MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

GSBS Individual Development Plan (IDP)

The IDP is a planning tool designed to help GSBS PhD students identify scientific progress, determine professional development needs, and meet career-planning objectives. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the Office of Career Development will be piloting the GSBS IDP, a customized and training stage specific set of IDP tools for GSBS PhD students. In the 2021-2022 academic year, the office will start tracking annual IDP utilization as an academic milestone requirement for all GSBS PhD students (Medical Physics excluded) fourth year and below.

Feedback from the GSBS community is critical to creating a useful tool for our community. Please click here to answer a brief survey about your IDP experience:


Use the GSBS IDP guide and worksheet that correlates to your specific stage of training:

First year: Guide and Worksheet

Second year: Guide and Worksheet

Third year: Guide and Worksheet

Fourth year and beyond: Guide and Worksheet

GSBS IDP Overview

The GSBS process includes reflection on graduate training expectations, self-assessment and goal-setting exercises, and follow-up discussions with a research advisor and the Office of Career Development. Collectively, this process is designed to aid students in setting short-term training and professional development goals that enhance career readiness for students upon graduation.

Goals of the IDP:

  • Cultivates a sense of ownership over training, career planning and professional development
  • Allows for reflection and self-evaluation on training progress and career-readiness
  • Identifies areas for improving performance and developing new skills
  • Facilitates communication and transparent expectations between the student and research mentor

To learn more about how the GSBS IDP will be implemented, see this one page summary.

For Graduate Students

GSBS expects that all PhD students will complete their IDPs on an annual basis. Students will complete a training year-specific form that guides them through self-reflection and assessment, goal-setting, and a facilitated discussion of training and career-related goals. The first IDP is completed during GSBS orientation with the Office of Career Development. In subsequent years, GSBS students will review their IDP from the previous year, reflect on progress, and revise their IDPs using the recommended form. Students are expected to complete and discuss their IDPs with their research mentors (or another faculty member) on an annual basis. In year 3, all GSBS students will be required to complete their IDP and participate in a confidential one-on-one career advising meeting with the Office of Career Development.

For Mentors

An IDP enables both students and their mentors to best chart a path for an individual student’s development needs.  Importantly, it recognizes that we are all unique and have a different mix of strengths, developmental goals, and career ambitions. Therefore, this process is highly tailored to help graduate students:

  • assess their skills, interests and values;
  • determine a plan for meeting academic and professional goals; and
  • communicate with their mentor(s) about evolving goals and related skills.

The mentor’s responsibility

It is the responsibility of the graduate student to engage in the IDP process.  However, having conversations with a mentor or mentoring team is an essential step in implementing and completing the IDP process.

If a graduate student has indicated you as a mentor in the IDP reporting system, you may be asked to engage in this process at some of all of the various points:

  • After conducting the self-assessment as they begin to develop goals
  • After defining their goals
  • For advice about various career paths

While it is up to the graduate student to develop IDPs, it is also important for you to encourage them to interact with you regarding the IDP. They may choose to share certain parts of the IDP with you and keep other parts (such as the skills assessment, or personal goals) private. 

IDP mentor resources

The following links will help facilitate your role as an IDP mentor:

  • Research Mentor Training

    The GSBS provides mentorship training to improve research mentorship relationships, assessment tools and resources relevant for mentors and mentees.

  • Questions about the process


For Principal Investigators and Program Directors of NIH Grants

Coming soon.

Questions about the IDP process: Contact

Frequently Asked Questions

Coming soon.

Questions about the IDP process: Contact