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Postdoctoral Mentoring Plans

NSF requires proposers who request postdoc support in their budgets to include a one-page Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan with their grant applications. Refer to the NSF Grant and Proposal Guide (Chapter II.C.2.j) to see the requirements for an NSF Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan.


We recommend creating a postdoc mentoring plan by referring to the National Postdoctoral Association’s six Core Competencies that postdocs should seek to develop in their training: 


  • discipline-specific conceptual knowledge
  • research skill development
  • communication skills
  • professionalism
  • leadership and management skills
  • responsible conduct of research 

A good postdoc mentoring plan outlines activities and resources that will provided to a postdoc during their training to allow them to develop their competency in each of these six areas. Consider what your department or research centers offer (seminars, travel opportunities, collaborations with external researchers, industry interactions, etc.) that could serve as a resource to provide a postdoc with skill development opportunities.


Resources for postdocs at the College and University level are profiled on the CNS Postgraduate Education office’s postdoc website.


The National Postdoctoral Association also provides some additional guidance for developing postdoctoral mentoring plans.


Individualized Development Plans (IDPs)

NIH has announced that in annual progress reports received on or after October 1, 2014, grantees must describe how or whether they are using IDPs to help manage the training and career development of NIH-supported graduate students or postdocs. Read the August 4, 2014, Guide notice for details on this policy.

If you are interested in utilizing IDPs to help your students or postdocs (NIH-funded or otherwise) outline their career development goals, and to track their progress toward achieving those goals, our Graduate/Postdoc Career Counselor Dr. Po-Tsan Ku is here to help. Dr. Ku can share recommended IDP tools with you, and can also meet with you and your students or postdocs to discuss strategies to implement their IDP once they’ve created it.