Using CITI Program Content: An Introduction


CITI Program educational materials are highly customizable. Our “core” content can be assembled to fit the specific needs of your organization’s learners; and it can be supplemented with custom content that you develop exclusively for your organization as well as content from the other CITI Program courses that are available at an additional fee.

See the Courses section of our public website for more information on CITI Program’s available content. 

CITI Program content is designed to be a component of an overall foundation of training for an organization's affiliates. We recommend that organizations build frameworks of training that combine CITI Program content with face-to-face training, one-on-one mentoring, and other types of learning opportunities, as appropriate to the particular topics and their organizational cultures. 


At the most basic level, CITI Program content is organized into modules, which can be thought of as the lessons that make up a course. Modules are composed of text and images, and may include supplemental materials such as case studies or videos. That content generally follows a standard format. It begins with an introduction of the topic(s) to be covered, then provides a set of learning objectives; after that comes the main material, broken up into sections, followed by a concluding summary section. References and any recommended supplemental materials complete the package. 

Modules are generally length-restricted so as to require at most approximately 20 minutes for the average learner to complete. (In addition to its title, each module has a unique module-ID number, which you will see in the content catalogs and in various other forms.)

Modules typically conclude with a quiz made up of multiple-choice questions. Achieving a cumulative average passing score on the entire set of required quiz questions is necessary to “complete and pass” the course. Organizations can also optionally set a per-module minimum quiz score, which is enforced along with the course-average score requirement. When a learner completes a quiz, feedback is usually provided for each question, which includes guidance on why the answer selected was correct or incorrect. Learners can revisit module content, and quizzes can be retaken to achieve a higher score until a desired result is achieved. (Usually, each quiz has questions randomly selected from a larger bank of questions, so the quiz will not be an exact repeat.) Learners complete modules that do not require a quiz, such as for a course overview that introduces the material, simply by opening the module for reading.

In the construction of a course, modules may be set as required (the learner must complete all of them, typically in a prescribed order), or they may be set as elective (the learner must complete a minimum number of a group of modules, in whatever order the learner chooses). Supplemental (optional) modules may also be provided as part of a course, including additional CE certified modules which learners may need to complete to qualify for CMEs/CEUs. Learners may access these at their discretion after completing the required and elective modules; quizzes for these do not affect the overall passing score nor do they count towards course completion. 

For each set of modules that has been assembled into a course, a learner has an associated gradebook. The gradebook shows the learner’s progress for each module of that course – not yet started, started but not completed, completed and passed, or completed but not yet passed – and also shows both individual and average scores on quizzes taken up to that point. The number of required and elective modules still pending is also noted.

Each module is “completed” by completing its quiz (unless there isn’t one). A course is deemed “completed and passed” when all its required modules (and a minimum number of its elective modules, if any) have been completed, and the average score on all quizzes exceeds a minimum-passing grade. The required average passing score can be set at any level the subscriber organization wishes – the default is usually 70 to 80 percent. (As noted, if a per-module minimum score has been set, this is also enforced as a part of determining what has been passed.)

It is important to consider the availability of CME credits for your learners. CITI Program’s standard course recommendations result in learners having sufficient CME certified modules within their courses to qualify for awards.  We encourage institutions that would like to customize their learners’ courses to consider including CME approved modules either as required, elective or supplemental.

How are courses assigned to individual learners? 

We work with each organization to define a set of one or more learner groups. Each learner group corresponds to a sub-population of the organization’s learners with unique content needs. 

How are individual learners assigned to learner groups? 

Access to CITI Program’s web platform requires assignment of a unique username and password for each learner. (Organizations using Single-Sign-On [SSO] rely on the unique usernames and passwords already assigned for their affiliates’ work.) As part of the registration process to create a CITI Program account, a learner is asked a set of questions that identifies the organization, and the learner group(s) of that organization, to which he or she belongs. We work with each organization to construct this customized set of questions. (Some learners are affiliated with more than one CITI Program subscriber organization, in which case they are asked learner-group-assignment questions for each affiliation separately.) Learners can update answers to these questions at any time if their learning needs change by clicking on an “update institution profile” link (for their personal data) or the Add Course / Remove Course links to change their learner groups.

Assignment to a learner group automatically determines the set of courses presented to a learner. As noted, for each assigned course there is a separate gradebook. 

CITI Program’s web platform allows all of a learner’s assigned courses to be presented at the same time; or the courses can be presented over defined intervals in what the CITI Program platform calls stages. For example, HSR training typically requires renewing (refreshing) every few years. We can structure an initial course, typically called a basic course, for presentation immediately as stage 1; and then schedule a refresher course at a later date as stage 2; and then another refresher at a defined interval after that as stage 3; and so on. The time between completing a stage and when the next course is due is called the stage’s expiration period. Expiration periods are determined by the organization for each learner group’s designated courses when the content set is configured. (Organization policies most often determine these durations, but choices may also be conditioned by regulatory requirements.) An automated email message notifies learners that the next stage of a course is due. (For this reason, it is important that learner’s profiles are kept up to date, at least with respect to email addresses.)


Once all the required modules in a course have been completed and passed, along with a sufficient number of elective modules (if any), a course completion report is made available to both the learner and to a subscriber organization’s designated administrators. Completion reports have two parts: 
  1. The first part lists only the required elements of the course, including the quiz scores at the moment the requirements were met. 
  2. The second part is a continually updated listing that includes any new quiz scores as well as any supplemental modules the learner may have taken. 
Learners can also access a completion certificate, which provides a more “diploma-like” confirmation of the course completion. Both the completion report and the completion certificate may be shared via a unique "verify" web link assigned to each one. 

