College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Individual Development Plans and Career Exploration Tools

Individual Development Plans (IDPs) are useful tools for every graduate student regardless of discipline or where you are in your career.

What is an IDP?

An Individual Development Plan is a tool to assist you in your personal, professional, and career development. The primary purpose of an IDP is to develop your short-term and long-term goals. These goals can include milestones and goals towards the completion of your degree program (academic goals), presenting your research at academic conferences and publishing articles (scholarly goals), and teaching goals and skills development (career goals).

While you can create your own individual development plan using a number of online templates, there are new online career exploration tools online created specifically for graduate students that integrate career exploration tools and resources with individual development plans in order for students to explore the various career paths they might be interested in both within and beyond the academy and develop their own plan to reach their career goals. 

For graduate students in the humanities, social sciences, and some departments within the School of the Arts such as Theatre, Film & Media Studies, and Visual Art Education we recommend ImaginePhD, developed by the Graduate Career Consortium (GCC) and funded by Universities across the US and Canada. A robust career exploration and planning tool, ImaginePhD is now available at If you are interested in using this tool, please contact to learn more about upcoming user workshops and events. 


For graduate students in the school of the arts, we are currently working on a individual development plan and career exploration resources. Until then, we would recommend visual arts students explore The Art Career Project, the Visual Arts Career Resources page on the Visual Arts department website, and the Career Center's page on careers in the visual arts. For students in the theatre department we recommend the Theatre Department's career resources page, and the Career Center's page on careers in theatre and the performing arts. 

For graduate students in the natural sciences and math, we recommend Science Careers​ MyIDP, developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). To start your MyIDP click here. 

About MyIDP: Science Careers offers a wide variety of content designed to assist scientists of all disciplines, backgrounds and experience levels navigate their career path. This includes thousands of job listings that are updated daily, thousands of career advice articles written by the ScienceCareers editorial staff, graduate program information, meetings and event information, and a Career Forum where scientists can join a community of experts and peers engaging in real time discussions around career issues. 

To learn about how an IDP can enhance your research training experience and how it can be helpful throughout your graduate student career, our colleagues at UCSF have developed a quick video overview.

To learn more about how to start your IDP and best utilize the tool, please watch the three-part series also developed by our colleagues at UCSF:

Part 1: Find your career fit using the myIDP interests, skills, and values self-assessments

Part 2: Explore the science careers and resources in myIDP

Part 3: Set goals for career success using myIDP

For graduate students in chemistry, we would also recommend ChemIDP, developed by the American Chemical Society.