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What is a course syllabus/outline?

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A syllabus (plural: syllabi), sometimes referred to as a detailed course outline, provides students with a comprehensive overview of a course's aims and objectives. The course syllabus is considered an academic document that communicates information about a specific course, but also explains the evaluation, rules, responsibilities, and expectations associated with attending the course. In general, the syllabus serves to outline the components of a course including learning outcomes, what topics will be covered, a weekly schedule, and a list of tests, assignments, and their associated grade weightings. Note: A syllabus is not a short (three to four sentence) description of the course content that may be found in academic calendars.

How course syllabi communicate this information can vary by institution as there are different standards and resources that guide syllabus development. For example, all course syllabi may have a standard look and feel, or they may vary by program, or they may be developed by individual course instructors.

Why is this document important?

Course syllabi are important for students who transfer as they help institutions determine if there is potential content overlap in prior academic learning. Typically, course syllabi are provided to subject matter experts (typically academic faculty) to determine if transfer credit can be awarded. Learn more about transfer credit.

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