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In most cases, class projects involving human participants are not intended to contribute to generalizable knowledge and therefore are not covered under the federal regulations for IRBs, regardless of risk. Although ethical considerations still apply, typical classroom research projects do not need to be reviewed by the IRB.

IRB approval should be obtained using the IRB Application if

  • Personal information (e.g., opinions, behaviors, beliefs, feelings, etc.) will be collected from a human participant, regardless of the sensitivity of the data or if data will be collected through interaction,


  • The results of the classroom research project will contribute to generalizable knowledge (e.g., by publishing — including master’s theses; loading to a cloud or online database such as an e-portfolio; presenting outside the class; posting on social media or LinkedIn; poster presentations).

IRB review and approval is not required for human subjects classroom research in which the results stay within the classroom and are presented or made available nowhere else, including online. Even if IRB approval is not necessary, the human subjects of research should be protected and treated with respect.

Please see Guidelines for Human Subject Research in the Classroom for more information.

See also “Does Your Project Need IRB Review?”