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Teaching & Learning: Syllabus Creation Workflow

This KB article contains the procedure for uploading course syllabi to Canvas as well as the campus policy regarding department responsibility for maintaining course syllabus files.

Maintaining course syllabus files is a University Policy and departments are responsible for keeping syllabi on file. To facilitate this process, the API team will retrieve course syllabi and add it to the SoHE Syllabi Repository after instructors upload a PDF of their syllabus to their course's Canvas page.

Uploading Your Course Syllabus to Canvas

Create your course syllabus as an electronic document in Microsoft Word or Google Docs using the recommended UW Course Syllabus Template

Once you have created your course syllabus, save the file as a PDF and upload to your course's Canvas site using the following instructions:

  1. Access your Canvas course and click on "Modules" from the menu on the far-left side of the page (green arrow in image below).
  2. Navigate to the Canvas module where you would like students to be access the syllabus (typically Module 0 or Module 1)
  3. To add a file from your computer to a module, click the plus icon in the module (red arrow in image below).
  4. Select "File" from the drop-down menu, click "Create File(s), and press the "Choose Files" button to select a file from your computer (red arrow below).
  5. Next, choose where the files are going to be stored in the Course Files area. If you have not set up organization folders in the files area, then the default will be course files. You can reorganize your files at a later time.
  6. Another way to add a file from your computer is to use the content selector to the right of the edit page view. Click Edit in the upper right hand corner and highlight the text you'd like to add the reading too. In the content selector, select Files, click upload a new file, choose a file, and click Upload. Wait a few seconds, and the file will be linked where you highlighted the text.

See the video below for step-by-step guidance. 


Department Responsibility for Maintaining Course Syllabus Files

RESPONSIBLE OFFICE: Academic Planning and Institutional Research

University Policy


The university’s accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission, the U.S. Department of Education, and UW-Madison denote the requirement for a course syllabi for each offering of a course. It is the responsibility of the Department Chair to ensure syllabi are created and retained in departmental 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.

UW-Madison’s Faculty Policies and Procedures (FP&P), Chapter 5.31D Departmental Chair: Duties, reads, “The chair of the department 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.


UW 805 Faculty Policies and Procedures Chapter 5.31D Departmental Chair: Duties


Criterion 2B in the HLC Criteria for Accreditation

Policy Administration

APPROVAL AUTHORITY: Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
POLICY MANAGER: Vice Provost of Academic Affairs, Director, Academic Planning and Institutional Research
CONTACT: Associate Director -- Michelle Young,, (608) 262-2143
RETRIEVED: 07-25-2022 11:22:25

KeywordsSyllabus, Syllabi, Canvas, Procedure, Teaching & Learning   Doc ID119891
OwnerAndrea J.GroupSchool of Human Ecology
Created2022-07-25 11:21 CDTUpdated2022-08-30 11:33 CDT
SitesSchool of Human Ecology
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