Individual Development Plan

Individual Development Plans (IDPs) are documents designed to support doctoral students and postdoctoral trainees in developing career plans and trajectories. The IDP provides a structure to identify concrete steps towards long-term goals and a framework for constructive conversation between students and their mentors/advisors.

For Ph.D. students, the IDP is a companion to the Plan of Work, which focuses on academic coursework and program milestones, and the Annual Progress Review, which monitors academic progress towards dissertation completion. This information sheet explains the basic differences between these three forms.

Because of the importance of an IDP in a trainee's career development and recent mandates from federal agencies, an annual IDP is required for all doctoral students and postdoctoral trainees regardless of funding status.

How to complete your Individual Development Plan:

  • Use the IDP worksheet to reflect on your professional goals, values, strengths and development opportunities.
  • Complete the IDP template to draft and organize your responses.
  • Meet with your mentor/advisor to review your IDP and discuss your career goals, identify resources and refine your goals.
  • Submit your IDP:
    • Ph.D. students – use the electronic submission form to file your IDP. See the instructions to disable popup blockers if you have problems getting the form to open.
    • Postdoctoral trainees – Complete the IDP form and submit to the Graduate School, 5057 Woodward Ave., Suite 6303, or email to Dr. Tim Stemmler,

All Ph.D. students and postdoctoral trainees are required to submit an IDP by the end of their first year and update annually. For Ph.D. students this is by May 15th of each year. Postdocs should use their approximate hire date as the annual deadline.

Instructions for faculty mentors