Relationship Between the Number of Residency Applications and the Yearly Match Rate: Time to Start Thinking About an Application Limit?

J Grad Med Educ. 2015 Mar;7(1):81-5. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-14-00270.1.


Background: There has been an increase in the number of applications medical students have submitted for the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP). These additional applications are associated with significant costs and may contribute to match inefficiency.

Objective: We explored if match rates improved in years when an increased number of applications were submitted.

Methods: We analyzed yearly published data from the NRMP and the Electronic Residency Application Service for 13 specialties. A generalized linear model was used to assess the relationship between the annual match rate and the mean number of applications submitted per applicant, while controlling for the number of positions available and the number of applicants in the given year.

Results: Over the last 13 years there has been an increase in the mean number of applications submitted per applicant (P < .001). For the 13 assessed medical specialties, there was no statistically significant relationship between the mean number of applications per applicant per year submitted to the NRMP, and the annual match rate (odds ratios near 1.00 and nonsignificant, P values > .05).

Conclusions: There was no improvement in the match rate in years when medical students submitted an increased number of applications. Therefore, it would appear that the applicants do not benefit from the larger number of applications submitted. Further study is required to assess the cost and benefit of these additional applications.

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / statistics & numerical data
  • Game Theory
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / statistics & numerical data*
  • Personnel Selection / statistics & numerical data*
  • Specialization / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States