SharePoint Online at NIU

SharePoint Online is a free service in Office 365 for Education available to all students, faculty and staff. It is an online content and document management tool for creating authenticated intranets, managing file libraries, collaboration on team projects, and more. 

  • A SharePoint "site collection" is a top-level website that can contain multiple subsites.
  • A subsite is ideal when a unique set of permissions or functionality is required within a site collection.
  • Site collections can have up to 2,000 subsites. For example, “Accounting” might be a subsite within a “College of Business” site collection.

SharePoint is not always the best collaboration option.  Choose the right tool for the job.

Request a Site

Local IT staff must submit a site request at These IT staff will become the site owner who designs and manages the site to serve local needs.

Because subsites are contained within site collections, requests for subsites should be made directly to the site collection owner with the following information: 

  • Subsite Name: The name that appears in the URL, so keep it as short as possible and without special characters or spaces (e.g. ACCY). 
  • Title: The friendly name that appears at the top of the site (e.g. Accounting Department). 
  • Groups
  • Owners:  The owner can add administrators and visitors or rely on local technology support to manage subsite permissions.


Use your NIU email alias or Account ID to access SharePoint, just like other Office 365 applications. If a user logs in but does not have access to a site, a form to request access will display and be sent to the site owner.

Site owners can grant access using dynamic Human Resources groups that mirror HR department membership. To add an HR department group, add the group "Global-Department-Group-AA00000" to your site group, where AA00000 is an  NIU HR department code.

SharePoint access is distributed and managed by the site owner. Access to new site collections is initially limited to the predetermined site owner, who then designates user permissions. Access is given by the site owner and can be for entire site collections, individual subsites, libraries and/or lists, and individual documents or other items. Five user roles can be granted by site owners.

Features Visitors Members Approvers Designers Owners
Read and Download Site Content
Browse Site Content
Search Site Content
Request Higher Access Level
Create and Edit Site Content  
Approve Site Content Additions and Changes    
Create/Edit Lists and Libraries      
Change Page Structure and Visual Design      
Add/Edit Web Parts      
Administer Permissions        

Learn to Use SharePoint

Site Users

Free Microsoft courses

Site Collection Owners

See the NIU SharePoint Roles and Responsibilities Guide for guidelines on who does what and best practices for rolling out a department SharePoint site collection.

Data Recovery (Recycle Bins)

Items are deleted approximately 90 days after they are put in the recycle bin. All items are automatically deleted when the total storage in the Second-Stage Recycle Bin exceeds 200% of the site collection quota.

  • Document restore for users
    • Site Contents > Recycle Bin > restore
  • Document version rollback for users (Site owners configure the number of versions. A site collection's number of versions is 500 major versions by default.)
  • Site Recycle Bin (for site owners)
  • Second-stage Site Recycle Bin (for site owners)
    • Site collections can be deleted only by the site owner. They can be restored by Microsoft within 14 days of being deleted.


  • Access database hosting
  • Customizable web forms
  • Discussion forums
  • Document versioning
  • HIPAA-compliant document storage
  • Picture and slide libraries with thumbnails
  • Subsites for teams and projects
  • Team calendars via Exchange Online
  • Wikis


  • 1TB site collection limit
  • 2,000 subsites per site collection
  • 10 GB file upload limit

Roles and responsibilities

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