Biographical Information

In this Section:



You may indicate to programs how you self-identify. If you prefer not to self-identify, you may skip this section. 

  • Applicants who reside in the European Union are not to answer this question. 

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Language Fluency

You must enter the languages you speak, including English. You must also indicate your proficiency for each language. 

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Military Information

You must indicate any U.S. military active duty service obligations or deferments, including the branch and number of years remaining, if applicable. 

  • Any other service obligations (e.g., military reserves, public health/state programs) should also be indicated and described in the associated text field. 

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Geographic Preferences

The Geographic Preferences section of the MyERAS application gives you the opportunity to communicate your preference or lack of preference for geographic divisions and urban, suburban, or rural settings.  

The Geographic Preferences section, which includes setting preferences, has two parts: 

  1. Geographic Preferences. You will be asked to indicate your preferences (or lack of preference) by selecting up to three U.S. Census divisions and then to describe your preferences or lack of preference.  
  2. Setting Preferences. You will be asked to indicate your preferences (or lack of preference) for an urban, suburban, or rural setting and then to describe your setting preferences or lack of preference.  

Geographic Preference Divisions Map

A map of the United States broken into geographic divisions
  • New England: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont. 
  • Middle Atlantic: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania. 
  • East North Central: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin. 
  • West North Central: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota. 
  • South Atlantic: Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia. 
  • East South Central: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee. 
  • West South Central: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas. 
  • Mountain: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming. 
  • Pacific: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington.  

How are geographic and setting preferences shared with programs

For geographic division preferences: 

  • If you select a particular geographic division, then only the programs you apply to in that division will see your response. All other programs you apply to outside your preferred divisions will not see any information about your geographic preferences. 

  • If you select “I do not have a division preference,” then all programs to which you apply will see your response.  

  • If you do not respond to or skip this question, no information will be provided to any program. 

For setting preferences: 

  • If you indicate a preference or lack of preference for setting, your preference (or lack of preference) and corresponding explanation will be shared with all programs to which you apply. 

  • If you do not respond to or skip the question, no setting preference information will be shared with any programs. 

How will programs use geographic and setting preferences? 

Programs are instructed to use geographic and setting preferences as pieces of information to consider during the application review and interview selection process only, because applicants may change their preferences throughout the interview season. To assist with application evaluation, programs can filter applicants based on geographic division and/or setting preferences. Although programs have been advised that preferences are not to be used in isolation as a screening tool, some programs may use them during screening  

The following data on programs’ use of geographic division and setting preferences are based on answers to survey questions aimed at understanding programs’ use of the geographic and setting preference data collected during the ERAS 2023 season: 

  • Some programs may give priority to applicants with a preference for their division, and some (47% of respondents) may feel that applicants who show a preference for their region are more likely to accept an offer to interview at their programs.  
  • Most program directors (82% of respondents) used the Geographic Preferences section during their admissions process and reported that it helped them identify applicants whom they would have otherwise overlooked (59% of respondents). 
  • Program directors using applicants’ geographic preferences during various stages of the application process:  
  • As a screening tool before a more thorough application review (86% of respondents).  
  • To send interview invitations to every applicant who selected their region (58% of respondents).  
  • To include in a composite filter to conduct holistic review (74% of respondents). 
  • As part of a holistic application review to decide whom to interview (94% of respondents). 
  • As a tiebreaker to help decide whom to interview (88% of respondents).  
  • To prepare for the interview (70% of respondents). 

For more detailed information on how programs and specialties used geographic and setting preferences in the ERAS 2023 season, refer to Supplemental ERAS 2022-2023 Application Season: Results of the Program Director Reaction Survey

If you have questions about how a program you are applying to is using these data in the upcoming ERAS season, please contact the program directly. 

Tips for Completing the Geographic Preferences Section

  • Both program directors and applicants report that geographic location is one of the most important factors in residency program selection.1,2 The Geographic Preferences section of the MyERAS application offers you a structured process for expressing your preferences to complete residency or fellowship training in particular areas of the country and/or in an urban, suburban, or rural setting. Think about where your support systems are located and where you can build a strong support system as you complete your residency and/or fellowship training. Programs emphasize the importance of a social support system throughout residency training and look for evidence of a social support system through the geographic information and geographic preferences an applicant shares. 
  • Be honest when sharing your geographic preferences. Before geographic preferences, programs were left to make inferences about where you may want to live or work in the future. Geographic preferences allow you to clearly communicate exactly where you want to be and why you want to be there. Alternatively, it offers you the opportunity to share with programs that you have no geographic preference and are willing and able to go anywhere.  
  • If you have no preference about where you receive residency or fellowship training geographically, you should select “I do not have a division preference” and explain why you do not have a preference. In the ERAS 2023 season, most participating programs reported interpreting “I do not have a division preference” to mean that you are willing to go anywhere. However, it is important to note when an applicant’s geographic preference aligned with the program’s location, the likelihood of an interview invitation was higher than when selecting no preference for all specialties that participated in geographic preferences except orthopedic surgery. In orthopedic surgery, the likelihood of an interview invitation was similar for applicants who indicated no geographic preference or indicated a geographic preference within the program’s region.

Consider these data from the ERAS 2023 season

Geographic preferences
  • Most applicants indicated a geographic division preference.
  • Approximately one third of applicants indicated no geographic preference, 90% of whom provided a description of their lack of preference.
  • Approximately 96% of geographic preferences were paired with a description of their chosen geographic preferences.
Setting preferences
  • Most applicants indicated a setting preference.
  • Approximately 85% of setting preferences were paired with a short essay describing their setting preference.
  • Of those applicants who reported no setting preference, about 80% wrote a short essay describing why they did not have a setting preference.

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Setting Preferences

  • Please use the following definitions of urban, suburban, and rural as guidance for questions about setting preferences in the MyERAS application. 
  • Urban: the central part of a city; high population density; high density of structures like houses, buildings, railways; public transportation more readily available for commuting; most jobs are nonagricultural.  
  • Suburban: smaller urban area around a city; less populated than cities; serves mainly as residential area for cities’ workforce; mostly residential with single-family homes, stores, and services; more parks and open spaces than a city; limited public transportation; private vehicles needed for commuting.  
  • Rural: large amounts of undeveloped land; low population density; open areas of land with few homes or buildings; no public transportation; private vehicles needed for commuting; main industries likely to be agriculture or natural resource extraction.  

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Hometown is an area where you currently or previously lived and feel strong ties or sense of belonging. You may enter up to five hometowns. 

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  1. Kim JK, Morrison B, Bylund J, Rasper A, Dropkin BM. Influencing factors of preference signaling in the 2022 urology residency match. Urology. 2023;Feb. 18:S0090-4295(23)00158-9. doi:10.1016/j.urology.2022.12.050. Online ahead of print. PMID: 36805414. 
  2. Luu Y, Gao W, Han J, Mihalic A, Vandergriff T. Personal connections and preference signaling: a cross-sectional analysis of the dermatology residency match during COVID-19. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2023;Feb. 4;S0190-9622(23)00168-8. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2023.01.032. Online ahead of print. PMID: 36746275.