BPH Individual Development Plan (IDP)

There are 4 aims to the BPH IDP process: Self-Assessment, Career Exploration, Goal Setting, and IDP Implementation.

1.     Self-Assessment: Students will complete annual self-assessments. The emphasis is on stage-specific graduate school goals with a focus on recognition of skills and deficiencies. Goals in the G1 year focus is on expanding desired knowledge and filling gaps through course work, the selection of laboratory rotations, and finding the best fit for a dissertation advisor.  Goals for the G2 year and beyond, focus on developing project ideas and research directions toward the dissertation, enhancing skills in experimental design and execution, critical data interpretation, and communicating science to diverse audiences.  Student ideas around career aspirations, which evolve during the doctoral studies, should be discussed at each stage.

 2.     Career Exploration: Beginning in the G3 year, students should research career options, network, and explore different career paths by reading online resources, attending alumni career workshop and other events within the Harvard community and elsewhere.  A goal is to recognize the skills and experiences that best fit a given career path.

3.     Goal Setting:  Students identify actionable goals for developing desired skills, determining areas of professional interest and building contacts within those areas of interest.

4.     IDP Implementation:  In all years, students will have targeted conversations with their mentor(s) about academic and professional goals, plans and experiences and ways to implement and monitor progress towards these goals.  These conversations encompass short-term goals related to doctoral studies and research, mid-range goals for just after graduate school, and longer-term career goals, with the emphasis guided by stage of training.

Additional resources:

Program in Graduate Education at HMS’s Career & Professional Development Navigator IDP page

myIDP – a Web-based career-planning tool with articles and resources to guide you through the process

The Versatile PhD – instructive content, networks, job analytics and readiness tools for those interested in non-academic careers

IDP Advisor

The role of the IDP advisor is to help with goal setting, career advice, and the implementation of the IDP.

G1s’ IDP Advisor will be the BPH Faculty Director (or a faculty member of their choosing) and at the end of the G1 year, students will select any faculty member of their choosing to serve as their IDP Advisor.

IDP Program Requirements

Your completion of the IDP process each year is a requirement of the BPH program and aligns with NIH requirements. Considering that the beginning of an academic year is an ideal time for self-reflection and planning, we ask that you complete the IDP process by November 10, 2023, which includes the following steps:

  1. Completing the appropriate IDP form (see list below)
  2. Sending the completed IDP Form to your IDP Advisor
  3. Meeting with your IDP Advisor
  4. Completing the BPH Verification online form by November 10, 2023

We ask that you share your IDP Form with your IDP Advisor prior to your meeting to facilitate your discussion.  These forms and conversations will remain confidential between you and your IDP Advisor unless you choose to share portions of it with your Dissertation Advisor.  However, please note that the BPH Program is NOT collecting these forms.  Rather, you will just need to submit the BPH Verification online form  confirming you met with your IDP Advisor and to document completion of the IDP process.

IDP Forms

Complete the appropriate form and share desired portion(s) with your IDP advisor.
G1 Form
G2 Form
G3 and Above Form

BPH Verification Process

Please complete this online verification form to confirm that you’ve completed the IDP process

Supplementary Resources and Links

HSPH Career Development Process
HSPH Office of Career Advancement
FAS Office of Career Services

Professional Development

BPH students have numerous opportunities throughout the duration of the program to hone their scientific speaking, writing and presentation skills in a variety of settings. These include:

  • BPH 219 Biological Sciences Seminar: Emphasis of this course is effective scientific communication.  Students will develop skills in writing and critiquing grants and scientific papers, learn about the grant application process, and present seminars that focus on structure, language and content appropriate for technical and lay audiences. Topics covered will apply to public health concerns in biological sciences across various disciplines.
  • Rising G2 talks: First year students present scientific research from their rotations, usually from the lab they have chosen for their dissertation work. These talks take place in July, at the end of their first year and occur in conjunction with the welcome reception for the new BPH students.
  • BPH Retreat: An overnight retreat involving all BPH faculty, students and staff. Students will either give a scientific talk or present a poster.
  • Data Club: A monthly data meeting run by current BPH students used as an educational tool where students talk about their research and fellow students provide feedback and advice to the presenters.
  • Departmental Seminar Series: Each department runs a Seminar Series where outside guests, internal faculty or current students present their research.
  • Research in Progress Seminars: All students in years 3 and above are required to present research in progress seminars, which are 30-minute seminars in front of the full departmental research community, including faculty, students, staff, and postdoctoral fellows.
  • Career Services: Students have access to both the Harvard Chan School and the FAS Offices of Career Services, both of which offer great professional development opportunities throughout the year.