Individual Development Plans

Policy about IDP

At the University of Cincinnati, we recognize the importance of mentoring students and trainees in career development. Our plan is to enhance this effort by phasing in the use of individual development plans (IDPs) as part of career development for our graduate students and postdoctoral trainees over the upcoming years. IDPs include trainee self-assessment, career exploration, and setting short and long-term career goals. In the first phase of using IDPs here at UC, we encourage graduate students and postdoctoral trainees supported by NIH or NSF funds to develop a personal IDP that can be used to promote discussions with mentors and advisors on career development. We are not requiring students to create an IDP, but to consider this on a voluntary basis. Trainees on NIH or NSF funding who do wish to make an IDP at the University of Cincinnati are asked to use the online interactive IDP system ( developed by FASEB/AAAS so that all our trainees are working on a uniform platform. Graduate programs who wish to build IDPs into their career development and mentoring of all trainees, are free to do so, but should notify the Dean of the Graduate School of their intent.


The National Institute of Health (NIH) is ramping up plans for NIH-supported trainees to have Individual Development Plans (IDPs) as part of their career development. This has been part of NSF funding for several years already. There is a new NIH mandate. In any grant progress report submitted Oct 1, 2014 or later, NIH is requiring a description on the institutional use of IDPs to develop the careers for NIH-supported graduate students and postdocs. The policy above can be used as the required description.

As described in the latest NIH IDP policy notice, "NIH will not require but strongly encourages institutions to develop and use IDPs for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers supported by NIH awards, regardless of their position title. IDPs provide a structure for the identification and achievement of career goals. Therefore, the NIH encourages grantees to develop institutional policies that employ an IDP for every graduate student and postdoctoral researcher supported by NIH awards."

As of yet, there is no requirement to show the outcomes of those IDPs in any progress report, but we are all anticipating this is coming. It is time to start. IDPs are a good idea, and FASEB/AAAS has created an interactive on-line tool creation of IDPs that makes them easy to implement for science trainees. Creation of this policy is the first step, and we anticipate auditioning new tools to advance this realm of career development in the future.