Syllabus Requirements for EMS Online and Hybrid Courses

See Sample Syllabus

A written syllabus (paper or electronic) must be distributed to students in each course before or during the first class meeting.

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 is provided below.

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.

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.

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.

Required and Recommended Course Information and Logistics

  • Course Number and Title [Strongly Recommended]
  • Semester [Strongly Recommended]
  • Instructor name, contact information [Required]
  • Teaching Assistant name and contact information [Required if applicable and known]
  • Instructor and Teaching Assistant office hours [Strongly Recommended]
  • Support services available (e.g., tutoring) [Recommended if applicable]
  • Class meeting times and locations [Required for courses with a residential element, e.g. lab meeting times]
  • Course designation in the curriculum (e.g., required in major or option, elective) [Recommended]
  • Brief course description from LionPATH (then choose "Class Search") [Recommended]
  • Prerequisites and Concurrent Courses [Strongly Recommended if applicable]

Sample recommended policy statement to include if there are prerequisites:
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 the Student Code of Conduct.

Note: Every effort should be made to disenroll students prior to the start of the semester because if a student is disenrolled after the semester begins, then the course will be counted as an uncompleted one and this uncompleted course could negatively affect the student’s financial aid.

  • Required Course Materials [Required if applicable]

Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you require assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, please contact your academic advisor. For additional needs, related to socioeconomic status, please visit Project Cahir or visit the Office of Student Care and Advocacy at 222 Boucke Building or call 814-863-2020.

  • Recommended textbooks [Strongly recommended if applicable]
  • Reserve materials and location [Required if applicable, unless materials are optional]
  • Internet materials and links [Required if applicable, unless materials and links are optional]
  • Course Goals and Objectives (e.g., list the course objectives and outcomes developed for the Penn State-required program assessment or for ABET accreditation) [Required]
    • Course goals describe the broad knowledge domains and expectations for the course. Course Objectives align with course goals, but are more explicit and represent behaviors, skills, or attitudes that students will learn and demonstrate in the course; objectives are assessed through class activities, assignments, examinations, and/or projects.
  • Course Content and Expectations (e.g., list of topics covered, pages for or sources of required and suggested reading) [Required]
    • The course must include a minimum of 80% of the core content and learning objectives approved by the Faculty Senate in the most current course proposal.

Required and Recommended Course Policies and Statements

Assessment Policy: [Must include grade breakdown by assessment type and percentage, including assessment of participation if applicable]

  • Required written/oral assignments
    • Summary of required problem sets, papers, oral presentations, etc. [Strongly Recommended]
    • The weight given to assignments [Required]
    • Due date for each assignment [Recommended]
    • Course policy regarding late assignments [Strongly Recommended}
  • Examination Policy
    • Summary of quizzes and exams [Required]
    • The weight given to each quiz or exam [Required]
    • Due dates for each quiz or exam [Required]
    • Make-up exam policy [Strongly Recommended]
  • Grading Policy
    • Grading Scale [Strongly Recommended]
    • Curving Policy if applicable [Recommended]
    • Late Penalties if applicable [Strongly Recommended]
    • Extra Credit if applicable [Recommended]

Academic Integrity [Required]

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

Academic Integrity Statement Option 1
Students in this class are expected to write up their problem sets individually, to work on 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 then 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. Please see Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Procedures, which this course adopts. To learn more, see Penn State's Academic Integrity Training for Students.

Academic Integrity Statement Option 2

This course follows the procedures 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 Academic Integrity Training for Students.

Course Copyright [Recommended]

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 [Required]

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.

Attendance [Strongly Recommended; for hybrid courses, you may want to draw from the residential template for the in-person component of the course]

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.

Change in Normal Campus Operations [Required]

In case of weather-related delays or other emergency campus disruptions or closures 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 these delays or closures. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements. [For a hybrid course, you need to specify what will happen for any in-person component. For reference, plans must adhere to policy 45-00, which states that when a campus closes, faculty may not move a canceled residential (in-person) instruction class meeting to a synchronous online meeting. However, faculty may provide asynchronous online instruction to make up for the canceled class as long as students are given a reasonable time after the closure to complete it. If the closure causes an in-class exam to be rescheduled, the faculty will administer the exam no sooner than the next regularly scheduled class period. If the exam is taking place outside of class, students will be given reasonable and timely notice to reschedule the exam. In the case of an exam administered through an online learning management system on the day of the closure, faculty will communicate an opportunity to make up the exam to students who are unable to take it that day. The same considerations will be given to previously announced assessments and/or assignments with submission deadlines on the day of closure.]

Reporting Educational Equity Concerns [Required]

Penn State takes great pride in fostering 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 AD 29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via Report Bias.

Counseling and Psychological Services [Required]

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being. 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

Syllabus and Paper Acknowledgement Forms [Recommended]

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 Recommended]

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 [Recommended]

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 [Recommended]

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 [Recommended]

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.

Netiquette [Recommended]

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 [Recommended]

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 [Strongly Recommended]

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:

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 MathML 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 Outreach HelpDesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Disclaimer Statement [Strongly Recommended]

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.

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 2023

No changes.

Updates for Spring 2022

The following changes were made for Spring 2022:

  • In the sample policy statement that is used if there are prerequisites, remove "Item 15 on" before "the Student Code of Conduct."

Updates for Fall 2021

The following changes were made for Fall 2021:

  • Attendance: Attendance syllabus language reverted to its pre-pandemic form, with COVID absences being handled similarly to those for any other illness (see the attendance policy). The rules for quarantine and isolation are more complicated this year and are different depending on a student’s vaccination status and whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic (see the FAQs under Health and Safety on the Keep Teaching website). As in the previous COVID semesters, you will be notified if a student is not allowed to attend your class, and you will be given their allowed return date. There are several options for helping a student keep up with your class, and detailed guidance on handling excused absences is expected in the next few days. In the case of extended absence, a deferred grade, late drop, or withdrawal may be appropriate, and the student should be strongly encouraged to speak to an adviser about the academic and financial implications of these choices.

  • Masking: The masking language has been updated and shortened. Everyone is required to wear a mask indoors unless they are in a walled and private office. You will be given 50 procedure masks to use in your course, and these can be offered to any student who forgets their mask. If a student refuses to wear a mask, you can end the class session and report the student to the Office of Student Conduct. Last year, we had excellent compliance with the masking mandate. If you do have any problems, please let me know.

  • Social/Physical Distancing: As university websites are being updated, some of them still mention social/physical distancing as a requirement, but this is not the case for fall 2021. Penn State is not requiring social/physical distancing for either vaccinated or unvaccinated people.

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 was added to the 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.