Overview

Individual Development Plans (IDPs) are planning tools that provide a flexible mechanism for identifying academic and professional goals relevant to students’ overall research interests and career plans, formulating a program of study aimed at supporting the development of key competencies, and tracking progress toward goal achievement. Initially this planning focuses on years 2 and 3, leading up to Candidacy (i.e., passing the General Exam). However, IDPs are designed to allow for planning throughout students’ doctoral programs and into the early phases of their post-PhD careers. Students are expected to revisit their IDPs regularly (and at least annually), updating and refining them as goals change or come into focus, and assessing and recording progress and accomplishments.

Purpose

The IDP describes the areas of theoretical, substantive, methodological, and interventive specialization the student plans to undertake in the PhD program and how the student will build competence in these areas through coursework, teaching, research, cross-disciplinary, community engagement, and professional development experiences. The planned program of study should be sufficient to support the student’s successful completion of the General Exam qualifying paper and the Dissertation, and to provide the student with the readiness to move confidently into the next phase of their careers. The IDP is not an iron-clad contract, but rather a living document that supports the student’s program of study and overall research and career development. 

In the first year of the PhD program, students take a shared set of required classes, which ensure that all students have a strong basic understanding of the role and use of theory in research; qualitative and quantitative research methods; social welfare policy; and statistics. After the first year, students complete a program of additional course work and other training in areas relevant to their planned program of research. To direct and guide their learning and development moving forward, students prepare an Individual Development Plan (IDP) in close consultation with their advisor. Grounded in a self-assessment of current strengths and competencies, the IDP identifies plans for gaining additional knowledge and skills in the substantive, theoretical, methodological, and (in many but not all cases) interventive areas central to the students’ overall research interests and agenda. Recognizing the importance and relevance of cross-cutting ‘meta’ career skills, the IDP also asks students to identify plans for developing their communication, collaborative, community-engagement, and teaching skills. Taken as a whole, the identified goals serve as guides for focusing coursework, planning teaching experiences, identifying relevant training opportunities, and assessing progress.  

Teaching Development

Another element of the IDP is a plan for developing mastery in teaching. Students take a teaching pedagogy course in the fall of their second year, and complete a teaching practicum. In addition, many students act as teaching assistants (primarily in the BASW program) and eventually teach their own classes in the MSW and BASW program. The IDP includes a section in which students explicitly consider their teaching trajectories from TA and teaching practicum to sole instructor. Students will vary in their commitment to teaching, and this will be reflected in their plans, but all students should have at least the basics of a teaching preparation plan. Most will want to develop this area carefully as an essential element of their training, and of the portfolio they present to potential academic employers.

Timing

Students begin formulating their IDPs, with consultation from their advisors, over the course of the first year; initial thoughts about second and third year courses should be part of an end-of-first-year advising meeting. In mid-late fall of the second year, students formally present their IDPs to a group of faculty that includes first year advisors, first year instructors, faculty members, and student peers in a group format (i.e., all of the students in the cohort will present to each other and the assembled group of faculty and students). This presentation is not evaluative, but rather an opportunity to present ideas and get input on plans.  After each student presents their IDP proposal, faculty members and student peers will offer their thoughts and suggestions about useful courses, potential mentors, research opportunities, etc.

Instructions for Preparing the IDP

Overview

Individual Development Plans (IDPs) are designed to allow for planning throughout students’ doctoral programs and into the early phases of their post-PhD careers.

IDP Document

To begin preparing your IDP, download and save the Individual Development Plan (IDP) document.

Year 1

Before the end of April of the first year and each year thereafter, students will meet with their primary advisor to discuss their coursework and overall progress during the prior academic year. Initial thoughts about second and third year courses should be part of an end-of-first-year advising meeting. Following this meeting, students will complete or update the IDP and upload it to their e-portfolio no later than June 30.

Year 2 Presentation

In mid-late fall of the second year, students formally present their IDPs to a group of faculty that includes first year advisors, first year instructors, and student peers. This presentation is not evaluative, but rather an opportunity to present ideas and get input on plans.  

Each subsequent year of program

In each subsequent year of the program, the student should revisit and revise the IDP with their advisor/committee chair. In addition, they should review students’ progress in terms of the Academic Program Milestones. The revised documents should be uploaded to the student’s e-portfolio by June 30 of each year.

Ongoing Revisions to the IDP

 In each year of the program, the student should revisit and revise the IDP with their advisor/committee chair. The revised documents should be uploaded to the student’s e-portfolio by June 30.

Advising Meetings

During the spring quarter of the first year and each year thereafter, students will meet with their primary advisor to discuss their coursework and experiences overall during the prior academic year. Following this meeting, the student will complete or update the IDP and upload it to their e-portfolio.  These meetings should be approximately one hour long, in person, and take place before the end of April (so that revised IDPs can be uploaded by June 30). 

Exams and Dissertation