Med School Residency

ERAS Residency Application Photo Requirements

4 min read

Your ERAS photo is a vital component to your residency application. At the very least, your photo will be stared at for hours by faculty members as they’re deliberating your candidacy for residency. And if you’re lucky (or unlucky), your photo will be plastered across the residency webpage and hospital roster in the years to come. So make sure to take one that leaves a great lasting impression to your future boss and colleagues!

1. Know the ERAS photo requirements.

  • Dimensions: 2.5 x 3.5 inches
  • File size: 100 KB
  • Resolution: 150 dpi

Photo must be in color. Frame must include frontal view of the person’s head and shoulders. Face must be centered in the middle.

2. Hire a professional or use a good camera.

Now is not the time to pinch pennies! Grainy low-quality pictures are not going to do you any favors. If you don’t have access to a real camera, seriously consider paying for a professional. You might be able to swing it with Portrait Mode on iPhone X, but an astute observer can still tell the difference. Realistically, there’s someone you know who likes taking photos and has a nice camera (Hint: they’ll usually have an artsy Instagram page) and would be willing to take a few photos for you in exchange for a free meal. Otherwise, spending $30 or $40 on professional headshots is a worthy investment for your future career.

3. Setting matters.

You want good lighting and a light or white background. Some programs specifically request that you avoid dark backgrounds. Make sure there are no poles sticking out behind your head or other distractions in the background.

The background is super distracting and there’s a pole sticking from his neck!

4. Research says suit up.

Recently, the Dermatology Online Journal published an article about The role of the Electronic Residency Application Service photograph in dermatology residency selection. The University of North Carolina Dermatology Department analyzed hundreds of applicant photos submitted to their program and found a few physical characteristics that predicted a positive match outcome: suit jacket, glasses, and hair down (for women). Jewelry didn’t seem to make a difference, and neither did male-specific grooming/styling practices (i.e., facial hair).

The study postulates that glasses make candidates appear “intelligent, successful, and hardworking.” As for the hair down observation (which might be perceived with “femininity” or whatever that means), that’s in-line with this ancient 1982 study showing that physical attractiveness of females correlated with better interview evaluations. We’ve clearly come a long way since feminism…

Obviously this is just one study and I think it’s ridiculous that females are held to a different standard than their male counterparts. And I definitely don’t think that you should be donning a pair of fake glasses if you have 20/20 vision or feel compelled to adhere to archaic standards of beauty. Regardless, you should still consider “dressing the part” and appear how you would to a residency interview. That means no white coat, graduation garment, or dressy attire. And definitely no cleavage.

Err on the side of caution and avoid anything too low-cut or tight.
Research suggests even business casual might be too casual.
And please for the love of god, do NOT wear a white coat.
Hair down, suit, and glasses. We’ve got ourselves a winner!

5. Smile!

Face the camera and try to look friendly. This isn’t a passport photo or mug shot.

Why so serious? Also, notice how the white shirt washes out against a white backdrop. Avoid looking like a floating head!

6. Consider photo retouching.

Photo retouching can do wonders for a mediocre image. You can remove flyaway hairs, smooth out a blotchy complexion, and even whiten your teeth. Obviously you don’t want to commit serious digital surgery on your photo so that you’re unrecognizable at your interview (like a deceptive Tinder date), but everyone could use a little bit of a glow-up.

Now go take that movie star ERAS photo!

For additional information on applying to residency, be sure to check out The Ultimate Survival Guide for Medical School, Tips for Filling Out Your ERAS Application, and Applying to Away Rotations.

9 comments on “ERAS Residency Application Photo Requirements

  1. Hey is the full frontal required for the ERAS photo? I can’t find it listed on the website’s requirements.

  2. Anonymous

    $30 – $40 for a professional headshot???

    If someone is charging that amount for a headshot session then I would hardly call them a professional headshot photographer.

    The only time you would get anything close to that would be for a bulk photo session with many people.
    Maybe if you can get a few dozen friends together it might be worth the photographer’s time.

    Otherwise, you are looking into the hundreds for a professional solo photo session.

  3. Anonymous

    thank you very much for info and humour 🙂

  4. As a professional headshot photographer, I really appreciate this article. It’s spot on and very helpful.

  5. $30 or $40 headshots?? What reality is this? Try $200 to $400.

  6. Busy Med Student

    Did a ton of research to find a headshot option taking my Eras photo and needed for my residency application, based on my rotations and studies I didn’t have time to go in for a local In-Studio shoot, So lucky I found a very unique and fully remote based (My laptop & iPhone) headshots service, I noticed they also have an actual studio where you can come in as well but couldn’t based ob their weekday hours, They only offer 1 option that I know of, its $159, I never like to pay on any small websites unless its legit, but they use Square payment which I only trust outside of amazon for mainstream services, After purchasing I had no clue what to expect, I was contemplating if I needed to go to an actual Studio, I never had the time time too but I’m so glad I didn’t, The process was simple yet detailed, I was so blown away by results. I attached a link, not sure if you can see. if not search ” medicalresidencyphoto homepage ” …Studio Redleaf Eras or

    All The Best D.

  7. Pingback: ERAS 2020: Timeline, Tips, & Tricks for Residency Applicants > The Vibrant Med

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