A well-designed syllabus can be more than an outline of deadlines, course readings, and department and university policies. It can:

  • provide your students with a welcome to your course that shares with them your teaching philosophy
  • offer a roadmap for success in your course
  • save time by answering in advance the most frequent questions your students may have

Tips and strategies for effective syllabi

Include a logo

  • Keep it simple - lengthy assignment descriptions do not need to appear in the syllabus. They can be uploaded separately in D2L. 
  • Use your limited real estate wisely - what appears on your syllabus sends a message of importance to students.
  • Include definitions or context to academic terms and concepts for students who may be unfamiliar with them - for example, "office hours." Include language that would explain what office hours are and why they are encouraged to visit you

Syllabus essentials

If you're starting from scratch, consider using this syllabus template

Below is a list of elements that are highly recommended to be part of your syllabus. 

The expandable sections below go into greater detail and include links to resources and sample language.

  • Course title, number and section
  • Contact information & office hours
  • Course description / overview
  • Class schedule
  • Assessment / course outcomes
  • Required textbooks, resources, and materials
  • Communication policy
  • Attendance
  • Class participation and etiquette
  • Academic honesty
  • Late work policy
  • Grading
  • Assignments / discussions
  • Accommodations for disabilities
  • Weather cancellation policy
  • Resources for Students
  • Ignatian values / Cura Personalis

Expand all   |   Collapse all  

Contact information & office hours


  • Office Location
  • Phone Number(s) (when to use and not use, how fast you can be expected to respond to a voice mail)
  • E-mail address(es) (plus wording on your response time to student email)
  • Any other information on how you prefer to be contacted
  • Office hours (reference department policies on minimum office hours required per class)
    • If holding virtual office hours, please describe how you want that to work, consider encouraging students to use Outlook meetings or Microsoft Bookings

Course description & overview

Course Description

Include the official calendar description for your course. Include course prerequisites here or in a prominent place near the beginning of your syllabus.

Course Overview

Include here a more detailed description for your course that goes beyond the official calendar description. Consider describing your teaching philosophy and the instructional approaches you use so that students have a clear sense of your approach and expectations.

Course schedule / important dates

Some faculty will use D2L for the full schedule, but it is recommended you include at minimum a list of "important dates" in your syllabus such as major assignment/project due dates, exam dates, etc.

You may want to reference the university's academic calendar, and this calendar of major religious observances when planning your course schedule.

Assessment / course outcomes

Assessment refers to how Marquette University evaluates the effectiveness of its courses and learning outcomes.  This term may be confusing to students, so consider using the following:

Course Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this class the students are expected to have learned:

  • Outcome 1
  • Outcome 2

If your course is a required or elective course in a program, you may want to discuss how this course supports one or more of those learning outcomes. For example:

Program Learning Objectives

This course is an elective for the <MAJOR> major which has learning outcomes listed at the following link: <INSERT LINK>

  • Outcome 1
  • Outcome 2

Required textbooks, resources, and materials

Any and all required resources should be included towards the beginning of the syllabus, including:

  • Textbooks and other required readings
  • Subscriptions
  • Software (Provide details on how students are supposed to access software, whether via purchase, computer lab, or a virtual computer lab if applicable.  Be as detailed as possible in how to access software.
  • Course management resources (i.e., D2L), describe what materials are available on D2L
  • Access to textbook or external online learning tools
  • Course Reserve (Info and procedures for faculty here)

Communication policy

This optional section is your chance to set expectations on how you will communicate with students, and how students communicate with you.  Be as specific as possible, for instance: "please check your email the day before each class session for any updates" or "students are required to notify the instructor via email 24 hours in advance of class if ... "


To begin, please read the latest info from the Provost's Office on the unique circumstances each semester may present.

Next, be sure to familiarize yourself with the University's official attendance policy as written in the Bulletin (consider including a link to this in your syllabus)

This word document contains the University's recommended language on attendance.

Finally, check with your department or college for any special attendance policies that may pertain to your program(s).

Key points:

  1. With few exceptions, no distinction is made between excused and unexcused absences.
  2. Instructors determine if work (including tests and examinations) may be made up as a result of one or more absences.
  3. University offices do not provide documentation of absences.
  4. Students may be withdrawn from a course as a result of excessive absences.
  5. Lack of participation in an online course may lead to the recording of an absence for the student.

