Your Syllabus at UT Austin
Your syllabus is both an agreement and an opportunity. As an agreement between you and the students in your class, it helps them know what is expected of them and what they are agreeing to do in order to achieve your learning objectives and demonstrate that learning. You, in turn, are agreeing that students can plan their semester around this set of expectations.
It is also an opportunity to invite your students to participate in your course by understanding its rationale, learning outcomes, assessments, and content. Clearly setting out course expectations in a well-organized and informative syllabus empowers students to take charge of and maximize their learning experience.
Syllabus requirements are taken from the UT Austin General Information Catalog (GIC). The requirements specified there are subject to the joint oversight of faculty governance and administration, and they satisfy the syllabus requirements promulgated by the State of Texas and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).
- Instructors must provide each student with a course syllabus on or before the first day of classes.
- The General Information Catalog (GIC) also requires that syllabi be uploaded to Canvas if it is being used in the course.
- Although not made explicit in the GIC, it has been generally accepted that posting a completed syllabus to a course’s Canvas site is adequate to meet the requirement to provide a syllabus to students, as long as the site has been published and made available to students by the first day of class.
- Because students make plans and commitments based around information in the syllabus provided, no changes to a syllabus should be made after the first class day, except in response to uncontrollable circumstances. Changes made should be in the best interest of students.
- Instructors must also provide a copy of their course syllabus to their departmental office or dean’s office (in non-departmentalized schools and colleges) on or before the first day of classes.
- Administrative units must upload the syllabi of all undergraduate courses via the university’s Syllabi and Instructor CV Upload system no later than seven days after the first day of classes so that they are publicly available at the university’s Access Syllabi and CVs website.
- This requirement applies to undergraduate courses offered to five or more students. It excludes independent study courses where the content is “tailored specifically for individual students” and it also excludes “laboratory, practicum, or discussion sections that are intrinsic and required parts of larger lecture courses and are directly supervised by the same instructor(s) of record for those large courses.”
- As noted under “Required Syllabus Content,” below, the publicly-available version should omit teaching assistant information and may also omit instructor office location.
- Course number and title;
- Instructor’s name, office location, and office hours (note: office location and office hours are optional for the public version);
- Names, office locations, and office hours of any teaching assistants (note: do not include in the public version);
- Overview of the class including prerequisites, subject matter of each lecture or discussion, and learning outcomes for the course and how they will be assessed;
- Grading policy, including the means of evaluation and assignment of class grades, including whether plus and minus grades will be used for the final class grade and whether and, if so, how attendance will be used in determining the course grade;
- A brief descriptive overview of all major course requirements and assignments, along with the dates of exams and assignments that count for 20 percent or more of the class grade;
- A list of required and recommended course materials, such as textbooks, image collections, audio and audiovisual materials, supplies, articles, chapters, and excerpts as appropriate identified by author, title, and publisher;
- Final exam date and time (when available);
- The class Canvas site or website, if any; and
- A notice that students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE), Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at http://ddce.utexas.edu/disability. (Suggested wording available here.)
- Note that instructors should not use the syllabus to limit in any way a student’s right to receive or deliver an accommodation letter or to request accommodation. Concerns about a particular student’s situation may be discussed with the director of SSD.
The following syllabus disclosures are not part of the General Information Catalog (GIC) requirement. But they are often included in syllabi and are considered important for students as they engage with and navigate your course and the university. You are strongly encouraged to provide the following in your syllabus.
Which could include:
Teaching Modality Information to clearly explain how each class meeting and office hours will be conducted. Modalities could include fully online (asynchronous or a combination of synchronous/asynchronous learning), in-person (requires in-person attendance), or hybrid (online plus optional in-person class time).
If class recordings are to be made available to the class (via Zoom, Panopto, or any other means), UT Legal has indicated that the following language should be included in the syllabus and wherever recordings are posted:
“Class recordings are reserved only for students in this class for educational purposes and are protected under FERPA. The recordings should not be shared outside the class in any form. Violation of this restriction by a student could lead to Student Misconduct proceedings.”
Instructors teaching courses that carry one or more of the Skills and Experience Flags are requested to include the wording found in this link in their syllabus.
- Required Devices – Any devices, especially computers or other electronic devices, that are needed to succeed in the course;
- Asking for Help – How best to access or ask questions of the instructor (and teaching assistants) outside of class time;
- Making Up Missed Work – Policies and procedures around makeup assignments;
- Names and Personal Pronouns – Pronouns used by the instructor and teaching assistants, as well as encouragement to indicate their own names and pronouns.
- Other temporary syllabus additions that may be requested from time to time by the Provost’s Office (e.g., those related to COVID)
The following additional information and disclosures may be helpful to students and could be included at instructor discretion. In the interest of length, you may prefer to provide links, where applicable, rather than the full text.
