IRB-Approved Promotional Text

Encouraging Participation in NSSE: Using NSSE IRB-Approved Promotional Text

Beginning with the NSSE 2022 survey administration, Indiana University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) is requiring greater oversight of language used in promotional materials. All participating institutions’ promotional materials will be submitted for IRB review except when these materials closely follow IRB pre-approved content.  

NSSE is providing guidance and template text to satisfy this new level of IRB review while also facilitating participating institutions creation of attractive and appropriate promotions to encourage students’ response. The following information offers guidance to participating NSSE colleges and universities.   

Ensure Promotions Use IRB Pre-Approved Content!

Just like the templates for NSSE recruitment messages and survey incentives that have been used by participating schools for many years, NSSE is now providing pre-approved phrases -- text that can be used in flyers, posters, screensavers, social media content and other forms of promotional material. The design and layout of these promotions can be completely customized by the participating institution.

Thumbnail image of the Emerson College recruitment poster

Example promotion from Emerson College

Some general reminders about IRB guidelines regarding encouraging student participation:

IRB affords colleges and universities wide latitude to use their creativity to promote survey participation; promotions should be appealing to students, can be attractive and entertaining, and as long or as short as an institution prefers.

Institutions cannot use any coercive language (e.g., “you must complete NSSE in order to graduate”) or disproportionately emphasize survey incentives in promotional materials by using larger font, bold or italics, all caps, different font color, and text bubbles.

What IRB Pre-Approved Text can Institutions Use in their Promotions?

The following NSSE promotional phrasal templates have been approved by IU’s IRB Office. These phrases can be used individually or in combination in any schools’ promotional campaigns, including flyers, posters, screensavers, electronic message boards, and social media posts, etc.

Hi Students [or mascot name], this year [institution name] is participating in the #NSSEsurvey. Fill out the survey to get your voice heard. First-year and senior students are eligible for [incentive]. Don’t miss out, deadline to fill out the survey is [insert date].

NESSIE SPOTTED! First-year and senior students, look for an email inviting you to complete the NSSE survey. All survey respondents will be entered into a drawing to win an (incentive prize).

Your voice matters! Take the NSSE survey to help (institution name) improve your educational experience.

Take the NSSE survey to help make [school nick name] become the best it can be. [incentive details]. Check your email starting [date] for a link to the survey.

Are you a first-year student or senior? Did you receive a NSSE email survey invitation? Check your email (and/or LMS-student portal) for the opportunity to complete NSSE.

What can you do in 15 minutes?

Speak up and use your voice! Take 15 minutes to share your thoughts. The National Survey of Student Engagement is your chance to provide feedback and help make [school] better! Survey invitations arrive via campus email on [date].

Your response to the National Survey of Student Engagement helps [institution] provide better support for all students. Including your responses by [date] will make you eligible for [incentive information].

If you’re a SENIOR or FIRST-YEAR student, the 15 minutes you take to complete NSSE can make a big impact on the future of [institution]. All participants are eligible for [incentive information].

How can you help [institution] improve in 15 minutes or less? If you’re a senior or first-year student, take the National Survey of Student Engagement by [date] and you’ll be eligible [incentive information].

For information on the NSSE Survey check your emails [and/or LMS-student portal]. Help improve our campus today!

First-year students and seniors are invited to take the NSSE Survey today! Respond for the opportunity to win [incentive text].

NSSE collects information about first-year and senior students' participation in programs and activities that institutions provide for their learning and personal development. The results provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college.

[school name] will use its NSSE data to identify aspects of the undergraduate experience inside and outside the classroom that can be improved through changes in policies and practices more consistent with good practices in undergraduate education.

To put it plainly, promotional materials solely featuring IRB pre-approved phrases are considered IRB approved. Additional design customization featuring campus or student photos, icons, school name, nickname, and/or mascot names, survey administration dates, campus contact information, and incentives are also appropriate to add, and do not require special IRB approval. (Note: incentives are submitted and approved as part of the standard NSSE recruitment email message customization.)

What if Institutions Want to Depart from Pre-Approved Text?

Alternatively, institutions can develop their own promotional materials and then submit the text for IU IRB review. These materials must be uploaded to NSSE’s Institution Interface at least three weeks before the institution’s scheduled NSSE administration launch.

The NSSE Institution Interface upload feature accommodates a variety of document types (.doc, .ppt., .jpg, etc.).


The creation of unique promotional materials is encouraged and perfectly appropriate. For example, an institution may have crafted a campaign to encourage student participation in other campus surveys and wants to maintain consistency in their messaging. Creative use of IRB pre-approved phrases and other institutionally desired text can be combined for customized messaging. Again, the text for these customized promotions will just need to be submitted for review. Submitted materials will either be approved or feedback will be provided to ensure IRB compliance.

What are Some Examples of IRB Pre-Approved Promotion Materials?

The following promotional materials are also IRB Preapproved and can be used as templates by institutions:







Take the NSSE survey to help make [school nick name] become the best it can be. [incentive details]. Check your email starting [date] for a link to the survey. Alternatively, go to and provide your email address to access NSSE.

This text message has been sent by [institution formal name], not NSSE.

Text Message Guidance

text messages iconNSSE recognizes there may be interest in using text messages to encourage survey completion and general awareness of the project. Participating Institutions should consult their legal and privacy experts to ensure compliance with federal and state laws (including the TCPA and CAN-SPAM Act, where applicable) before initiating any text message recruitment efforts to promote NSSE. By participating in the project, Participating Institutions acknowledge and agree that NSSE is not responsible for any complaints or liabilities that may arise from Participating Institutions’ text messaging practices. NSSE requires that all text messages clearly explain that the Participating Institution is sending the text message, not NSSE. Participating Institutions may choose to facilitate survey access by referencing the address.