Individual Development Plan

The Individual Development Plan (IDP) helps students be intentional about setting goals and planning for a career while in graduate school. It also supports students in assessing individual skill sets relative to career goals and documenting progress in acquiring both the depth of research and breadth of other skills sought by employers.

A well-crafted IDP can serve as both a planning and a communications tool. The process of creating an IDP encourages students to consider additional options as they identify and refine their own research and career goals, and should foster improved communication between students and their advisors.

Graduate students can use their IDP to help identify professional development opportunities and training that is targeted towards their own specific objectives. By clarifying their objectives and communicating with others about how to best achieve them, students are encouraged to consider more options, and should enjoy a more successful and focused graduate training experience.

IDP development, implementation, and revisions require a series of steps to be conducted by graduate students and their advisors. These steps are an interactive effort, and so both the student and the advisor must participate fully in the process.

Prepare your IDP by using the University of Pittsburgh IDP Template.

Alternatively, there are free external, domain-specific resources:

Natural Sciences

myIDP (AAAS): a well-established interactive website designed as a career-planning tool for PhD students and postdocs in the sciences. A four-step process involves self-assessment, career exploration, goals, and implementation.

Humanities and Social Sciences

ImaginePhD. Developed by experts from over 50 universities under the auspices of the Graduate Career Consortium, this newly launched career exploration and planning tool is designed specifically for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in humanities and social sciences. On ImaginePhD, students will be able to assess career-related skills, interests, and values, explore career paths appropriate to their discipline, create self-defined goals, and map out the next steps for their career. ImaginePhD teaches PhDs and their mentors about job sectors, search strategies, and how to transfer skills across settings.