Syllabus Requirements for EMS Online and Blended Courses

See Sample Syllabus

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.

Electronic Syllabus Required

NOTE: Senate Policy 43-00 requires 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). 

Elements of a Syllabus in EMS

Required elements are denoted by bold text

  • Course Number and Title
  • Semester
  • Instructor name, contact information and office hours
  • Teaching Assistant name, contact information and office hours (recommended if applicable and known)
  • Support services available (e.g., tutoring) (recommended if applicable)
  • Class meeting times and locations (recommended)
  • Course designation in the curriculum (e.g., required in major or option, elective, etc.) (recommended)
  • Brief course description from LionPATH (then choose "Class Search") (recommended)
  • Prerequisites and Concurrent Courses (required if applicable)

Prerequisites policy statement sample: Students who do not meet these prerequisites may be disenrolled according to Administrative Policy C-5 if they do not have the proper prerequisite override. Students who add the course after being disenrolled according to this policy are in violation of Item 15 of the Student Code of Conduct.

  • Required Textbooks (required if applicable. Please include the statement below if textbooks are required for your course.)

Assistance with Textbooks: Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you require assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, contact the Office of Student Care and Advocacy, 120 Boucke Building, 863-4926. For additional needs related to socioeconomic status please visit Project Cahir.

  • Recommended textbooks (required if applicable)
  • Reserve materials and location (required if applicable)
  • Internet materials and links (required if applicable)
  • Course Goals and Objectives (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 and Statements

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 Academic Integrity training

Academic Integrity statement option 2

This course follows Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Academic Integrity Guidelines. 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 Academic Integrity training.

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. For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy. 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.

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

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 Campus Disability Coordinators at 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. You will participate in an intake interview and provide documentation. See documentation guidelines at Applying for Services, Student Disability Resources. 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.


This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities.

If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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.

Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via Report Bias.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation. Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

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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 understood 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 for reasons that are beyond your control, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor, following Penn State Deferred Grade Policy 48-40. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. Non-emergency permission for filing a deferred grade must be requested before the beginning of the final examination period. It is up to the instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If permission is granted, you will work with the instructor to establish a communication plan and a clear schedule for completion within policy. If, for any reason, the coursework for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.

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.

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.

Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework. For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response website.

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.

For additional information, see:

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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 (Required if Math is used)

This course must be viewed using the latest version of Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Edge. Internet Explorer is not supported. If you use any other browser, or if you are not using the latest version of your browser, some pages containing equations will not render properly. In addition, javascript must be enabled for equations to render properly. If you have any issues with equations not rendering properly, please update your browser to the latest version or try using a different browser. If you need additional technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the HelpDesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

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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. All changes will be communicated to you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.

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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 Electronic and Information Technology, PDF documents cannot be the sole source of presenting online information. Such documents include syllabi, homework assignments, and scanned notes.

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Record of Syllabus Updates

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

Updates for Spring 2020

The following changes were made for Spring 2020:

  • None

Updates for Fall 2019

The following changes were made for Fall 2019:

  • Some updated links

Updates for Spring 2019

The following changes were made for Fall 2018:

  • Several updated links
  • Additional information regarding deferred grades to clarify expectations and proper procedures

Updates for Fall 2018

The following changes were made for Fall 2018:

  • Several updated links
  • Additional information regarding deferred grades to clarify expectations and proper procedures

Updates for Spring 2018

The following changes were made for Spring 2018:

  • Some updated links

Updates for Fall 2017

The following changes were made for Fall 2017:

  • Many updated links
  • Additional clarification added to Course Copyright statement regarding study sites (e.g. Course Hero).
  • Added required statements on "Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents" and "Counseling and Psychological Services"
  • Added recommended statements on "Mandated Reporting," "Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect," and "Accessible Syllabus"

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 Administrative Policy E-11: Class Attendance.