Skip to main content

Common Course Assignments: Professional Development Plans (PDPs)

Purpose of the PDP

Students conceptualize a personalized blueprint for approaching their Walden doctoral studies and present it in a written Professional Development Plan (PDP or essay). Writing the essay allows students the opportunity to

  • Reflect on their personal history, professional accomplishments, and future aspirations;
  • Initiate a discussion with faculty about graduate study in general and the Walden program in particular;
  • Articulate academic interests and set goals for their Walden educational experience; and
  • Establish a personalized timeline for meeting degree requirements (i.e., the Program of Study form).

KAM-based PDPs also have the following goal:

  • Identify themes for each KAM that support those interests and goals.

Students develop the PDP in close consultation with their Foundation course instructor/faculty mentor, who will review and approve the final document. (The Program of Study form is ultimately approved by the student's faculty chair.) Students are urged to review their PDP with their faculty mentor on an annual basis to assess their progress and growth. Students learn more about the PDP in the online Foundation course.

PDP Approval Process

Students submit the completed PDP to their Foundation course instructors electronically. Should a plan require revision, the course instructor returns it to the student with comments and feedback. When satisfied the plan meets the university's expectations, the course instructor forwards the PDP and the Program of Study form to the program's academic advisors for initial review. He or she then forwards the PDP and the Program of Study form to the appropriate faculty chair for review.

The faculty chair may return the plan to the student and course instructor for revisions or approve it. Following approval by the faculty chair, the PDP is ratified in the Office of the Registrar.

Criteria for PDP Approval

A PDP will be considered for approval when all of the following criteria have been met:

  • The PDP is well written and follows style and formatting guidelines in The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. (The use of the first person is permissible.)
  • The content corresponds to the curriculum requirements of the university and the selected doctoral program, and to the student's specialization, if applicable.
  • The content corresponds to the student's educational background and goals.
  • The student has gained access to the necessary resources and exhibits the traits of an independent learner.
  • The Plan of Study and the Program of Study form are complete.