How the SSO Match Works

The process of securing a fellowship position includes applying to programs, interviewing, and participating in the match. Starting in 2019, each match cycle runs from January through Summer.

1. Apply to Programs

Applicants must apply directly through the SSO Online Match System to participate in the match. Check with SSO Online Match System for full dates of the current match cycle. Applicants must pay the application fee, submit the required documents, and complete the full application process by the deadline date. Applicants should plan to submit their application as soon as they have entered all information to give time for their references to submit their reference letters.  No exceptions are made for not submitting your complete application by the deadline. If your application is not submitted by the deadline you will not be included in the matching process.

2. Complete Interviews

Program specific interview dates can change per each match cycle. The interview schedule for the current match is posted on the SSO website under Training & Fellows. SSO requires applicants to provide complete, timely, and accurate information to programs during the application and interview process. All interviews are to be financed at the candidates expense.  In addition, programs are expected to provide complete, timely, and accurate information to applicants.

3. Submit Your Rank List

After interview season is complete, each program and applicant will need to submit their rank list through the SSO Rank List System. A rank list must be submitted by the deadline to be used when the matching algorithm is processed. If you wish to withdraw from the match, you must contact by the Rank List Deadline. If you do not submit a rank list, you will not be included in the ranking process and will be listed as “unmatched”.

4. Match Day!

On Match Day, emails will be sent to all matched programs, matched applicants, and unmatched candidates. A list of unmatched applicants will be available for programs that do not fill all positions. If you are an unmatched candidate, then programs with open positions will contact you regarding the spot.

The Matching Algorithm

SSO uses an algorithm to place applicants into fellowship positions. The algorithm is based upon the applicant’s preference, meaning the preferences expressed on the rank order submitted by the applicant’s drives placement into fellowship positions.

The process begins with the attempt to match an applicant to the program which is most preferred on that applicant’s rank order list. If the applicant cannot be matched to that first choice program (is not ranked by that program), then an attempt is made to place the applicant into their second choice program, and so on. At this point, a tentative match is made unless all of the applicant’s choices on their rank list have been exhausted. At first, all matches are tentative. As programs receive more requests, the program will retain only those applicants they consider most preferred by that program’s rank list. If an applicant is removed from a tentative match, an attempt is made to re-match that applicant starting from the top of that applicant’s rank list.

The outcome is pre-determined by the rank lists of programs and applicants, and are the only true determinants of a match outcome. At no point can this outcome be modified by a judgment or bias on the part of the intermediary, nor is there any element of chance.

Match Tips for Applicant Rank Lists

  1. Applicants should rank, in sequence, those programs that represent their true preferences, not how the applicant thinks a program will rank.
  2. Factors to consider in determining the number of programs to rank include the competitiveness of the specialty, the competition for the specific programs being ranked, and the qualifications that the applicant offers.
  3. Applicants should rank all acceptable programs, i.e., programs in which he or she is willing to undertake fellowship training. Conversely, if an applicant finds certain programs unacceptable and is not interested in accepting offers from these programs, these program(s) should not be ranked.

Match Tips for Program Rank Lists

  1. Do not rank any applicants you are not willing to train. Listing an applicant on your submitted rank list establishes a binding commitment to train them if a match results.
  2. Programs should rank, in sequence, those applicants that represent their true preferences, not how the program thinks an applicant will rank.
  3. Programs are under no obligation to rank all applicants who have applied to their program. 


Please contact the SSO Education Department at 847-427-1400, or via email at, for assistance. Thank you!