What is a Graduation Review Board?

As you near the completion of your work in the UWW Program, you will file for graduation with the University Records office. The final academic requirements for a student's program completion are determined by a Graduation Review Board. The Review Board (RB) will consist of six to seven people reviewing the student's academic portfolio.

You may request to convene a Graduation Review Board when all of the following conditions are met:

  • A Learning Contract has been approved by the Academic Advisor, Community Advisor, and the UWW Program

  • 90-100% of the learning goals, objectives, learning experiences, and activities identified in the Learning Contract have been achieved

  • All prior and new learning identified in the Learning Contract has been documented and the documentation has been reviewed by the Academic and Community Advisors

  • Academic and Community Advisors agree that the student is ready to have a Review Board

  • University graduation requirements have been met

    • Writing Intensive Requirement

    • Math/Quantitative Reasoning Requirement

    • Improving Human Relations Requirement

  • Successfully completed a minimum of 24 semester hours of UWW Independent Study and/or formal coursework

  • Enrolled in UWW Independent Study hours or course(s) for the semester the Review Board will meet

  • An NEIU grade point average of at least 2.0

Review Boards can be held at any time during the semester. Students should be aware that Review Board members may decide that additional requirements must be met before the student is allowed to graduate. Sometimes, this can require an additional semester.

View the University Graduation Requirements in the Academic Catalog.

How Do I Organize My Review Board?

​If the student's Advisors agree that a Review Board (RB) can convene, the student should then begin organizing the meeting. To set up a Review Board meeting, students should:

  • Ask the Academic Advisor to suggest two full-time Northeastern Illinois faculty members to serve on your RB

    • Contact the suggested faculty to ask their availability

  • Choose and invite an outside evaluator who is off campus and who is not the student's Community Advisor. The Academic Advisor must confirm this person’s appropriateness to serve on the RB. Relatives or significant others are not eligible to serve on your RB

  • Arrange the RB meeting date and time by checking with the following people's schedules:

    • Academic Advisor

    • NEIU Faculty (2)

    • Community Advisor

    • Outside Evaluator

    • Interim Director, Nontraditional Degree Programs: t-barnett1@neiu.edu

  • Submit a completed Request To Convene Review Board form (below) to the UWW office at least two weeks prior to the RB date

  • Check-in with the UWW office to keep them informed about your Review Board

Deliver one copy of the original (unbound) Review Board Portfolio to the UWW office. Deliver copies of your Review Board Portfolio to the Academic Advisor, one copy to each of the two (2) faculty evaluators, one copy to the Community Advisor, and one copy to the outside evaluator. You will need a total of six (6) copies. All Review Board Portfolios must be delivered no later than two weeks prior to the Review Board.
Review Board Meetings should be scheduled on a weekday, at least three weeks before the end of the term. Contact the UWW office to hold a tentative date/time. The NDP office will notify Review Board members of the location.

Filling Out the Request to Convene Form

After you have contacted all the individuals who will be at the RB, you will need to fill out the below form. This form should be submitted to the Nontraditional Degree Program's office two (2) weeks prior to date of the Review Board date.

Download the Request to Convene Form.

What is the Narrative Transcript?

​The Narrative Transcript is a nontraditional transcript which summarizes the demonstrated learning outcomes you acquired during and prior to your work at UWW. The Narrative Transcript and your Northeastern Illinois University transcript comprise the official record of your Bachelor’s degree completion. Whenever you request your Northeastern transcript, the Records Office will send both documents to the specified address, along with an explanation of the UWW program.

The Narrative Transcript is developed with the UWW Academic and Faculty Advisor. It includes Prior Learning and UWW demonstrated learning outcomes in three program areas: Depth, Breadth and Effective Communication. It is approximately six pages in length (eight maximum).
Students typically use their approved Learning Contract to develop the Narrative Transcript. The Narrative Transcript will include the following:

  • Your name, Depth Area and proposed graduation date

    • Spaced down 2.5 inches from the top of page 1, on the right side of the page. Title the document “Narrative Transcript"

  • The names and titles of your Review Board Evaluators

  • Summary of all formal college work completed

    • Include the number of credit hours completed, as well as the number of UWW Independent Study semesters

  • Title of Depth Area and a summary of new learning goals and objectives related to the Learning Contract

    • This section should cover the demonstrated learning outcomes acquired in the depth area. Remember to include your prior and UWW learning. Each statement should also include the demonstrated learning outcomes acquired, as well as the activities that accomplished the learning goal

  • Demonstrated learning outcomes acquired in the Breadth Area

    • This includes your prior and UWW learning in the five academic disciplines that comprise Breadth

  • Demonstrated learning outcomes acquired in Effective Communication.

    • This includes your prior and UWW learning

Download and view an example of a Narrative Transcript.

What is an Autobiographical Statement?

UWW's autobiographical statement discusses who you are and what adult educational and professional experiences you've had post high school. This statement should focus on experiences in Depth, Breadth, and Effective Communication. The autobiographical statement will introduce your learning history to the evaluation team participating in the Review Board meeting.

Dos and Don'ts

Do ...

  • Think of the autobiographical statement as an "intellectual autobiography"

    • ​The statement should convey a clear, thoughtful picture of your adult educational life. You may include distinct motivations, accomplishments, aims, or ideas that have sculpted your professional and educational path.

  • Aim to define a central idea, impression, or theme 

    • The most memorable autobiographical statements are those that have a clear, centralizing theme. Sometimes you'll know what this theme is; other times it will emerge as you begin drafting your statement.

  • Keep it simple

    • It's easy to write over the page count in autobiographical statement. However, use words that are concise and thoughtful.

  • Use specifics

    • By using specifics, your statement will become unique and therefore, more memorable. For example, say “my internship with the Sierra Club’s Bald Eagle Project” rather than “my internship with a renowned environmental organization’s project that works to save endangered species.”

  • Find the "story" in your history 

    • Your life has been a journey, with planned and unexpected turns, successes and frustrations, and hard-earned and accidental insights. Your basic challenge in writing a compelling autobiographical statement is to tell the story that makes sense of your life as an adult.

  • Welcome the reader into your life and aims

    • Scholarships, and other academic opportunities, are looking for promising students, not high-powered profiles. So, write to engage your audience.

Don't ...

  • Write to impress

    • Scholarship selection committees have seen and heard it all. Let your credentials and awards speak for themselves. Use your autobiographical statement to convey what motivates, inspires, and shapes you as an adult. Include what your specific accomplishments have meant to you and how they have shaped your life since high school. 

  • Write in clichés 

    • Ask yourself if each and every sentence in your draft reflects some thought, fact, reflection or experience of your own. Avoid stock phrases and expressions.

  • Rewrite your resume in prose 

    • Again, selection committees are looking for the person behind the credentials. Avoid the laundry list of activities and focus on the select few experiences that have meant the most to you.

  • Be too general or abstract

    • Don’t distance your audience by using vague references or abstractions. You may think it sounds more impressive to say “in my internship, with a renowned environmental organization, I worked on a project to save endangered species” but that doesn’t tell the audience what organization you worked for or what species was being helped. Your audience, however, can connect with the person who worked with the Sierra Club to help save bald eagles.

  • Get too frustrated

    • Distilling your life into a compelling, informative one thousand word (or one-page) autobiographical statement is a challenging task. Think of this as an opportunity to reflect creatively on who you are, who you want to be, and what you hope to do with your life.

Checklist for Evaluating your Personal Statement Drafts

  1. Does your opening paragraph quickly engage the reader? Does it convey a distinct picture or impression of you as a person?

  2. Is your guiding theme or idea clearly expressed? Is there a thread that runs through the essay, unifying it?

  3. Are your key intellectual interests clearly elaborated? Is there evidence of your intellectual engagement in your adult work or studies?

