Curricular Processes

Syllabus Guidelines

Purpose and Value

A syllabus is an academic agreement that establishes the academic relationship between instructors and students in a course, used as the basis for communication and accountability. It communicates course expectations, organizes information, sets the tone for the learning environment, maps the path of student learning, and provides accountability. A carefully constructed syllabus helps clarify course goals and learning objectives, assessment and evaluation standards, grading policies, and expectations for student and faculty behavior.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Criteria for Accreditation require that a syllabus be placed on file in the department for each course taught and that students must be provided written information about the goals and requirements of each course, the nature of the course content, and the methods of evaluation to be employed.


  1. Every regularly scheduled academic course, regardless of delivery method (e.g., traditional, media-enhanced, lab, or web), must have a written syllabus distributed to students enrolled in the course. The syllabus should be posted electronically in the course management site for the class and be available to students by the first day of class.

  2. A syllabus for each course taught each semester during each academic year (Summer, Fall, Spring) shall be placed on file in the department offering the course. Only one syllabus is required for course offerings with multiple sections. Department syllabi should be updated each academic year. Departments are responsible for maintaining these files.

  3. Instructors should avoid making major changes to a syllabus once classes have begun, particularly those concerning changes affecting attendance standards, grading standards, or performance measures. However, since it is impossible to cover all contingencies in the planning stages of a course, students should be advised that instructors may need to make changes as the semester progresses. Any changes to a syllabus should be for compelling reasons and follow these guidelines:
    • Fair and adequate notice is given to enrolled students either by email, in writing, or through online publishing
    • Modifications to the syllabus are not arbitrary or capricious.
    • Students are not unfairly disadvantaged by mid semester changes to grading standards, attendance standards, or performance measures. Efforts should be made to avoid penalizing students as a result of any necessary changes.

Syllabus Components

The required components of the syllabus are listed below, with optional items noted:

COURSE INFORMATION: prefix, number, section, title, credit hours

FKL STATEMENT: All courses approved for the Foundations of Knowledge and Learning Core Curriculum should include the following statement on the course syllabus:

This course is part of the University of South Florida's Foundations of Knowledge and Learning (FKL) Core Curriculum. It is certified for [Identify Core Area(s)] and for the following dimensions: [List approved dimensions.] Students enrolled in this course will be asked to participate in the USF General Education assessment effort. This might involve submitting copies of writing assignments for review, responding to surveys, or participating in other measurements designed to assess the FKL Core Curriculum learning outcomes.

LOGISTICS: semester, meeting time, meeting place, delivery method

INSTRUCTOR INFORMATION: name, office location, office hours, phone number, email, department, college, name of teaching assistant(s), contact information, office hours

COURSE DESCRIPTION: catalog description (including prerequisites and corequisites); expanded description (optional); university-wide requirements fulfilled by the course (e.g., General Education, Gordon Rule, Capstone Experience, Writing Intensive); explain role of teaching assistant(s)(optional); explain role of Blackboard or other course maintenance and instructional technologies.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: list the knowledge, skills and understandings that will be taught in this course.

STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES: list the knowledge, skills and understandings that students should be able to demonstrate upon completion of the course (with action verbs).

READINGS: list required textbooks including basic publishing information, required access to websites (e.g., publisher's website), and required software; indicate if additional readings will be available in course packets, via Canvas, or online.

GRADING POLICY: grading scale; item distribution contributing to final grade; whether +/- grades will be used; how students can track their grades/performance; S/U options; circumstances for assigning an "I" grade; late work and make-up policy; statement regarding extra credit; use of TurnItIn or other plagiarism detection system (optional).

EVALUATION ITEMS: describe the nature and purpose of each type of item on which grades will be based: papers, projects, exams, quizzes, journals, portfolios, performances, problem sets, etc.

ATTENDANCE POLICY: explanation of instructor's attendance policy, including policy regarding frequency of web access for web-based courses and any effect on grades. Include link to General Attendance policy in current catalog.

COURSE OUTLINE/SCHEDULE: include topics, readings, assignments, scheduled exams, events, and field trips by date.

UNIVERSITY POLICIES: see Standard Policies below

Standard Policies

Information regarding these policies are standard items, many of which can be included as a hyperlink ( if so desired. Some are only necessary if applicable.

  1. Final Examinations Policy
    All final examinations are to be scheduled in accordance with the University's final examination policy.
  2. General Attendance Policy
  3. Early Notification Requirement for Observed Religious Days
    Students who anticipate the necessity of being absent from class due to the observation of a major religious observance must provide notice of the date(s) to the instructor, in writing, at the beginning of the term.
  4. Academic Integrity of Students
  5. Disruption of the Academic Process
  6. Gender-Based Crimes
    Educators must report incidents of gender-based crimes including sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, dating violence and domestic violence. If a student discloses in class, in papers, or to an instructor, the instructor is required by law to report the disclosure. The Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention (813-974-5757) is a confidential resource where you can talk about such situations and receive assistance in confidence. Additional confidential resources on campus are: the Counseling Center (813-974-2831) and Student Health Services (813-974-2331).
  7. Student Academic Grievance Procedures
  8. Students with Disabilities
    Students with disabilities are responsible for registering with Students with Disabilities Services (SDS) in order to receive academic accommodations. SDS encourages students to notify instructors of accommodation needs at least 5 business days prior to needing the accommodation. A letter from SDS must accompany this request.
  9. Turnitin Privacy Policy
    In order to comply with privacy laws, students are not required to include personal identifying information, such as name, in the body of the document. Turnitin provides an originality report letting the instructor know how much of the assignment is original. Please follow your instructor's instructions carefully regarding what identifying information to include.
  10. University Emergency Policy
    In the event of an emergency, it may be necessary for USF to suspend normal operations. During this time, USF may opt to continue delivery of instruction through methods that include but are not limited to: Canvas, Elluminate, Skype, and email messaging and/or an alternate schedule. It's the responsibility of the student to monitor Canvas site for each class for course specific communication, and the main USF, College, and department websites, emails, and MoBull messages for important general information.

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