Should I Apply to ERAS With 3 or 4 LoRs?

You must apply to residency programs using a minimum of 3 Letters of Recommendation. However, you can upload as many as 4 LoRs. So, should you apply to programs on ERAS with 3 LoRs or 4 LoRs?? 

The question confuses residency applicants each and every year, and it is very understandable as to why. The language used by program websites is inherently vague and or misleading. 

On program websites, applicants might see things like:

“Require 3 Letters of Recommendation”
“Require a minimum of 3 Letters of Recommendation”
“4 LoRs required. 1 must be from Dept. Chair”
“Require 4 LoRs if [insert reason here….]”

The language is not clear. Does “minimum” mean that applying with 4 LoRs is okay? If they require 3 LoRs, does that mean only 3? ERAS does not specify for given programs, and program websites are not very clear in helping the situation.


The Match A Resident Recommendation

Apply with 3 LoRs unless you have seen that the program specifically says they require 4 LoRs (either on their website or via Match A Resident’s additional information). 


The Risks of Sending 4 LoRs to Every Program

Some applicants play the “4 LoRs must be better than 3” approach and apply with 4 LoRs to every program. However, this comes with high risks:

– Some programs become frustrated that applicants “cannot follow directions” – and this turns them off of your application.
– Some programs will only review 3 of the 4 LoRs – and there is no method to this approach. It is likely random which 3 actually will get reviewed. 


You may see all sorts of recommendations strewn across the internet via personal opinions on forums. However, Match A Resident stands behind this tried and true method. You can also check out Residency Experts’ helpful tips by reading Your Complete Residency Letter of Recommendation Guide.

Have you had experience with this issue? Let us know in the comments below! 

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