Master Syllabi

Creating Consistent Syllabi

The information and resources below bring together information about master syllabi and course syllabi. Faculty are encouraged to use these guidelines to improve the usefulness and accessibility of course syllabi for faculty, staff, and students. These guidelines are intended to provide a consistent layout for course information while ensuring the academic freedom of each instructor to teach their courses in the manner they and their departmental colleagues think is best.

Every instructor provides students with a course syllabus that details his or her expectations, grading policies, and other relevant information. Among the more important parts of the syllabus is the statement of student learning outcomes—what the student is expected to know, value, and be able to do by the end of the class. A complete list of components expected in a syllabus and other first-day handouts is given in the Syllabus Checklist.

The course syllabi for different faculty, even those teaching the same course, will differ, since every instructor has an approach and strategies that work best for them and their students. Nevertheless, certain components within their course syllabi will be identical, or nearly so, because they are teaching the same subject at the same college. There common components of the syllabi comprise the master syllabus for that course.

The master syllabus for a course should include the:

  • Course name and number (e.g., PHYS 2425)
  • Course description (as stated in catalog, with perhaps some elaboration)
  • Instructor information, including how to contact them
  • Prerequisites
  • Course rationale (statement on the broad educational purpose of the course)
  • Student learning outcomes

Other syllabus items may vary by class section or be fairly uniform, depending on the consensus of the department faculty:

  • Required textbooks/materials
  • Grading system
  • Course policies

The course policies in this context refer to college policies regarding academic integrity, rights and responsibilities, safety, the use of ACC email, and so forth. Faculty are encouraged to use the suggested wording for these policies in the master syllabus template in course and master syllabi. A syllabus constitutes a contract between the instructor and the student, so having such statements in the syllabus can prove critical when responding to student concerns regarding grades or other issues.

The master syllabus for a course helps ensure consistency of curriculum, while allowing instructors the freedom to shape their course sections within department parameters. In addition, they provide guidance to new faculty members teaching the course and serve as evidence for various accrediting agencies to demonstrate the consistency and quality of ACC’s courses and programs.

Many of the components of a syllabus are also found in Lighthouse. The latter, however, is a “faculty information utility” and does not contain many of the elements expected in a syllabus. Moreover, the master syllabus for a course does not itself include the instructor- and section-specific information found in Lighthouse.

Master syllabi for all courses are available at the ACC Master Syllabi Repository.

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