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What is the syllabus template?

OTC provides this template for you to use as a guide in the development of a syllabus for all your courses, regardless of mode of delivery (hybrid, online and seated). We encourage you to modify the content in this template to personalize your syllabus to match your teaching approach and aesthetic.  Please remember that your department chair or program director must approve all syllabi.

Please note using this template and the accompanying instructions will ensure your syllabus is fully accessible to all students (this document has been reviewed for Section 508 compliance).


How do I use the syllabus template?

Starting from scratch?

  • Just follow the three simple steps outlined below.

Download the template:

Looking for the module template format in the Canvas Commons? 

This summer we piloted the creation of a syllabus template module that you could download directly into your Canvas site from the Commons.  We received some great positive feedback on this format (thanks!) – BUT – we were not able to find a viable solution for providing division secretaries with a printed copy of syllabi in this format.  So, as a compromise, this semester you should use the above template to customize your syllabus, and then use the “how to” instructions in Step 3 to make your own syllabus module in your Canvas site.

Personalize your syllabus.

  • Anything in red text is information you should customize/personalize for your course.  Once you have customized this text, you should change it to black typeface. When your syllabus is complete no red text should remain.
  • Any information with this computer icon image of computer  next to it pertains only to online and/or hybrid courses.  This icon and accompanying information can be deleted out of syllabi for seated courses.

You’ll also need the following document: Academic Affairs Contact List – updated 7-25-2017

Here’s a quick video that will walk you through how to customize your syllabus template.


Decide how you’d like to share your syllabus with your students. You can either:

Embed your syllabus as a clickable PDF document in your Canvas site.

Convert your syllabus into a module in your Canvas site.

Want to update your syllabus from last semester?

Why is the syllabus important?

You should think of your syllabus as serving three important purposes:

  • the syllabus as a contract

your syllabus should clearly spell out policies and procedures that you will follow in your course

  • the syllabus as a permanent record

often syllabi are used by students seeking to transfer course work to other higher education institutions

  • the syllabus as a learning tool

your syllabus can be a place to share the relevance and importance of your course, and to set a tone for a positive learning environment for the entire semester

adapted from:The Purposes of a Syllabus, Jay Parkes and Mary  B. Harris, Retrieved from:

Why does this template change so often?

To remain innovate and adaptive, OTC frequently finds it necessary to change policy and procedure.  Each time a change is made to a policy or procedure the syllabus template is revised to reflect those changes.  We also ask for feedback and input from faculty and staff on the template and incorporate any suggested changes as quickly as we can.  Finally, many regulatory agencies (HLC, DOE, etc.) are asking us to make more information readily and publicly available to students, and the syllabus template is one way we can address those regulations

Keep up on the latest information and research on syllabus best practices

We have all heard the cry “students don’t read the syllabus”… either from ourselves or colleagues.  But, we also know there is a need to clearly communicate expectations to our students.  How do we bridge that gap?

Well.. it turns out there is a large field of both peer-reviewed research and informal data about syllabus best practices.  Here are some of the latest if you’d like to check them out.

Peer-Reviewed Research 

All of these are available to OTC faculty by searching the OTC databases from the Library homepage (just click on the Search button to get started)

  • More Content or More Policy? A Closer Look at Syllabus Detail, Instructor Gender, and Perceptions of Instructor Effectiveness, by Jade S. Jenkins, Ashley D. Bugeja, and Larissa K. Barber (2014)
  • Negotiating Your Syllabus: Building a Collaborative Contract, by David M. Kaplan and Monika K. Rendard (2015)
  • The 21st-Century Syllabus: From Pedagogy to Andragogy, by Charles J. Fornaciari and Kathy Lund Dean (2014)
  • The Syllabus: A Place to Engage Students’ Egos, by Mark Canada (2013)
  • Effect of Syllabus Tone: Students’ Perceptions of Instructor and Course  by Richard J. Harnish and Robert K. Bridges (2011)

Informal Data

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