PhDs: Your Individual Development Plan (IDP)

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Key Deadlines

BioSci Careers is here to help you during the entire IDP process.  This includes preparation for the IDP meeting itself and accomplishing those goals outlined in the IDP later.

Your Individual Development Plan (IDP) and annual planning meeting with your advisor are intended to help you:

  • Take ownership of your training and professional development
  • Pause and reflect. Amid daily research activities, it is easy to lose sight of long-term goals
  • Think intentionally about your short-, mid-, and long-term training and development goals
  • Identify and use resources to help you achieve your goals
  • Have open and direct dialogue with your mentor(s)
  • Establish clear expectations/steps


Building upon the success of Stanford’s existing IDP pilot program, the Stanford Biosciences IDP program and forms were carefully designed with student and faculty input to:

  • facilitate self-reflection and fruitful discussions
  • create a written action plan tailored to your individual goals and career of choice
  • expand their scope to encompass all biosciences PhD students


The Stanford Biosciences IDP program also complies with NIH grant guidelines encouraging institutions to document that they provide a structured IDP program for all NIH-supported PhD candidates and postdocs. The Committee on Graduate Admissions and Policy (CGAP) has adopted a new policy requiring all biosciences PhD candidates and their mentors in the Stanford School of Medicine and the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences to create and discuss the IDP on an annual basis.

Students and their advisors share responsibility for completing the IDP, as well as the consequences of not completing the IDP by the deadlines below. Failure to comply with IDP requirements will:

  • negatively impact Stanford’s ability to receive NIH funding
  • incur a hold on student registration that prevents stipends from being funded

Key Deadlines

Action First Year Students All Other Students
Schedule a planning and mentoring meeting with your advisor. Within 30 days of joining your thesis lab Before June 1
Download and complete the appropriate IDP form. (Ideally, share the completed form with your advisor in advance.) Before your meeting Before your meeting
Hold your annual planning/mentoring meeting with advisor. Within 30 days of joining your thesis lab By August 1
Verify that you and your advisor met to discuss your IDP. Within 30 days of joining your thesis lab By August 1


Do you have comments on the IDP Process? We welcome your feedback!

Questions? Please email