Institutional Review Board over edited photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash.

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a committee designed to regulate care of participants in research conducted by members of the Northwest University community: faculty, staff, students, and doctoral candidates.


The responsibility of the IRB is to establish and enforce ethical guidelines that protect human participants from harm, respect their dignity, and ensure the appropriate treatment and use of non-human subjects (animals). The IRB especially seeks to protect those who have limited understanding of the risks of their participation or who have diminished decision-making abilities. Current federal policy stipulates both the necessity and requirements of institutional research boards. Further, the NU IRB has outlined NU Principles and Practices with specific guidance for Northwest University.

Who Must Submit an IRB Application?

All potential research projects using human participants (including those conducted by students as part of a class assignment) need to be reviewed by this board prior to their implementation, unless they meet criteria for exempt status. IRB review is required for any research that it designed to “develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge” where data will be used for publication or conference presentation to “forward the field”.


A study is exempt if it:

  • Is used for program development only
  • Uses only previously collected, anonymous documents & records, or data available to the public
  • Consists of passive observation of participants whose identity is kept anonymous
  • Is held in an educational setting and examines educational practices

I’m Planning a Research Project

All researchers need to complete Protecting Human Research Participants training. See the Where Do I Start? document and complete PHRP Training to begin. 

Please note: NU requires human subjects training every 5 years for all researchers and research supervisors. For student applications, both the student researcher and the faculty supervisors must submit certificate of human subjects training (PHRP Training or equivalent) with the application.

Sensitive Topics Review Process: Researchers associated with Northwest University considering a sensitive topic must undergo a sensitive topics review before progressing further in the research process. This is done through the Office of the Provost.

Research at Northwest University: Researchers who plan to recruit NU students, faculty, and staff, are required to obtain recruitment permission from the Office of the Provost once IRB approval is received.

When Is My Application Due?

IRB research proposal applications are due 7 business days PRIOR to IRB meetings.

The IRB had updated the Abbreviated Application and Full Application. Please ensure that all responses are typed directly within each section of the application.

Future IRB Committee Meetings

FallSpring Summer
September 26January 30
Submission deadline: January 19 by 5 pm
May – TBD
October 24February 27
Submission deadline: February 15 by 5 pm
June – TBD
November 21March 26
Submission deadline: March 15 by 5 pm
July – TBD
April 30
Submission deadline: April 19 by 5 pm
August – TBD

Note: The IRB Committee does not meet in December.

Please wait a moment...