University WIthout Walls (UWW) is based on demonstrated learning outcomes that lead to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. UWW students bring life and work experiences that count toward their credits for graduation. Students are asked to design and complete approved experiential curricula as an alternative to traditional courses.  

What is the Learning Contract?

The Learning Contract (LC) details the individualized degree program; it shows your progression of study at NEIU.  The LC also serves as a blueprint for the UWW program. It should list the courses you have taken, or will take, to obtain your degree. This outline is one of the most important documents in your portfolio; it will act as a reference during your Review Board hearing.

Your Learning Contract will include:

Prior Learning in

  • Depth, Breadth, and Effective Communication Areas

  • University requirements

Proposed Learning in

  • Depth, Breadth, and Effective Communication Areas

  • University requirements

You will be developing a Learning Contract with your:

  • Academic Advisor

  • Community Advisor

Your Learning Contract must include prior and proposed learning, as well as what you have gained from your experience in:

  • Depth Area

  • Breath Area

  • Effective Communication

  • University Requirements

Please stop in to see a UWW staff member if you have questions or concerns around developing a learning contract.

What Areas Does the Learning Contract Include?

Breadth Area​

  • ​Mimics a general education/liberal arts curriculum

  • Ensures exposure to a variety of subjects

  • Includes learning goals, activities to attain those, and documentation of achievements

  • Develops two demonstrated learning outcomes in the following categories:

    • Fine Arts

    • Humanities

    • Behavioral/Social Sciences

    • Sciences (natural and technological)

University Requirements

These courses are required, by Northeastern Illinois University, to graduate. They include Math/Quantitative Reasoning, Writing Intensive Program (WIP), and a Human Relations Program. For the full list of requirements, please click the link below:

University Requirements

Depth Area

  • Documents substantial knowledge and experience (prior and proposed) in a specific content area

  • Includes both experiential and theoretical knowledge

  • Includes learning goals and the activities completed to reach those goals, and documentation of achievements​

  • Primarily focuses on current and past skills and how they contribute to your degree


Effective Communication

These courses will demonstrate learning outcomes in world languages, oral and written proficiency in English, and other communication forms. This area can also include digital media you may have encountered prior or during your studies at NEIU.

What is Independent Study?

Independent Study is a Pass or Fail (P/F) course.  You will be able to sign up for Independent Study with the help of your Academic Advisor. Each semester, you will work with your Academic Advisor to complete a UWW Independent Study Student Agreement, in which you will plan what your studies will be, and what demonstrated learning outcomes you hope to gain.  Each Independent Study course, worth (3) credit hours, is roughly the equivalent of a university course in terms of workload (6-8 hours per week dedicated to the work) but can include a variety of tasks.

It's My First Semester, What Should I Do?

For your first semester you will need to fill out and return the Independent Study Registration Form-First Semester to the UWW office. To complete this task, download the document below:

Independent Study First Semester Form

Please note: you must fill out both pages of the Independent Study Registration Form-First Semester. This must be complete to register for the first (3) credit hours of your Independent Study.  

​If you would like to take an additional Independent Study during your first semester (i.e. taking 6 or 9 hours of Independent Study), you will need to fill out the Independent Study Registration Form-First Semester and the Independent Study Registration Form (this document can be found under the "What Should I Do After I've Completed My First Semester?" section below). For example: If you plan on taking (6) credit hours of Independent Study during your first semester, you will need to fill out (1) Independent Study Registration Form-First Semester and (1) ​Independent Study Registration Form.

What Should I Do After I've Completed My First Semester?

After your first semester, you will fill out the below form.

Independent Study Registration Form

You will need to fill out both pages of the Independent Study Registration Form. For each (3) credit hour Independent Study taken, a form will need to be filled out and approved by the UWW office. For example: If you plan on taking (9) credit hours in Independent Study, you will need to fill out the Independent Study Registration Form 3 times - (1) form for each Independent Study taken.

What Should I Do If I'm Approaching My Last Semester?

If you are registering for your last semester, you will need to complete the Last Semester Independent Study Form. This will encompass (3) credit hours that will focus on preparing your materials for the Review Board hearing. To register for your last semester, download the document below:

Independent Study Last Semester Form

Please refer to the Nontraditional Degree Program's website for registration due dates.

University Without Walls Webpage

What Is the Semester Report?

The Semester Report is a summary of learning experiences submitted to the UWW Office by the student at the end of each registered semester. Its purpose is to determine whether there is satisfactory progress toward your degree. This document is required for each registered semester EXCEPT for the semester in which the student convenes a Graduation Review Board. The Semester Report must be signed by the student, Academic Advisor, and Community Advisor. The Semester Report summarizes the learning experiences and activities accomplished, as well as substantiates the demonstrated learning outcomes.

Suggested items to be Included in the Semester Report

  • Statement of your progress during the semester just completed.

    • Did you satisfy part of the Learning Contract?

    • Did you met your semester goals?

    • Describe your progress to date in Depth, Breadth, and Effective Communication

    • A reflection on what and how you are learning

  • List and review of:

    • Work and learning experiences

    • Reports, papers, and presentations

    • Workshops, seminars, and classes attended

    • Meetings with Academic and Community Advisors

How Can I Complete My Semester Report?

To complete your Semester Report; download the below document, fill it in, and return it to the UWW Office before the end of the semester:

Semester Report Template

How Do I Track My Progress?

Documentation of your studies is a vital part of tracking your demonstrated learning outcomes. Your documentation can take a variety of forms, such as:

  • Work Product – artwork, essays, research papers, manuals, case studies, annotated bibliographies

  • Performance - evaluations of teaching, speaking engagements, video or audio tapes

  • Third Party Validation - includes certificates, licensure, and evaluative letters

  • Official Transcripts - original transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended

How Do I Document Readings That I Have Completed?

To document readings, as with all other kinds of documentation concerns, first consult with your Academic Advisor. In addition to this consultation, the UWW Office may be able to suggest possible documentation methods. Three of the most common ways UWW students document their readings are:

  • an Annotated Bibliography

  • a Critical Review (1 - 2 pages) of each book or article

  • a Research or Position Paper

When You Are Documenting, Remember...

  • You must document the knowledge and/or skills that resulted from the learning activities completed. 

    • Prompt:  What have I learned, what do I know, and what can I do as a result of this learning activity, project, or experience?

  • If Work Products cannot be put in your UWW student file, the product should be photographed and submitted electronically.

  • Official Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended must be submitted to the UWW Office. Transcripts will be forwarded to the NEIU Office of Enrollment Services where staff will determine transfer credit hours.

  • Third Party Validation, such as Letters (if used to corroborate learning activities) should:

    • evaluate rather than commend

    • explain clearly and succinctly the relationship between the author of the letter and the student

    • focus on the duties, responsibilities, tasks, or activities involved in the experience

    • describe the context of the experience - who, what, when, why, for how long, where, etc.

    • be typewritten and on letterhead

  • If none of the above mentioned forms of documentation can be provided for a particular learning activity, discuss an alternative means of verification with your Academic Advisor 

  • Decisions regarding the appropriate form of documentation, to verify a certain demonstrated learning outcome, are usually made through consultation with your Academic Advisor

  • Documentation of demonstrated learning outcomes can occur at any time during your enrollment with the UWW program

Typically, students submit Prior Learning documentation with their Learning Contract, and Proposed Learning documentation with each Semester Report.