“Your success in this class is important to me. We all learn differently, and everyone struggles sometimes. You are not, ever, the only one! If there are aspects of this course that prevent you from learning or exclude you, please let me know as soon as possible. Together we’ll develop strategies to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course. I also encourage you to reach out to the student resources available through UT, and I am happy to connect you with a person or Center if you would like.”
For example: “It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well served by this course, that students’ learning needs be addressed, and that the diversity that students bring to this class can be comfortably expressed and be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit to all students. Please come to me at any time with any concerns.”
Title IX Disclosure regarding availability of support and state law reporting requirements, as provided here.
This support will vary by department, unit, and course modality, making it confusing for students. A statement such as the following, tailored to your context, would help students who encounter difficulties: “Students needing help with technology in this course should contact the ITS Service Desk or <your local support unit(s)>.”
- Class attendance – Your expectations for attendance, with the rationale and the consequences for not attending if there are any. (Note that attendance that is included in grading is a required disclosure, above.)
- Class participation – Your expectations for participation, with the rationale and how they can succeed. (Note that participation that is included in grading is a required disclosure, above.)
- Behavior expectations – Guidelines and ground rules for appropriate behavior. You can reference a class-specific code of conduct (some instructors ask students to write this during the first week of class) or, more formally and officially, Section 11-400 of the Institutional Rules in the GIC .
- Professional standards – The professional standards that may apply to the subject being studied in your course.
If you are using digital course materials through the LTA program, please consider including the following in your course syllabus:
“The materials for this class are available through the Longhorn Textbook Access (LTA) program, a collaboration between UT Austin, The University Co-op and textbook publishers to significantly reduce the cost of digital course materials for students. You can access your required materials through the “My Textbooks” tab in Canvas. You are automatically opted into the program but can easily opt-out (and back in) via Canvas through the 12th class day. If you remain opted-in at the end of the add/drop period (12th class day fall/spring, 4th class day summer sessions), you will receive a bill through your “What I Owe” page. If you do not pay your bill by the specified deadline, you will lose access to the course materials and your charge will be removed. More information about the LTA program is available at universitycoop.com/longhorn-textbook-access.”
To let students know that a course contains materials or subjects that are potentially inflammatory or disturbing, an instructor may wish to include wording similar to the following:
“Our classroom provides an open space for the critical and civil exchange of ideas. Some readings and other content in this course will include topics that some students may find offensive and/or traumatizing. I’ll aim to forewarn students about potentially disturbing content and I ask all students to help to create an atmosphere of mutual respect and sensitivity.” Source
Further helpful discussion of content warnings can be found at this page.
- Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). This is a required inclusion, above. It is repeated here to contribute to completeness of this list.
- Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC) – For example:
“All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. Know you are not alone. If you or anyone you know is experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, academic concerns, loneliness, difficulty sleeping, or any other concern impacting your wellbeing – you are strongly encouraged to connect with CMHC. The Counseling and Mental Health Center provides a wide variety of mental health services to all UT students including crisis services, counseling services with immediate support and well-being resources. Additionally, CARE Counselors are located within the academic schools and colleges. These counselors get to know the concerns that are unique to their college’s students. For more information on CMHC, visit cmhc.utexas.edu or call 512-471-3515.”
- University Health Services (UHS) – For example:
“Your physical health and wellness are a priority. University Health Services is an on-campus high-quality medical facility providing care to all UT students. Services offered by UHS include general medicine, urgent care, a 24/7 nurse advice line, women’s health, sports medicine, physical therapy, lab and radiology services, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations and much more. For additional information, visit healthyhorns.utexas.edu or call 512-471-4955.”
- Sanger Learning Center – For example:
“Did you know that more than one-third of UT undergraduate students use the Sanger Learning Center each year to improve their academic performance? All students are welcome to take advantage of Sanger Center’s classes and workshops, private learning specialist appointments, peer academic coaching, and tutoring for more than 70 courses in 15 different subject areas. For more information, please visit https://ugs.utexas.edu/slc or call 512-471-3614 (JES A332).”
- Student Emergency Services (SES) – For example:
“Student Emergency Services in the Office of the Dean of Students helps students and their families during difficult or emergency situations. Assistance includes outreach, advocacy, intervention, support, and referrals to relevant campus and community resources. If you need to be absent from class due to a family emergency, medical or mental health concern, or academic difficulty due to crisis or an emergency situation, you can work with Student Emergency Services. SES will document your situation and notify your professors. Additional information is available at https://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/emergency/ or by calling 512-471-5017.”
Anyone concerned about the unauthorized sharing of their course materials through online sites should add the following warning to their syllabus. This is helpful to the office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity by having it explicitly communicated that you do not want this to occur.
“No materials used in this class, including, but not limited to, lecture hand-outs, videos, assessments (quizzes, exams, papers, projects, homework assignments), in-class materials, review sheets, and additional problem sets, may be shared online or with anyone outside of the class unless you have the instructor’s explicit, written permission.
