Institutional Review Board

Purpose of the IRB

It is the policy of Pepperdine University that all research involving human participants must be conducted in accordance with accepted ethical, federal, and professional standards for research and that all such research must be approved by one of the university's Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). In the review and conduct of research, Pepperdine University is guided by the ethical principles set forth in the Belmont Report.

In addition, all human subjects research conducted by or under the auspices of Pepperdine University will be performed in accordance with the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, DHHS (CFR), Title 45 Part 46 (45 CFR 46), entitled Protection of Human Research Subjects, and Parts 160 and 164, entitled Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information and the California Protection of Human Subjects in Medical Experimentation Act. Where applicable, FDA regulations on human subjects research will be followed (CFR Title 21 Parts 50 and 56, Protection of Human Subjects and Institutional Review Boards).

Furthermore, research conducted with human subjects must be performed in accordance with the accepted ethical principles established by professional organizations or societies that are applicable to the area of investigation. The actions of Pepperdine University will also conform to all other applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Pepperdine University has assured the Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) of the DHHS that all human subjects research will be conducted in accordance with 45 CFR 46 and has been issued Federal Wide Assurance by the OHRP.

The primary goal of the Pepperdine University IRBs is to protect the welfare and dignity of human subjects. A secondary goal of the Pepperdine IRBs is to assist investigators in conducting ethical research that complies with applicable regulations. Thus, when a faculty member, student, and/or employee of Pepperdine University wishes to conduct research involving human subjects, her or his research proposal must be reviewed by one of the following IRBs:

  1. Graduate and Professional Schools IRB: Responsible for reviewing research applications of investigators from the Graduate School of Education and PsychologyGraziadio Business School, School of Law, and School of Public Policy.
  2. Seaver College IRB: Responsible for reviewing research applications of investigators from any division/department within Seaver College. Staff members or employees of Pepperdine who do not have a faculty appointment, but who are conducting research investigations also should submit IRB applications to the Seaver College IRB.

Prior to initiating any research project that seeks to obtain data from human participants, the investigator must obtain written approval from the appropriate Pepperdine IRB.

The Six Steps to IRB Success

All Research Investigators

Obtaining IRB approval is a legal and ethical requirement before beginning research activities. It is essential that you contact the IRB before you start any research activities including recruitment of subjects so that we can make sure to guide you through the application and approval process.

Research activities include:

  • Collecting and Analyzing Data
  • Analyzing Existing Data
  • Conducting a Program Review
  • Meta-Analysis or Critical Review of the Literature

NOTE TO DOCTORAL STUDENTS: Depending on your program, you will be submitting your IRB application shortly before or immediately after your Dissertation Proposal Meeting. Please consult with your dissertation chair for exact timelines and specific guidance. In addition, all students from the Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) submitting Expedited or Full Review IRB applications must first submit their research proposals to the Education Division Methods Review Committee or the Psychology Division Methods Review Committee before submitting the IRB applications to the GPS IRB Office. Please consult your dissertation chair for guidance on this process.

Education Division's Methods Review:

Psychology Division's Methods Review:

NOTE TO GRANT APPLICANTS AND AWARDEES: Because many funding agencies require proof of IRB approval prior to the award of grants, investigators should submit their IRB applications concurrently with submissions for funding.

STEP 1: Determine Level of Review and Type of Application

First, with the help of your chair or committee, you must determine which type of application you will submit (which involve different documentation and forms), which then corresponds to differing levels of risk, review processes, and timelines for obtaining IRB approval. Note that most applications go through at least one request for revisions or modifications, so please budget your time accordingly.

The most common applications are Exempt and Expedited. You can determine which application to submit by reviewing the one-page handout entitled Exempt Expedited Decision Tree.

The IRB Board will help to route any Expedited protocols that actually require Full Review after your initial submission; or if you consulted with the IRB prior to submission, we will let you know during the submission process.

Potential Risk No more than minimal (see handout) Minimal to Moderate (see handout) Moderate to Substantial (determine by IRB)
Submission Process Review Process e-Protocol:At least 1 reviewer e-Protocol: At least 2 reviewers e-Protocol: Full Board Review
Timeline for Receipt of Initial Review 11-15 business days 15-20 business days 30-40 business days; dependent on Board Meeting (see calendar)
Timeline for Receipt of Revisions and Modifications Reviews 6-10 business days 11-14 business days 15-20 business days

STEP 2: Complete Human Subjects Training

Human subjects' training is required for all faculty, staff, and students conducting research involving human subjects at Pepperdine University. Proof of completion is required for your IRB application submission. Human subject training must be updated every 3 years. The CITI Program Human Subjects training is free for all Pepperdine students, staff and faculty. Please follow these instructions to register for and complete the appropriate human subjects training course. 

Special human subjects training pathways in CITI are required for the following:

  • GSEP Education Students - Social-Behavioral-Educational Human Subjects Training
  • Faculty/Staff - Faculty/Staff Human Subjects Training
  • MSOD - Graduate & Professional Schools - Business/Public Policy/Law Student Human Subjects Training
  • DBA - Graduate & Professional Schools - Business/Public Policy/Law Student Human Subjects Training
  • GSEP Psychology Students - Psychology Human Subjects Training
  • Business/Public Policy/Law Students - Graduate & Professional School Human Subjects Training

STEP 3: Familiarize Yourself with eProtocol

All new IRB applications must be submitted using the new eProtocol IRB system at

Prior to submitting an application, please review the relevant User Guide and the eProtocol FAQ:

  1. Faculty and Staff
  2. Students
  3. eProtocol FAQs including technical support

STEP 4: Gather the Necessary Materials for Submission

To ensure the submission of a complete application, please review the relevant eProtocol Checklist and the specific guidance for Exempt or Expedited Consent Forms:

  1. Faculty and Staff Checklist
  2. Student Checklist
  3. Consent Forms Guide for Exempt Applications
  4. Consent Forms Guide for Expedited Applications
  5. List of Forms and Templates

STEP 5: Consult IRB (if necessary)

If after proceeding through steps 1-4 above, you still have questions about the application process, please reach out to our IRB Manager and IRB Chair for assistance. We will gladly help you in advance to ensure a smooth application submission and review. For additional questions regarding eProtocol, the determination of expedited vs. exempt application, and selection and preparation of necessary forms and template; please contact our IRB manager Andrea Quintero at or email us at

For more advanced questions regarding a complicated Expedited or Full Application, please contact the GPS IRB Chair, Judy Ho at

STEP 6: Submit Your Application

All applications must be submitted at The system will save your progress if you are unable to complete the entire submission in one sitting. All applications must be complete prior to being assigned reviewer(s). Any incomplete applications will be returned and requested to be resubmitted with all necessary materials.

Pepperdine University IRB Administrative Personnel

Dr. Rick Marrs Provost 310.506.4261
Dr. Lee Kats Vice Provost
Authorized Institutional Official
Signatory Official
Mrs. Katy Carr Assistant Provost for Research
Human Protections Administrator
Dr. Helen Williams Graduate School of Education and Psychology
Research Integrity Officer
Mrs. Kim Miller Pepperdine HIPAA Privacy Official Chair 310.506.6464
Dr. Judy Ho Chair, GPS IRB 310.568.5753
Dr. Susan Helm Chair, Seaver College IRB 310.506.4325
Ms. Andrea Quintero IRB Manager 310.568.2305