This is a summary of the policy on the Course Syllabus Requirement for course proposals. Click here to view the official policy in its entirety in the UW-Madison Policy Library.
The syllabus included on a course proposal form must follow the requirements for course syllabi at UW-Madison. Some information that is specific to a given offering (instructor name, location etc.) is not required (although it is recommended that it be included) all items listed below are required if they apply.
- for this sample syllabus, specific details may change each time the course is offered but the sample syllabus should provide information that is consistent with the instructional mode and other details included in this sample syllabus.- Consider incorporating this information in the calendar/grid recommended in #14 below.- Regular and substantive student-instructor interaction, as defined by the US Department of Education (within 34 C.F.R. §600.2), is always a requirement of UW-Madison for-credit learning activities.
- Indicate how the course is graded (assignments, papers, exams, etc.) and relative weights of assessments.- Provide linkage between weights and letter scores (How the letter grades of A, AB, B, BC, C, D and F (or S/U, Cr/N) will be assigned to final grade calculations. If some of the valid letter grades will not be used by the instructor (e.g., AB or BC), this should be noted on the syllabus.)- Indicate whether the final grades are curved or not (include the standards upon which a curve is set if applicable).- Indicate whether attendance and/or participation is part of the grading. When a significant percentage (more than 10%) of the grade is tied to participation, attendance, and/or discussion, how this percentage is assessed must be clearly defined. Here is an example of guidelines for evaluating participation and here is another. The intention of the participation/attendance policy is to be student focused and provide them with clear information on how they are being evaluated in an area that is often highly subjective and not thoroughly explained.- Separate grading requirements for graduate students if appropriate.
- List any required materials such as text books, open educational resources and eTexts.- List any required course or eText fees.- List required software tools even if available as part of UW-Madison licensing.
- Provide rules and expectations concerning homework
Department Responsibility for Maintaining Course Syllabus Files
The Higher Learning Commission’s assumed practice states that instructors communicate course requirements to students, and the expectation is that this is through syllabi. In addition, the Higher Learning Commission has a role in reviewing institutional compliance with the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements related to credit hour definition. That compliance is conducted through the review of syllabi, thus a syllabus is to be available for each course taught. Criterion 2B in the HLC Criteria for Accreditation requires that clear and complete information be provided to students, a requirement that is also supported through the syllabus.
To meet these requirements and to support the learning experience of students, instructors of record are required to develop a course syllabus for each offering of a course and communicate the syllabus to students. Students frequently seek copies of syllabi for past courses, for example to support application to graduate or professional programs, in the context of an employment search, or in relation to seeking transfer credit equivalency at another institution.
Departments must also keep syllabus records of courses taught in their department. FPP 5.31(D) Departmental Chair: Duties states “The chair of the department has the following duties: ... Determines that all necessary records of teaching, research, and public service of the department are properly kept and are always accessible to the proper authorities.” Given that access to syllabi is a requirement for the university’s accreditation, departments are responsible for keeping syllabi on file.