Designing an Effective Syllabus: Start Here

Resources to help faculty and staff design an effective syllabus to engage and motivate students


This research guide will help you design an effective and engaging syllabus for your students

You will find: 

  • recommended syllabus format from CTL 
  • recommended syllabus language and resources to include 
  • accessibility policies and resources 

Spring 2023 Recommendations

Below are two documents: 

1) Spring 2023 suggested language regarding attendance and class expectations

2) Draft syllabus template designed for online or hybrid classes - contains suggestions specifically for these modalities. 

Other draft syllabi for on-site classes can be found in "Marquette University Syllabus Guidelines." 

There are additional documents related to Covid-19 drafted in 2020 that are still available for reference in the section "Covid-19 Syllabus Resources"


Why "Design" Your Syllabus?

A well-designed syllabus can be more than an outline of deadlines, course readings, and department and university policies. It can:

  • provide your students with a welcome to your course that shares with them your teaching philosophy
  • offer a roadmap for success in your course
  • save time by answering in advance the most frequent questions your students may have

Tips and Strategies for Effective Syllabi

  • Keep it simple - lengthy assignment descriptions do not need to appear in the syllabus. They can be uploaded separately in D2L. 
  • Use your limited real estate wisely - what appears on your syllabus sends a message of importance to students.
  • Check out the Statements and Resources for Students to see specific topics like accessibility, diversity and inclusion, and Title IX that you can include on your syllabus. 
  • Include definitions or context to academic terms and concepts for students who may be unfamiliar with them - for example, "office hours." Include language that would explain what office hours are and why they are encouraged to visit you