Building your syllabus

What is a syllabus?

Syllabus definitionThe syllabus is a document that represents your course; it is the most important document you will share with your students.

Your syllabus:

  • Provides an overview of exactly what your course will cover
  • Informs your students of how you plan to teach your course material and how it might fit with your teaching philosophy
  • Gives students logistical information they will need to succeed in the course
  • Delivers critical university, college and department policies that you and your students may often need to refer to throughout the semester
  • Sets the tone for the course

Your syllabus will set standards for the entire semester. Think of it as a contract between you and your class that defines your expectations of students and what they can expect from you. A well-written syllabus that clearly states how your learning community will operate can help you avoid many common classroom management issues.

Your course syllabus is typically the first communication you will have with your students, so use it to begin fostering your learning community. It's also a good way to define or redefine your own teaching philosophy, in addition to reinforcing the overarching goals for the course, department, college, and university.

Course syllabi at RIT vary across disciplines and individual courses, but the tools and examples here can help you develop a concise, learner-centered syllabus that will benefit both you and your students!

Click the topics below for more information.

The learner-centered syllabus

A learner-centered syllabus lays the foundation for enlisting students as partners in their learning.

Developing your syllabus

Descriptions of the parts of a syllabus, with examples, a checklist to guide you, and a Microsoft Word template you can use to create your syllabus.

RIT policies

Links to RIT policies that you may want to include in your syllabus.

Sharing your syllabus

Ideas to make sure students understand the syllabus and that it is always accessible to them.

Syllabus examples

Real-world syllabus examples for a variety of classes and disciplines. (Coming soon)


Articles and websites with more ideas about syllabus development.

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