Creating Your Rank Order List

After the interview season concludes, applicants and residency programs complete ranking. The process of ranking is done through submission of preferences via Rank Order Lists (ROL) to national match system organizations. These match systems then run their respective matching algorithms to assign applicants and residency programs to one another.

What is a Rank Order List (ROL)?

The list of preferred programs (where you interviewed) that you submit is called a Rank Order List (ROL). In the matching process, a residency position is secured when there is a match between the applicant and program preference.

  • In the NRMP, SF Match, and urology match systems, this list is electronic
  • The military match currently requests an Excel or Word document with applicant  preferences be submitted to the respective branch contact

The Match is a binding agreement. If a program is on your ROL, it means that you are committed to going to that program if you match there.

Subsequently, it is important to carefully consider all of the factors and your priorities when compiling your rank list(s).

Ranking in Match Systems

Ranking is done differently in each of the matching systems. To learn more about each system, visit Match Systems.

In the NRMP system, there are two types of ROLs: the primary list and the supplemental list.

  • Primary lists: rank categorical, advanced, and preliminary residency programs
  • Supplemental lists: rank preliminary programs (only) and sync them to a specific advanced program listed on your primary ROL

All NRMP applicants will create a primary ROL.

The only applicants who will create a supplemental list are those who are also matching to an advanced program through the NRMP.*

*SF Match applicants who need to obtain a preliminary program through the NRMP will list their preliminary programs on their primary ROL.  

NRMP Resources

In the NRMP system, any two applicants can link their rank order lists together in order to be considered as a pair. This process is referred to as the Couples Match.

Review the Career Advising Couples Match resources and review NRMP materials.

“When applicants participate in a Match as a couple, their rank order lists form pairs of program choices that are considered by the matching algorithm. A couple will match to the most preferred pair of programs on their rank order lists where each partner has been offered a position.”  -NRMP Match website

Couples Matching Resources

The SF Match is primarily used for the ophthalmology residency match.

SF Match applicants who need to obtain a preliminary program through the NRMP would list their preliminary programs on their NRMP primary ROL.

SF Match Resources

The Urology Residency Match Program consists of approximately 450 applicants that apply for 325 positions.

Urology Match Resources


ROL Advice and Resources

Rank order lists are created after residency interviews conclude. Which residency match system you use to submit your rank order list and the timeline will depend on your specialty and whether or not you have military status:

Match SystemRank List DeadlineMatch Day
NRMPLate FebruaryMid-March
SF MatchEarly JanuaryMid-January
Urology MatchEarly JanuaryMid-January
MODS (Military)Early OctoberMid-December

You must certify and submit your rank list(s) prior to the stated deadline. If you do not, you cannot enter the match for that year.

Rank EVERY program at which you interviewed:

    1. Only leave a program off your rank list if you would rather go unmatched than rank at that program.
    2. Rank programs in the order of your preference. Rank your top program first.
    3. Do not rank programs based on where you think you are most likely to get in.

Ask your Specialty Career Advisor to review your rank order list.

    1. If you are considering not ranking a program at which you interviewed, discuss with your Specialty Career Advisor before your rank list is due.

Submit your rank order list well before the deadline as software systems have been known to have technical difficulties as the deadline approaches.

    1. Do not make last minute changes.
    2. A word of wisdom from the NRMP – “Experience has shown that applicants entering or making changes to their lists at the last minute, particularly in the last six hours before the deadline, often regret those changes because they are based upon impulse, not well thought out, and usually ill-advised.”

After you submit your list, you can change it only before the deadline. Changes cannot be made after the deadline.

Each match system provides technical instructions for creating rank order lists: