Individual Development Plans

NIH Requirements for Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for Grad Students and PostDocs

If you’re an NIH-funded graduate student or postdoctoral researcher (or the mentor of one) this is something you need to know.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) strongly encourages institutions to develop and use IDPs for all NIH-supported graduate student and postdoctoral researchers, whether on training grants, fellowships, or research project grants.

NIH annual progress reports using the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) must include a report on the use of IDPs in Section B. Accomplishments, Question B.4. Actual IDPs should not be included because they are likely to contain sensitive personal information. A document that can be uploaded to the progress report that describes MSU’s position statement on IDPs can be found here.

A link to the notice can be found here: NOT-OD-14-113 (

What is an IDP?

Individual Development Plans are written plans that give mentees ownership and structure to assess their skills, interests, and values, define clear and actionable goals, explore career options, and facilitate conversations with their mentor(s). IDP forms vary greatly, although many are structured around core competencies or learning outcomes. The onus for writing, maintaining, and implementing the plan is on the mentee, and conversations with and feedback from the mentor(s) are essential.


American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) hosts an interactive, online career planning tool to guide users through the process of self-assessment, career exploration, and setting short- and long-term goals. There is no charge to use the site

National Postdoctoral Association provides: