VU-LEAF Model for Ph.D. Students Professional Development

Individual Development Plans (IDPs):

IDPs provide a planning process that identifies goals and progress on a regular basis, and are intended to serve as a communication tool between students, trainees, or fellows and their mentors. Review IDP Resources or complete your own GradLEAF IDP.


Matches Match

Timing in Grad School Career



Professional Practices


In Your Career and Professional Networking


Your Graduate Research and Program Milestones


Your Personal Well-being

(Throughout Your Academic Career)


  1. Academic writing
  2. Research skills
  3. English learning skills
  4. Starting your teaching prep
  5. NSF grant writing
  1. Finding and developing a mentor
  2. Exploring professional conferences
  3. Presenting and Public Speaking
  4. CV Development
  5. Developing peer network (within and outside your department)
  1. Tech resources
  2. Finding and understanding your program handbook
  3. Your preliminary research
  4. Prepare for MAP/Qualifying for candidacy
  5. Dissertation prep
  1. Starting your graduate career
  2. Work-life balance
  3. Maintaining healthy life habits
  4. Physical Wellness
  5. Personal Support
  6. International Student Support


  1. Grant writing skills
  2. Teaching skills and portfolio
  3. Preparing materials for applications
  4. Writing skills
  1. Choosing your professional network/society
  2. Combining research with community service
  3. Developing your web presence
  1. Apply for dissertation support
  2. Dissertation proposal
  1. Time, conflict and stress management
  2. Spouse/partner issues
  3. Parenting
  4. Being a responsible citizen
  5. Financial Wellness

Late career

  1. Interviewing and negotiating
  2. Working on campus during dissertation
  3. Publishing your work
  4. Professional attire and behavior
  1. Academic Job Search
  2. Applying for early career funding
  3. Using and building your professional network
  4. Non-Academic Job Search
  1. Dissertation writing support
  1. Coordinate job search with partner
  2. Faculty support for graduate student issues

*We would like to make a special mention of the work being done by Michigan State University’s Graduate School. Their PREP Matrix was presented at the 2011 Council of Graduate Schools and served as an inspiration for the Vanderbilt gradLEAF. We appreciate your feedback! To share your thoughts, please complete this brief survey.