Syllabus Guidelines

Purpose and Value

A syllabus is an academic agreement that establishes the academic relationship between instructors and students in a course, used as the basis for communication and accountability. It communicates course expectations, organizes information, sets the tone for the learning environment, maps the path of student learning, and provides accountability. A carefully constructed syllabus helps clarify course goals and learning objectives, assessment and evaluation standards, grading policies, and expectations for student and faculty behavior.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Criteria for Accreditation require that a syllabus be placed on file in the department for each course taught and that students must be provided written information about the goals and requirements of each course, the nature of the course content, and the methods of evaluation to be employed.


  1. Every scheduled academic course, regardless of delivery method (e.g., on campus, online), must have a written syllabus distributed to students enrolled in the course. The syllabus should be posted electronically in USF's learning management system for the class and be available to students by the first day of class.

  2. A syllabus for each course taught each semester during each academic year (summer, fall, spring) shall be placed on file in the department offering the course. Only one syllabus is required for course offerings with multiple sections. Department syllabi should be updated each academic year. Departments are responsible for maintaining these files.

  3. Instructors should avoid making major changes to a syllabus once classes have begun, particularly changes affecting attendance standards, grading standards, or performance measures. However, since it is impossible to cover all contingencies in the planning stages of a course, students should be advised that instructors may need to make changes as the semester progresses. Any changes to a syllabus should be for compelling reasons and follow these guidelines:
    • Fair and adequate notice is given to enrolled students either by email, in writing, or through the learning management system
    • Modifications to the syllabus are not arbitrary or capricious.
    • Students are not unfairly disadvantaged by mid-semester changes to grading standards, attendance standards, or performance measures. Efforts should be made to avoid penalizing students as a result of any necessary changes.

Standard Policies

"I" Grade:

Students who are unable to complete all requirements of the course for circumstances beyond their control may request to receive an “I” grade to allow for completion of the remaining coursework the next semester(s).

Final Examinations

USF System Policy 10-005

All final examinations are to be scheduled in accordance with the University's final examination policy.

Academic Integrity of Students

USF System Regulation 3.027

Knowledge and maintenance of the academic standards of honesty and integrity as set forth by the university are the responsibility of the entire academic community, including the instructional faculty, staff, and students.

Disruption of Academic Process

USF System Regulation 3.025

Although disruptive student conduct is already prohibited by the Student Code of Conduct, the purpose of this policy is to clarify what constitutes disruptive behavior in the academic setting, what actions faculty and relevant academic officers may take in response to disruptive conduct, and the authority of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities or designated office handling conduct issues in Student Affairs to initiate separate disciplinary proceedings again students for disruptive conduct.

Student Academic Grievance Procedures

USF System Policy 10-002

The purpose of these procedures is to provide all students taking courses within the USF System an opportunity for objective review of facts and events pertinent to the cause of the academic grievance An “academic grievance” is a claim that a specific academic decision or action that affects that student’s academic record or status has violated published policies and procedures, or has been applied to the grievant in a manner different than that used for other students.

Early Notification Requirement for Observed Religious Holidays

USF System Policy 10-045

Students who anticipate the necessity of being absent from class due to the observation of a major religious observance must provide notice of the date(s) to the instructor, in writing, at the beginning of the term.

Gender-Based Crimes/Sexual Misconduct/Sexual Harassment (Including Sexual Violence)

USF System Policy 0-004

USF has a commitment to the safety and well-being of our students. Please be aware that educators must report incidents of sexual harassment and gender-based crimes including sexual assault, stalking, and domestic/relationship violence that come to their attention. I am required to report such incidents in order for the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities or the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity can investigate the incident or situation as a possible violation of the USF Sexual Misconduct/Sexual Harassment Policy and provide assistance to the student making the disclosure. If you disclose in class or to me personally, I must report the disclosure and will assist you in accessing available resources.

The Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention, the Counseling Center and Student Health Services are confidential resources where you can talk about such situations and receive assistance without the incident being reported.

Disability Access

USF System Policy 0-108

Students with disabilities are responsible for registering with Students with Disabilities Services (SDS) in order to receive academic accommodations.

General Attendance Policy

USF General Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend classes. Faculty must inform students of attendance requirements on syllabi. Instructors should accommodate excused absences by making arrangements with students ahead of time (when possible) or by providing a reasonable amount of time to make up missed work.