Stanford Biology Professor Patricia Jones with student

Your Individual Development Plan and Planning Meetings

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! Amidst daily research activities, it is easy to lose sight of longer-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 re-designed with rounds of student and faculty input to

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

The Stanford Biosciences IDP program also complies with new NIH grant guidelines encouraging institutions to document that they provide a structured IDP program for all NIH-supported PhD candidates and postdocs. In light of the benefits to trainee development and the likelihood that the IDP program will be a factor in NIH funding decisions, the Committee on Graduate Admissions and Policy (CGAP) has adopted a new policy requiring all Biosciences PhD candidates and their mentors in the Schools of Medicine and H&S 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; and
  • 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

Primer Courses

Courses and workshops designed to help you get the most out of your IDP and advisor meetings, see Resources for Students.


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

Questions? Please email

IDP Process

A step-by-step walkthrough of the Individual Development Plan process. Learn More

IDP Forms

Necessary forms for students in Year 1, Year 2 and Years 3-5. Learn More

FAQs & Resources for Students

Helpful resources for students in completing the IDP process. Learn More

FAQs & Resources for Faculty

Resources for faculty concerning your role in the IDP process. Learn More

Give us feedback