Syllabus Requirements for EMS Online and Blended Courses

The Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences has determined a list of required and recommended elements for a course syllabus based on University policy and best practices. This page contains a list of up-to-date required and recommended policies for your syllabus. Additional information about how to present an online syllabus in an accessible way can be found at the bottom of the page.

To use these policies in an online course we recommend using the Dutton Institute's automated "library" of standard policies. This library of all the required and recommended policies, technical requirements, etc. can be seamlessly integrated into the appropriate location of your course syllabus and will be updated automatically. You may choose to incorporate any or all of the library components. For example, you can choose to have the "required"policies loaded from the library while choosing to maintain your own late policy. Please talk to your Learning Designer to learn more. Alternatively, you can copy and paste the text directly from this page into your syllabus or use the Word version of the syllabus with all requirements listed. If you are a resident instruction faculty member using these requirements for a Web course, please contact Stevie Rocco for more information.

It is your responsibility to check this site each semester to ensure your syllabi remain in compliance with College and University syllabus requirements.

This page is updated before the beginning of each semester. All new updates will be noted in the text box below.

Updates for Spring 2017

The following changes were made for Spring 2017:

  • some updated links

Updates for Fall 2016

The following changes were made for Fall 2016:

  • many updated links
  • slight changes to the prerequisite statement
  • the addition of  excused absences for military service and post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as employment and graduate school final interviews).  (See

NOTE: The faculty senate has recently passed legislation requiring that a course syllabus be available to students electronically and remain so until the end of the semester (including any updates made during the semester).  (See for details.)

Elements of a Syllabus in EMS

Required elements are denoted by bold text

  • Recommended textbooks (required if applicable)
  • Reserve materials and location (required if applicable)
  • Internet materials and links (required if applicable)
  • Course Expectations (e.g., list the course objectives and outcomes developed for the Penn State-required program assessment or for ABET accreditation)
  • Course Content (e.g., list of topics covered, pages for or sources of required and suggested reading)

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Required Course Policies

Assessment Policy including:

  • Required written/oral assignments
    • Summary of required problem sets, papers, oral presentations, etc.
    • Weight given to each assignment
    • Due date for each assignment
  • Examination Policy
    • Summary of quizzes and exams
    • Weight given to each quiz or exam
    • Due dates for each quiz or exam
    • Make-up exam policy
  • Grading Policy
    • Grading Scale
    • Curving Policy if applicable
    • Late Penalties if applicable

Academic Integrity

Two Sample statements are given below; please edit to fit your class.

Academic Integrity statement option 1
Students in this class are expected to write up their problem sets individually, to work the exams on their own, and to write their papers in their own words using proper citations. Class members may work on the problem sets in groups, but each student must write up the answers separately. Students are not to copy problem or exam answers from another person's paper and present them as their own; students may not plagiarize text from papers or websites written by others. Students who present other people's work as their own will receive at least a 0 on the assignment and may well receive an F or XF in the course. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students:"

Academic Integrity statement option 2

This course follows the guidelines for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences: Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting other's work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other student's papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students:"

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Office for Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Office for Student Disability Resources website (

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation based on the documentation guidelines ( If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Inclement Weather

In case of weather-related delays at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to weather delays. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

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Recommended Policies

Syllabus and Paper Acknowledgement Forms

In an online course, the college recommends requiring all students to take an online quiz affirming they have read and understand the syllabus.

In a blended class, the college recommends that all students sign and return the Syllabus Acknowledgement Form during the first week of the semester. In addition. the College recommends the attached Paper Submission Form as a way to have students take responsibility for papers/labs/homework done as part of group work.

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail: to your preferred e-mail account so that you don't miss any important information.

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and bulletin board postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. Please review some general Netiquette guidelines: that should be followed when communicating in this course.

Connect Online with Caution

Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information with others whom you do not know.

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Technical Requirements

General (Required)

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the Dutton Institute Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the ITS Help Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Internet Connection (Required)

Access to a reliable Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or Wi-Fi ® hotspot.

Mixed Content (Recommended)

This site is considered a secure website which means that your connection is encrypted. We do, however, link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted. This is called mixed content. By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed. Follow the directions on our technical requirements page to view the mixed content.

Equations (Recommended if Math is used)

This course must be viewed using one of the following browsers: Firefox (any version), Safari (versions 5.1 or 6.0) or Internet Explorer with the MathPlayer PlugIn. If you use any other browsers there will be pages that do not render properly. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the ITS Help Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

The equation policy is required if using MathML equations. Note: All courses created in 2014 and beyond that have equations are using MathML.

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Disclaimer Statement

Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. Changes will be announced.

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Accessible Syllabus

Notes: Any syllabus posted online (e.g. a Word/PDF file or an online syllabus) should make destinations clickable links such as is done throughout this page. Also, in order to comply with Penn State Policy AD69 (Accessibility of Penn State Web Pages,, PDF documents cannot be the sole source of presenting online information. Such documents include syllabi, homework assignments, and scanned notes.

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