The course syllabus provides your students with an overview of the course and the logistical information they need in order to successfully complete the semester. As an early—if not the first—experience students have of your course, the syllabus also sets the tone and clarifies what you expect of students and what students can expect from you as the instructor.
In line with policies set by different schools and departments, some instructors are required to utilize a syllabus template or include required elements in their syllabus. If you are teaching in that context but are interested in sharing more personalized information, you might consider including that personalized information in another location your students frequently visit, like an addendum to your syllabus or your Canvas course.
Typical Syllabus Elements
At Boston College your syllabus is typically expected to include:
1.) Information students need in order to successfully navigate the course, such as:
- basic course information (i.e. title and number, meeting time and location, prerequisites, Canvas link)
- instructor information (i.e. name and title, email address or other preferred contact method, office hours, office location)
- course description
- course learning goals
- assignment structure and grading policies
- required texts, materials, or tools
- expectations for students (e.g. attendance policy, late work policy, etc.)
- course calendar
2.) Institutional information you’re expected to provide so that students understand relevant policies and the supports available to them.
- accessibility and accommodation statement
- class recording policy
- religious accommodation statement
3.) Other statements faculty include to signal their commitments and values (e.g. commitment to inclusion, mental health and wellness, etc.)
What’s in this resource?
This resource provides examples of these different syllabus elements. The samples in each category are intended to help instructors think through options for communicating information that is expected to appear on the syllabus and for introducing other values or policies that are important to you as an instructor.
This resource includes sample statements on the following topics:
- Accessibility and Accommodations
- Class Recording Policy
- Commitment to Inclusion
- ESL Students
- Financial Insecurity and Basic Needs
- LGBTQ+ and Nonsexist Language
- Mental Health and Wellness
- Religious Accommodation
- Technology in the Classroom
- Title IX and Sexual Misconduct
How do I decide which statement to use or adapt?
When reviewing the various samples, you might decide which statement to use or adapt—and how you might want to personalize it—by considering whether or not the statement aligns with major aspects of your course:
- Does the statement align with your understanding of your own role as a teacher?: Does the statement accurately reflect how you think of yourself as a teacher and the role you play in your students’ learning? Does the tone of the statement accurately communicate the kind of relationship you hope to have with students?
- Does the statement align with your teaching philosophy?: Does the statement accurately reflect your understanding of how learning works and the kinds of opportunities students will have to learn in the course?
- Does the statement align with your goals for students’ experience of the course?: Does the statement accurately reflect how you would like students to engage with the course, with one another, and with you?
- Does the statement align with your take on inclusive teaching?: Does the statement accurately represent your approach to creating an environment in which all your students can learn, especially those who have historically been marginalized in the academy?
- Does the statement align with your discipline?: Is there anything discipline-specific that you think is important to include in order to model disciplinary thinking for your students or embed the statement more deeply in the context of your course? For example, if you are including an inclusion statement, is there anything about the inequities produced over the history of your discipline that you want to specifically address?
- Does the statement align with the rest of your syllabus?: If your syllabus is written in a distinctive voice, does the statement match the tone you’ve already established?