National Matching Services


School Limits

The 2018 APPIC Match


About School Limits

It is possible to request that the matching algorithm attempt to impose an upper limit on the number of applicants from any one university/school who are matched on a single program Rank Order List.

This restriction can be applied only to applicants ranked on the same Rank Order List. It is not possible to attempt to limit the number of applicants from any one university/school who are matched across separate Rank Order Lists, whether these lists represent separate programs at one site, multiple lists for a single program, or separate lists submitted by the same program for the two Phases of the Match.

Furthermore, this restriction can only be applied at the level of the applicants' university or school, not the department or academic program within the university or school. Two applicants from different academic programs within the same university will be considered to be from the same university/school for purposes of implementing this restriction.

In many cases, a program that prefers to limit its matches from any one university/school is prepared to ease or remove this restriction, if necessary, to ensure that all its positions are filled in the Match. In order to provide as much flexibility as possible, a program that wishes to limit the number of matches from any one university/school must specify both an Initial Limit and a Final Limit. The Initial Limit and Final Limit to be used in the matching algorithm for a Rank Order List are entered on the Program Dashboard of the NMS Match System.

Note: Programs that submit multiple Rank Order Lists for a single program can specify limits for each Rank Order List as part of the written instructions provided to NMS, not through the NMS Match System.

The Initial Limit

The Initial Limit is the preferred, starting limit to be used in the matching algorithm. A program that wishes to limit matches from a single Rank Order List to no more than 1 applicant from any one university/school should specify an Initial Limit of 1. In this case, the matching algorithm first attempts to fill the positions available with no more than 1 applicant from any one university/school. The Rank Order List is processed in the usual manner, except that an applicant can be matched only if there is not a more preferred applicant from the same university/school already matched on the list. If there already is an applicant matched from a university/school, then the next (less preferred) applicant from the same university/school is skipped in the matching algorithm.

Some programs may prefer a higher Initial Limit. For example, a program may be happy to match with 3 applicants from the same university/school but would prefer not to match with more than 3 such applicants. Setting the Initial Limit to 3 would mean that 3 applicants from the same university/school can be matched from the list before any applicant is skipped. That is, an applicant on the list is skipped only if there are 3 more preferred applicants from the same university/school already matched from the list.

The Final Limit

It is possible that imposing a limit on the number of matches from any one university/school may result in one or more positions remaining unfilled. In that case, the matching algorithm can automatically ease the original restriction in an attempt to fill as many available positions as possible.

For example, suppose a program specifies an Initial Limit of 1 applicant from any one university/school, but as a result is unable to fill all its positions. The matching algorithm can then attempt to fill the available positions with the most preferred applicants from the list, but limiting the number of matches to no more than 2 applicants from any one university/school. If unfilled positions still remain, the restriction can be further relaxed to consider no more than 3 applicants from any one university/school, and so on, until the restriction is completely eliminated if necessary. In this way, an attempt is made to limit the number of applicants from any one university/school who are matched from a Rank Order List, but not at the risk of leaving positions unfilled.

However, a program may wish to limit the extent to which the matching algorithm will ease the restriction on matches from any one university/school, even if it means that positions remain unfilled. To provide this flexibility, programs that specify an Initial Limit must also specify a Final Limit for matches from any one university/school. The Final Limit can be set to the same number as the Initial Limit, to a number greater than the Initial Limit, or to NO LIMIT.

For example, a program with 6 available positions can specify an Initial Limit of 2 and a Final Limit of 4 applicants from any one university/school. In this case, the matching algorithm first attempts to fill the positions with no more than 2 applicants from the same university/school. However, if positions remain unfilled, this restriction is eased to 3 applicants from one university/school, and then (if necessary) to 4 applicants from the same university/school. However, under no circumstances are more than 4 applicants from the same university/school matched from the list, even if unfilled positions remain.

If the program in the example above specifies a Final Limit of 2 (the same as the Initial Limit) then the original Initial Limit will not be eased at all, and no more than 2 applicants from the same university/school are matched from the list, even if unfilled positions remain.

If the program specifies a Final Limit of NO LIMIT, the matching algorithm continues easing the restriction, if necessary to fill available positions, even if this means that all positions are ultimately filled by applicants from the same university/school.

Note: The option to specify limits on the number of applicants to be matched on a Rank Order List from any one university or school is available for Phase I and for Phase II of the Match. However, the limits specified by a program for Phase I will not be carried over automatically to Phase II, and the limits specified by a program for Phase II will apply only to the Rank Order List submitted for Phase II.

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