Unauthorized sharing of materials promotes cheating. UT is aware of the sites used for sharing materials, and any materials found online that are associated with you, or any suspected unauthorized sharing of materials, will be reported to Student Conduct and Academic Integrity in the Office of the Dean of Students. These reports can result in sanctions, including failure in the course.”
Whether or not it is included in the syllabus, the statement below is university policy as presented in the General Information Catalog. Some faculty members find it helpful to be more explicit about the temporal elements of the policy by specifying a minimum period for advance notice and for completion of the assignment. Whether or not notification is provided in the syllabus, the accommodation must be made, and it must be “reasonable.”
“A student who misses classes or other required activities, including examinations, for the observance of a religious holy day should inform the instructor as far in advance of the absence as possible so that arrangements can be made to complete an assignment within a reasonable period after the absence. A reasonable accommodation does not include substantial modification to academic standards, or adjustments of requirements essential to any program of instruction. Students and instructors who have questions or concerns about academic accommodations for religious observance or religious beliefs may contact the Office for Inclusion and Equity. The University does not maintain a list of religious holy days.”
Further discussion around this topic can be found at the UT Austin Gender and Sexuality Center. Syllabus wording might include something like the following example: “Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender, gender variance, and nationalities. I will gladly honor your request to address you by your chosen name and by the gender pronouns you use. Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student’s chosen (not legal) name, if you have provided one. If you wish to provide or update a chosen name, that can be done easily at this page, and you can add your pronouns to Canvas.”
You may find suggested wording to “demonstrate respect for the historic and contemporary presence of Indigenous Peoples in Texas and, particularly, in the greater Austin area” at this page.
Texas’ Open Carry law expressly prohibits a licensed to carry (LTC) holder from carrying a handgun openly on the campus of an institution of higher education such as UT Austin. Information about Campus Carry can be found at this link. Depending on the instructor’s preferences, the following verbiage about Campus Carry could be used in their syllabus:“Students in this class should be aware of the following university policies:
- Students in this class who hold a license to carry are asked to review the university policy regarding campus carry.
- Individuals who hold a license to carry are eligible to carry a concealed handgun on campus, including in most outdoor areas, buildings and spaces that are accessible to the public, and in classrooms.
- It is the responsibility of concealed-carry license holders to carry their handguns on or about their person at all times while on campus. Open carry is NOT permitted, meaning that a license holder may not carry a partially or wholly visible handgun on campus premises or on any university driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area.
- Per my right, I prohibit carrying of handguns in my personal office. Note that this information will also be conveyed to all students verbally during the first week of class. This written notice is intended to reinforce the verbal notification, and is not a “legally effective” means of notification in its own right.
For example: The following are recommendations regarding emergency evacuation from the Office of Campus Safety and Security, 512-471-5767:
- Students should sign up for Campus Emergency Text Alerts at the page linked above.
- Occupants of buildings on The University of Texas at Austin campus must evacuate buildings when a fire alarm is activated. Alarm activation or announcement requires exiting and assembling outside.
- Familiarize yourself with all exit doors of each classroom and building you may occupy. Remember that the nearest exit door may not be the one you used when entering the building.
- Students requiring assistance in evacuation shall inform their instructor in writing during the first week of class.
- In the event of an evacuation, follow the instruction of faculty or class instructors. Do not re-enter a building unless given instructions by the following: Austin Fire Department, The University of Texas at Austin Police Department, or Fire Prevention Services office.
- For more information, please visit emergency preparedness.
If you have concerns about the safety or behavior of fellow students, TAs or professors, contact BCCAL (the Behavior Concerns and COVID-19 Advice Line) at https://safety.utexas.edu/behavior-concerns-advice-line or by calling 512-232-5050:
- Option 1 – Behavior Concerns: Trained staff members are available 24 hours a day to assist the caller in exploring available options and strategies. If you have concerns about the safety or behavior of fellow students, TAs or Professors. You can remain anonymous. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Trust your instincts and share your concerns.
- Option 2 – COVID-19 Resources: Trained staff are available during business hours (Monday-Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.), and will return urgent voice messages left Monday-Friday 5 – 10 p.m. or over the weekend to answer COVID-19 questions and connect students, staff and faculty with support and resources.
- Confidentiality will be maintained as much as possible, however the university may be required to release some information to appropriate parties.
Editable Syllabus Template – The syllabus template linked here includes all of the content included on this page. You may use it at your discretion and adapt it for your course as you wish. Except for the “Required Syllabus Content” discussed on this page, all content and most wording are your choice. The more the syllabus is tailored to your course and its content, as well as to your personal style and guidance for students, the more effective it will be. Download the template
Checklist – A helpful list of steps for syllabus preparation, prepared by the Faculty Innovation Center.
Best Practices – For more information about best practices in syllabus drafting as well as tips for how to get students to read your syllabus, see the Faculty Innovation Center’s “An Effective Syllabus” webpage, which includes a sample syllabus and UT Syllabus Requirements and Recommendations Checklist.
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