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, just copy and paste the text directly from this page into your syllabus. Alternatively, you may use the Word version of the syllabus with all requirements listed.
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.
- Elements of a Syllabus (EMS)
- Required Policies (based on University and College of EMS standards)
- Recommended Policies (based on College of EMS and Dutton Institute recommendations)
- Recommended Technical Requirements (recommended by the Dutton Institute)
- Recommended Disclaimer Statement
- How to create an accessible online syllabus
Syllabus and Paper Acknowledgement Forms
It is the recommendation of the college that all students sign and return the Syllabus Acknowledgement Form during the first week of the semester. In addition, the College also recommends the attached Paper Submission Form as a way to have students take responsibility for papers/labs/homework done as part of group work.
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, 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, include any lab or discussion section information]
- 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 [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]
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 Students United Against Poverty and Project Cahir.
- 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 (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 that is given to assignments [Required]
- The due date for each assignment [Recommended]
- Course policy regarding late assignments [Strongly Recommended}
- Examination Policy
- Summary of quizzes and exams [Required]
- The weight that is given to each quiz or exam [Required]
- Dates and locations (e.g., regular classroom, testing center, online, etc.) for each quiz or exam [Required. Note that by policy 44-20, instructors shall schedule no examinations during the last week of classes. Only quizzes and narrowly limited tests in support of classroom instruction worth a total of no more than ten percent of the semester grade may be given during the last week of classes.]
- Make-up exam policy [Strongly Recommended]
- Evening exam schedule, [Required if applicable, see policy 44-30]
- 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 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 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 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 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]
Regular attendance is critical for building the skills and knowledge developed throughout the class. Students who participate have a more complete understanding of the material presented and are more likely to succeed in the class. The University recognizes that, on exceptional occasions, students may miss a class meeting to participate in a regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activity (such as field trips, debate trips, choir trips, and athletic contests), or due to unavoidable or other legitimate circumstances such as illness, injury, military service, family emergency, religious observance, participation in local, state, and federal government elections, or post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as elections or employment and graduate school final interviews). In all cases, you should inform me in advance, when possible. Missing class, even for a legitimate purpose, may mean there is work that cannot be made up, hurting your grade in this class. Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (AVPSA) and Student Care and Advocacy for help. You should be prepared to provide documentation for participation in University-approved activities, as well as for career-related interviews. You should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form, at least one week prior to the activity.
[***Note: The paragraph below applies only if you intend to assign seats. This could be helpful to facilitate contact tracing if a positive COVID case were to occur in your class.***]
You will be assigned a seat in the classroom. It’s important that you sit in your assigned seat for each class period you attend. Physical attendance will NOT be used as part of the calculation of your course grade, but participation may be used.
Change in Normal Campus Operations [Required]
Campus emergencies, including weather delays and closures, are announced on Penn State News and communicated to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert. Sign up at PSUAlert. [Include course instructions for a campus closure, with information about how you will communicate changes in exam procedures, assignment deadlines, submission procedures, and any other necessary instructions. For reference, plans must adhere to policy 45-00, which states that when a campus closes, faculty may not move a canceled residential 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 a 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 a closure.]
Reporting Educational Equity Concerns [Required]
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 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 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
Mask Wearing [Strongly Recommended]
Penn State University requires everyone to wear a face mask in all university buildings, including classrooms, regardless of vaccination status. ALL STUDENTS MUST wear a mask appropriately (i.e., covering both your mouth and nose) while you are indoors on campus. This is to protect your health and safety as well as the health and safety of your classmates, instructor, and the university community. Anyone attending class without a mask will be asked to put one on or leave. Instructors may end class if anyone present refuses to appropriately wear a mask for the duration of class. Students who refuse to wear masks appropriately may face disciplinary action for Code of Conduct violations. If you feel you cannot wear a mask during class, please speak with your adviser immediately about your options for altering your schedule.
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.
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.
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.
Disruptive Behavior [Recommended]
Behavior that disrupts normal classroom activities will not be tolerated, in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.
In the case of an emergency, we will follow the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Critical Incident Plan. In the event of an evacuation, we will follow posted evacuation routes and gather at the Designated Meeting Site. Evacuation routes for all EMS buildings are available at Safety and Emergency Information. For more information regarding actions to take during particular emergencies, please see the Penn State Emergency Action Guides.
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:
- Penn State Affirmative Action non-discrimination statement
- Policy AD 85 Sexual and gender-based harassment and misconduct, Title IX
- Policy AD91 Discrimination and Harassment, and Related Inappropriate Conduct
- Penn State Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence
- Penn State Values
- Penn State Principles
- All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
- Action Together: Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Penn State
- Assessment of the Living, Learning, and Working Environment (ALLWE) in EMS | Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined at Dutton Institute Technical Requirements, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the IT Help Desk.
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. Changes to the syllabus shall also be given to the student in written (paper or electronic) form.
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 2021
The following changes were made for Spring 2021:
- In the sample policy statement that is used if there are prerequisites, removed "Item 15 on" before "the Student Code of Conduct."
- In Attendance, removed the duplicated sentence that starts with "In all cases, ..."
- In Attendance, slight changes to the wording for the paragraph if you assign seats.
- In Disruptive Behavior: removed "Items 9 and 14 in"
- In Safety, updated the link for the Critical Incident Plan to https://www.ems.psu.edu/sites/default/files/documents/about/cip_july_2021-june_2022.pdf.
Updates for Fall 2019
The following changes were made for Fall 2019:
- updated links
Updates for Spring 2019
The following changes were made for Spring 2019:
- updated links
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:
- many updated links
Updates for Fall 2017
The following changes were made for Fall 2017:
- many updated links
- additional clarification 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 and university office names
- additional sections on disruptive behavior, safety, and mandated reporting
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 http://undergrad.psu.edu/aappm/E-11-class-attendance-effective-fall-2016.html)