CITI Program Training Information

All St. Lawrence faculty and staff and student researchers are required to complete the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program as part of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process for research with human participants.  This training ensures that researchers are knowledgeable about the ethical requirements when working with human participants.  Therefore, you should complete the training prior to developing your study materials and must complete the training prior to submitting your proposal.  

If you have any questions or concerns about the CITI Program training, please contact the IRB chair, Dr. Cathy Crosby, at or (315) 229-5167.

Important note regarding expiration of CITI training certification: 

Certification is valid for 3 years, and your certification must be up to date for us to consider a proposal or a request for a continuation of IRB approval. Please see the relevant sections below for more information on how to determine whether your certification has expired and how to complete the refresher training.

Important note for those conducting research with vulnerable or special populations, outside the U.S., or through the Internet: 

You may be required to complete supplement modules in addition to the required CITI training course.  Please see the relevant section below.

Why does St. Lawrence require researchers to complete the CITI Program training?

The autonomy and self-determination of all members of our community should be treated with respect; this includes participants in research conducted by members of our community.

By requiring our students, faculty and staff to complete the CITI Program training, we are conforming to best practices concerning the ethical treatment of human participants. Most of our comparison schools also require training programs such as CITI.

We have chosen CITI based on the recommendations of our peers, research into available options, and a period of pilot testing on our own campus.  Even those who are well educated on the ethical treatment of human participants have found the CITI Program training useful.  The mission of the CITI Program is:

to promote the public's trust in the research enterprise by providing high quality, peer-reviewed, web-based, research education materials to enhance the integrity and professionalism of investigators and staff conducting research.

Additionally, we believe this required training will save time in the long-run for both researchers and IRB members.  The IRB does view our role as partially educational; however, we do not have the time or resources to provide the necessary training in research ethics to all members of our community who need such training.  We often receive proposals that require resubmission or major revisions, both of which could be avoided with prior training.

Who must complete the training?

Anyone who is a principal investigator (PI) or a collaborator on an IRB proposal submission must complete the training.  This requirement includes faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students. 

CITI training is also required of collaborators from outside St. Lawrence and is free to those individuals.  If the time required for completion of the CITI training would impose a significant burden on a non-SLU collaborator, contact the IRB chair to discuss alternatives.  

The PI on a project is responsible for ensuring that all collaborators/investigators have completed the training.

All members of the IRB complete special CITI Program training as well.  The IRB chair must complete additional training.

What does the training consist of?

The CITI Program training consists of two courses: the All Researchers RCR (Responsible Conduct of Research) course and the Social-Behavioral-Educational (SBE) Researcher course.  The courses are constructed of modules, and many different modules are available for both courses.

St. Lawrence constructed our courses from the available modules based on the needs of our community and following several pilot tests with students and faculty/staff. 

Our RCR course is the same for students and faculty/staff, and it contains two required modules: one on plagiarism and one on research misconduct.  The Social-Behavioral-Educational Research course differs for students and faculty/staff.  Both courses discuss the legal and historical background of the ethical treatment of human participants as well as the important ethical principles, such as informed consent, privacy and confidentiality.  The SBE course contains 6 required modules for students and 11 required modules for faculty and staff.

Each module is followed by a short quiz, which must be completed before you can proceed to the next module.  Once you have completed a module, the next module will become available.

In addition to the required modules, supplemental modules are available.  You can complete any of the supplemental modules that you wish to complete.  Researchers engaged in research with particular populations and/or in particular settings are required to complete certain supplemental modules.  See more information on the supplemental modules requirement below.

How do I complete the training?

The CITI Program training is an on-line course.  It can be completed from any device with internet access, although you may find it easier to complete on a desktop, laptop or tablet computer than a hand-held device.  You can use whichever browser you prefer.  You will be required to create an account.  Click below for step-by-step instructions on how to create your account on CITI and begin the training:

Instructions for Creating an Account and Completing the Training

When must the training be completed?

The CITI Program training is to be completed prior to submitting an IRB proposal.  When submitting an IRB proposal (or a continuation request), the PI is required to certify that all individuals on the proposal have completed the training.

The IRB chair will verify that all individuals on an IRB proposal have completed the training before a proposal is reviewed by the committee.  The PI will be notified if anyone on the proposal has not completed the necessary training.  The PI will then be responsible for informing the IRB chair when all individuals have completed the training.  The proposal will then be considered at the next available IRB meeting.

If completion of the training prior to submission of an IRB proposal poses a significant hardship, the PI on the project should contact the IRB chair to discuss the possibility of an extension on the training requirement.

How often do I need to do the CITI training?

The CITI Program training certification is valid for three (calendar) years.  After three years, you will be required to complete shorter CITI Program refresher courses before you can submit a proposal or request continuation of IRB approval already received. 

