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

Disability Resources recommends that each course syllabus contain a statement reflecting compliance with The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, Section 504. The following are suggested statements:

If you have a disability that may have some impact on your work in this class and for which you may require adjustments or accommodations, please see a staff member in Disability Resources (Student Success Center, 2nd Floor of the Houston Cole Library, (256) 782.8380 so that such accommodations can be considered. Students that receive accommodation letters or Individualized Post-Secondary Plans (IPP’s) should meet with me to discuss the provisions of those accommodations as early in the semester as possible.

Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations is requested to speak with Disability Resources and the instructor, as early in the semester as possible. All discussions will remain confidential. Disability Resources is located in the Student Success Center on the 2nd floor of the Houston Cole Library or students can call or email at (256) 782.8380,

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 

JSU does not discriminate on the basis of sex in the educational programs or activities that it operates. JSU is required, by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Department of Education regulations to implement Title IX, not to discriminate in such a manner. This requirement to not discriminate in educational programs and activities extends to employment by the university and to admission thereto. Questions regarding Title IX and the implementing regulations should be referred to JSU’s Title IX Coordinator, to the Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, or to both. For more information about the Title IX grievance procedure, including how to report or file a complaint of sex discrimination, how to report or file a formal complaint of sexual harassment and how JSU will respond to such complaints, please visit our Title IX website.

In a University community, true knowledge can be gained only through honest means. All academic dishonesty is expressly prohibited. This policy is applicable for campus and distance learning activities. Students who violate this Academic Honesty Policy 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. Violations include BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO, the following:

  1. The use of unauthorized materials or the receipt of unauthorized assistance during an examination or in the completion of any other assignment, exercise, experiment, or project for academic credit. Unauthorized materials may include, but are not limited to, notes, textbooks, previous examinations, exhibits, experiments, papers, or other supplementary items. 
  2. Copying or utilizing information from a paper of another student during an examination.
  3. Rendering unauthorized assistance to another student by knowingly permitting him or her to copy an examination, project, paper, assignment, exhibit, exercise, or other material to be submitted for academic credit. 
  4. Illegally obtaining or attempting to obtain unauthorized prior knowledge of an examination or test materials. 
  5. Selling or giving to another student unauthorized copies of tests or examinations or research assignments. 
  6. The use of a commercially prepared term paper or research project or the submission of a paper, project, or experiment completed by someone other than the student submitting any of the above for academic credit. 
  7. Falsifying class attendance. 
  8. Falsifying reasons why a student did not attend a required class or take a scheduled examination. 
  9. Taking an examination in the place of another student. 
  10. Making unauthorized change in any reported grade or on an official academic report form. 
  11. Unauthorized collaboration between two students on an examination, paper, or project. 
  12. Plagiarism, which is the deliberate act of copying, writing, or presenting as one's own the information, ideas, or phrasing of another person without proper acknowledgment of their true source. 
  13. Making use of computing facilities in an academically dishonest manner.

The Office of Veteran Services serves all active duty, guard, reserve, veteran, and dependent students at JSU. If you have any questions about Veteran Services, please contact (265) 782-8838,, or 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.

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.


JSU General Syllabus Template - Word Document

JSU Syllabus Guide - Updated July 2022

Retrieve the syllabus accordion for your Canvas course. (Updated May 2022)


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.