Are you receiving funding through the Charles Center to do research involving human subjects? If so, you will likely need to go through the process of submitting your research proposal to the Student Institutional Review Board (IRB). The Student IRB is a committee that will review your proposed research methods to ensure that they do not violate any ethical standards. Applying for and receiving IRB approval can can take several weeks, so you should start as soon as you have your project idea fully fleshed out. This process may seem complicated, but if you follow these steps you should have no problems getting approval for your project:

1. Figure out if your Project Requires IRB Approval
Most research with human subjects  (e.g. taking surveys, conducting interviews or focus groups, etc.) will require Student IRB approval. However, if your research mostly involves helping your advisor in research that he/she is already doing, you may be covered under your advisor’s IRB certification, and you may not need to submit to the Student IRB. Talk with your advisor to see if this is the case for your project. Moreover, your project must fall under “exempt research” to qualify for IRB approval. “Exempt research” must not cause harm to participants, and it must be anonymous.

2. Complete CITI Training
CITI training is a set of online modules that teach you the guidelines of performing ethical research with human subjects. All students applying for Student IRB approval will need to complete the Charles Center Student IRB Module. Moreover, your advisor will need to complete modules relating to their area of expertise. Make sure to save copies of both your and your advisor’s completion reports.

3. Upload Necessary Documents to the Campus Protocol & Compliance System portal
To apply for Student IRB approval, you’ll need to upload the following documents to the online application:

  • CITI training completion reports (from both student and advisor)
  • Consent form you’ll be using in your project (use sample consent form as a template)
  • Summary of your project (this can be copied from your Project Proposal in your research funding application)
  • Data collection documents (e.g. Interview/survey questions, etc.)

Once you’ve filled out the application and uploaded these documents, you’ll be ready to submit!

4. Check for Revision Requests
The Student IRB may ask you to make revisions to your original application. If they do, be sure to revise and resubmit in a timely manner.

5. Check for your Approval Notification
When your project is approved, you will receive a protocol number. Enter this number on your research grant electronic award letter and return it to the Charles Center to receive your grant payment.


You can find more specific details about the Student IRB process here. As always, if you have any questions about receiving Student IRB approval or any other aspect of applying for Charles Center Research Funding, don’t hesitate to come into the PSA office any time from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday! Thanks for reading!