Step 5a: Seek Approval from Human Subjects Review Committee


  • To ensure appropriate ethical treatment of research participants that are consistent with the policies of Regent University and the American Counseling Associate and the American Psychological Association.
  • To determine which level of approval your dissertation project will require from the SPC Human Subjects Review Committee (HSRC).
  • Apply online for review and approval before you can proceed to schedule your Proposal Defense Seminar.
  • To receive approval from the HSRC to proceed with your dissertation proposal and finalize the proposal manuscript.


  • You discuss with your committee the nature of your dissertation project and whether it would potentially qualify for exemption.
  • You make an initial decision about whether or not your dissertation project falls under exemption criteria (see Dissertation Handbook pp.12)
  • You submit the appropriate form and provide the HSRC with any requested materials or additional information he requires during the process of review.
  • If you receive full review exemption, the Chair of the HSRC signs off on the project. If you do not receive full review exemption, three PhD faculty review your packet and sign off on your project when all concerns have been addressed.


John's Experience:

John gives his committee chair a call to discuss whether or not his dissertation project qualifies for exemption. Dr. Sells discusses the nature of the research with John, and he and John determine that the project should qualify for exemption. John fills out the appropriate form. He is contacted several weeks later and told his project receives full review exemption. John is really excited that he's gotten over this hurdle and can go forward with planning his proposal defense.

Pitfalls to Avoid:

  • Don't wait too late to seek approval from the HSRC. You can't proceed with scheduling your Proposal Defense Seminar until you have HSRC approval.
  • Don't assume your dissertation project will receive exemption. Discuss the potential for full review with your committee.
  • A delay in a timely request from you for review by the HSRC will not result in an emergency review by the HSRC Chair and/or faculty. Plan this part of your dissertation process very well.

Due Dates:

You initiate request of HSRC approval no later than 28 days before the desired date of the Proposal Defense Seminar (see step 5b). You must remember to leave enough time between your request for review by the HSRC and the expected Proposal Defense Seminar residency to allow for potential delays in review.