Academic Leadership Toolkit

Office of Faculty Development and Advancement

Syllabus Preparation


A syllabus provides an important roadmap to each course in an academic department; department chairs are responsible for ensuring that all instructors, especially new faculty, adjuncts, and TAs, have appropriate guidance regarding what should be included in an FSU syllabus.


  • To provide a comprehensive guide containing specific information to help students determine course selections and keep up-to-date with course requirements throughout the semester.
  • To communicate meaningful and measurable course objectives for each course.
  • To refer students to critical policy information regarding class attendance; religious holy days; the Academic Honor Policy (especially addressing whether group work and multiple submission are authorized in the class); and issues related to disability accommodations.
  • To outline evaluation (grading) standards clearly (they must not change during the semester).

Authority and Responsibility:

  • Chairs are responsible for the quality of instruction in their academic units; thus, they should provide proactive guidance and consultation in the syllabus-preparation process.
  • Chairs, with the assistance of department staff members, must collect syllabi from all courses offered by the department each semester and keep them for two years.
  • Instructors (faculty, adjuncts, and TAs) are responsible for following University Curriculum Committee guidelines in developing syllabi.

Common Pitfalls:

  • Writing course objectives in ways that are not actionable or measurable.
  • Not considering major religious holy days when planning high-stakes exam dates.
  • Forgetting to edit topic and due dates on a syllabus used in a previous semester, including using outdated policy statements.
  • Including statements that contradict University policy, especially in relation to final exams and excused absences.