Can I apply to Categorical and Preliminary in the same program?

Applying to Categorical and Preliminary spots in the same program is possible and common at no additional fee. However there are certain tips and tricks you should be aware of to avoid a frowning program director.

People apply to both categories in the same program usually because of one of these two scenarios:

A- You are applying to advanced specialties and you need the prelim year as a PGY-1 but you also want to apply to Categorical as backup.

B- You are applying to both of them because you feel your chances to get into residency is slim as a start without much USCE, so you will try to match to either one and if you matched to preliminary year then you will do it as a 1 year hands-on experience for the next year application.

Either way, and this is extremely important, the PD will receive the application to both spots as one ERAS application but he can see you selected both options. This means you can submit only one personal statement for that specific specialty program. So here what you do in this situation:

A- If you decide to apply to Preliminary and Categorical spots in the same program, you have to submit the personal statement of the Categorical specialty not the advanced specialty (for which you are applying for the preliminary spot). And in the interview you don't mention anything about your plans for the prelim spot, but if they ask you then you tell them that you are very interested in their program and you are ready to do a prelim year first to increase your chances with them for the next year. Meantime you will be applying to advanced "other specialties" in other institutions. Don't apply to Categorical and advanced specialties in the same institution if you are applying to preliminary year in their program as well.

B-Otherwise Don't apply to categorical spots in the same program you applying to prelim and advanced, and in this case you have to submit the advanced specialty PS to both prelim and advanced spots. Even if you decide to apply to prelim only in a program then you also still have to upload the advanced specialty PS.