In an effective syllabus, the rules of engagement between instructor and students and between students should be clearly articulated. Ideally, the syllabus is a document that can be co-created through an exchange between students and the instructor.

A well-designed syllabus is an essential tool for effectively managing a course. It gives students a clear understanding of your expectations and a road map for how the course will be conducted. When done right, a syllabus can prevent a lot of misunderstandings as the semester progresses.

Proper syllabus design:

  • Sets the tone for the course.
  • Communicates what, when, and how students will learn.
  • Clarifies for students what they need to do in order to be successful.
  • Communicates expectations in terms of student responsibilities.
  • Avoids misunderstandings about course policies.

A few considerations to take into account as you design a syllabus for your course:

  • Review the course description established by your department or syllabi of the same course from previous instructors.
  • Check online for sample syllabi of the same or similar courses from colleagues at other universities.
  • Consider questions students may have about the course.

CTL Resources:

  Design an Inclusive Syllabus (CTL webpage) 


Further Reading & Resources:

  How to Create a Syllabus, Chronicle of Higher Education

  Syllabus Design, Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching

  Inclusive Syllabus Design, UCLA Center for Education Innovation & Learning in the Sciences