Suggestions for an Effective Syllabus
Endorsed by the Academic Senate – March 12, 2009
A syllabus serves to invite students to a course. It sets the tone
for the teaching and learning that will take place, informs students of
the objectives of the course, and orients them with regard to course
content, assignments, and logistics. A syllabus also provides
administrative information useful for students and instructor, such as
the course schedule, office hours, assignments, textbooks, etc. The
syllabus should be consistent with the official course description. It
should also follow guidelines, if any, of the department curriculum
committee and state any additional requirements the department may
have, based on its academic programs. The Senate urges all instructors
to provide a written syllabus for each of their courses.
Inclusion of the following elements will help ensure that a syllabus
functions as an effective teaching tool and provides students with
needed administrative information.
- The syllabus should include the official course
description. It might also include a brief statement of the
instructor’s teaching philosophy and pedagogic approach.
and due dates should be part of the syllabus. If late assignments will
be accepted, this should be stated, including possible consequences,
such as lower grades.
syllabus should include dates and times of course examinations,
including the final, if available. If there might be unannounced tests,
this should be stated. State the policy on make-up exams.
quantitative description of how students’ grades will be determined
should be part of the syllabus (the tests and assignments required and
the relative weight of each).
general, attendance may not be used to evaluate students, except in
special cases such as studio art or activity courses, laboratories, or
practica. However, class participation is normally a valid criterion.
Students who are absent cannot contribute to or benefit from class
discussions, presentations, and other activities. The consequences of
non-participation should be stated.
syllabus should state the names of required textbooks and other
materials, as well as recommended texts and materials, and how they can
be obtained. If the course is partially or fully on-line, complete
instructions on access and use of electronic resources should be
syllabus should include a statement on forms of academic dishonesty,
such as plagiarism or cheating. It should describe what they are and
the disciplinary and academic consequences of these behaviors.
Reference might be made to the University’s policy on academic
schedule of class meeting dates and times and associated assignments
should be part of the syllabus. Depending on the nature of the course,
the department’s policy, and the instructor’s judgment, this schedule
may be brief or detailed. Changes may of course occur; these should be
communicated frequently to the class. Note any days on which the
schedule is shifted, such as a Wednesday on which classes meet
according to a Tuesday schedule.
administrative information such as: College; Department; Course name,
title, and section; Building and Room Number; and Instructor name and
contact information (office phone and e-mail address, as well e-mail
the course qualifies for General Education credit, including
writing-intensive credit, a statement should be included which explains
how the course fulfills this requirement.
Model Queens College syllabi may be viewed at http://writingatqueens.qwriting.org/for-faculty/w-course-syllabi
March 31, 2009
Queens College is accredited by the Middle States
Association (MSA). Syllabi should adhere to the Standard 11 Middle
States' requirement described on page 41 of "Characteristics of
Excellence in Higher Education, Eligibility Requirements and Standards
for Accreditation" (http://www.msche.org/publications/CHX06_Aug08REVMarch09.pdf). The requirement is as follows:
"Students learn more effectively when they understand
the key learning outcomes of their program, course, and institution,
how they are expected to achieve those learning goals (i.e., through
what assignments and learning experiences), and how they are expected
to demonstrate their learning. Statements of expected student learning
at the institutional, program, and course levels should be available to
current and prospective students (see Standard 8: Student Admissions).
Course-level expected student learning outcomes should be included in
There are additional requirements on syllabi in some
departments and programs. For accredited programs in GSLIS, FNES, and
the Division of Education, the departments have developed syllabus
models that conform to accrediting agency (e.g., NCATE) requirements.
Consult the department for appropriate models. Courses in departments
outside the Division of Education that are intended primarily for
education majors should follow the NCATE department models. An example
of a syllabus that conforms to both NCATE and Middle States standards
may be found at
Writing intensive (W) courses should adhere to the syllabus guidelines described at
General Education courses (e.g., PLAS) should adhere to the syllabus guidelines described at
All of these links provide excellent suggestions and syllabus models that are generally applicable.
State and federal law will shortly require that
complete textbook information be provided in the class schedule. The
texts listed in the syllabus must be consistent (e.g., the same
edition) with the class schedule information.
Departments should keep course syllabi on file. If
syllabi are lacking or deficient for a particular course, the
department should develop and maintain a model syllabus for that course.