  4. Are your important commitments to community service, campus or off-campus organizations, or leadership roles effectively addressed?

  5. Is the closing paragraph effective? Will it leave your audience with a sense of completeness? Does it suggest to the reader what you plan to do with your career, education, and/or life going forward?

This information was taken from the National Scholarships Office (2017).

Remember that your review board portfolio should reflect your BREADTH, DEPTH, and EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION from prior learning as well as new learning obtained while at NEIU. These can be in your portfolio under additional documents or attached to your semester reports.

These are the areas that you will help you become a well rounded student here at NEIU. There are four main categories:

  • Fine Arts

  • Humanities

  • Social/Behavioral Science

  • Natural Sciences

The key is to develop two demonstrated learning outcomes in each of the four required areas.

Breadth Areas will ...

  • ​Mimic general education/liberal arts curriculum

  • Insure exposure to a variety of subjects

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

See below of examples of the Breadth Areas:

Fine Arts

Social/Behavioral Science

  • Visual art

  • Art appreciation

  • Art history

  • Studio Art

  • Media and Theater

  • Music

  • Music appreciation

  • Studio music

  • Dance

  • Anthropology

  • Economics

  • Geography and Environmental Studies

  • History

  • Justice Studies

  • Political Science

  • Psychology

  • Sociology


Natural Sciences

  • Communication

  • English

  • World Languages Literature

  • Linguistics

  • Philosophy

  • Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Earth Science

  • Physics

Depth Area

Substantial knowledge and understanding in a specific area of academic expertise. This is experience that you bring in and want to further develop. You should look at what you are interested in and what you feel is important to your learning. Below you will see a list of potential depth areas that you select from, but it will be up to you, the UWW Faculty Advisor, your Academic Advisor, and your Community Advisor to selected a depth that is similar to your studies.

Effective Communication

In Effective Communication, you will be able to address the demonstrated learning outcomes in: world languages; demonstration of oral and written proficiency in English; and other communication forms.

These areas also include any digital media that you may have encountered prior or during your studies at NEIU. Please keep in mind how you used technology to present or explain something for class. Here are some examples to help guide you in knowing effective communication:

  • Using PowerPoint

  • Using technology as a social media outlet

  • Using Technology applications to present information

Think about how you use daily language to communicate important information to others. How do communicate with others, and what resources do you use?

Additional Documentation

Presentation of appropriate evidence of learning is a vital part of the demonstrated learning outcomes for the UWW Program. The documentation can take a variety of forms, such as:

  • work product –artwork, essays, research papers, manuals, case studies, annotated bibliographies;

  • performance - evaluations of teaching or speaking engagements; video or audio tapes

  • third party validation - includes certificates, licenses, and evaluative letters;

  • official transcripts - original transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended.

As you begin to document both prior and new learning outcomes, consider the following:

  • You must document the knowledge and/or skills that resulted from the learning activities. Ask yourself: what have I learned (i.e. what do I know? what can I do?) as a result of this learning activity, project, experience?

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

  • Original 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.

  • 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 under consideration

    • describe the context of the experience - the 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 advisors and the UWW Faculty Advisor.

  • Decisions regarding the appropriate form of documentation to verify a certain demonstrated learning outcome are usually made through consultation with either or both advisors.

  • Documentation of demonstrated learning outcomes can occur at any time during UWW participation.;

Typically, students submit prior learning documentation with their Learning Contract and submit new learning documentation with each Semester Report.

What Needs to Be in the Portfolio and How Do I put It Together?

Below is a guided sequence of the order for your portfolio. Make sure you refer back to each section for additional information. Click on the image to get an idea of how your portfolio should be organized.

