Institutional Review Board

IRB Basic Steps (none highlighted)


6/19/18 UPDATE: It was previously communicated that on July 19, 2018, changes to the federal requirements for studies submitted to the IRB would go into effect. Official notification has been received that these requirements have been delayed (read more). The new implementation date will be January 21, 2019. CATS IRB will still undergo major changes soon to comply with the NIH Single IRB policy; information on the new release date will be forthcoming. Learn more about the Common Rule requirements and our recommendations:

University Park and other campus locations:

Welcome to the Office for Research Protection’s IRB Program. An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a federally mandated entity that oversees the protection of human subjects in research. IRBs help mitigate potential risks to participants, including their physical and psychological well-being, confidentiality and privacy, and autonomy, among others. At Penn State, an IRB must review all research involving human subjects, and the research cannot begin until the IRB has reached a determination. This is true even if a researcher perceives there are no risks for people who participate in his or her research.  Click here to complete the IRB feedback survey at

Penn State has one IRB at University Park. The IRB oversees human subjects research at all University colleges and campus locations except the College of Medicine and the Pennsylvania College of Technology. The IRB Program within the Office for Research Protections provides administrative support for the IRB, and program staff who are IRB Analysts review certain categories of research on behalf of the IRB. The Human Subjects Protections Office provides administrative support to the College of Medicine IRBs (717-531-5687). 

The 5 Basic Steps will give you more information on the definition of human subjects research and of review categories. Reading through the steps will help you prepare your IRB submission, give you direction on how to submit a study for IRB review, help you understand the review process, and give you an idea of what happens after an IRB determination has been reached. We also offer a number of trainings and instructional resources.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at or reach out directly to your IRB Analyst