Syllabus Guidelines

The conceptual organization and the pedagogical strategy of a course are up to the instructor, but a printed syllabus with several specific elements must be provided to students at the beginning of the term.  If there are any changes to the syllabus over the course of the term, students should also be provided with the printed revision.  The syllabus represents a contract with the students, a statement about what they’re getting into, what is expected of them and what they should expect from the instructor.

All syllabi should contain the elements listed below.  Here is also a link to the layout of a sample syllabus.

Header Information

Please include the following:
  • NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study
  • Course title
  • Course number
  • Semester and year
  • Class day(s) and start and end times
  • Classroom location
  • Instructor name
  • Instructor email address
  • Instructor office location
  • Instructor office hours

Content of Syllabus

Course Description

Same as description published by Gallatin.

Course Objectives/Learning Goals
  • A short list of 2-3 goals (be as specific as possible); for example, these might include depth of knowledge in a particular field, writing skills, artistic techniques, etc.
  • Course objectives/learning goals should be listed separately and prominently near top of syllabus.
Required Texts
  • List the title and author of each assigned text (whenever possible, please assign whole books or complete essays, rather than excerpts).
  • If you are using a course pack, please also list here.
Assignments and Grading

Students are expected to devote at least eight (8) hours to weekly course assignments (in addition to the time spent in the classroom), with the understanding that it may go higher when papers are due.  Please keep this in mind as you prepare your syllabus.  Additionally:

  • All courses should assign a demanding level of written or other work.  Depending on the type of course, writing assignments will vary.  Interdisciplinary seminars, for example, should assign a minimum of 20 pages of writing over the course of the semester. First-year Writing and Research seminars should follow the guidelines established by the Gallatin Writing Program.
  • Similarly, reading assignments will also vary, depending on the type of course.  Interdisciplinary Seminars, for example, should have a demanding level of academic difficulty, assigning approximately 150 pages of reading a week (this may vary depending on the density of the text).
  • Writing and other assignments should be listed separately in the syllabus, along with a breakdown of how much each assignment counts toward the final grade (e.g., final paper constitutes 30% of the final grade).
  • If there are other factors that may impact the final grade (class participation, late papers, etc.), please specify.
Attendance Policy

It is up to the instructor to formulate his or her policy on attendance. Some faculty members automatically reduce students’ grades for unexcused absences, while some do not; some count lateness as a half-absence, some do not. Given the participatory nature of Gallatin courses, however, we believe it is fair to have some rigorous expectations about attendance, since students who are not in class cannot take an active part in learning.

 Electronic Devices

Given the large array of personal electronic devices, we suggest including some parameters on the use of laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc.

Students with Disabilities

We recommend that you add the following statement to your syllabus:

“Academic accommodations are available for students with disabilities. Please contact the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (212-998-4980 or for further information. Students who are requesting academic accommodations are advised to reach out to the Moses Center as early as possible in the semester for assistance.”

Academic Integrity

Include a brief statement about academic integrity in the syllabus (feel free to copy and paste the statement below to your syllabus), and then discuss plagiarism with students. They should know what is meant by the term, and how to avoid committing plagiarism.

“As a Gallatin student you belong to an interdisciplinary community of artists and scholars who value honest and open intellectual inquiry. This relationship depends on mutual respect, responsibility, and integrity. Failure to uphold these values will be subject to severe sanction, which may include dismissal from the University. Examples of behaviors that compromise the academic integrity of the Gallatin School include plagiarism, illicit collaboration, doubling or recycling coursework, and cheating. Please consult the Gallatin Bulletin or Gallatin website (”

Additionally, faculty are urged not to mention in their syllabi any particular consequences in the case of suspected plagiarism.  For example, please do not state that students who are caught plagiarizing will receive an automatic grade of F for the course.  Faculty who suspect students of plagiarism should follow the procedures outlined in section 5 of the Student Discipline and Grievance Rules of the Gallatin School.  The student discipline rules aim to make certain that suspected cases of plagiarism follow the same disciplinary process, regardless of the course or instructor.   Consistency in disciplinary actions ensures fairness in how the school deals with plagiarism.

Course Websites

The University provides course instructors with several types of online platforms for uploading syllabi, readings, assignments, etc. The two most frequently used platforms are NYU Classes, which is linked to NYU’s student information system (and therefore has integrated access to the class roster), and NYU Web Publishing, which allows faculty to build a course website using Word Press.  To learn more about these platforms, please visit the Digital Gallatin web site.  Faculty who opt to use a public site as their course web site should include the following in the syllabus:

“By participating in this course, you agree to allow the instructor to post your work on the course’s public website. If you wish to opt out, you must do so in writing to the instructor.”

 Session-By-Session Details
  • Include dates for each class meeting, as well as general topic, reading and writing assignments, exams, etc.
  • Include exact pages of each reading assignment, as well as author and title (this also applies to any articles on NYU Classes).

For its records, Gallatin requires faculty to turn in a copy of their syllabus at the beginning of every semester. The Office of Faculty Services will keep the syllabus on file for several reasons, but primarily for students who are going on to graduate programs (or seeking certification) and who may need to submit your syllabus to another institution. Please keep this in mind when designing a syllabus.