Research indicates that syllabi can increase student motivation and create equitable learning environments through transparency about key expectations for student learning and engagement. Consistent with the University’s Course Syllabus Policy, all courses at Saint Louis University are expected to have a syllabus, and all syllabi are expected to provide students with basic information about key aspects of the course.
Below are the required syllabus components for all SLU courses, as well as recommended syllabus components and other considerations that can enhance syllabi. Click the down arrows next to each header to expand the text and learn more.
Please note: Academic units and programs (like the University Core) may require you to include additional information in your syllabus. Please check with program leaders if you need information about additional, program-specific syllabus content you should include.
Required Syllabus Components
The University's Course Syllabus Policy aims to ensure that all students have access to consistent information about their courses and about University-level policies. The policy identifies nine components that must be a part of every course syllabus. These nine components constitute a minimum; academic units may require additional components, and instructors may choose to include other information. The policy specifies the information that must be included in every course syllabus, but it does not dictate a particular format or order for how this information is presented in a syllabus. Academic units may require additional components to be included in course syllabi, and individual instructors certainly will want to add other course-specific information, as well. Required syllabus statements are available as a module in the Canvas Commons, for those who wish to import the statements directly into their Canvas courses. Click here for a printer-friendly version.
a. Course number/section
b. Course meeting time(s) [if applicable]
c. Location [if applicable]
d. Pre-requisites/Co-requisites [if applicable]
e. Catalog Course Description
b. Where, when, and how to contact the instructor
a. List course learning outcomes, objectives, and/or competencies
a. Textbooks and/or course texts
b. Other materials and/or equipment (e.g., calculators, art supplies, lab safety equipment, medical equipment, hardware requirements, software access, virtual proctoring requirements, digital storage devices, special clothing, musical instruments, etc.)
a. List of components on which students will be evaluated (e.g., exams, projects,
essays, participation, presentations, etc.)
b. Grading scale(s) governing the course
c. Policy on late or missing work/exams
d. Penalties on missed classes and/or tardiness [if applicable]
e. Catalog Course Description
a. Expectations for student attendance/presence in the course (Note: expectations/policies for attendance must align with the University policy on attendance.)
Insert and/or link to the required Disability Accommodations Syllabus Statement
Note: Due to accreditation requirements, regulatory differences, and/or location-specific resources, the School of Law, the School of Medicine, and SLU Madrid have their own standard language for syllabus statements related to disability accommodations. Faculty in those units should seek guidance for syllabus requirements from their dean's office.
Insert and/or link to the required Title IX Syllabus Statement
Note: Due to accreditation requirements, regulatory differences, and/or location-specific resources, the School of Law, the School of Medicine, and SLU Madrid have their own standard language for syllabus statements related to Title IX. Faculty in those units should seek guidance for syllabus requirements from their dean's office.
Recommended Syllabus Components
In addition to the nine required components listed above, many instructors also find it useful to include information about or guidance on a range of other topics. The following list is drawn from common practices at SLU, as well as from the literature on effective syllabus construction and on creating inclusive courses that support student learning and success. This list is by no means exhaustive or in order of priority. Note: For some academic units, items on this list also may be required. Click here for a printer-friendly version.
- An expanded description of the course, its priorities, key concepts, etc.
- Course schedule with due dates for assignments, exams, reading, and other activities
- Disclaimer about the possibility of changes to the course schedule
- Instructor office location and office hours
- Instructor Zoom link and virtual office hours
- Description of informal learning activities students will engage in (e.g., informal in-class activities, participation expectations, service-learning experiences, etc.)
- Articulation of the link between course assignments/activities and state learning outcomes, objectives, and/or competencies
- Recommended and/or optional readings or texts
- Information about accessing electronic reserves
- Insert and/or link to the recommended Student Success Center Syllabus Statement
- Insert and/or link to the recommended University Writing Services Syllabus Statement
- Provide information about course-/program-specific support resources [if applicable]
- Share other campus resources relevant to the course (e.g., liaison librarian, residence hall coordinator for learning community courses, etc.)
- Unit-level academic honesty policies and practices [if applicable]
- Course-specific guidance on academic honesty
- Statements of professional ethics or codes of conduct [if applicable]
- Insert a basic needs security syllabus statement (like this one, which was developed at SLU to alert students to campus resources for things like food and shelter insecurity)
- Course etiquette/civility policies or other expectations about interactions between
and among members of the class
- With a significant number of SLU courses now being conducted via various distance education modalities, a University-wide recommended syllabus statement on distance education etiquette is warranted. This statement is recommended for all syllabi for all courses at all locations (except the Madrid Campus) offered by the colleges/schools and other academic units reporting to the University Provost.
- Information about what will happen in cases of inclement weather
- Information about relevant safety/security protocols and procedures (e.g., location of eye wash stations, active shooter response, etc.)
- Distinction between "excused" and "unexcused" absences [if applicable and consistent with University attendance policy]
- Statement that student work in the course may be used in course/program assessment
- Information about requirements for experiential/off-campus learning (e.g., liability waiver, background check, internship learning contract, service expectations, etc.)
Other Considerations for Course Syllabi
Below are additional suggestions drawn from the literature on effective syllabus construction and adopted by some SLU instructors. The Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning can assist instructors who wish to learn more about items on this list. The Reinert Center website also may provide additional information about these considerations. Click here for a printer-friendly version.
A graphic/visual representation of the major components of a course can help students connect to the larger purpose of a course and/or to better understand the relationships among the components of the course. Learn more about the content of a graphic syllabus here.
Sometimes called "trigger" warnings, a content warning may be appropriate if your course includes content that may inadvertently trigger students who have experienced trauma. Learn more about creating inclusive content statements here.
Sharing a brief description of your philosophy of teaching can give students a way of understanding what they will experience in your course and why.
Explaining what constitutes successful "engagement" or "participation" in your course helps to make those expectations explicit and visible for all learners. This can be especially helpful for first-generation and international students, as well as others whose backgrounds may not have prepared them well to understand the "hidden rules" of successful academic engagement.
Consider sharing tips for how to be successful in the course. For example, you might provide guidance on effective study strategies for your particular content area or tips for how to read course content effectively. Generic study or reading strategies may not work for your particular discipline or the kinds of concepts or texts you teach. Being transparent about what successful students do in your course or your discipline can help students meet your high expectations.