Program Update: The IPS program will be furloughed during Summer 2019. Stay tuned for announcements about the next application cycle.

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Program Overview (including information on IDPs) |  Eligibility Information
Application Information  |  Selection Criteria  |  Award Details & Timeline  |  FAQs

Have you ever wished you had support to take advantage of a professional or career development opportunity that lies outside the scope of your academic research? The UCSB Individualized Professional Skills (IPS) Program is designed to help graduate students and postdoctoral scholars fill in the funding gaps for pursuing opportunities that support your professional development in a variety of career trajectories.


Awards up to $1000 will be granted to eligible graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who wish to individually tailor their career paths with outside professional development opportunities. These opportunities include but are not limited to: attending workshops, conferences, industry trade shows, trainings, certificates, and other professional events; visits to potential industries and companies; visits to job shadow potential mentors or others in a chosen industry; professional organization events; and more. For ideas, check out the Opportunities Resource List

The purpose of this pilot program is to ​help grad students and postdocs take greater agency in their own career path by funding exploration of a range of professional development opportunities across a variety of career and skill interests. The program also includes increased awareness of valuable experiences, career readiness, post-event follow through, and peer-to-peer networking.

There are three key elements to the program:

(1) PRE-EXPERIENCE: Create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) and review it with a mentor. (Note: A completed IDP is not required in order to fill out the IPS grant application; however we strongly recommend that ​students fill out this document before applying in order to strengthen ​their application.) Applicants create an ​IDP using the UCSB IDP+IPS template​ and these instructionsApplicants identify a mentor (e.g. career counselor, faculty advisor, professional/industry mentor) who can help ​them review this plan and discuss how ​to make the most of ​their upcoming experience to further ​their career preparedness and professional growth.

(2) EXPERIENCE: Students pursue the chosen career or professional development opportunity.

(3) POST-EXPERIENCE: Revise IDP (for personal use) and present a reflection on the experience in two ways – a written summary (max 300 words) and a presentation at a quarterly Meet & Eat IPS Info Session (10-minute presentation). If a group/team has been funded, the group members will be permitted to present together in a single 10-min presentation if they wish. The reflection should address the following questions:

  1. What did you do?
  2. What was the most valuable part of the experience?
  3. Who could benefit from this?
  4. What are the skills that you have gained from this experience and what are any planned next steps based on your experience?

Download the program flyer here


  • Graduate students must be enrolled full time and in good academic standing.
  • US Citizen or permanent resident, with selective funding available for international and AB540 trainees.
  • Must have at least 1 quarter remaining in graduate degree or postdoc appointment at the time of ​the experience, or be able to fulfill the post-experience grant requirements listed above.
  • Groups/teams may apply together, but must contact Arica Lubin to discuss plans for the experience. Each trainee who is requesting funding will be required to submit a separate IPS application and will be reviewed on an individual basis.
  • Individuals are allowed to submit for multiple experiences (each experience request requires a separate application), with priority given to those who would be first-time recipients .


Interested applicants must complete an online form that includes information about themselves, their IDP mentor, and their proposed opportunity. The application also calls for:

  • A statement (500 words max) that describes the career/job skills you expect to gain from participating in this opportunity. Your answer should address the following questions: (1) What are your larger career goals after graduation/completing postdoc training, and how will this opportunity help you achieve these goals? (2) What skills or knowledge do you hope to gain that you wouldn’t be able to get at UCSB? (3) How is this experience beyond the scope of your research program and support from your advisor/PI/research group? If applying as a group/team please also reference the group motivation and how the group/team will benefit from all members participating.
  • A statement (150 words max) describing any additional funding the applicant has sought out, applied for, and/or been awarded for this opportunity (e.g., conference or professional society scholarships, lab or advisor funds, outside grants or fellowships).
  • An estimated budget for the proposed professional development opportunity. Information can include expenses such as travel, registration, lodging, food, etc.


Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Potential for substantive professional development and/or career learning
  • Impact of the award to finance and enable engagement in the opportunity

Priority will be given to applicants who are:

  • 1-2 years out from completing their graduate degree or postdoc appointment
  • Awardees or honorable mentions of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
  • Pursuing experiences in "entrepreneurship and innovation"

Applications not fitting the above priority criteria will also be considered based on their merit.


Grant awards are for a maximum of $1000 per ​applicant.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, and awards are granted as the funding sources permit. The preferred application deadline is at least 21 days in advance of travel, but requests with shorter notice will be considered in special cases. Applicants are typically notified within 3-4 weeks of a funding decision, and there is a component on the application to note whether an expedited review is requested.

Upon completion of the opportunity, awardees must complete ​a reimbursement form. This process will vary depending on the funding source; awardees will receive further information about reimbursement procedures upon notification of their award. Original receipts must be included with the reimbursement form. Expenses may not include dissertation or administrative-related costs or alcohol purchases.

The Individualized Professional Skills Grant Program is a pilot project funded by the NSF Mentoring Program at the Graduate Division, the Professional Development Series at the Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships, and the UCSB Innovation and Entrepreneurship initiative (formerly SEED-SB), and in partnership with Career Services, the Center for Bioengineering, and the Graduate Student Resource Center.


Can I apply for funding to support attending/presenting at a research conference related to my research?

No, IPS funding is designed for experiences that are beyond the scope of your research and research conference attendance (see below for exceptions for affiliated events). We encourage you to apply for research conference funding through the GSA Conference Travel Grant and the Academic Senate Doctoral Student Travel Grants.

Can I apply for funding to attend an additional event/workshop/institute that is affiliated with a research conference?

Yes, you can apply for funding to attend opportunities such as skills workshops, leadership institutes, trade shows, or other events that ​are affiliated with ​a research conference but would require you to travel independent of support ​for your research. ​In your application, you should demonstrate how this affiliated opportunity is distinct from your research-related goals at the conference, how it clearly fits into your career development goals, and why you will incur additional costs to attend this affiliated event outside of your regular travel to the research conference.

This travel will help my academic research related to my graduate program or postdoctoral training. Am I eligible to apply?

No, the IPS program is not designed to support opportunities related to your research.

Professional societies, conference organizers, UCSB groups, etc. might support this travel. Am I eligible to apply?

Possibly, if you meet all other eligibility requirements.

What other opportunities are available at UCSB to support my professional development?

In addition to the travel grants mentioned above provided by the Graduate Student Association and the Academic Senate, we also encourage you to check out information on the UCSB Beyond Academia career exploration conference and the UCSB Graduate Student Internship Fellowship Program.

If you have any questions, please contact Arica Lubin (


For a list of upcoming Meet & Eat events as well as an archive of past experiences, click on the images below:

  • April 26 Meet & Eat Flyer
  • March 15 Meet & Eat Flyer (3 presenters)
  • Feb 22 Meet & Eat Flyer
  • Feb 1 Meet & Eat Flyer