What is a Narrative Transcript?

bird holding an unravelled scroll

A college transcript is an official record of your work as a student. It shows which courses you took and what grades you received. Usually, transcripts simply list your courses, grades, and grade point average.

Narrative Transcripts are different from traditional transcripts in that they are a written evaluation that explains your learning activities during the time when you were in college. They require reading instead of glancing.

The narrative transcript usually gets written by the faculty member(s) who advised you during your final semester, but sometimes information from all of your semesters gets included in the narrative transcript, which can make it time consuming for the reader.


  • If someone is very interested in your educational experience, they can read all about it.
  • If you did something really amazing in college, or had an advisor who was also an eloquent writer, then you might end up with a compelling and supportive narrative college transcript.
  • If you plan to work or continue to learn in an experiential environment, your narrative transcript will be recognized as familiar proof that you are an experiential learner.
  • A narrative transcript can help you stand out and get noticed in application processes.


  • Not everybody is going to read your narrative transcript. HR is just not that invested. They’re comparing statistics when in the hiring phase. They want to glance at your class list and GPA, not read a novel about your education from how ever many years ago you attended college.
  • Many hiring professionals attended traditional education, so they expect to see traditional transcripts and get scared when they don’t.
  • Most people don’t know what narrative transcripts are, so you’ll have to explain them to the reader (which could be an opportunity).
  • Whatever the advisors write is going to follow you for the rest of your academic and professional career. Good if it’s good, bad if it’s bad.

Personal Note

I have narrative transcripts from both my graduate and undergraduate education, and it can be challenging if the people (admissions, hiring staff) who read your transcripts are expecting a traditional transcript.

Simply make sure your narrative transcripts are well written when they’re written and you should have no problems standing out as a unique candidate when you apply for future opportunities—that is, if you are hoping your degree will help you land a job or further your career.