Stanford Biology Professor Patricia Jones with student

The Individual Development Plan Process

  1. SCHEDULE your annual mentoring meeting with your advisor.
    • First-year PhD students: within 30 days of joining your thesis lab
    • All other PhD students: annually before June 1
    • OPTIONAL Attend one of three Individual Development Plan (IDP) primer workshops to assist in completing the IDP form and preparing for discussions with your advisor.
  2. DOWNLOAD and COMPLETE the appropriate IDP form; it will prompt you to assess your skills and progress, set developmental goals and identify any training needs.
    • Type your responses directly into the IDP form's fillable fields.
    • Though not required, ideally you would share the form with your advisor before your mentoring meeting.
  3. HOLD the meeting with your advisor between June 1 and August 1 to discuss your IDP, review progress, set goals, and clarify expectations.
    • Lead the conversation, guided by the IDP.
    • Fill out the Action Plan together with your advisor.
    • Though not required, you may wish to leave a copy of the completed form with your advisor.
  4. VERIFY by August 1 that you met and discussed your IDP with your advisor..
    • Students will verify the meeting occurred via this online form.
    • Advisors will receive an email asking them to confirm the meeting occurred. Advisors should expect an email from "stanford biosciences" ( in their Inbox and/or Spam folder.
    • This step ensures that all Bioscience trainees and advisors have at least one mentoring meeting per year that focuses on their academic/professional development.
    • The meeting verification form records only the date the meeting occurred; your IDP and discussions with your mentor remain private between you and your advisor.
  5. Put your plan into practice!

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