Project Approval Process
Review & Approvals for International Projects
For any international project or program, you typically need the same internal approvals as you would if the project was taking place in the U.S., plus there may be additional requirements at the University and School level. Review the types of international programs requiring approval and when and how to seek it.
You can start by:
- Determining if your project meets the criteria for University review.
- Consulting with your School for its specific review and approval requirements.
- Considering your project’s activities that may require additional attention or approvals.
Submit the sponsored proposal as usual to your School’s sponsored program office. That office and the University’s Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) will conduct initial review. See the OSP website for guidance on preparing your proposal.
Together, these offices will determine whether your project meets the criteria for additional review by your School or by the University. Your School’s sponsored programs office will elevate it to University-level review if so.
If your proposal is not submitted to an office of sponsored programs, then you should:
- Determine whether your program meets the criteria for Provost’s review. If so, follow instructions on that page for submitting the proposal for review.
- Determine whether your proposal meets the criteria for review by the University Committee on International Projects and Sites (UCIPS).
Programs are reviewed for their academic value, feasibility, sustainability, and consistency with the University’s mission of teaching and research. By design, this review occurs before many administrative details are worked out. The Senior Assistant Provost for International Affairs can advise on the review process and criteria for international projects.
In most cases, you’ll already have a written proposal for your project, whether for a sponsor, a donor, or a collaborating institution. This proposal will likely be sufficient for Provost’s review or UCIPS review. If you don’t have a proposal already, review our outline for preparing a proposal.
Schools may have additional approval processes, so you’ll need to consult with your School’s Research Administration Office, Finance Office, or Dean’s Office, as applicable, about your specific School-based review requirements.
This is particularly important if your project requires UCIPS review, as some Schools have formed committees to review international programs meeting certain criteria; alternatively they may have more informal processes for other programs.
Additional Considerations & Approvals
Following approval, you’ll want to conduct further due diligence on the following activities, as applicable:
- Contracts and agreements
- Exports and imports
- IT and data security
- Personal safety and security
- U.S. laws that apply abroad
We can help by reviewing the administrative components of your proposal and working with you to develop a strong plan. Consult with us early in planning for your project, as we may be able to suggest solutions that can help you avoid unexpected costs and delays.
Human Subjects & IRBs
International projects involving human subjects will require IRB review at Harvard and may also require review by a foreign IRB in the project’s host country. The Office of the Vice Provost for Research can help navigate these requirements.
The transfer of human subject research data or human subject samples across borders may also trigger criteria for an export license. Review our export and import controls information before shipping or hand-carrying items across borders.