Learners can print their course completion reports and certificates as needed, by accessing those records in the My Reports section of their learner environment. Organizational administrators can receive report notifications in daily emails (one for each learner’s completion in a particular learner group); reports can also be created ad hoc as needed, using administrator tools; or we can schedule automated downloads of completion report details for all affiliated learners of a particular learner group. (An administrator’s reports are generally clustered by learner group. We work with each subscriber organization to set up an appropriate set of data values, the learner-groupings, and frequency of reporting.)

Though every member of a learner group is presented with the same content, and included in group reports of completions for that set, his or her individual progress is individually tracked and individually reportable.


As noted, access to CITI Program content requires an individually-assigned username and password, assigned during the initial user registration process (or by the organization, if using organizational credentials via SSO). During registration, a new CITI Program user must respond to a series of “demographic” questions, including name and contact information. (This step is usually skipped in SSO implementations.)

These data form the basis of the user’s CITI Program profile (sometimes called the “global profile”). A profile includes, critically, the user’s primary email address, and an optional alternate email address in case the primary address is not available. These email addresses are used for administrative transactions, the most important of which is assisting a learner when the username or password is forgotten.

For each CITI Program subscriber organization with which the user is affiliated, the learner also has an organization profile. We can ask for additional demographic information (such as an specific ID number or email address) as part of assembling this profile, which will assist you in identifying a particular learner’s records. After providing this demographic information, responses to customized enrollment questions allow sorting of the learner into one or more learner groups as described above. For each subscribing organization with which the learner is affiliated, there is at least one concomitant course (and associated course modules) for each learner grouping. Learners’ responses to the organization’s enrollment questions determine the learner group (course) assignments.

Learners may update both their global profiles and organization profiles at any time. Learners who are affiliated with more than one organization may add new organization profiles at any time (or deactivate affiliations that are no longer valid). 


While the CITI Program’s Help Desk staff can assist learners with general questions about the CITI platform, they cannot provide information about organization-specific policies or procedures. Subscriber organizations are strongly encouraged to provide basic contact information to assist their affiliated learners in finding persons who can answer such “local” questions. 

This information is included on an institutional contact page, which is accessible to the learner via a link in the “My Learner Tools” section of the Main Menu. This content of this page should include contact information for one or more persons who manage CITI Program training at the organization. 

Typically, the institutional contact page also includes administrative contacts relevant to the content series that the learner has selected, such as:
  • Export Control/Compliance department (if using EC content)
  • Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (ACU)
  • Institutional Review Board or Research Ethics Committee (GCP, HSR, or IRB Administration)
  • Laboratory Safety Committee or Institutional Biosafety Committee (BSS)
  • Privacy/Security Officer or HIPAA enforcement department (IPS)
  • Research Integrity Officer or Research Compliance department (RCR)

Organizations may also optionally provide a customized institutional instruction page to guide their learners’ use of CITI Program content (for example, to provide special instructions about how learners report their completions). This page is also accessed via a link in the “My Learner Tools” section of the Main Menu. If content for this page is not provided, we use a standard generic set of instructions. 


Subscriber organizations can also write their own custom modules for addition to the CITI Program library. These custom modules can be integrated into any of the organization’s courses. This custom content is accessible only to the affiliates of the organization who are accessing such courses. 
There is a per-hour service charge for editing and formatting organization-generated content into modules; typically this requires a few hours of technical service time. Note also that organizations are entirely responsible for keeping the content of their customized modules accurate, up to date, and compliant with legal requirements such as copyright clearance and ADA/508 accessibility. CITI Program does not review the content of custom modules, and takes no responsibility for their content. 
U.S. subscribing organizations may not customize the U.S. CITI Program core modules. The standard versions must be used. 


As noted, CITI Program’s software can generate and send (via email) completion reports to select subscriber organization administrators, customized at the learner group level. Designated administrators can also generate their own reports from the CITI Program’s website as needed, using the administrator tools. Alternatively, we can set up automated downloads directly to an organizational server. Download file security is provided via encryption and other mechanisms.


CITI Program’s site can be configured to use an organization’s own user-ID and password credentials for authentication, rather than a user-ID and password combination that is unique to CITI. We call this service “Single-Sign-On (SSO)” or “portal authentication.” CITI SSO uses the industry-standard Shibboleth protocol. There is a one-time fee for SSO setup. Organizations that are members of InCommon qualify for a discounted SSO implementation rate.


Certain courses are available in Korean. We are also currently in the process of updating courses available in other languages. See the CITI Program content catalogs for current availability. If your organization requires translation of a particular module into a new language, we can arrange for that, but there will be an associated fee.  


Select CITI Program courses are approved for CME Credits and Units for physicians, psychologists, nurses, social workers, and other professionals (Certificate of Participation).  See CME Certified courses or CME Credits FAQ pages for details.


Every CITI Program subscriber organization must have at least one administrator who decides on the configuration of learner groups and associated content, registration questions, profile variables, and so on. CITI Program’s platform allows designation of multiple administrators, each with an assigned privilege level. Report-administrator privileges allow generation of reports on learner progress. Administrators with higher-level privileges can also request changes to course configurations, learner groups, etc., via the CITI Program’s Help Desk. We strongly recommend that you limit the number of persons with mid- and high-level privileges. 


CITI Program’s content and web platform allow you to customize content to meet the needs of your organization’s learners. Because CITI Program’s content is extensive, it requires a bit of work up front to determine the appropriate configuration of modules and courses for your organization’s audiences. Our Help Desk staff is experienced with all of the content series, and can assist you with that task. Contact them at or 888.529.5929.
Last Updated: 20-Feb-2019 3:57 p.m. EST
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