Course Changes & Syllabus Guide

Course Changes 

If you’re establishing or amending a graduate course, you will need to submit a Course & Program Action Form. Please note, individual schools and colleges may have forms specific to their school/college. Please check with your Dean's Office to determine the appropriate form to use.

If the course change is part of a program proposal, the form can be submitted as part of the program proposal. Please visit our Developing or Amending a Graduate Program page. 

If you are changing the course outside of a program proposal, please submit the Course & Program Action Form to the Graduate Course-Program Changes email at [email protected] once all necessary approval signatures are obtained. 

Course & Program Action Forms should include course syllabi for any course changes and be submitted as a Word document preferably. All signatures (electronic or hard-copy) should be included on the form. If the course is cross-listed with another department, the signature from the other department is also required. School/College approval is required in addition to departmental approval.  

 

Course Syllabus Guide 

Course syllabus requirements exist in various policies and regulations at the New York State level, within the SUNY System and at the University at Albany, by level of study and/or academic unit.  

This guide defers authority on syllabus content and practices to applicable existing regulations and units. It does not replace existing regulations or expectations but is provided to serve as a secondary resource and guide to faculty and academic units. 

Each section below denotes which items are required by State or SUNY regulations to be included in syllabi. Instructors should ensure that the syllabus is ADA compliant.

Keeping syllabi updated is a good practice for multiple reasons, including: 

  • The process for establishing or amending an academic program often require the submission of course syllabi. 
  • A syllabus must be provided to all registered students in a course and made available for advance review by prospective registrants. 

Please include the name of the syllabus author and date on the bottom of each syllabus. The Graduate School has created a Graduate Course Syllabus Template for departments and instructors to use.
 

General Course Information

Items that must be included:

  • Course title and any identifying abbreviations or numbering (such as the department number and cross listings, if any) 
     

  • Pre-requisites and co-requisites 
     

  • Credits and instruction time per week, including class meeting specifics, if applicable 
     

    • In a traditional 15-week semester, the University expects a minimum of 55 minutes of instruction per week for each credit to be earned. 
       

    • For online courses, here is an example of what to indicate:  

      This course is delivered online and asynchronously. It meets or exceeds the total amount of instructional and student work time expected in a traditional in-class course in every week of a 15-week semester: three hours of classroom or direct faculty instruction for every 3-credit course, plus approximately 6 hours of additional student work. 

      The contact time achieved in this class is satisfied by (1) instruction or interaction with a faculty member once a week for each week the course runs, as well as (2) academic engagement through interactive tutorials, group discussions moderated by faculty, virtual study/project groups, work with class peers and computer tutorials graded and reviewed by faculty. 

       

Items to consider including: 

  • Term or semester, if applicable 
     

  • Meeting locations and times, and alternatives, if applicable 

Instructor Information

Items to consider including: 

  • Instructor name(s) and, if applicable, course responsibilities 
     

  • Office location(s), hours and contact information 

Course Description, Purpose and Goals

Items that must be included: 

  • Formal course description, as published in the appropriate University Bulletin 
     

  • Student learning objectives 

    • Per the Middle States Commission, the SLOs should be “statements, expressed in observable terms, of the knowledge, skills, and competencies that students are expected to exhibit upon successful completion of a course.” The SLOs should be based on what the student should learn from the course, not based on what will be taught.

  • Graduate courses that are taught as shared resource with undergraduate 400-level courses must include course descriptions that accurately describe the different scopes and responsibilities of each level of the course. The graduate course must include extra requirements such as the submission of a graduate research paper and/or an additional weekly hour meeting or laboratory session to allow a deeper and more comprehensive examination of the subject than required at the undergraduate level. Additional information regarding the Shared-Resource Course policy can be found in the Graduate Bulletin.

Items to consider including:

  • Course overview and goals 
     

  • General education category or categories, if applicable 

The Course Environment

Items to consider including: 

  • Facilities and teaching methods 
     

  • Required texts and/or other educational materials 
     

  • Materials or access that will be provided by the instructor(s) 
     

  • Recommended additional texts and/or educational materials 
     

  • Content warnings and/or trigger warnings regarding potentially sensitive class topics 
     

  • Attendance and participation requirements 
     

  • Statement verifying the instructor’s compliance with copyright laws and expectations for students to do the same 
     

  • Religious-based absences 

    • The following text should be included:

      Absence due to religious observance, New York State Education Law (Section 224-a): Campuses are required to excuse, without penalty, individual students absent because of religious beliefs, and to provide equivalent opportunities for make-up examinations, study, or work requirements missed because of such absences. Faculty should work directly with students to accommodate religious observances. Students should notify the instructor of record in a timely manner. 

Course Delivery Structure, Schedule & Grading

Items that must be included:

  • Student learning assessments, with grading percentages 
     

  • Assignments, with grading percentages 
     

  • Examinations, with grading percentages
     

  • Grading scale criteria and/or rubric for all assessments and the course as a whole 
     

  • Course bibliography, if applicable 

  • Graduate courses that are taught as shared resource with undergraduate 400-level courses must include course descriptions that accurately describe the different scopes and responsibilities of each level of the course. The graduate course must include extra requirements such as the submission of a graduate research paper and/or an additional weekly hour meeting or laboratory session to allow a deeper and more comprehensive examination of the subject than required at the undergraduate level. Additional information regarding the Shared-Resource Course policy can be found in the Graduate Bulletin.

  • The statement "The University at Albany reserves the discretion to change the date, time, location, and modality of instruction."

Items to consider including: 

  • Topics and dates 
     

  • Due dates, absences, make-ups and/or penalties 
     

  • Incomplete grades 
     

  • Safety policies and practices, if applicable
     

  • Final exam date and time, if applicable 
     

  • A link to the Academic Grievance Policy within the appropriate Bulletin 

Important Resource Information

Items that must be included: 

Items to consider including:

  • Reasonable accommodations 
    • The University’s Disability Access & Inclusion Student Services (DAISS) strongly urges that the following statement be included in each course syllabus:

      Reasonable accommodations will be provided for students with documented physical, sensory, systemic, medical, cognitive, learning and/or mental health (psychiatric) disabilities.

      If you believe you have a disability requiring accommodation in this class, please notify Disability Access & Inclusion Student Services (DAISS) by contacting them at [email protected] or 518-442-5501.

      Upon verification and after the registration process is complete, DAISS will provide you with a letter that informs the course instructor that you are a student with a disability registered with DAISS and list the recommended reasonable accommodations.