Syllabus Checklist

Design a course syllabus to best meet your teaching style, course content, activities, and departmental requirements. Review NIU's syllabus policy and consider creating a learner-centered syllabus that targets student learning and success!

Course Information

  • Designator and number (for example: UNIV 101)
  • Section number
  • Course Title
  • Number of credit hours
  • Classroom location
  • Course meeting day(s) and time
  • Semester/Term (for example: Spring Semester 2018)
  • Related lab, recitation, studio locations
  • Course Blackboard quick link, if applicable:

Course Description

Include the catalog course description and how the students will benefit from the course, the specific content that will be covered, and how the course fits into the curriculum. In this section, list any pre-requisites associated with the course (actual courses, competencies, requirements, etc.).

Instructor/TA Contact Information

  • Name and title (and how you would like to be addressed)
  • Office location
  • Office telephone or alternative such as Microsoft Teams. Students have access to Microsoft Teams via their University Outlook email account. Faculty can use Teams from their office computers with a headset/microphone, or a built-in laptop microphone. See Microsoft Teams.
  • Email address
  • Office hours
  • Preferred method of contact
  • TA information (if one is assigned for the course) including name, office location, email address, and office hours
  • Your professional website (if applicable)

Teaching Philosophy

Consider including your teaching philosophy or a welcome statement to familiarize students with your approach to teaching and your willingness to guide their learning. You can also include a statement regarding your expectations on students’ responsibility for their learning and your responsibilities as their instructor. Also, this is a good area to add a more informal, personalized course description!

Instructional Methods

Include a list of the instructional methods you will use in the course (there will be a difference between a face-to-face course versus an online course).

Example: This course is taught using a variety of instructional methods including lecture, class discussion, small group work, projects, online discussion, and group presentations.

Course Goals and Objectives

  • What will students gain from this course?
  • How is each objective aligned to specific course outcomes, activities, and assessments?

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the major concepts, skills, attitudes, and knowledge students will accomplish by the end of the course.
  • Describe how these outcomes will be aligned to the course objectives, standards, or other principles that drive the curriculum.

Course Assessment

Provide a clear explanation of evaluation on the assessment process and measurements. Be explicit! Describe assessment types (quizzes, exams, journals, observations, performances, projects, etc.), how much they will count toward the overall course grade, descriptions of papers and projects and how they will be assessed (criteria, rubrics, etc.), and how the overall grade will be determined.

NOTE: Detailed instructions, job aids, guides, and worksheets can be posted in Blackboard to reduce syllabus page numbers.

Sample course assessment policy: There will be one mid-term examination and one final examination (25% each). Homework assignments will count for 15%, laboratory exercises for 10%, quizzes for 10%, and course project for the remaining 15% of the course grade. Overall course grades will be determined as 90-100% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79% = C, 60-69% = D, and 60% = F. Include a point range if it will help your students understand how grades are derived (Ex: 405-450=A, 360-404=B, 315-359=C, 270-314=D, 269=F).

Course Resources

List the required and supplementary resources for the course and other resources such as facilities, laboratories, and studios.

  • Required textbook and readings and where students can acquire them
  • Suggested readings
  • Course packs
  • Electronic reserves
  • Personal response system (a.k.a. clickers, if applicable)
  • Blackboard course website URL
  • Laboratories, studios, learning/ writing/ reading centers, and study groups available for the course

Course Policies

  • Attendance plus late arrivals and early departures
  • Late submission of work
  • Missed and make-up work
  • Individual and collaborative work
  • Extra credit work
  • Use of copyrighted materials
  • Use of cell phones and other civility considerations in the classroom
  • Dress code, materials handling, safety, etc.

Syllabus Change Policy

Sometimes it is necessary to make changes to the course syllabus for reasons such as unexpected university closure due to weather-related emergencies or to adjust content based on course and student progress. Therefore, it can be beneficial to include a syllabus change policy statement such as the example below.

Example: This syllabus is a guide and every attempt is made to provide an accurate overview of the course and its requirements. However, certain circumstances may make it necessary for me to modify the syllabus during the semester for your benefit and the changes may depend, in part, on course progress and our needs. I will announce any change to the syllabus as early as possible so that you can adjust your schedule. The department/ school will also be notified of any change.

NOTE: Changes to the syllabus after the fourth week of a course, or deviations from the standards set in the syllabus, can be a basis for grade appeal: Procedures for Appeals of Course Grades by Undergraduate Students.

Syllabus Statements

In accordance with NIU's syllabus policy, suggested statements to be included in NIU course syllabi are available.

Course Schedule

Provide a detailed list of meeting dates, major topics that will be covered on those dates, assigned readings, homework assignments and their due dates, schedule of exams, due dates of projects and papers, etc. Use of a table format like the one shown below can help students easily read and follow the course schedule.

Sample Course Schedule Table

Week Date Topic/ Class Content/ Activities Things to Do and Due Dates
1 Mon 1/15 Dr. Martin Luther, Jr. Holiday - No Class Review course syllabus
Wed 1/17 Syllabus and course review; Course profile, Introductions Review Blackboard course content; Submit Course Profile in Bb by 11:59 p.m.
Fri 1/19 Establish groups Post Bb Discussion #1 by 11:59 p.m.
2 Mon 1/22 List topics here Phase 1 of Assignment 1 in class; Prepare for Quiz 1
Wed 1/24 Quiz 1; In-class group work to finalize First Draft of Group Assignment Quiz 1 on Text chapters 1-3
Fri 1/26 List topics here First Draft Group Assignment at start of class

Syllabus Quiz

To encourage students to read the syllabus and understand course policies and requirements, consider giving them an open-syllabus quiz sometime during the first two weeks of the semester. Quiz students on some of the key information covered in the syllabus, such as your office hours, late work submission policies, etc. Blackboard is an easy way to administer such a quiz and students can complete it in class using their mobile phones.

Acknowledgment of the Syllabus

If your department/school/college policies permit, and you so desire, you could include a “Student Acknowledgement of Course Syllabus” statement to motivate students to read the information on the course syllabus and take the course requirements seriously. This statement can be in the form of an extra sheet placed at the end of the syllabus which students can sign and return to you. The form can also be given as a handout. The following is an example of this statement:

Student Acknowledgement of Course Syllabus

Please complete this form and return it to me by <date>)

I, (<name>), have received a copy of the syllabus for

(<course name>) for (<semester, year>). I have read this syllabus and understand that I am responsible for abiding by the course requirements and policies mentioned in the syllabus.



Special Considerations

  • If teaching a 300-level course with an honors mini-section (3xxH), a separate syllabus should be prepared for the honors mini-section in accordance with the guidelines for honors mini-sections (PDF).
  • If teaching linked 400/500-level courses, separate syllabi, with separate requirements, should be prepared for the two sections, as per graduate course requirements and scheduling.
  • For nontraditional courses (independent studies and theses), the syllabus may be replaced by a learning contract. See your academic department for discipline-specific examples.

Learn how to create an accessible syllabus using Microsoft Word at

Teaching Support

CITL staff are available to answer your teaching questions. Give us a call at 815-753-0595 or email for assistance. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our staff.

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