After compiling input from College Deans, Faculty Senate, graduate programs, and the Graduate School, the Provost's Office released the document “Policy on Ph.D. Programs” in Spring 2016, which provided guidance to the campus community on a variety of best practices for Ph.D. education, to be implemented at UF.
A policy recommended within the document urges that an Individual Development Plan (IDP) be developed for each Ph.D. student at the University of Florida.
Starting in Fall 2017, all Ph.D. students will be required to create and update an IDP on an annual basis, in consultation with their advisors. The IDP is intended to be a working document, to guide new and continuing Ph.D. students in identifying, pursuing, and meeting their professional and personal goals.
The Graduate School recognizes that IDPs can be completed and structured in a wide variety of formats. Many UF Ph.D. programs have been using the IDP mechanism for some time, and are encouraged to continue using their existing approach, if it is working for them.
Based on the feedback of a committee comprised of faculty, staff, and graduate students from 10 Colleges, the Graduate School has created two versions of a UF IDP template, that may be helpful for programs as they initiate the use of Individual Development Plans. These templates were created after reviewing templates from peer institutions, as well as those already in use at UF. Templates were created for incoming students in Year 1 of their Ph.D. program, as well as for students in Years 2-4, which can be used until the completion of their programs. Completed IDPs should be reviewed annually at a student-advisor meeting.
These templates are to serve as models: they can be implemented in their current form, or superceded by an alternative or revised template that better meets the needs of graduate programs and colleges. You are free to revise the general UF-designed template provided above, create their own template, or use an existing template (e.g. from myIDP.org, Stanford University, University of Wisconsin-Madison), to best support your students.
The Graduate School will monitor the use of IDPs. In the coming months, the Graduate School will coordinate with the implementation of Campus Solutions to establish a monitoring feature (service indicator) for the creation and use of IDPs.
This service indicator will be implemented in a future release of Campus Solutions through the COMPASS project. Anticipated availability will be Spring of 2018. The anticipated service indicator will be minimally intrusive, recording only whether an IDP exists for each Ph.D. student. We will provide training on this feature once it is available, and are investigating the option of a standard report to describe the completion of IDPs for each program or college.
For further information on the new policy or its implementation, please see our questions and answers below, or contact the Graduate School.
An IDP helps students to assess and evaluate their own skills and aptitudes, and determine an appropriate set of goals for utilizing their skills and aptitudes to pursue their long-term professional and personal goals they have after graduating from UF.
The document is student-driven, and meant to be revised or updated periodically, to capture a student’s changing set of tools, values, and interests, and adjust their goals in conjunction with the resources available to them in their programs, and at their institutions, in their intended areas of expertise.
In support of the Provost's Offices Best Practices for PhD programs released in April 2016, the Graduate School has created a UF-specific IDP template. This template, or a more customized version of an IDP template, must be used by all PhD programs starting in Fall 2017. All programs will be required to confirm an IDP template was created during the academic year, and was subject to discussion by a student and their advisor.
The Graduate School created a committee, comprising representatives from UF faculty, staff and graduate students, with support from the Graduate School, to assess current practices around PhD student advising and retention. Additionally, an IDP has been increasingly identified by a greater number of graduate schools and peer institutions around the US, as well as the NIH and NSF, as a valuable tool for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.
The IDP template should be completed by graduate students. The instruments included in our general template are intended to be used as a yearly document, allowing students to identify short-term and medium-term steps for longer-term career and personal goals, while refining their goals through program-level mentorship.
The templates were designed to be implemented by programs which do not currently have an IDP template in place. They can also serve as a guide for programs which choose to develop their own templates. The committee created the templates as a means to identify critical elements of any IDP. They can be used in part or in their entirety.
We actively encourage Colleges and Departments to revise and enhance this UF IDP template to personalize it for their programs. We endorse revised versions of this template or original templates that best meet the needs of a graduate program’s mentoring structure and oversight of academic progress.
Graduate programs and colleges are encouraged to establish policies for the format and implementation of IDP templates that will make them user-friendly and widely adopted, according to their own required mentoring and advising practices. Their usage will be monitored via a minimum threshold, whereby a student’s advisor will need to confirm via a checkbox on a student’s record in GIMS that an annual meeting has occurred to discuss the contents of a student’s IDP by the end of the academic year.