How do I know if my CITI training certification has expired? How do I complete the Refresher Courses?

You can determine the date of your training certification by looking at your "Completed Courses" on the CITI website.  In addition, approximately 90 days prior to the due date for your re-certification on a course, a refresher course will automatically appear among your St. Lawrence courses on the CITI website.  You will then complete the course in the same manner that you complete any CITI course.  Note that you will need to complete a refresher for both the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course and the Social-Behavioral-Educational (SBE) Research course. 

What happens if I don't complete the refresher courses for recertification of my CITI training?

If you are submitting a new proposal or a request for the continuation of your IRB approval on an existing proposal, your certification must be up to date for the IRB to consider your proposal/request.  If your certification expires after you have received approval of your proposal or request for continuation, you are expected to complete the recertification in a timely fashion.  Failure to do so may result in the withdrawal of your IRB approval.

If I completed the training at another institution, will I need to complete the training again to be able to submit an IRB proposal at St. Lawrence?

If the other institution required the same modules, you will not need to complete the training unless it has been three years since you completed the training for the other institution.  To determine whether the other institution required the same modules, add St. Lawrence as an affiliated institution and then review your St. Lawrence courses.  You will be able to tell whether you have completed all of our required modules by looking at your completion record.  If you have any questions or concerns, contact the IRB chair.

When am I required to complete supplemental modules?

The following outlines the circumstances when supplemental modules must be completed.  If your research falls within one of these categories, contact the IRB chair for information on what supplemental modules you need to complete:

  • your participants are members of a "vulnerable population," which include children (anyone under 18), individuals with physical and/or decisional impairments, currently incarcerated individuals, immigrant populations, older adults or individuals at the end of life (e.g., terminally ill individuals).
  • your research topic or participant population requires additional cultural sensitivity.
  • you are conducting internet-based research (e.g., collecting data through Amazon Mechanical Turk).  If you are not currently but anticipate conducting internet-based research in the future, you are strongly encouraged to complete the Internet-Based Research module, listed among the supplemental module in the Social-Behavioral-Education course, when you initially complete the required training modules.
  • you are conducting research outside the United States or Canada.
  • you are conducting community-based research, depending on the nature of the research.  

If you are a faculty or staff member and are unsure whether you are required to complete supplemental modules, contact the IRB chair.  If you are a student researcher, you should speak with the faculty or staff member supervising the research or teaching your course.

Can I complete the modules in whatever order I wish?

You must complete the required modules in the order in which they are listed in each course; you will not be able to access the next module on the list until you complete the quiz for the previous module.

All of the supplemental modules are available once you register and can be completed in any order.

How long does the training take to complete?

The time required for the training varies widely across individuals and may take you more or less time than the averages reported here.  On average, the training for students takes approximately 2-3 hours, and the training for faculty and staff takes approximately 3-5 hours.  

Must I complete the quizzes?  What grade do I need to earn on the quizzes?

You must complete all of the quizzes for the required modules.  You will not be able to proceed to the next module without completing the quiz.

If you are required to complete one or more supplemental modules, you must complete the quizzes for those modules.

You must earn an average overall of 80% on the quizzes to be certified as having completed the training.  You can earn less than 80% on a specific quiz to be certified as long as your overall average is 80%.

Will the training cost me money to complete?

No.  You do not pay anything.  St. Lawrence University pays a yearly subscription fee that allows the institution to provide this service to all members of the community, including individuals outside SLU who are collaborating with our faculty and staff on research. 

Faculty/Staff Specific Questions:

Can I see the course as my students would see it?

Yes.  Simply add the Student Researcher version of the SBE course to your list of St. Lawrence courses. The Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course is the same for faculty/staff and students.

If I am collaborating with someone who is not employed at St. Lawrence, must that person complete the CITI Program training?

Yes.  Anyone who is on a proposal being reviewed by the St. Lawrence University IRB must complete the necessary modules of the CITI Program training.  Your collaborator should set up their account with a St. Lawrence affiliation; they can also affiliate with a second institution, if desired.  The IRB Chair will only be able to verify that this individual has completed the training if they affiliate with St. Lawrence.  If the time required for completion of the CITI training would impose a significant burden on a non-SLU collaborator, contact the IRB chair to discuss alternatives.  

How can I verify that my collaborators, student investigators, and/or students in my course have completed the necessary modules?

You cannot see completion records for anyone but yourself unless they send them to you.  If you want to see the completion records of someone else, ask that individual to go into their St. Lawrence courses and "Share" their record with you.  You can also contact the IRB chair, Cathy Crosby, at, and provide the names of the individuals for whom you want a verification of completion.  She will check the records and provide that verification.  However, the chair asks that faculty request the completion records from their students before seeking that information from the chair.