Independent Development Plan

Outline Your Professional Development Objectives

A Graduate Student Independent Development Plan (IDP) is a tool for helping students and advisors outline and discuss short-term and long-term objectives to guide the student's professional development.

Doctoral students and advisors are required to complete an IDP at least annually, typically timed to coincide with the required annual doctoral committee meeting. IDPs are not required for master's students but they are highly recommended. You can start by completing a form in one of two ways:

  1. Utilize the school's IDP template.
  2. Substitute another form that meets the same purpose (e.g. department-specific templates or templates provided by professional societies).

IDP Policy Details

IDPs are intended as a career development tool, and are not a substitute for a GSR evaluation that assesses job performance. For students whose GSR is closely tied to their dissertation research, it may be possible to combine the two, but it is still necessary to assess academic development and job performance separately. Policy requires that:

  • Completed IDP forms should be kept in student files at the department level.
  • Forms should be treated as confidential student records.
  • The Report on Requirements form for the doctoral preliminary exam and dissertation overview includes a checkbox that the committee should use to certify that an IDP has been completed within the six months prior to the exam.


This policy was voted and approved by the Educational Policies and Curriculum Committee and the Pitt Public Health Council on February 2015.