Professional Development Requirement

Individual Development Plan (IDP)

The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a critical part of graduate student professional development, and is a tool to assist your career planning. In addition to the knowledge and expertise you gain in your specific program or postdoctoral fellowship, the University of Alberta hopes that you develop general skills throughout your program that will help you with your life post-university. While work on your IDP cannot be counted as part of the eight hour professional development activities for graduate students, it is designed to complement other professional development activities.

Choose an IDP Workbook 

There are two types of IDP workbooks, one for students who are continuing their education from an undergraduate or graduate level and one for graduate students who are returning to school after years of professional experience.

The UA Calendar states that all graduate students at the University of Alberta are required to submit an individualized professional development plan to the department for their program of studies (graduate coordinator or graduate chair)  within 12 months of the program's commencement for master's students and within 18 months of the program's commencement for doctoral students.

If you would like guidance please attend our Professional Development Requirement sessions and/or complete our IDP Online course (also eligible for PD credit).

Getting Started

  • Step 1: Identifying Career Paths

    Take time to research possible career paths that are of interest to you.

    Look at possibilities in business, industry, government, nonprofit sectors, and academia. Identify at least three possible careers that you would want to work in.  Leave yourself open to careers that you might otherwise not have thought to pursue. 

    Ask yourself:

    • "What are my long and short term goals?"
    • "What would a sustainable career path look like?"
    • "What required skills do I need to develop or cultivate?"
  • Step 2: Self-Assessment

    In this section, you will gauge your skills and competencies by completing a self-assessment. This activity is intended to help you monitor competencies you already possess, and identify areas that need further development. What skills do you possess and how can you best articulate them? What skills are emphasized in your careers of interest? Note the activities and actions you can build into your timeline to develop your skills.

    The Seven Competencies (As outlined in the IDP)

    • Creativity
    • Communication
    • Confidence
    • Scholarship
    • Ethical Responsibility
    • Critical Thinking
    • Collaboration
  • Step 3: Timelines

    Develop a time line needed for completing your academic program, including academic milestones and career goals.

    Include plans for how you can tailor your program or fellowship to develop your skills and competencies. How much time will you allocate to professional development? How will you obtain skills that need further development. A blank template for a program timeline is provided in the FGSR handout.


    Academic Requirements: Year 1 - Course work, ethics, research proposal, data collection, annual committee meeting

    Professional Development: Year 1 - Start LinkedIn profile, attend PD Week sessions, identify career paths, start building network

  • Step 4: Guidance

    Meet with a mentor(s) who can speak to your academic program goals, timelines and how to maximize your graduate program or fellowship. Discuss skills you wish to develop. Your mentor(s) can also alert you to professional development opportunities applicable to your interests and help assess whether you have a realistic timeline and if you've allocated sufficient time for professional development.

  • Step 5: Evaluate
    Revisit your IDP annually. Evaluate whether you’re on track with your academic and career goals. What is working well and what needs to change? What skills do you still need or want to pursue? As you answer these questions, determine any adjustments required, and confer with your mentor(s) as needed.
  • Step 6: Completion
    The Individual Development Plan must be completed within the first 12-18 months of your program (Master's and PhD). Professional development hours must be completed by defense (Master's) and by year three (PhD). At the end of your program, ensure that you have completed the Individual Development Plan & Professional Development Completion Form and submitted it to your department/faculty in order to convocate. Please confirm with your department/faculty if they have a different department/faculty specific form.