Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Academic Professional Program

Main content start

Earn your professional certificate

The Academic Professional Program offers graduate students and postdoctoral scholars the opportunity to develop and expand their toolkit as professionals. Focused on 5 key professional competencies for career readiness, the professional program provides a framework to learn new skills, get practical experience, and produce portfolio pieces that will broaden graduate student and postdoc professional preparedness for any career. 

The Program

The Academic Professional Program takes what has already existed in professional development programming offered to our graduate students and postdocs as a ‘buffet of resources’ and repackages it into a ‘well-balanced lunch box.’ By doing so, students and postdocs are incentivized to broaden their professional skill set with a balanced framework to approach these competency areas, and through the experiential component of each pillar produce actual pieces for their professional portfolio.

The 5 key professional competencies which are the pillars of the program are: teaching & mentoring, writing & public speaking, career education, leadership & collaboration, and diversity, equity, & inclusion. Each pillar is composed of 3 components: education, experience, and a piece to be incorporated into your professional portfolio. These professional competencies come from extensive review of published papers, professional societies, peer institutions and our own Stanford VPGE Grad Grow framework.

New and existing professional programs, workshops, and courses offered through the school's departments, programs, and Educational Affairs offerings, as well as programs through OPA (the office of postdoctoral affairs), VPGE (vice provost for graduate education), CareerEd (career education center), CTL (center for teaching and learning), GWA (grant writing academy), HUME (center for writing and speaking), and other campus affiliates will provide the basis for the educational and experiential components of each competency area. The portfolio piece(s) for each pillar will be determined by the needs of the student or postdoc individually.

Learn more about each pillar and see the suggested program framework here


There are 5 professional competencies that form the pillars of this program. Each pillar has 3 elements: education, experience, and portfolio. See the professional competencies section above to see a suggested framework for completing the 3 elements for each pillar. 

Graduate students must dedicate a minimum of 40 total hours to each pillar: 10 hrs of educational experience, 25 hrs of practical experience, with 5 hours to complete a portfolio piece for each pillar. In total, the program will take approximately 200 hrs for a graduate student to complete and can be done in as little as two years, or spread out over their time here at Stanford. 

Postdocs must dedicate a minimum of 20 total hours to each pillar: 5 hrs of educational experience, 10 hrs of practical experience, with 5 hours to complete a portfolio piece for each pillar. In total, the program will take approximately 100 hrs for a postdoc to complete and can be done in as little as a year, or spread out over their time here at Stanford. 

Completion of the program will be evaluated through submission of a completed program form, 1-page summary reflection, and assessment of final portfolio pieces for each of the 5 pillars. Graduate students and postdocs completing this program will receive a certificate of completion of the Academic Professional Program that can be noted on your CV as well as the opportunity to have a free professional headshot taken.

Get started

Who's eligible? This program is specifically designed for PhD students and postdocs in the school. Co-terms and masters students are encouraged to take advantage of resources in this program, but the program requirements will be difficult to complete in the time you are here.


Woman Snorkeling with school of fish above her

Get started now by submitting this registration form. You can register at any time, and activities you perform while at Stanford but before registering can still count towards this program.


Milky Way over mountains

As you complete each pillar, submit your final portfolio pieces and reflection statement here. You can return to this form and edit it as you continue to make progress in the program.

Program form

Penguin on pack ice

Document your progress and completion of the program on this form. The completed form is part of your program assessment.

Sample completed program form

Please reference this sample completed form to ensure you are incorporating all required information. 

 Have questions about the certificate

If you are a current graduate student or postdoc, contact the Program Manager or Jenny Saltzman.

If you are a working professional looking for non-degree, short courses, please visit Stanford Online, or Stanford Executive Education.