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).


Required Availability of Syllabi

  • 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.

Required Syllabus Content

As specified in the General Information Catalog (GIC), to the extent practicable the syllabus provided to students on or before the first day of class must include the following information:

  • 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), Disability and Access (D&A) 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 Disability and Access.

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:

“Students who violate University rules on academic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary penalties, including the possibility of failure in the course and/or dismissal from the University. Since such dishonesty harms the individual, all students, and the integrity of the University, policies on academic dishonesty will be strictly enforced. For further information, please visit the Student Conduct and Academic Integrity website at: http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/conduct.”

Also, for the types of assignments in your syllabus, include individual policies relating to collaboration and plagiarism. Student Conduct and Academic integrity in the Office of the Dean of Students reports that students often claim they were unaware of academic integrity expectations because they were not outlined in the syllabus.

State the course modality and clearly explain how class meetings 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 there will be no alternative to in-person attendance, other than normal emergency accommodations, note this clearly (some in-person course instructors choose to post course recordings, and students get confused and think everyone is required to do so). If the course has multiple formats—e.g. lecture, lab and discussion, group learning projects and/or presentations—these should be explained.

If class recordings that include student personally identifiable information are to be made, UT Legal has indicated that the following disclosure 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)

Other Discretionary Syllabus Content

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.

For example:

“Your success in this class is important to me. We all learn differently, and everyone struggles sometimes. You are not, ever, the only one having difficulty! 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 will 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 State your expectations for attendance with the rationale. Explain the consequences for not attending if there are any. If participation is included in the course grade, you should also list it in the assignments under “Grading for this Course” below.

Class participation What do you mean by this and how they can succeed? If participation is included in the course grade, you should also list it in the assignments under “Grading for this Course” below.

Behavior expectations State the 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 List and describe any professional standards that apply in your school or 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.”

“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.”

[Best practice discussions around content warnings also suggest including tags or other warnings on the Course Outline next to the assigned material. Further discussion of content warning can be found at this page.]

Disability & Access (D&A)

[This required syllabus content is repeated from above. It may be included in either place, or both.]

The university is committed to creating an accessible and inclusive learning environment consistent with university policy and federal and state law. Please let me know if you experience any barriers to learning so I can work with you to ensure you have equal opportunity to participate fully in this course. If you are a student with a disability, or think you may have a disability, and need accommodations please contact Disability & Access (D&A). Please refer to the D&A website for more information: http://diversity.utexas.edu/disability/. If you are already registered with D&A, please deliver your Accommodation Letter to me as early as possible in the semester so we can discuss your approved accommodations and needs in this course.

Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC)

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 https://cmhc.utexas.edu or call 512-471-3515.

University Health Services (UHS)

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, gynecology, sports medicine, physical therapy, lab and radiology services, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations and much more. For additional information, visit https://healthyhorns.utexas.edu or call 512-471-4955.

Sanger Learning Center

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)

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 without explicit, written permission of the instructor. Unauthorized sharing of materials promotes cheating. The University is well 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 of 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.”

“By UT Austin policy, you must notify me of your pending absence as far in advance as possible of the date of observance of a religious holy day. If you must miss a class, an examination, a work assignment, or a project in order to observe a religious holy day, you will be given an opportunity to complete the missed work within a reasonable time after the absence.”

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 identity & expression, and nationalities. Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student’s legal name, unless they have added a “chosen name” with the registrar’s office, which you can do so here. I will gladly honor your request to address you by a name that is different from what appears on the official roster, and by the pronouns you use (she/he/they/ze, etc). Please advise me of any changes early in the semester so that I may make appropriate updates to my records. For instructions on how to add your pronouns to Canvas, visit this site. More resources available on the Gender and Sexuality Center’s website, www.utgsc.org.”

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. Confidentiality will be maintained as much as possible, however the university may be required to release some information to appropriate parties.

Syllabus Design Resources

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 Center for Teaching and Learning.

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 Center for Teaching and Learning's “An Effective Syllabus” webpage, which includes a sample syllabus and UT Syllabus Requirements and Recommendations Checklist.

Public Access to Course Information (HB 2504)

Faculty are required to make available to the public on its website certain undergraduate course information.

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