Syllabus Preparation Guidelines

The following has been re-printed from the University of Colorado Denver, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Faculty Guidebook. Portions have been amended to more accurately address the needs of CU Succeed instructors. If you have further questions about your syllabus, please contact your Department Liaison.

Required Syllabus Format​

The CU Succeed Program requires instructors to provide detailed course information on the first day of class through a course syllabus. Students who do not attend the first day of class must receive the course syllabus on their first day of attendance. The course syllabus contains important information necessary for students to adequately assess the academic and procedural suitability of the course and make a decision to stay in the course or drop it. It is assumed that students registered in a course after the census date have agreed to policies stated on the course syllabus.

Faculty are encouraged to use th​e first class meeting to thoroughly discuss the course objectives, content, grading policies and classroom policies. Clarification of course policies at the beginning of the semester can eliminate student problems later in the semester. Each course syllabus is to be on file with the appropriate Office of Extended Studies or Office of Continuing Education within the first week of classes. NOTE: It is required that an updated syllabus be submitted every term the course is offered.

A course syllabus for the CU Succeed Program should contain the following information:


Faculty and General Course Information

  • course (department) prefix, ​number, title and semester
  • meeting pattern
  • instructor's name, office location
  • instructor's office phone and e-mail address (optional but encouraged)
  • instructor's office hours and appointment procedures
  • registration deadlines, census date - explanation of registration and add/drop procedures


Course Specific Information (not in prioritized order, and not all applicable)

  • goals and objective of the course - expected course outcomes
  • pedagogies selected for class - lecture, group discussion, papers, projects, etc.
  • expected student effort - hours per week outside of class
  • required and optional text books and other course materials
  • course prerequisites - cannot differ from prerequisites in CU Denver Catalog; faculty encouraged to use 'working knowledge' approach to prerequisites; and courses that administratively drop students for failure to meet course prerequisites must contain this information on syllabus
  • ​schedule of topics, assignments and examinations - does not have to be a day-to-day accounting of activity in the classroom, rather an outline to make students aware of the course's topics and general assignment/exam load
  • GRADING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES (Method of Evaluation) - detailed information so that student can calculate grade, including: weighting or percentage for every graded assignment; attendance and participation; plus/minus grading, if applicable; extra credit - available to all students, no grade penalty for participating or not participating, etc.; individual vs. group efforts on projects and take-home assignments; late assignments - what penalty, if any, is imposed


College and Campus Policies (suggested language for the syllabus is given)

  • CU Denver Academic Honor Code: Students are to submit only their own work for evaluation, to acknowledge the work and conclusions of others, and to do nothing that would provide an unfair advantage in their academic efforts. Students who fail to comply with the CU Denver Academic Honor Code are subject to disciplinary action.


Frequently Encountered Situations 

  • The large number of items to be addressed requires a very long course syllabus. The days of the one-page, vague syllabus are gone. Students need detailed information to evaluate suitability of course policies. Detailed policies and expectations at the beginning of the semester reduce ad hoc faculty decisions and promote good student-faculty communication. A 2-4 page syllabus is sufficient to meet the requirements outlined above.

  • Students often inquire about partial credit on examinations. Faculty are encouraged to utilize multiple methods to evaluate student performance, some of which may lend themselves to partial credit. Faculty discretion in partial credit is assumed and details of partial credit grading are not required on the course syllabus. Explaining expected use of partial credit is helpful to students.

  • Student misses the first class period where details of the syllabus are covered. It is the instructor's responsibility to provide a hard copy course syllabus to each student independent of the student's first day in class and independent of syllabus availability on the Internet. For students who miss scheduled lectures, it is their responsibility to obtain course notes from other students and, if necessary, seek clarification of policies outside normal lecture time.

  • Students often inquire about expected range of course grades. While not required, faculty can relieve a lot of student tension by publishing the expected/historical course GPA, range of grades, or percentage of individual letter grades.