PROGRAM UPDATES: 2021-2022 Funding Cycle Now Open!

For Prospective Applicants

The Individualized Professional Skills (IPS) Program has officially launched for the 2021-22 academic year. We are currently accepting applications from current graduate students and postdocs in ALL DISCIPLINES for experience dates from September 1, 2021 through August 31, 2022. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis and as funding sources permit. Applicants may submit proposals for either virtual or in-person experiences. For current travel guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please refer to the CDC and California Public Health Department websites. 

View the recording and slides from our recent IPS Info Session (please note that you must be logged into your UCSB Google account to access both of these):

Meet & Eats and IPS Insights

At this time, all Meet & Eat events have been postponed until further notice due to precautions surrounding COVID-19. Instead, we are excited to bring you our “IPS Insights" series, where previous awardees share about their IPS-funded experiences in short informational videos. Links to IPS Insights videos will be continually updated here!

Neil Zhang at a biotech industry conference
Rammy Salem at an Arab American summit to advance social change
Sandy Fogg at a seaweed aquaculture workshop
Anna Kim at a PI crash course
Pedro Craveiro at the Modern Language Association convention
Gracie White at the Aquaculture America Conference
Heath Pennington at the Intimacy Professionals Association certification program
Jasmine Kelekay at the Afroeuropean Studies Conference

IPS Experience Database

To help increase the ongoing impact of the IPS Program, our team has compiled a comprehensive and user-friendly database of all IPS-funded experiences over the past several years. This database is hosted on Airtable which lets you search, filter, and sort to find out more information on the amazing opportunities your peers have taken advantage of and the valuable lessons they learned. Click the image below to start exploring the database!

Jump to a section:

Program Overview (including information on IDPs)
Eligibility Information
Application Information
Selection Criteria
Award Details & Timeline
Frequently Asked Questions

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 UCSB graduate students and postdoctoral scholars from any discipline who wish to individually tailor their career paths with outside professional development opportunities. These opportunities include but are not limited to:

  • Attending workshops, industry trade shows, trainings, certificate programs, and other professional events
  • Visits to potential industries and companies
  • Visits to job shadow potential mentors or others in a chosen industry
  • Career-focused professional organization events
  • And more!

For ideas, check out the Opportunities Resource List

The purpose of the IPS 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. If you need an IDP mentor, feel free to reach out to Lana Smith-Hale ( or Hannah Lawrence (

(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 (5-minute presentation). (Note: Until further notice and in lieu of a Meet & Eat presentation, awardees will be asked to submit an IPS Insights video upon completion of their experience. Additional instructions for the video will be sent after their experience is over.) If a group/team has been funded, the group members will be permitted to present together in a single 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?

Note: Applicants seeking funding for opportunities $100 and under will be taken through a streamlined application process and only required to submit a post-experience written summary (not give a Meet & Eat presentation or create an IPS Insights video).


  • Graduate students must be enrolled full time and in good academic standing.
  • Grad students and postdocs from any discipline and of any citizenship status are eligible to apply.
  • 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, but each trainee who is requesting funding will be required to submit a separate IPS application and will be reviewed on an individual basis.


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 you have 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 itemized estimated budget for the proposed professional development opportunity. Information can include expenses such as travel, registration, lodging, food, etc. Awards are for a maximum of $1,000 per applicant.


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 have not received an IPS grant before.


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 date is at least 1 month in advance of the experience, but since program funds are limited, we encourage interested applicants to submit as soon as possible. Applicants are typically notified of a funding decision within 3-4 weeks after their initial submission.

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 IPS Program is a collaboration between the Professional Development Series (PDS) at the Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships; the Graduate Division; the UCSB Innovation and Entrepreneurship initiative and CNSI Technology Incubator; Career Services; the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion; UCSB SACNAS Career Pathways Program via DoD HBCU/MI award W911NF-20-1-0294; UCSB's divisional deans; and external donors.


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. In your application, you should note any additional funding you have sought out, applied for, or been awarded for this opportunity.

I am a doctoral student in the Girvetz Graduate School of Education (GGSE). Am I eligible to apply?

GGSE students are encouraged to first seek out support through their school's Doctoral Student Travel Grant program before applying to IPS. CCSP students may direct questions to Shannon Rivard, and Education students may direct questions to Karen Nylund-Gibson. For additional questions about the GGSE Dean's Travel Grants, please contact Aaron Ballett.

Can I apply as part of a group?

Groups/teams may apply together, but members must contact Arica Lubin before applying 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.

I have already received an IPS grant before. Can I still apply?

Yes, but program funds are limited and priority will be given to applicants who have not yet received an award.

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.

For questions, STEM students should contact Arica Lubin (, and SHEF students should contact Shawn Warner (