CATL Syllabus Guide

Brief Description 

A syllabus accomplishes many things: informing students of your class-specific policies, explaining the standards on which you will grade, delineating the requirements of the course, listing the required readings and where to get them, and outlining the structure and schedule for the course. Syllabi can also help students navigate the university to find the help they need. 

This page lists several components recommended for syllabi.  Check with your department chair to ensure that your syllabus is in compliance with departmental requirements.

Does each student need a single-document syllabus?

UWL recommends that each student has access to a single-document syllabus (either as a handout and/or available electronically).  However, the syllabus need not articulate every aspect of the course.  The syllabus needs to have all of the required elements regarding course structure, course requirements, etc.  Many instructors have additional detailed information in other handouts or instructions in the LMS associated with the course.  The purpose of a single-document syllabus is two-fold.

  • First, instructors are required to have recent syllabi uploaded into the electronic portfolio for the purpose of personnel review. 
  • Second, students often need to use copies of syllabi to help other institutes of higher learning determine transferability.  Therefore, the single-document syllabus should provide enough detail about the course such that an external reader can easily determine the scope and depth of the content and the types of assignments used for assessment.

Basic components of a syllabus

  • See the Downloadable Templates page in this Syllabus Guide to learn about Faculty Senate's policy on required and optional elements. The template linked on that page includes everything.
  • Provide contact information for instructor
  • List office hours (including virtual office hours, if appropriate)
  • State the current academic term
  • Include the titles and authors of required textbooks, articles, websites, etc.
  • List all assignments, quizzes, and exams
  • Include course schedule
  • Departmental requirements

Important components of a syllabus

  • Student learning outcomes (SLOs).  If the course is approved for General Education credit, consult the department chair to determine which General Education SLOs the department has assigned for that course.  Courses typically also meet program-level (e.g., major, minor, certificate) SLOs as well.  
    • Demonstrating the alignment between SLOs and course assignments for students is highly recommended.  E.g., what does the student do to achieve, and to demonstrate achievement of each SLO?
  • Instructor standards and policies (see templates for UWL-recommended statements).  E.g., (but not limited to) expectations for return of graded material, grading policies (including how you define and evaluate class participation), policies on absences or late work.
  • University policies and supports, including required policy statements with legal implications (e.g., academic dishonesty and sexual misconduct) and recommended statements (e.g., diversity-related statements.

Accreditation processes

  • Teacher educators (DPI accreditation):  
    • learning objectives/outcomes
    • learning objectives/outcomes aligned with standards when appropriate
    • assessment activities aligned with learning objectives/outcomes
    • conceptual framework
    • teacher standards, content standards, etc.
  • College of Business Administration (AACSB accreditation):
    • no specific requirements, but:
    • AACSB must review syllabi as part of the accreditation process

Tips to Implement Syllabus Components Effectively

Developing a course syllabus is a much more complex process than simply adding the components above. For detailed help and resources, including UWL templates you can adapt, contact CATL.
Be aware that your placement of components within your syllabus may send an unintended message to your students. If you list diversity resources right after a statement on academic misconduct, students from historically marginalized groups may worry that you assume a connection.


Hoskins, D. (2015; updated 2020). Syllabus components. In Teaching Improvement Guide. University of Wisconsin at La Crosse Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from https://www.uwlax.edu/catl/teaching-guides/syllabus-guide/components-of-a-syllabus/