How to Write a Syllabus

Your course syllabus is key to setting the tone for your course. It helps to express your expectations to the students. When composing the syllabus for your course, there are a number of considerations. This page highlights some key considerations and resources to help facilitate this process. Always remember that the Leonhard Center is happy to help if you have any specific questions about your syllabus.

General course information

What is the format of the course? What is the required/optional text book? What is your contact information? Is there a prerequisite course? What is the course schedule?

What are the objectives for your course?

video - what are learning objectives and why do we need them

video - how to write good learning objectives

How will your students be assessed?

How will students be assessed? What are the major deliverables for the course? How you will calculate their grades?

List your class specific grading policies. What is your policy with late assignments? How much is each assessment weighted in the course? Who will be grading assessments and how will you handle challenges to a given grade?

Be detailed. For each major Assessment/Assessment category, there should be a short section with a description of the activity and your expectations for success on the activity. What do you mean when you say participation? What is expected from homework assignments?

What is your academic integrity policy?

Definition and expectations: “Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner… a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, the University's Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts.”

Per the University Faculty Handbook, academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating or falsifying information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting the work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students.

“There is a commitment by all members of the University community not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.” The instructor in this course will follow procedures outlined in Senate Policy 49-20, Academic Integrity,, when academic dishonesty is suspected.

For more information on the College of Engineering Academic Integrity Violation Process, please see:

Note to students with disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 814-863-1807 (V/TTY). For further information regarding ODS, please visit the Office for Disability Services web site.

In order to receive consideration for course accommodations, you must contact ODS and provide documentation. The documentation guidelines for students with disabilities are available online at If the documentation supports the need for academic adjustments, ODS will provide a letter identifying appropriate academic adjustments. Please share this letter and discuss the adjustments with your instructor as early in the course as possible. You must contact ODS and request academic adjustment letters at the beginning of each semester.

Resources from within Penn State

Additional resources



The Leonhard Center for Enhancement of Engineering Education was established in 1990 by an endowment from William and Wyllis Leonhard. Its mission is to catalyze the changes that are crucial to maintaining world-class engineering education at Penn State. In 2006 the Leonhard Center became the home for two other major programs that support teaching and learning in the College - the Office of Assessment & Instructional Support and Programs for Engineering Writing & Speaking.

The Leonhard Center

201 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-865-4020