individual development plans

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What is an Individual Development Plan (IDP)?

An IDP is an essential planning tool used to map out academic and professional development throughout graduate school and postdoctoral training.

An IDP helps graduate students and postdoctoral scholars:

  • Assess current skills and strengths related to academic and professional career goals
  • Make a plan for developing skills to achieve current and future professional goals
  • Foster communicate with advisors and mentors about goals, related skills, and professional development

Why is an IDP Important?

A thoughtfully completed IDP can serve as a proactive and effective planning and communication tool. The IDP process guides graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to reflect on their career goals in light of their current situation, and define specific actions to achieve goals. An IDP allows graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to identify their professional goals and to communicate these goals to their faculty advisor/mentor.


Individual Development Plan Tools


Sciences and Engineering:

myIDP Website:


The myIDP website allows you to create a free online IDP profile including: exercises to help you examine your skills, interests, and values; 20 scientific career paths aligning to your skills and interests; tools for setting strategic goals; and resources to guide you through the process.


Social Sciences/Humanities:

ImaginePhD Website:




ImaginePhD is a free online career exploration and planning tool for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences. Powered by the Graduate Career Consortium, it is designed to meet the growing need to bridge the knowledge gap between doctoral education and the realm of career possibilities. ImaginePhD users can:

  • assess their career-related skills, interests, and values
  • explore careers paths appropriate to their disciplines
  • create self-defined goals
  • map out next steps for career and professional development success