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CATL Syllabus Guide

A page within CATL Syllabus Guide

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Hurray, it’s time to write your course syllabus!

And creating a syllabus corresponds with designing your course. This site provides some key information about being successful in the process. If you need help at any time, contact CATL.

Why does every course need a syllabus?
  1. Required for each course for HLC accreditation, plus many programmatic or college-specific accrediting bodies also require syllabi
  2. Informs students of class-specific policies
  3. Explains the standards for a course grade
  4. Outlines the requirements of a course
  5. Lists the required resources/materials and where to get them
  6. highlight the structure and schedule for the course
  7. shared university supports for student success

TIP: Check with your department chair to ensure that your syllabus is in compliance with departmental, programmatic, and college-level requirements.

Why is a syllabus one document?

UWL requires each student have access to a single-document syllabus shared either as a handout or available electronically via Canvas. Why?  

  • Easier for students to locate required information during the course.
  • Syllabi need to be uploaded into Digital Measures for the purpose of personnel review. 
  • Students often need a syllabi to help other institutes of higher learning determine transferability so scope and depth of content coverage and main assignments/assessment details are important to explain.
What do I have to put in my syllabus?

Faculty Senate policy states what is required and what is recommended in a syllabus. Here is a quick breakdown:



Instructor name/contact information

Student learning outcomes (SLOs) for the course ** If a general education course, the UWL GEC-identified SLO(s) for the course

Course and section number, meeting times, office hours and location

Sequence of topics and major assignments of the course

Identify the course as offered through UWL

Planned number and timing of major examinations and assignments ** The syllabus should indicate that the timing of activities and topics may change. Student shall be given timely notice of any major changes in the syllabus.

Course prerequisites

Instructor policies regarding missed course work (including examinations)

Course catalog description

Courses available for both undergraduate and graduate credit (i.e., slash courses) should clearly indicate how the requirements differ for the undergraduate and graduate expectations of the students

Required texts or other materials, and any materials that require purchase


A clear grading policy that states the value of each major course component, including the grade scale and how attendance and late work affects the course grade


Statements that reflect the university’s legal obligations must be in full in the syllabus or referenced in the syllabus with this link:


How regular and substantive interaction will happen in your class


Your policies around the use of artificial intelligence



Other things to consider adding are department/college accreditation requirements and common course elements/expectations.

Is there a different syllabus for an online course or course with online discussion assignments?

No but there policies to consider. Two examples:

EXAMPLE 1: Success as an Online Learner

<<NOTE: This is a section for online courses.>>

Successful completion of this course includes participation in discussions and completion of ALL assignments. As an underlying principle of online learning, successful achievement of course outcomes requires a willingness to self-reflect and self-regulate. You should also frequently reflect on learning goals, application of outcomes, and how you might apply course concepts in your future career or life in general. For additional tips on succeeding as an online learner, review UWL’s Online Readiness Tutorial.

To do well in any online class begin with the following tasks:

Checklist for Getting Started


Review Tips for Succeeding in an Online Course (.pdf) if this is your first online class, as well as the Online Readiness Tutorial.


In Canvas, select a course from the Dashboard (the opening screen). Print the Syllabus and read it carefully.


Print the Course Outline (schedule). This document typically lists all readings and assignments, week by week. <<EDIT: Give warning such as “I may update this schedule from time to time; the most current version will be located here.”>>


<<EDIT: Give action language such as “Click on the first item in the left course menu (with a white background) in Canvas.”>>

Here you will find course modules (lessons), instructor comments, resources and assignments.


Every time you login check the Announcements (Canvas) and the General Question & Answer Forum (if available) for important course-related news.


Example 2: Strategies for Online Interactions

<<NOTE: Section useful for online courses but can also be helpful if your course includes online discussion or group activities.>>

When participating in online portions of your course, respect others’ views and opinions and display common courtesy when posting your views and opinions online in discussion forums, email, blogs, and social networking sites, etc. Online discussions do not allow each person to see facial expressions, body language, or hear intonation so it's especially important to be intentional and thoughtful about what and how we say things online. By following the strategies below, online communication becomes clearer and helps you maintain and establish positive online relationships as well as develop a positive online reputation.

All class members should abide by these six simple rules (abridged and modified from the 10 rules of

  • Be kind and forgiving of mistakes (i.e., do unto others as you'd have others do unto you)
  • Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life (i.e., be ethical)
  • Respect other people's time and bandwidth (i.e., avoid long rants and be careful not to monopolize a discussion)
  • Share expert knowledge (i.e., let others benefit from your insights and experience)
  • Help keep flame wars under control (i.e., no personal attacks or ongoing attempts to belittle or antagonize others)
  • Respect other people's privacy
How do I create a supportive syllabus for my students?

Creating a syllabus that assists all students in being successful in your course is important. Considering the language you use in sharing your approach matters. Instructors who have participated in a CATL policy/syllabus chareutte have found great value in considering different ways to explain and word things in the syllabus. If you'd like to schedule a syllabus policy chareutte for your department, a group of colleagues, and/or for yourself, please contact CATL. 

I want to read more about course syllabi.

Check out the CATL Lending Library for books. Here are a few web resources: