Essential Elements in Syllabus

A syllabus is an agreement between instructor and students. A well constructed syllabus conveys instructor expectations and course requirements to students, stimulates student interest in the course, and clearly outlines student responsibilities during the semester. When these details are included in writing in the syllabus and attention is called to them as the semester begins, faculty are likely to avoid problems later in the semester. When questions arise about the course or syllabus, the department chair, course coordinator, and others who regularly teach the course are available as consultants.

Sample Syllabus Statements

Integrating Flexibility and Structure into your Courses (Strategies and Examples)

Building in flexibility signals to your students that you trust them and that you value choice. It also signals that you understand their learning experience may be interrupted by health or other unexpected occurrences. Having a plan in place helps you minimize the number of case-by-case decisions you have to make during the semester thus resulting in a more equitable opportunity for all students. Keep in mind that not all students will feel comfortable or know they can ask for flexibilty.

We recommend that you provide flexibility to your students without sacrificing a clear, consistent structure. Balancing structure with flexibility can be challenging as we want students to stay on track and on time. Too much flexibility can indeed jeopardize students just as much as too rigid a structure can. You'll find the right balance that support your students and we hope that this resource gives you ideas and options to consider. 

Sample Syllabus Statements: Course Plan for the Unexpected (Updated Fall 2022)

This resource provides possible syllabus statements you can use to communicate to students your plan for an unexpected situations that would interrupt class meetings such as weather-related emergencies or illness accommodations. 

Sample Instructions for SmartProctoring for Students

This resource provides an explanation to students about how you intend to use the web-based remote proctoring system SmarterProctoring along with instructions about how to prepare their computer and practice ahead of time.


Syllabus Templates


These templates are offered as an aid to faculty. The basic elements may be expanded. Essential elements include:

  • Recording statement
  • Grading criteria
  • Web-based proctoring if using
  • Gen-Ed statement
  • Course Description from bulletin
  • Required and recommended materials
  • Grading Scale
  • Title IX
  • DAS
  • Faculty name and contact
  • Office Hours
  • Goals and Learning Outcomes (assists with ease of transfer)
  • Academic Integrity
  • Plan for the Unexpected
  • Time Requirements
  • Technology Requirements
  • Attendance Policy

Other suggested elements include:

  • Rationale for using web-based proctoring
  • Academic Support (tutoring etc.)
  • Description of Teaching Style/Approach
  • Course Schedule
  • Feedback/Grading Timeline
  • Rubrics
  • Participation Policy
  • Behavior Expectations
  • Content Advisory
  • Pronouns

Submit a copy of the syllabus for each course to the department office each semester.

The Center for Teaching and Learning's website includes sample statements of civility, academic honesty, and disability access. These are available for faculty to adapt at the following link: Resources for Teaching

Some departments expect all syllabi to include standard statements of these policies in each course syllabus. Be certain to check whether this is the case in your program.