Program Updates (as of September 2023)

The application portal is now open! We are currently accepting applications to support experiences occurring between July 2023 and June 2024.

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. Read on to learn more about the program!

Learn from Our Awardees

IPS Insights Videos

IPS Insights

IPS Insights videos are short recaps from our awardees about their professional development experiences through IPS. Check out our Vimeo archive of over 20 videos to learn more.

IPS Experience Database

IPS Database

The IPS Experience Database is a user-friendly collection of all IPS-funded experiences. Browse the opportunities our awardees have pursued and read about the valuable lessons they learned.

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Meet & Eats

Each quarter, we host two Meet & Eats where past awardees talk about their experiences with other grad students over lunch. We hope you'll join us for an upcoming event!

FALL 2023

Friday, October 20
12 - 1 pm
SRB Multipurpose Room

Friday, November 3
12 - 1 pm
Elings 1601


Friday, February 9
12 - 1 pm
SRB Multipurpose Room

Friday, March 8
12 - 1 pm
Elings 1605


Friday, April 19
12 - 1 pm
SRB Multipurpose Room

Friday, May 10
12 - 1 pm
Elings 1605

For Prospective Applicants

Jump to a section:

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


Awards up to $1200 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!

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: Although not required, we strongly recommend that prospective applicants attend a Meet & Eat and complete an IDP before applying to the IPS program. To learn more about IDPs, visit the Career Services website.

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 Maya Hargens (

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

(3) POST-EXPERIENCE: Awardees reflect on their experience and present it to their peers 

After their experience is complete, awardees can revise their IDP for personal use and either sign up to give a 7- to 10-minute presentation (including Q&A) at an in-person Meet & Eat or submit a 3- to 5-minute IPS Insights video about their experience. All awardees must also submit a written summary (max 300 words) of their experience, regardless of which presentation option they choose.

Each post-experience element 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 are only required to submit the written post-experience summary (not give a Meet & Eat presentation or create an IPS Insights video).

Awardees should adhere to the following deadlines for completing their post-experience requirements:

  • Within 3 weeks after IPS-funded experience ends: Submit written post-summary experience and headshot and indicate whether you plan to participate in a Meet & Eat or to submit an IPS Insights video (personalized link to submit items is sent once you accept your award)
  • Within 8 weeks after IPS-funded experience ends: Submit IPS Insights video OR sign up for Meet & Eat slot
  • Within 1 year after IPS-funded experience ends: Complete Meet & Eat presentation (if applicable)


  • 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 $1200 per applicant.

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Applications are evaluated based on the these two broad criteria:

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

The following rubric is used to evaluate applications, with each component being weighted equally:

  • The applicant clearly states their larger career goals after graduation or the completion of their postdoc training and describes how this opportunity will help them achieve these goals.
  • The applicant clearly describes the skills or knowledge they hope to gain from the opportunity that they wouldn't be able to get at UCSB or through their program/training.
  • The applicant clearly demonstrated their career readiness or proximity to graduating/completing their postdoc training.
  • This experience is beyond the scope of their research program.
  • This experience is not fully supported by other sources of campus funding, such as GSA/Academic Senate grants or support from their advisor/PI/research group.
  • The applicant clearly states a proposed budget and describes the impact that the funding would have on their ability to participate in the proposed opportunity.

Priority is given to applicants who have not received an IPS grant before.


Grant awards are for a maximum of $1200 per applicant.

Applications are reviewed on the first Thursday of every month, 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. 

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; 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. 

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 (