Individual Development Framework (IDF)

Individual Development Framework (IDF)

A plan needs a framework

Created and adopted by a variety of units that offer services to graduate students, the McGill IDF (Individual Development Framework) is a framework of goal categories that will provide students with guidance on areas to focus on when creating their IDP. To learn more about how the IDF was created, please go to:

The IDF Themes

The 21 categories are organized into 7 themes and together form a tapestry of areas that when understood holistically can help you to identify your areas of strength and weakness. Each theme represents categories in which you could choose to develop your goals. For the myPath toolkit, we have added a theme for Academic Milestones.

Click here for a 1 page printable PDF of the Individual Development Framework.

Lead Projects

Beyond an ability to work well with other (see next), successfully leading projects requires strategic planning, behaving professional and ethically, as well as obtaining and managing project funds.

Ethical & Professional Conduct: Ensure ethical practices in all aspects of research including intellectual property, data management, confidentiality, and collegiality. Demonstrate ethical behaviour: integrity, honesty, and accountability. Learn from mistakes. Practice sustainability and act responsibly with the interests of the larger community and its future in mind.

Finances & Funding: Identify opportunities and apply for funding (e.g., fellowships, grants, scholarships). Manage finances and risks. Estimate costs and deliver projects on-budget.

Project & Time Management: Plan projects and tasks, including time, workload, and resources. Develop and prioritize strategic and tactical goals. Persevere and deal with competing pressures.

Work With Others

This theme includes using your interpersonal skills to collaborate successfully with diverse people and teams, lead and inspire others, empathize with and advocate for others, build an understanding of global and local context, or manage relationships.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion: Value the benefits of diverse perspectives, lived experiences, and ways of thinking. Support and promote the voices of others during discussions. Collaborate successfully with cross-disciplinary and intercultural groups. Recognize discriminatory behavior and be an agent of change.

Global & Local Engagement: Advocate for and contribute to solving problems affecting the local and wider/global community. Participate in community, neighborhood, and international activities.

Leadership: Galvanize the strengths of others to achieve common goals. Use interpersonal skills to influence, mentor, coach, and develop others. Negotiate and manage conflict.

Teamwork & Interpersonal: Develop emotional intelligence, interact well with others, and build collaborative relationships for effective teamwork. Define roles and responsibilities of team members. Give and receive feedback and critical appraisals from team members.

Communicate Ideas

Frequently cited as a top skill in demand by employers, this theme encompasses your ability to articulate your ideas and knowledge to diverse groups through teaching, presenting, and writing.

Public Speaking: Present ideas persuasively to diverse audiences both visually and orally. Develop skills and confidence in public speaking.

Teaching: Plan and deliver learning experiences using pre-determined learning outcomes. Facilitate discussions, organize interactive sessions, and provide constructive feedback to participants.

Writing: Articulate ideas and knowledge effectively in writing for specific audiences and purposes. Develop strategies for dealing with “writer’s block.”

Solve Problems

Developing solutions to challenging problems involves analytical and critical reasoning, ideating creative options, and a willingness to work with ambiguity.

Analytical & Critical Reasoning: Analyze and synthesize complex information. Critically evaluate ideas and options. Develop and test hypotheses. Analyze and interpret findings.

Entrepreneurship: Initiate a non-profit or business venture by identifying and leveraging innovative ideas. Tolerate risk and uncertainty, demonstrate a positive attitude, and be achievement oriented.

Innovation & Creativity: Develop innovative and creative solutions. Recognize problems and opportunities, take initiative to generate and implement solutions that are effective and efficient. Demonstrate flexibility, tolerance for ambiguity or unpredictability, willingness to take appropriate risks, and interest in exploring the unknown.

Expand Your Expertise

Sometimes described as “hard skills” because they are more easily measured, this theme reflects your subject matter expertise and your ability to use specific tools, approaches, and technology (e.g. laboratory techniques or qualitative research approaches).

Subject Knowledge: Demonstrate knowledge of and/or develop an original contribution to subject area and research methods. Develop a critical understanding of relevant literature. Be familiar with publishing practices and professional development opportunities in your field.

Tools & Technology: Select and use appropriate tools or technology to accomplish a given task, and develop solutions to problems. Examples: software, programming, technical devices, information management and databases, laboratory skills, statistical and qualitative methods/programs, etc.

Be Well

Although it is listed as a distinct theme in this framework, wellness actually cuts across all of the themes. Having self-awareness and resilience, along with a healthy lifestyle will help you to be successful in all of the categories within the framework.

Healthy Living: Ensure personal wellbeing and work-life balance by establishing priorities (e.g., activities, exercise, sleep, nutrition, time with loved ones) that fulfill personal needs and enable feeling supported by others.

Resilience: Manage stress and anxiety. Develop the resilience and self-determination to overcome obstacles. Be empowered to take ownership and deal with uncertainty.

Self-Knowledge: Develop the self-awareness (strengths, weaknesses, interests, values, preferences) and the self-efficacy (confidence) to live a life that is more meaningful to you. Identify factors that contribute to your happiness.

Plan Your Career

This theme involves understanding your career preferences, exploring options and developing a network, and ultimately learning how to articulate your strengths to prospective employers.

Career Knowledge: Explore career options including academia, non-profits, government, and industry. Gain awareness of typical requirements and degree of competitiveness. Understand the hiring cycle in different sectors.

Applying & Interviewing: Articulate and communicate strengths, knowledge, and experience persuasively to potential employers. Demonstrate the transferability of your skills and knowledge to diverse employers. Adapt communication style and terminology for specific organizations to demonstrate fit.

Networking & Job Search: Create a professional network. Identify, reach out to, and maintain connections with potential collaborators, mentors, colleagues, and employers. Search for jobs in your target career area.

Academic Milestones

Academic Milestones are major achievements associated with successful completion of your graduate degree. It is important to keep these goals and objectives in mind as you plan your activities. You can use myPath to help you plan your academic goals. To track and monitor progress towards your degree, and view your personalized due dates, log in to your myProgress account at

Courses, Internships, & Languages: myProgress provides access to a list of your mandatory course requirements, and the ability to view progress towards completion of courses, internships and languages.

Exams & Committee Meetings: Annual progress tracking is mandatory for all students in Doctoral programs, and required in some Master’s programs. In myProgress you can view when your progress tracking meetings are due, receive reminders about upcoming meetings, and upload documents associated with progress tracking.

Presentations & Papers: Additional requirements for your program that may not be captured in a course format (including presentations, seminars and papers), will be listed in myProgress. Any supporting documents necessary for successfully completing these milestones can be included in your myProgress hub.