Minimal language (see document above for more detailed language):

Students are responsible for attending all class meetings for courses in which they are registered. Any absence, regardless of the reason, prevents students from getting the full benefit of the course and as such, no distinction is made between excused and unexcused absences, with the following exceptions:

  • Active duty, with appropriate documentation, or short-term military call-up, as outlined in the Military Call to Active Duty or Training policy in this bulletin.
  • The day(s) of religious observances, as listed on the Campus Ministry website.
  • Participation in Division-1 athletics or other university-sanctioned events. This activity must be documented and provided to the faculty in advance of the activity. The documentation must be verified by an official of the University, who is directly related to the activity (e.g., Division-1 athletics representative; musical group director; student development representative, etc.).

Please see the Office of the Registrar's guidance on class attendance for additional information (https://www.marquette.edu/central/registrar/faculty-staff/guidance-on-fall-2023-class-attendance-withdrawal-grading.php).

Class participation

Be particularly clear and specific on how you will assign grades for class participation, participation in online discussions, and/or group project components of your course.

  • These three items are the ones that tend to lead to the most grade appeals.
  • A "best practice" is to post your participation grades in the D2L gradebook regularly so that students can discuss them with you in the case they disagree with your assessment and have the ability to do something about improving their participation grades over the remainder of the semester.
  • Be clear on how both the entire group and each individual in the group will be assessed and graded as part of a team project. Be clear if you will incorporate any feedback from members of the team in determining individual grades.
  • This is a good place to include statements on classroom etiquette, including usage of phones, laptops, devices.  Consider including etiquette guidelines for online discussions if applicable.

Academic honesty

Best practices for faculty - provost's office

The bulletin serves as the "contract" with students.  You may want to link to the full policy in your syllabus: https://bulletin.marquette.edu/policies/academic-integrity/

Sample syllabus text:

Academic Honesty

An Academic Honesty Policy is now applicable to all courses. (https://bulletin.marquette.edu/undergrad/academicregulations/#academichonestypolicy).  The Bulletin serves, in effect, as the University’s contract with its students. Accordingly, we are obligated to adhere to the protocol described in this new policy. Acts of academic dishonesty may include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Copying material from a Web page and submitting it as one’s own work.
  • Quoting extensively from a document without making proper references to the source.
  • Copying answers from the quiz or examination paper of another student.
  • Plagiarizing (submitting the work of another as one’s own ideas) or falsifying materials or information used in the completion of any assignment, which is graded or evaluated as the student’s individual effort.
  • Intentionally interfering with any person’s scholastic work (e.g., by damaging or stealing laboratory experiments, computer files or library materials).
  • Submitting the same work for more than one course without the consent of the instructors of each course in which the work is submitted.
  • Using another student’s clicker in class or handing your clicker to another student to have them answer for you.

You may also want to consider including the following honor code and/or pledge:

The Honor Pledge

I recognize the importance of personal integrity in all aspects of life and work. I commit myself to truthfulness, honor and responsibility, by which I earn the respect of others. I support the development of good character and commit myself to uphold the highest standards of academic integrity as an important aspect of personal integrity. My commitment obliges me to conduct myself according to the Marquette University Honor Code.

Student Obligations under the Honor Code

  1. To fully observe the rules governing exams and assignments regarding resource material, electronic aids, copying, collaborating with others, or engaging in any other behavior that subverts the purpose of the exam or assignment and the directions of the instructor.
  2. To turn in work done specifically for the paper or assignment, and not to borrow work either from other students, or from assignments for other courses.
  3. To give full and proper credit to sources and references, and to acknowledge the contributions and ideas of others relevant to academic work.
  4. To report circumstances that may compromise academic honesty, such as inattentive proctoring or premature posting of answers.
  5. To complete individual assignments individually, and neither to accept nor give unauthorized help.
  6. To accurately represent their academic achievements, which may include their grade point average, degree, honors, etc., in transcripts, in interviews, in professional organizations, on resumes and in the workplace.
  7. To report any observed breaches of this honor code and academic honesty.

Late work policy

It is largely up to the instructor to set a late work policy for the course.

Please be as specific as possible on how you will penalize late work to avoid conflict or grade appeals down the road.


In developing your grading policy, it is essential that your syllabus accurately and completely identify the following:

  • The assignments/quizzes/exams/projects/ participation, etc., that will be used to determine student grades.
  • The weights or points assigned to each of the above in the course of determining student grades.
  • A grading scale!

Grading Scales

If you do not have a grading scale and there is a grade appeal by the student, there is a higher chance that the student's appeal will be upheld.

