Securing Approvals

Consult with your Dean’s office or Research Administrator on your department's internal proposal review requirements, which should be met prior to submission to Central Administration.

submission of proposals

Sponsored Programs

Applications for sponsored programs, which include proposals for research and service projects, must be submitted to your department's assigned Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) Project Officer (link here to the Assigned SPA Project Officers) at least five business days prior to a sponsor’s application deadline. SPA must review the proposal’s budget and other administrative components for compliance with University and sponsor requirements.

The University has formed an International Research Committee to review international programs meeting certain criteria. Each SPA Project Officer will assess proposals to determine if they meet these criteria.

If the sponsored project will involve human subjects, the applicant should consult the Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to grant application submission to SPA, to determine the appropriate time to submit an IRB protocol for review. The project must be approved by the IRB before the research can be conducted, if awarded by the sponsor.  The IRB can assist the applicant in determining the proper steps to take to obtain the approval in a timely manner.

For additional information regarding the Columbia University IRBs, visit the CU Morningside IRB or the CUMC IRB website.

For additional details regarding international proposals, review the procedures outlined in International Research and Service Projects: Risk Management Procedures and The Sponsored Projects Handbook.

Educational/Academic Programs

Programs are reviewed for their academic value, feasibility, and sustainability. By design, this review occurs early on before administrative details are worked out. Consult with your Dean’s office about unit-based review requirements.

For undergraduate programs, consult the Office of Global Programs (OGP). The OGP assists with submitting the course for review to the Faculty Committee on Instruction for Columbia College and the School of General Studies, where apprropiate.

Research with Human Subjects

Investigators conducting research with human subjects in foreign countries must be aware of and abide by all applicable Columbia polices related to international activities, as well as research-related requirements of the foreign site. Columbia’s Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are responsible for the review, approval, and oversight of all research that involves human subjects.

The IRB Standard Operating Procedures, and the International Research/Export Control webpage maintained by the Office of RCT, provide additional information. Due to additional requirements, approval of research to be conducted internationally may take additional time.

IRB review of international research raises additional considerations relating to local laws, institutional commitments and regulations, standards of professional conduct and practice, cultural norms, and local community attitudes (relative to the study site). Physical, social and psychological risks may vary from those in the New York City communities within which the Columbia campuses reside, i.e., from the area “local to” the CUMC and CU-MS IRBs. Challenges may be raised when assessing the risks and benefits of research conducted internationally if adequate knowledge of the local setting is not provided. Care must be taken to ensure that the cultural norms of the host country are respected and that the participants will not suffer adverse consequences from participation, such as being subjected to retaliation from local authorities or the local community.

To that end, evaluation of the protocol by a review board local to the study site, consultation with an expert in the respective country, and/or other means to obtain knowledge of the local context is required. If sufficient information about the proposed research site, to satisfy the IRB’s requirement for knowledge of the local context, is not provided in the submission, it will be requested as part of the administrative pre-review.

In general, if local ethics committee approval is required, it should be obtained after review by the CU IRB. If local ethics committee review is conducted before the CU IRB review, the approved consent document(s), explanation of issues raised by the local committee during its review, if available, and approval letter from the local committee, should be considered in the CU IRB review.

If CU IRB review occurs before the local ethics committee review, CU approval to commence study procedures would be contingent upon receipt of the approval by the local ethics committee, which should employ standards that are appropriate for Columbia’s Human Research Protection Program (HRPP).