College of Arts and Letters

Guidelines for Course Syllabi
Approved by the Chairs’ Council on Sept. 12, 2006


A course syllabus should constitute a contract between the instructor and the student, so it should be thorough, carefully-conceived and consistently applied.

General Information

  • Course number and title

  • Semester and year of offering

  • Classroom

  • Regular days/times of class meetings

  • Instructor’s name, office location, telephone number, email and office hours


  • Complete, verbatim quotation of the course description from the current catalog

  • One-paragraph description of content, learning objectives and instructional style (e.g., lecture, discussion, studio, activity, etc.)

Curricular details

  • Intended student audience (majors, minors, newbies, advanced, etc.)

  • Brief explanation of any prerequisites (courses, skills, student status, etc.)

  • Course’s place in the curriculum (major requirement, gen ed, etc.)


  • List of any books or materials the student will need

  • Any helpful notes on where to find the materials if they’re at all unconventional

  • Any other course-related obligations that could involve personal expense

  • Any other course-related obligations involving travel (e.g., field trips)


  • Descriptions of assignments, exams, etc. Some instructors include all the details in the syllabus, while others provide such information after the course is under way. In any case, the instructor must, in a timely manner, offer clear instructions on such matters as paper length, paper topic, the nature of exam questions, etc., all in order to establish boundaries and expectations so that students know exactly what’s wanted.

  • Any required or recommended activities that occur outside of class time

  • List of deadlines

  • Course calendar indicating the topics or material to be covered during each meeting or during each week (possibly add a comment to the effect that the schedule is subject to change but the instructor will provide appropriate notice)

  • Date and time of the final examination, if any

Grading Policy

  • Percentages or points by assignment or area; include all work that contributes to the grade criteria (should convey how an “A” differs from a “B,” etc.)

  • Specify if passing the course requires certain assignments to be completed or a minimum amount of work to be submitted, all regardless of the calculated grade (e.g., the student’s grade works out to a B-, but because she didn’t take the final exam, she can’t pass the course)


  • If the course offers variable units, a clear explanation of the expectations and requirements

  • If the course offers an option other than a traditional grade, an explanation of that option and its circumstances


  • Attendance, including late arrival and early departure

  • Under what circumstances you accept late work

  • Under what circumstances you allow a student to make up an in-class exam

  • Under what circumstances a student may request an incomplete

  • Consequences of violating the campus policy on academic dishonesty

  • Link to library’s page on plagiarism: 

  • Whether stduents are permitted to record class sessions

  • Expectations regarding cell phone etiquette

  • Statement regarding accommodations for recognized disabilities