External or Extramural Researchers

The USMC does allow extramural research when supportable and conducted within required policies. Research is considered extramural when it involves an individual, group, or entity from outside MCU seeking to conduct research using

(1) MCU personnel or students as participants;

(2) MCU facilities; and/or

(3) MCU data.

Basic requirements are listed below. Contact MCU’s Director of Research for more information.


MCU Personnel/Students Conducting Research as Part of Studies at Another University

MCU personnel or students conducting research as part of their studies at an external college or university may be categorized as extramural researchers even if they have their MCU supervisor’s support for the project. Contact MCU’s Director of Research for more information.


Basic requirements for extramural research access to MCU faculty, staff, and students

1. IRB/HRPP approval from your home institution. If your project is not human subjects research, you must submit a formal letter of determination from your IRB/HRPP.
2. Approval from the directors of the MCU components where participants will be recruited (required prior to Marine Corps reviews - see more information below)
3. Endorsement from Commanding General, MCU (required prior to Marine Corps reviews - see more information below)
4. Administrative Review by Marine Corps HRPP
5. Review by the Marine Corps Survey Program - for surveys, interviews, and focus groups involving 10 or more active duty or reserve Marines or Marine Corps government civilians. 

Marine Corps University does not control the processes or timelines associated with reviews by the Marine Corps HRPP or Survey Program. Extramural researchers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these programs prior to starting the process. 

MCU Approvals/General Officer Endorsement

To start the process of getting approvals from the MCU schools and/or directorates where you want to recruit participants or from which you want to access data, submit the following to MCU's Director of Research. For projects in which the formal Principal Investigator (PI) is not the primary point of contact or lead researcher, such as student projects conducted with a faculty PI, the letter must be signed by both the PI and the lead researcher.

1. Research description - this can be the formal protocol or a short (2-3 page) overview
2. Letter requesting endorsement. There is no required format, but the letter should address the following as clearly as possible:

a. A brief statement of the intent of the research. This statement should include information on the research topic/question and other relevant information about the research project, e.g.,

  • If the research is funded by a grant or government sponsor
  • ​If the research is part of your studies in a graduate program

b. What type of research you will be doing (survey, focus groups, interviews?) and how long it will take, e.g.,  

  • "Ten 30-60 minute focus groups involving five people each."
  • "A survey that will take approximately 20 minutes to complete, which will be made available to all civilian faculty at MCU."

c. Which MCU schools and directorates you will want to access to recruit participants or access data. 

d. Which parts of the MCU population (or their data) you will want to access (faculty, staff, students? military, civilians?) and if you will be targeting specific ranks, sexes, MOSs, etc.

e. When you propose to conduct the research and whether or not you can flex the time around busy periods in the academic calendar, such as class travel and wargames.

f. Who will be conducting the research.

  • Note: For team research, list all individuals who will be involved in the research and specify who will be our primary point of contact and who is the formal Principal Investigator. For teams of more than three, it is helpful if you attach a document describing the team and the backgrounds and roles of team members. 

g. How the results will be used (e.g., to inform decision-making about a particular policy or program, for scholarly purposes, etc.) and disseminated (e.g., a dissertation, reports to a sponsor, publications, presentations, etc.).

Although not specifically required, it is helpful if the letter also briefly outlines how the Marine Corps may benefit from the research.​​

MCU combines the requests for approvals from schools or directorates and the request for Commanding General, MCU endorsement into a single staffing process. The materials listed above address the information needs for both requirements.