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Understanding the Course Syllabus

A syllabus is a road map for your course. It contains valuable information that will help you succeed throughout the entire semester.

Where to find the syllabus

You can find the syllabus on Brightspace under its respective course.

Why the syllabus is important

Refer to the syllabus throughout the semester to:

  • Stay organized (see Syllabus Week Checklist)
  • Help plan your semester efficiently
  • Know what is expected of you by your professor
  • Understand the major course objectives, or what you will learn in the course
  • Understand how your performance will be evaluated and graded

What is on the syllabus

Each syllabus will be different, but most will contain many of the following:

  • Professor’s Information: name, contact, office hours (see sidebar for info about office hours)
  • Course Information: course number and title, meeting and location, prerequisites
  • Course Overview: course description, learning objectives, goals
  • Course Materials: textbooks, other materials
  • Assignments, project descriptions
  • Grading and Evaluation: assignments, projects, exams, attendance, participation
  • Class Policies*: attendance, academic misconduct, students with disabilities
  • The class schedule
  • Information about Student Services (e.g., Student Success Center, Tutoring and Learning Center, Advising, Counseling, Mentoring Program

*While some policy information may be the same on syllabi for different courses, not all professors follow identical policies. Be sure to review your syllabus for each course carefully and identify each professor’s unique policies. 

Know and utilize your professors’ office hours when . . .

  • You don’t understand what is going on in class
  • You’ve missed a class
  • You’re not sure why you received a certain grade
  • You performed poorly on a test or homework
  • You have a test or homework coming up and want to be sure you are prepared
  • You’re interested in learning about the professor’s research