What is and why have a syllabus?

Click here to learn more about what to do on your first day of classThe syllabus provides a road map for students to succeed in your course, clearly stating your expectations and what students can expect while taking the course. It is your opportunity to develop a strong connection with your students and model your inclusive learning environment. You want to make a positive first impression and build community within your class through your syllabus and first day of class. A syllabus, like any communication, is most effective when you use your words. We recognize you may need a starting place and/or some suggested language and the best syllabi require creative energy of the author.

Your syllabus has several parts and serves multiple purposes. You should write your syllabus using accessibility guidelines. The Faculty Handbook states that syllabi will be made available to students by the second class meeting or within a week of the start of the course for online courses. The best practice is to provide and go through the syllabus during the first class.

The list below can be used as a checklist for your syllabus and each link will take you to more information on the category and/or suggested language for your syllabus. On the first day you use the syllabus to introduce what you know is important about your class, student success and important MSU policies. Make your syllabus learner centered.

  1. Course identification information, meeting times/places
  2. Yourself
  3. Your office hours: time, place and purpose
  4. How to contact you, communication methods and expectations
  5. Learning outcomes; overview; themes; details
  6. How you use the Learning Management System (LMS)
  7. Required course materials/supplies students need to purchase
  8. Course-specific resources
  9. MSU Library resources
  10. Your grading policies
  11. Your attendance policies and absences, including health-related abscences
  12. Drop/Add Policies
  13. Academic calendar, holidays and important dates
  14. Copyright and intellectual property policies concerning your course
  15. Code of Student Conduct and Academic Misconduct
  16. MSU Student Resources: academic, health, engagement, etc.
  17. Office of Disability Services and Academic Accommodations
  18. Suggested Language for Student Well-being
  19. Your classroom values and behavioral guidelines and how you make an inclusive learning environment.
  20. Land Acknowledgement

The sections below have examples can be incorporated into undergraduate and graduate course syllabi.

Course Logistics

  • Course identification information, meeting times/places
  • Yourself
  • Your office hours: time, place and purpose
  • How to contact you, communication methods and expectations

Course Content

  • Learning outcomes; overview; themes; details
  • How you use the Learning Management System (LMS)
  • Required course materials/supplies students need to purchase
  • Course-specific resources

Course Success

  • Your grading policies
  • Your attendance policies and absences, including health-related abscences
  • Drop/Add Policies
  • Academic calendar, holidays and important dates

 

Academic Conduct

  • Copyright and intellectual property policies concerning your course
  • Code of Student Conduct and Academic Misconduct

Health and Wellbeing

  • MSU Student Resources: academic, health, engagement, etc.
  • Office of Disability Services and Academic Accommodations
  • Suggested Language for Student Well-being

Classroom  Inclusiveness

  • Your classroom values and behavioral guidelines.
  • How you make an inclusive learning environment.
  • Land Acknowledgement

 

Your syllabus is a critical resource your students can refer to or use as a rock on which to cling when they are confused about an aspect of your class. Similarly, you can rely on it and refer to it during the chaos that sometimes comes for an instructor later in the semester.

Please feel free to email [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns.