Institutional Review Board

The CC IRB is working virtually until further notice. Please email chair Amanda Udis-Kessler at with questions or requests for a Zoom meeting.

Purpose Statement

The IRB supports human subjects research with no or minimal harm, good consent processes, no deception or debriefed deception, confidentiality or anonymity, and the use of fairly chosen participants who can refuse to participate if they choose.

IRB Chair

Amanda Udis-Kessler, Ph.D., Chair


The IRB, short for Institutional Review Board, exists to protect the well-being of participants in human subjects research (research that takes people as the objects of study rather than, say, Shakespeare plays, viruses, or artwork by Jackson Pollack). Most human subjects research is carried out with interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, experiments, and fieldwork. While it is commonly carried out in disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, business, and political science, human subjects research may also be carried in departments such as Education or Human Biology and Kinesiology, as well as in interdisciplinary programs such as Feminist and Gender Studies, Race, Ethnicity and Migration Studies, and Southwest Studies. Some Venture Grant projects require interaction with the IRB.

The IRB regulations changed on January 19, 2019. Many of the changes have been incorporated into text and forms on this website.

The IRB has a Standard Operating Procedures Manual.

If your research involves Colorado College students and you will be providing them with any form of compensation or incentives, you must review the incentives subpage for legally binding information.

Below are the forms that you will use to either apply for IRB approval or request an exemption. Please be aware that researchers cannot exempt their own research from IRB review; only the IRB can do that.

There is specific language to be used by faculty members in their emails of approval for student projects. The language is on the first page of the application. Faculty members must use this language in order for students to have their proposals reviewed. Faculty members, please take note, and students, please remind your advisors about the language.

To submit your proposal, complete proposals including copies of all necessary attachments and a confirming email from your faculty sponsor are due VIA EMAIL to the Chair of the IRB when they are fully prepared, and will be reviewed on a rolling basis during the entire year (including the summer, though please note that summer review may take longer). You will usually be notified about the IRB decision regarding your proposal within several days of submitting your proposal. A turnaround of one to two days is not unusual but cannot be guaranteed.

The best way for researchers to make sure they have enough time to go through the application, receive approval, and still have time to do research is to do an exemplary job of filling out the application and to send the proposal in as early as possible.

Treat initial contact with the IRB chair in a formal and professional manner, as you would the cover letter you sent along with a job application. Sending an extremely casual or informal email to the IRB chair signals that you may be equally casual about your obligations to the participants in your study. Unless you know the chair personally, please do not begin your email "Hey, Amanda" or in other equally informal ways.

Exemption and Application Forms

If your project is a personal interest project and is not for a grade, a course, or a thesis, and is not intended to contribute to generalizable academic knowledge, your project does not require interaction with the IRB at all, as it does not count as research by the federal government. As noted before, some Venture Grants require IRB interaction.

If you believe that your project falls into one of the below categories, fill out the MS Forms document linked to the category. 

  • Projects Not Defined as Research: Your project may fall into a category of research that the federal government does not define as research and that therefore does not require you to fill out an IRB proposal. Such projects include journalism, oral history, and other projects in which you are only studying individuals and are not drawing broader social or historical conclusions.

  • Educational Research: If you are carrying out research on educational practices, even if they involve children, you may be eligible for the educational research exemption. This exemption does not include interviews with or surveys of adults (teachers, school administrators).

  • Interaction Research: If you are carrying out research with adults limited only to one or more of three types of research (interviews, surveys, observation in public places) or are only using educational tests with children, you may be eligible for the interaction research exemption.

  • Benign Behavioral Research: If you are carrying out psychological or marketing research with adults that involves no deception (or that involves deception that you can provide minimal information about in the consent process), you may be eligible for the benign behavioral intervention research exemption. Note that this exemption has a special consent form with the same title that you must use with this exemption. Before completing this form you MUST review this BBI Exemption Information Sheet and you are encouraged to print a copy and have it with you for completing the form.

  • Secondary Research: If you are carrying out secondary research involving information that has already been collected for someone else's research or non-research project, or that you have collected previously for a different research or non-research project, you may be eligible for the secondary research exemption.

IRB Application Form: Please fill out and submit this form only if your project is defined as research according to the federal government AND you are not eligible for any of the above exemptions.

(Please note that I have re-added the earlier Word versions of these and some other documents below on this page. You may use those to draft applications, exemption requests, and other materials, but please do not submit those versions. Please only submit requests to the IRB using the MS Forms function above. Also, please note that there are some differences between the Word documents and the MS Forms versions, so please proceed carefully if you are copying from a Word document into a form.)

Informed Consent and Related Templates

You MUST use a consent form unless you have submitted the request for a waiver or alteration of the consent process and have had your request approved by the IRB. You must use one of the below templates unless the IRB has approved your using a different consent form.

Recruitment Material Templates

  • Recruitment Email Template - use if you are recruiting participants via email; the template is structured to include all the legal information you need to provide to potential participants)

  • Recruitment Letter Template - use if you are recruiting participants via letter; the template is structured to include all the legal information you need to provide to potential participants)

While the IRB has not designed a recruitment flyer template, please note that however your flyer is designed it must include the following informational elements to be approved by the IRB:

  • a statement that your project is research
  • the purpose of the study
  • any activities participants will engage in
  • the duration of their participation
  • any possible risks to participants
  • any benefits participants will (or may) receive
  • the fact that their participation is voluntary
  • your name and contact information (phone number, email address)
If relevant, your flyer must also include information about eligibility criteria regarding who should and who should not participate in the study. Your recruitment flyer must not contain any misleading information about the study or overemphasize incentives or compensation (e.g., by using large or bold type).

Additional Forms

Modification Application for Approved Projects

Adverse Event Reporting Form for Approved Projects


You may use the below Word versions of the above forms to draft an application, exemption request, adverse event report, modification application, or request for waiver or alteration of informed consent process, but please DO NOT submit the Word versions to the IRB, as they will not be reviewed. They are to help you prepare materials only. As noted above, there are some differences between these documents and the forms above, so be careful when transferring draft material from a Word document into one of the forms.

Benign Behavioral Intervention Research Exemption Determination Form Word Version

Educational Research Exemption Determination Form Word Version

Interaction Research Exemption Determination Form Word Version

Secondary Research Exemption Determination Form Word Version

IRB Application Form Word Version

Request for Waiver or Alteration of Informed Consent Process Word Version

Modification Application for Approved Projects Word Version

Adverse Event Report Form for Approved Projects Word Version

Grounds for Denial

The IRB will not, under any circumstances, approve a project for which the research has already been carried out. Proposals must be approved before research can begin.

Your proposal will NOT be reviewed if it is missing any of the following elements:

  • Faculty sponsor's email of approval (unless it is a Venture Grant project that is NOT for a thesis; those are reviewed without faculty sponsor input. If your Venture Grant will be used to collect senior thesis data, your thesis advisor does need to approve the IRB proposal)

  • A debriefing form or script if you will be using deception (most common in psychology and marketing studies)

  • Your consent form or script, built using one of the templates below

  • Your interview questions, survey instrument, experiment process, or other materials showing clearly what the participant will encounter and what they will do

  • The beginning and anticipated ending dates of your research project

  • Incident report plan if harm is incurred. No exceptions, even if you are sure no harm will occur. A typical and good answer is that you would report an incident of harm to your advisor and to the chair of the IRB.
Report an issue - Last updated: 08/29/2023