Syllabus Guidelines

These guidelines have been developed by the CTL and the Curricular Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate to assist faculty in providing informative and complete syllabi to their students.

On this page:

  1. Introduction to Syllabus Development
  2. Syllabus Elements:
    1. Syllabus Element: Basic Information
    2. Syllabus Element: Course Description
    3. Syllabus Element: Schedule
    4. Syllabus Element: Values and Policies
  3. Download Template [.doc file]
  4. Other Syllabus Design Resources

I. Introduction to Syllabus Development

As the initial and primary written communication between faculty and students, an effective syllabus:

The syllabus is an organizational tool as well as a kind of contract between you and your students, describing your expectations of them and what they can expect of you.

Developing an effective syllabus begins with considering the overall purpose of the course and articulating the overarching goals. Next, think about what knowledge and skills your students should attain by the end of the course. This can be articulated in a list of action statements called learning objectives. Read more about writing effective learning objectives. As you plan your course, formulating the learning objectives and deciding how they will be achieved and measured—by readings, activities, and assessments—you are creating the backbone of the syllabus.

Course Alignment
Keep in mind that every assignment and assessment should be aligned with your learning objectives. By providing students with a rationale for each assignment—how it relates to the learning objectives you've outlined—you give them a meaningful context and an understanding of why the work they are doing matters.

As an organizational tool the syllabus should contain the logistical information, e.g., instructor contact information, meeting time and place, and office hours. It should provide information about assignments, including specific due dates and instructions about how to submit the assignments to you. A detachable calendar listing all the assignments and their due dates can be helpful for many students.

The syllabus should also communicate your standards of classroom etiquette, such as use of cellphones and computers, arriving late, talking, leaving the class during session, how you wish to be addressed, and your attendance policy.

Finally, the syllabus should reinforce and direct students to institutional values and policies, such as academic integrity or valuing multiple perspectives and identities in the classroom.

Syllabus design is an iterative process. Student feedback, new ideas, different teaching techniques, and new technologies pave the way for changes in the design and delivery of the course over time. Reflect on your syllabus regularly!


II. Syllabus Elements:

A. Basic Information B. Course Description C. Schedule - a table or listing: D. Values and Policies

Inclusiveness and Universal Design

Student Responsibilities and Rights

III. Syllabus Template

This Word document can be used as a prompt for developing your syllabus.
Download the document here.

IV. Other Syllabus Design Resources

From UVM Libraries:

The Bailey/Howe Liaison Program
B/H Library liaisons by department
The Dana Medical Library Liaison Program

From Other Institutions

  1. University of Minnesota Center for Teaching and Learning
    Syllabus Development

  2. Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence Writing a Syllabus

  3. Duquesne University:
    The Importance of the Course Syllabus

  4. IDEA Paper #42, Integrated Course Design [PDF], by L. Dee Fink


Resources: McKeachie, Wilbert James,2006, McKeachie's Teaching Tips : Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers, 12th Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company

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