Course Syllabi at UW–Madison

Course syllabi are required for UW–Madison courses and offer instructors the opportunity to communicate with students about course details. Below, you’ll find more information about the following core components of a course syllabus:

  1. Key Course Offering Information (required, governed content)
  2. Instructor-to-Student Communication (required, instructor-provided content)
  3. Academic Statements and Policies (strongly encouraged)

Downloadable Syllabus Template

The information on this page can also be downloaded as a MS Word document and used to support the creation of syllabi.

Download UW–Madison Syllabus Template (MS Word)

1. Key Course Offering Information

Instructors must include this component and its elements in their syllabi.

Many elements within this component are governed content.

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General Identifying Information

Institution Name: University of Wisconsin­­–Madison

Course Subject, Number and Title: Special topics title, if applicable.

Credits: Find course credits in Guide.

Course Designations and AttributesFind course designations in Guide (e.g., honors, general education, graduate attribute, etc.), as approved through governance.

Course Description: Find course descriptions in Guide, as approved through governance.

Requisites: Find course requisites in Guide, as approved through governance.

Meeting Time and Location: Also include information on field trips or other special activities, if applicable.

Instructional Modality: In-person, online or hybrid. View the university’s mode of instruction course section descriptors.

Instructor Contact Info: Title, name, office hours and email.

Teaching Assistant Contact Info (if applicable): Name, office hours and email.

Course Learning Outcomes

List course learning outcomes. Some courses have governance-approved course learning outcomes, which can be found in Lumen. If the course does not have governance-approved learning outcomes, find guidance on how to write learning outcomes.

How Credit Hours are Met by the Course

Communicate the amount and importance of expected coursework, including work both during and outside of class meetings. Instructors may choose to explain the importance of workload in relation to the credit hour in their own words or select from these recommendations. Review the UW–Madison Credit Hour Policy.

Regular and Substantive Student-Instructor Interaction

Interaction with faculty and instructional staff in each course is a crucial component of the high-quality education UW–Madison offers. It is key to providing every student with the Wisconsin Experience. Substantive interaction is engaging students in teaching, learning and assessment through at least two of the following: direct instruction, providing feedback on student work, providing information about course content, facilitating discussion of course content, or other substantive interaction. Regular interaction is predictable and scheduled interaction with students consistent with the course length (usually at least weekly, but more often in a course of short duration). Find more information on regular and substantive instruction including examples and sample syllabi statements.

2. Instructor-to-Student Communication

Instructors are required to provide information on the elements in this component that apply to the course(s) they are teaching.

Instructor-to-student communication is the core of a syllabus and conveys expectations for the instructor(s) and students.

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Course Overview

Instructors may provide additional information not covered in the approved course description noted above. Examples may include: outlining what previous learning experiences are expected of students, or that they may find useful; how students will benefit most from the course; how you welcome, inspire and excite students for course learning; and/or what types of interactions and work is valued in the course.

Course Website and Digital Instructional Tools

  • Provide link to course website (if available).
  • Provide information about the university’s learning management system, Canvas, and other university instructional tools or platforms (e.g., Zoom, MS Teams, WebEx Meetings, etc.) that will be used in the course.

Discussion and/or Laboratory Sessions

Add information specific to discussion and/or lab sections, as appropriate, or attach a separate document.

Required Textbook, Software and Other Course Materials

  • List any required materials such as textbooks, open educational resources and eTexts.
  • List any required course fees including eText fees, if applicable.
  • List any required software or tools, even if available at no additional cost as part of UW-Madison licensing. Include directions on how students can access the software or tools, such as through the Campus Software Library.

Homework and Other Assignments

  • Provide rules and expectations concerning
  • Explain how assignments will be submitted (e.g., online, Canvas, Dropbox, instructor mailbox, etc.).

Exams, Quizzes, Papers and Other Major Graded Work

  • List the summary period and the expectations associated with it. View the Summary Period for Academic Semester Policy.
  • Include relevant details such as dates, if the exam or quiz is cumulative, open-book or open-note, whether access to electronic devices is allowed, etc.
  • Note if exams or quizzes will be proctored (see the “General Guidelines for Exam Proctoring” section below).
  • Explain policies for make-up and/or late work.

General Guidelines for Exam Proctoring

Instructors should inform students in advance and include a statement in the course syllabus if proctoring (remote or in person) will be required. Instructors should also clearly state in the syllabus that failure to use the proctoring service assigned will result in specific consequences (e.g., zero on exams, quizzes, etc.). Once the decision to use the proctoring service is made by the instructor and the student has registered for the class, the use of proctoring is a condition of enrollment in the class. This should be stated explicitly in the syllabus. Additionally, it is within the instructor’s discretion to engage the use of a proctoring service, such as Honorlock, during the semester if circumstances result in exams or other testing moving from in-class to online or another virtual option.

Course Schedule/Calendar

Include a course calendar/schedule/grid that outlines the coursework and deadlines. This can help students plan their time accordingly and know what to expect.

Note that sample syllabi used for course proposals must include an indication of the time devoted to individual topics and hours of instructor-student instruction and/or discussion. A course schedule/calendar/grid is the most common way to convey that information. View Course Proposal Sample Syllabus Requirements.


  • Indicate how the course is graded and relative weights of assessments.
  • Provide linkage between weights and letter scores, if possible.
  • Indicate whether the final grades are curved or not.
  • Indicate whether attendance and/or participation is part of the grading. Sample syllabi used for course proposals must indicate how students will be evaluated when more than 10% of the grade is tied to participation/attendance. View Course Proposal Sample Syllabus Requirements.
  • Separate grading requirements for graduate students, if required. View Policy on Graduate-Level Course Attributes.

3. Academic Policies and Statements

Instructors can find institutional-level academic policies and statements to include in syllabi in Guide. Instructors are strongly encouraged to link to or copy and paste these policies and statements in their syllabi. These policies and statements are reviewed and updated annually, as needed.

This section can also be used to clearly communicate course-specific policies such as expectations related to group work, missing class, communication policies, etc.