The Effective Online Course Syllabus

The Syllabus

The syllabus is the most valuable document in an online course and serves as the road map of the course. Going further, the syllabus is considered a contract between instructor and students and outlines the terms or conditions for interaction in the course (Ko & Rossen, 2017). The syllabus serves several purposes:

  • Communicate course information to students
  • List the learning outcomes or goals of the course
  • Outline expected responsibilities and duties 
  • Provide information about the instructor, course identifying information, and course purpose/description
  • List and describe assignments, learning objectives, and grading criteria
  • Document course, department, college, and university policies
  • and More.

Syllabus Elements

Course Information
  • School or Department Name or Banner
  • Syllabus Title 
  • Course Title and course number, course section, semester & year
  • Course Description (from the course catalog)
  • Course Purpose 
  • Prerequisites and technical requirements of the course
Instructor Information
  • Instructor Name & Credentials
  • Instructor Photo
  • Instructor Contact Information (phone number, email address, office location, office hours, virtual office hours)
Communication Policy
  • When students can contact you and when they can expect a response
  • The best method to contact you - by phone, email, Microsoft Teams, Canvas Inbox, etc.
Course Delivery Method
  • Face-to-Face
  • Blended 1 (Primarily Face-to-Face)
  • Blended 2 (Primarily Online)
  • Online - Asynchronous
  • Online - Synchronous
Course Content & Learning Objectives (Outcomes)
  • Course Learning Objectives, or Outcomes
  • Program Learning Objectives or Standards
  • Accreditation Standards (State or National)
  • Textbooks & Materials
  • Recommended texts
  • Required technology
Online Learning Environment
  • LMS - Canvas
  • How content is organized in Canvas
  • How to access content and navigate through the course
Expectations/Responsibilities & Netiquette
  • List what is expected of students in the course
    • What are they expected to know
    • What are they expected to do
    • How are they expected to communicate with you and with peers
  • Netiquette - proper communication language between instructor and students, and student to student
  • Students are expected to check email and log into Canvas
Grading & Assignments
  • Grading criteria
  • Total grade components
  • Include percentages or points
  • Criteria for passing grade
  • Late assignment/work policy
  • List all assignments, discussions, quizzes, and exams
    • Include percentage value (if any)
    • Describe each assignment/discussion/quiz/exam
  • Assignments - what file types are accepted and how do students submit assignments
    • Assignment Rubrics - if a standard assignment rubric is used, it should be included
    • If no standard assignment rubric is used, then language should be included that indicates that rubrics are available with each assignment in the course
  • Discussions - how discussions are assessed and how students are expected to write quality posts;
    • include rubric if a rubric is used for all discussions
    • Minimum post standards
  • Honorlock (Online Test Proctoring) - If you are using Honorlock, include the following information at a minimum:
Course Outline or Schedule
  • Week by week or unit by unit (with dates) schedule
  • Include week/unit topics, readings, quizzes, activities, assessments, and resources per week/unit
  • Include assignment due dates
  • Program or College Policies
  • Disability Resources
  • Title IX Statement
  • JSU Academic Honesty Policy
  • Military-Connected Statement
  • Technical Support & Technical Requirements
  • Privacy Statement

These policies are listed below.

Online@JSU Information

The Student Success Center provides an integrated network of support and meets students where they are while empowering and supporting lifelong learning. The Student Success Center is located on the Ground (Basement) Floor, 1st floor, and 2nd floor of the Houston Cole Library and serves as your one-stop shop for student support and services. Services include tutoring, supplemental instruction, academic and career support, success coaching, reasonable accommodations, leadership development, and peer mentoring through our Academic Support and Success, Academic and Career Advising, Learning Services and Analytics, First and Second Year Experiences, Disability Resources, and Student-Athlete Development offices. To learn more about these services and supports and how to access them, visit

Offices in the Student Success Center:

Campus Resources for Writing:

The Writing Center offers several free in-person and online services including writing and digital writing consultations, virtual presentation audiences, ESL conversation partners, and special-topics workshops for all JSU faculty, staff, and students. A team of undergraduate and graduate consultants are trained to assist with academic, personal, and professional writing. Appointments can be scheduled through the Navigate app. For more information, visit

Jacksonville State University is committed to creating an inclusive learning environment that meets the needs of its diverse student body. If you are currently experiencing or anticipate that you will have any barriers to learning in this course, please feel welcome to discuss your concerns with me. It is my goal to create a learning experience that is as accessible as possible. If you have a disability, or think you may have a disability, that may have some impact on your work in this course and for which you may require academic adjustments or accommodations, please work with a staff member in Disability Resources so that accommodations can be considered. Students that receive accommodation letters, or Individualized Post-Secondary Plans (IPPs) should meet with me to discuss the provisions of your accommodations as early in the semester as possible. You can find more information about the Office of Disability Resources on the web or by visiting the Student Success Center on the 2nd Floor of the Houston Cole Library. You may also call (256) 782-8380 or email at All discussions will remain confidential.

