Master Syllabi

The information and resources presented here are an effort to bring together information regarding master syllabi and course syllabi. The goal is to improve the usefulness and accessibility of these resources for faculty, staff, and students. In addition, the guidelines here are intended to provide a consistent layout for course information while ensuring the academic freedom of each instructor to teach their courses in the manner they and their departmental colleagues think is best.

Every instructor provides his students with a course syllabus that details his or her expectations, grading policies, and other relevant information. Among the more important parts of the syllabus is the statement of student learning outcomes: what the student is expected to know, value, and be able to do by the end of the class. A complete list of components expected in a syllabus and other first-day handouts is given in the Syllabus Checklist.

The course syllabi for different faculty members, even those teaching the same course, will be different, since every instructor has their own approach and strategies that they have found to work best for them and their students.

Nevertheless, certain components within those individual course syllabi will be identical, or nearly so, because they are teaching the same subject at the same college. It is these components that the course syllabi have in common that comprise the master syllabus for that course.

The master syllabus for a course should include the:

  • Course name and number (e.g., PHYS 2425)
  • Course description (as stated in catalog, with perhaps some elaboration)
  • Instructor information, including how to contact them
  • Prerequisites
  • Course rationale (statement on the broad educational purpose of the course)
  • Student learning outcomes

Other items to be included may vary by class section or be fairly uniform, depending on the consensus of the department faculty:

  • Required textbooks/materials
  • Grading system
  • Course policies

The course policies in this context refer to college policies regarding academic integrity, rights and responsibilities, safety, the use of ACC email, and so forth. Suggested wording for these policies is available in the master syllabus template and the faculty is encouraged to use this wording in course and master syllabi. A syllabus constitutes a contract between the instructor and the student, so having such statements in the syllabus can prove critical when responding to student concerns regarding grades or other issues.

The master syllabus for a course helps ensure consistency of curriculum, while allowing instructors the freedom to shape their individual sections within the parameters set by the department. In addition, they provide guidance to new faculty members teaching the course and serve as evidence for various accrediting agencies to demonstrate the consistency and quality of ACC's courses and programs.

Note that many of the components of a syllabus are also found in Lighthouse. The latter, however, is a "faculty information utility" and does not contain many of the elements expected in a syllabus. Moreover, the master syllabus for a course does not itself contain the instructor- and section- specific information found in Lighthouse.

Master syllabi for all courses are available at the ACC Master Syllabi Repository.