1. Title Page

This should be the first thing evaluators can see. It should have the following on one page:

  • Northeastern Illinois University

  • Nontraditional Degree Programs

  • University Without Walls


Review Board Portfolio

  • Date of the Review Board

Depth Area

  • Your depth area
  • Proposed Graduation Date

2. Table of Contents

This will allow the evaluators to look at what is about to be discussed in your portfolio. Keep in mind that you will need to have tabs that separate each section. These are the sections that you will need:

  • Narrative Transcript
  • Autobiographical Statement
  • Learning Contract
  • Semester Report
  • Transcripts (NEIU print out, even if you attended more than one University)
  • Additional UWW Documentation

3. Narrative Transcript

  • Please refer to the Narrative Section on the UWW webpage to see what is needed for this section. 

    • Remember this is something that future universities and employees will see.

4. Autobiographical Statement

This should be a statement that reflects who you are as a person.

  • Please refer to the Autobiographical Statement tab for Review Board Workshop Do's and Dont's

5. Learning Contract

This is the "Bread and Butter" of your portfolio. This will help the evaluator look at what you knew coming into the program and what competencies you have developed while attending NEIU. It should be detailed and organized based on the template in the Learning contract section in the UWW Orientation webpage.

  • Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and key concepts that you have developed.

  • Also refer back to the Learning Contract section to help you revise your final learning contract.

6. Semester Report

The Semester Report is the summary of learning experiences submitted to the UWW Office by the student near the end of each semester for which the student is registered. Its purpose is to determine that you are making satisfactory progress towards your degree. It is required for each semester the student is registered (except the semester in which the student convenes a Graduation Review Board) and must bear the signatures of the student, academic advisor, and community advisor.

  • The Semester Report summarizes the learning experiences and activities accomplished as well as substantiate the learning outcomes/competencies by documenting them, It is due at the end of the semester during the finals period.

  • If you have any documentation that you have discovered during the semester such as papers written by yourself, you should attach them here.


You will need to ass a print out of your NEIU transcripts. As you have already sent the university your transcripts from past universities/colleges/schools, you will only need to print out the transcript that is on your NEIU portal.

These are essential to have since the evaluator will be looking at prior learning and current learning.

  • Please make sure that you print these out and should there be any incomplete grades on the transcript, then you will need to arrange with your academic advisor to get a grade change.

Your transcripts are located under the student tab in NEIUport underneath your Academic Profile.

8. Additional Documents

This should be information that is either from prior learning or current learning.

Some things you might want to add are:

  • Certificates

  • Research Papers

  • Artwork

  • Performance Evaluations

  • Letter of Recommendations

Examples of Review Board

As you are gathering information, please use this example as a guide to show you what the portfolio sections look like:

Sample Portfolio For Review Board

In addition, There are plenty of examples in the NDP Office for you to look at. Please come in and check them out.

Day of REview The Board

To help guide your presentation, it is recommended that you use a slide show, PowerPoint, or other technological apps that can provide a visual and keep you on track. For your reference there is a video of one's student, former NBA player Rod Strickland's presentation below. While he does not have technology, he has an extensive outline to help guide him in the right direction. In addition, you can view the Review Board Checklist and the Review Board Procedure and Purpose.

Guidelines for Review Board Presentation

  • 15-20 minutes long

  • PowerPoint or Prezi

  • Video, Art, etc. (Please make sure you are introducing this video and the purpose of this video

  • Notes or Outline (You can use handwritten notes or a timeline tech tool to organize your thoughts

Additional Requirements

Length of Portfolio: Approximately 100 (no more than 110) pages. Pages must be numbered. Page 1 of your Review Board Portfolio should be Page 1 of your Narrative Transcript.
Last Page will be titled “Additional UWW Documentation.” List all documentation submitted to UWW and evaluated by your advisors, but that is not included in the Portfolio.
Assemble the Portfolio: Use original documents from your UWW file. (Copies of transcripts on file with UWW will suffice.) RB Portfolio must be reviewed by UWW staff (and should also be reviewed by the student’s advisors) prior to duplication.
The student should make at least eight copies of the Review Board Portfolio. Seven copies should be bound or put in folders. THE ORIGINAL PORTFOLIO MUST BE UNBOUND. It should contain original documentation and is retained on file in the UWW Office for five years.