to submit early for peace of mind.

2. Submitting your ERAS application

The fee to submit your application depends on the number of programs you apply to. The cost for the first ten programs per specialty is $99. If you apply to more than 10 programs, you then pay an additional amount per program. This rate ranges from $19 to $26, which increases with the number of programs. You can find more information on ERAS application fees and use a cost calculator on the AAMC website.

Because it’s increasingly expensive to apply to additional programs, be honest with yourself about how many applications you submit. Recent research from the AAMC identifies points of diminishing returns sorted by type of applicant, specialty, and board exam performance beyond which applying to more programs does not make a difference. In other words, applying to every program within a given specialty becomes both expensive and ineffective. You shouldn’t overly limit the number of programs where you send your application, but you also shouldn’t overapply in an attempt to increase your chance of matching.

Of note, you also will have to submit an $80 payment for your USMLE transcript. This is a standard, one-time fee per application cycle and is not dependent on the number of programs.

Applying for residency programs? Check out this FREE Residency Application Timeline download to stay on track during the application process created by expert residency consultants!

3. Calculating your interview expenses

After you submit your application materials, awaiting interviews can be an exciting time. The timeline to receive invitations can span many months into the holidays, so don’t worry if you don’t immediately get as many as you were hoping.

Historically, interviews at programs were generally all-day in-person events, often with a reception or dinner the night before. As a result, you were usually expected to travel to a different city and spend a night for each interview. Understandably during the COVID-19 pandemic, most interviews converted to exclusively virtual format. Preinterview receptions, informational sessions, and formal interviews now commonly take place over an online video-meeting platform.

The situation is evolving and many interviews remain virtual, but some may return to back in person. In-person interviews are associated with travel and lodging expenses, which add up over time. Some tips to mitigate costs include clustering interviews to minimize travel as much as possible, staying with family or friends if able, and using public transportation when traveling.

You also should plan to invest in interview attire regardless of whether you’re interviewing virtually or in person. You don’t need to spend a large sum on expensive clothes, but you should strive to appear polished and professional. The AAMC also has additional tips and information about the cost of residency interviews.

4. Submitting your NRMP rank list

After completing your interviews, you are finally ready to submit your National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) rank list. This is the exciting culmination just before the Match when you specify your order of preference—called your primary rank order list (ROL)—for the programs at which you interviewed. Programs do the same for the applicants they interviewed. Then, NRMP will use its matching algorithm to pair medical students with residency programs. Applicants to certain specialties like radiology, dermatology, or anesthesia will have to make separate supplemental ROLs for their first preliminary year of training in addition to the primary ROL.

You should be aware that the NRMP is a separate interface from ERAS. The cost to register on or before January 31st is $70, and after January 31st is $120. If you are registering as a couple’s match, the price is an additional $45 per partner.

You can rank up to 20 programs on your primary rank order list and up to 20 additional unique programs on all your supplemental ROLs combined without any additional expenses. If you rank more than 20 programs, the price is an additional $30 per program. There are additional fees at 101, 151, 201, and 251 programs ranked up to a maximum of 300. The NRMP also has more information about Match fees on their website.

The more preparation, the better

If you feel a little bit overwhelmed by all of this, that’s OK! The process can seem long and complicated, but it will make more sense as you work through it. A piece of advice is to periodically check back to this article and the linked resources above to get a better sense of what to expect as you approach each new phase of the application cycle. Rest assured that knowing what to expect when it comes to residency application expenses is an important component of starting off prepared for the process. Good luck!

Applying for residency? The best possible application will have it all: strong board scores, clinical research, leadership, and outside activities that all show you’ll be an excellent physician in the field.

Use trusted resources for medical students, put in the time, be a team player, and get deeply involved. If you demonstrate your commitment, you’re sure to get into a great program!

By Michael Stephens, MD

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