Marquette's grading system is now consistent with most other institutions that use plus and minus grades instead of half-letter grades. Thus, undergraduate grades are now A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D and F. You are free to set your own cutoffs and there is some variability across faculty. However, the following percentage cutoffs are "representative" of the cutoffs that have been used over the past several years, and now been translated to the new classifications.

Below is a typical grading scheme for a undergraduate class:

Undergraduate Grading Scheme

93 - 100 A (GPA=4.00)   76 - 78.99 C+ (GPA=2.33)
90 - 92.99 A- (GPA=3.67)   72 - 75.99 C (GPA=2.00)
86 - 89.99 B+ (GPA=3.33)   69 - 71.99 C- (GPA=1.67)
82 - 85.99 B (GPA=3.00)   64 - 68.99 D+ (GPA=1.33)
79 - 81.99 B- (GPA=2.67)   60 - 63.99 D (GPA=1.00)
    below 60 F (GPA=0.00)

Use of the gradebook in D2L is strongly recommended, it increases student outcomes and satisfaction, and will save you time in the long run!

Assignments / discussions

A detailed list of all assignments, quizzes, discussions, and all graded activities must be provided either in the syllabus or in D2L in a way that students can see all that will be expected from them at the beginning of the course.

If you use D2L, make sure all assignments are visible at the start of the course (for instance, all dropboxes, discussions, and quiz titles are visible, even though they may not accept submissions until a certain date)

Assignments, quizzes, and other course components should not significantly deviate from what is laid out in the syllabus or D2L at the beginning of the semester.

Accommodations for disabilities

Familiarize yourself with accessibility resources at Marquette.

See Disability Services resources for faculty

Recommended disability statement for syllabi:

"If you have a disability and require accommodations, please contact me early in the semester so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. You will need to provide documentation of your disability to the Office of Disability Services.  If you are unsure of what you need to qualify for services, visit the Office of Disability Service's website at www.marquette.edu/disability-services or contact the Office of Disability Services at 414-288-1645."

Weather cancellation policy

Recommended language:

The Office of the Provost will determine if weather conditions warrant school cancellations. This is not up to the individual instructor to cancel courses. Should the school remain open during poor weather conditions, please contact the instructor as soon as possible (i.e., when you are safe) if you are unable to attend class and arrangements will be made. University closings due to weather will be sent via email and posted on marquette.edu

Emergency plan

Resources for faculty:

The Offices of Risk Management and MUPD ask us to include the following wording in all course syllabi:

Emergency Plan

Every Marquette University campus building has emergency shelter and evacuation plans. Please familiarize yourself with the plans of each building in which you take classes or attend meetings. Make sure to note the routes to the lowest level of the buildings for shelter during inclement weather, as well as exits from the buildings in the event of fire or other emergency.

Resources for students

It is strongly recommended you include info on resources Marquette provides to students to aid in their academic success and well-being.

Consider including the following language:

Research support

Marquette’s Raynor Memorial Libraries and Ray and Kay Eckstein Law Library support the university’s teaching, research and service mission by providing access to vast collections of recorded knowledge as well as a variety of research services, friendly expertise, technology tools and collaborative spaces. For more information, visit https://www.marquette.edu/library/.

Writing support

The Ott Memorial Writing Center offers free one-on-one consultations for all writers, working on any project, at any stage of the writing process. Marquette's writing center is a place for all writers who care about their writing, because every writer can benefit from conversation with an interested, knowledgeable peer. Writing center tutors can help you brainstorm ideas, revise a rough draft, or fine-tune a final draft. You can schedule a 30- or 60-minute appointment in advance (288-5542 or www.marquette.edu/writing-center), but walk-ins (in 240 Raynor or our other satellite locations) are also welcome. The Ott Memorial Writing Center also offers free workshops and hosts writing retreats.


The Office of Student Educational Services offers tutoring free of charge for Marquette students (1000-2000 level courses only) for a wide variety of undergraduate courses including many science, mathematics and foreign language courses.

The tutoring program offers small group tutoring only. Small groups meet for one hour each week and are divided by subject/instructor. Three requests for the same subject and instructor are necessary to form a group. In addition, groups are formed based on availability of tutors and student schedules.

To sign up, go to the Coughlin Hall, Room 145, and complete a Tutor Request Form.

Artificial intellegence, predictive, and emerging technologies

Jesuit values / Cura Personalis

Another optional section to consider, some relatively brief statements summarizing Marquette's Jesuit values and "Cura Personalis"