A course syllabus should minimally convey to students course topics and learning goals, how course-learning resources are available, how assessments are conducted, expectations of students enrolled in the course, the number of credits awarded and how they can be achieved, and information about the course instructor(s). In essence, it conveys course expectations, serves as a durable record of the learning experience and is a tool to support student learning. Every course should have a syllabus.
Information to Include on Every UW-Madison Syllabus
Faculty and instructors should include the following elements, as well as information on course content and depth, how students are evaluated and graded, information about learning resources and textbooks and other information that they usually include.
The information below is required for federal compliance and institutional accreditation. For a complete set of syllabi recommendations, please download and review this syllabus template.
- Course subject, number and name
- Canvas course URL
- Course designations and attributes
- Primary section meeting times and location(s)
- Instructional mode: all face-t0-face, all online or blended
- Specify how credit hours are met by the course. Use one of the three definitions from the UW-Madison Credit Hour Policy:
- Traditional Carnegie Definition – One hour (i.e. 50 minutes) of classroom or direct faculty/instructor instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week over approximately 15 weeks, or an equivalent amount of engagement over a different number of weeks. This is the status quo and represents the traditional college credit format used for decades. If you have regular classroom meetings and assign homework, reading, writing, and preparation for quizzes and exams, make this choice.
- 45 Hours per Credit – One credit is the learning that takes place in at least 45 hours of learning activities, which include time in lectures or class meetings, in person or online, labs, exams, presentations, tutorials, reading, writing, studying, preparation for any of these activities, and any other learning activities. This option may be useful for nontraditional formats, “flipped” courses, lab courses, seminars, courses with substantial meeting time and little out-of-class work, or any time this is a better fit for learning activities than the Carnegie definition.
- Demonstration of Equivalent Learning – One credit is established by a demonstration of learning by the student equivalent to what would be learned in a course with one of the other methods of determining credit. This option is likely to be used rarely because it needs thorough documentation of learning as equivalent to what would be learned in the Carnegie credit format or 45-hour formats.*Note: Regular and substantive student-instructor interaction is always a requirement of UW-Madison for-credit learning activities.
- Primary instructor title, name and contact information
- TA name and contact information (if applicable)
- Course description and requisites
- Course learning outcomes – Every UW-Madison course is required to have learning outcomes. Course-level student learning outcomes state what students are expected to know or be able to do upon completion of a specific course; relate specifically to the topics, assignments, exams and other assessments in the course; are measurable; ideally, contribute, or map to, program-level learning outcomes. Find more information on the Student Learning Assessment website.
This information meets expectations for the 2019 HLC accreditation review; providing this information to students on the syllabus is one way instructors fulfill their responsibility, not only for basic information conveyance to their students, but also to a successful accreditation outcome.
Many schools and colleges have recommended practices in place. Contact your Dean’s Office for recommendations or the vice provost for teaching and learning for more information.