Jacksonville State University does not discriminate on the basis of sex in any educational programs or activities and is required, by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Department of Education, to uphold Title IX standards. This requirement to not discriminate in educational programs and activities extends to employment by and admission to the university. Prohibited activities include sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and other conduct that is addressed in our "Sex-Based Harassment and Misconduct Policy." Anyone with knowledge of this type of conduct is asked to immediately report such incidents to the University Police Department at (256) 782-5050 or the Title IX Coordinator at 256.782.5769 or If an individual wishes to keep the information confidential, they should speak with a counselor at the Counseling Services office at (256) 782-5475 or a medical provider at JSU's Health Center (256) 782-5310. For more information about Title IX or to report a concern, please visit the JSU Title IX webpage at

In a university community, true knowledge can be gained only through honest means. A Scholar’s Code can be found in both the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs and the Student Handbook. Students who violate the Scholar’s Code will be subject to disciplinary actions which could range from a zero on an assignment to failure of the course; repeated offenses can result in dismissal from the university. Records of academic dishonesty are kept in the Office of Community Standards and Student Ethics.

The Office of Military & Post-Traditional Student Services serves all active duty, guard, reserve, veteran, and dependent students at JSU. If you have any questions, please contact (256) 782-8838,, or at the physical location in the basement of Daugette Hall. If you are a student currently serving in the military (Active Duty, Guard, or Reserves) with the potential of being called to military service or training during the course of the semester, you are encouraged to contact your course instructor no later than the first week of class to discuss the class attendance policy. The instructor may make accommodations for this absence or suggest that you take the course at another time.

As a college student, there may be times when personal stressors interfere with academic performance and/or negatively impact daily life. If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health challenges,  please contact Counseling Services at 256.782.5475 or visit for more information or to request an appointment. Students may also stop by the Counseling Center at 147 Trustee Circle (located between Sparkman and Mason Halls) to request services. Additionally, the office offers self-help resources. to explore ways students can independently support their mental health. 

Welcome to the RMC/JSU Health Center at Jacksonville State University. We are located at 1701 Pelham Rd South. The RMC/JSU Health Center is a primary healthcare facility operated via a joint partnership with Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center (RMC). With no co-pay, we provide outpatient medical services as well as promote preventive health measures to currently enrolled students, faculty, and staff. Appointments are recommended and walk-ins are welcome as long as schedule permits.

If you should have an urgent need during hours when the Health Center is closed, you should dial 911 or contact the University Police Department. (UPD) at (256) 782-5050.

Visit the RMC/JSU Health Center Website.

Self Help & Various Support Resources 

Local Help From Online@JSU - Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Time;  or (256) 782-8172

Canvas Support Team - 24/7 help and support resources available inside the Canvas LMS in the global navigation Help menu (Live Chat, Web Form, Self-Help Guides, and Phone - 877-404-2235)

Help With JSU eMail, MyJaxState, etc.Technology Support Center; (256) 782-8324 or 

Facebook - Stay connected with Announcements, Tips, and Suggestions.

For the best course experience within Canvas and other technology, you need to have access to a minimum amount of technology. Each system has certain requirements. Additionally, your specific course may have further technology requirements. Check with your instructor for course-specific needs.

Student information is treated securely and privacy protected by the use of security protocols when transmitting data. Privacy issues are addressed in the Jacksonville State University Undergraduate Catalog, in the Privacy Rights of Students section , the Graduate Studies Bulletin, in the Privacy Rights of Students section, and on the FERPA Information page.

Additional security-related information can be found in the JSU IT & Security Policies.


Angelo State University. (2022). Section 2.2: Create an Effective Online Syllabus. Retrieved on May 26, 2022.

Ko, Susan & Rossen, S. (2017). Creating an Effective Online Syllabus, in Teaching Online: A Practical Guide, 4th Edition. Retrieved on May 26, 2022.