How Does Match Day Work?

Match Day

Traditionally, Match Day is the culmination of a medical student’s educational journey. It occurs on the third Friday of March. On this day, a graduating medical school student learns the location where they complete residency training. Six months before, students would have submitted their ERAS application and then completed interviews with programs considering their application. In mid-February, medical school students would then submit a rank order list to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), with their programs of top priority. At the end of this nerve-wracking process, successful students discover where they will spend the next three to seven years of their lives.1 So how does Match Day work?

The days leading up to Match Day are structured as well. At 10 a.m. on the Monday of Match Week, students find out if they matched but not where they matched. To prepare for the possibility of not matching, it is recommended that students ensure that their schedule is as clear as possible.

How does Match Day work if you don’t match? Unmatched students will need to complete the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program or SOAP process. Students will apply and interview for vacant residency positions and receive offers through the National Resident Matching Program. Residency Match Day occurs at the end of Match Week. Match results are shared at 12 pm EST for all matched students, including those who found a match using SOAP. Students will receive an email with this information. For graduating medical school students, the day means so much more than opening an email, and there are various traditions schools participate in to celebrate the good news together.2

How does Match Day work post-Covid? In 2020, traditions were upended by the pandemic, the envelope ceremony being the most treasured. Many schools, like the University of Arizona, would lay out the envelopes in a communal area where students can grab them at noon, resulting in a mad dash. Other schools, like the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, would deliver the envelopes directly to students and have a New Year’s Eve-like celebration with balloons floating upon students opening their envelopes to discover where they have been matched. Some educators have students read their matches into microphones after opening the envelope. Although the envelope ceremony has resumed for many programs since COVID-19, students will receive an email with their information in 2024.

How do you absorb such exciting news? The last line of the document shares the name of the institution where you matched, so most students prefer to read their match letter from the bottom up. On the second to last line, students are told what program or specialty they match into, such as internal medicine. On the next line, students are told their Program Code, which is a ten-digit number associated with their residency program. The line above it welcomes students to their new assignments with a congratulations message. Other lines contain information about the applicant. The next line contains the school code or the two – three digit code for the medical school they attended. Following that is each applicant’s AAMC ID, which is an eight-digit number. In the uppermost section of the document, an applicant’s name appears above the date on the second line, and the title “Match Results” appears on the first line.3,4

After the ceremony, students, families, and friends continue to celebrate during a ceremonial meal, typically lunch on the East Coast but breakfast on the West Coast. Slide shows, class bonding activities, and family celebration activities are common festivities.4


  1. Schmitt, Anne, et al. “An Overview of the Allopathic Match.” The Journal of Emergency Medicine, vol. 56, no. 4, 2019, pp. e61-e64,
  3. Puff, Richard. “An exceptional ‘Match’ for medical students Match Day 2023 reveals where graduating students will do their residencies.” University of Cincinnati News, 2023
  4. Reminick, Jason. “Match Day: How It Works and How It Feels.” Thalamus, 17 Mar. 2020,