APA's Resource for Individual Development Plans

Individual Development Plans (IDP)

What is your dream job?

What does it take to get your dream job?

Today, most doctoral graduates will probably take a postdoctoral position before finding their first job. But that doesn’t guarantee a job. You need to make sure you get the proper training and experience that launches you on your desired career path. The best way to ensure success is to create a plan — an Individual Development Plan (IDP).

IDPs are career resources that help you map out your career pathway and take the first steps along the way. Whether you're a postdoctoral fellow or a just-about-to defend graduate student, now is the perfect time to create your IDP. APA's five-step process will guide you through the IDP process — self-assessment, career exploration and goal setting — to customize your own plan of action and find the best job for you.

The IDP process is iterative — revisit and revise your plan as needed throughout your training and education. Planning your entire psychology career is a long-term process. The sooner you start, the better.

Where Do You Start?

Plan for Success

Learn how to create a plan that provides structure, identifies goals, explores different career options and outlines clear requirements for success.

Follow two postdocs, Amanda and Hunter, through a series of videos to see how they create their own IDPs.


Davis, F. (2005). Doctors without Orders, American Scientists, 93(3, supplement).

About APA's Resource

This is a product of the Opening Doors Summit, organized by 2014 APA President Nadine Kaslow, PhD. The goal was to identify barriers and make recommendations to help graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in psychology transition into a first job.

APA's resource draws upon existing IDP and career resources found at numerous institutions, scientific societies and federal agencies. It does not provide a specific form, but instead guides you through the necessary steps for taking charge of your professional and career development.

If you have an IDP requirement at your institution, then use this to complement what you are required to do and what resources are available to you there.

IDPs in Grad and Postdoc Education

Other professional societies and graduate training communities also recommend IDPs for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

NIH and NSF have IDP requirements for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers on funded programs.

See policy requirements and other disciplines' recommendations for IDPs: