Research Involving Human Subjects

If you are conducting research involving human subjects, you are obligated to request review and approval for your study protocol from the Committee for Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS) which serves as the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for UC Berkeley. Federal law and University policy require that all research you conduct that involves human subjects in any way must be reviewed and approved or determined to be exempt by the CPHS before the research is initiated. If your research is ongoing, you must request the project be reviewed and approved again prior to the expiration date of the current approval, and at least once a year.

As of September 1, 2005, before approval is granted for a research protocol, any graduate student listed as Lead Investigator or Key Personnel on an application to CPHS must complete training in human subjects research by taking and passing the online CITI Program (, a basic course in the Protection of Human Research Subjects. Students should take either the Social-Behavioral or Biomedical sequence of modules as is most appropriate for the type of research they are conducting.

Graduate students who plan to use human subjects in their research must complete the CITI course and print out the certificate of completion prior to applying for advancement to candidacy. This certificate must be submitted with the advancement form.

There is no provision for CPHS to give retroactive approval of research. Applications involving greater than minimal risk for subjects will go to full committee review and must be submitted to the CPHS at least 4 weeks prior to the regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Applications for expedited or exempt categories of review are processed in order of receipt. The review process can be a lengthy one, sometimes taking 2-3 months to complete. Plan adequate time for the review and approval process. Research that involves human subjects that is conducted without the approval of CPHS may be rejected by the Graduate Division.

Only CPHS can determine whether research is eligible for exemption from federal regulations, qualifies for expedited sub-committee review, or will require full committee review. Each student should be granted individual approval by CPHS. If you have any questions about federal regulations or University policy, please call the staff in the Office for the Protection of Human Subjects at (510) 642-7461 or visit its Web site at The CPHS/OPHS web site contains complete Guidelines and forms for research investigators.

Research Involving Animal Subjects

The Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) ( is charged with reviewing and approving all proposed uses of live vertebrate animals in teaching and research.

If you will be conducting research for your degree that involves vertebrate animals, you must obtain approval from the ACUC prior to beginning your research. You must provide the Graduate Division with a copy of the approval for your study protocol prior to filing for your degree.

Relevant Policies

For more information, see applicable policies in the Guide to Graduate Policy.