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NYU Steinhardt has school-wide requirements for all courses. When developing a new a course, faculty must create a syllabus that includes:
Course Title and Description
Student Learning Outcomes
Required/Recommended Reading and Assignments with weights toward the final grade
Grading Rubric

For any questions about creating a new course, contact the Office of Institutional Effectiveness at You can also see our Helpful Terms and Definitions.


The syllabus serves as a contract between the instructor and the student. It should reflect clear expectations and policies. Syllabi must be formatted well with clear distinctions between each element. All syllabi must include the catalog description, learning objectives/outcomes, participation and attendance policies, list of required and/or recommended readings, assignments with their weight towards the final grade, a grading rubric, a scale for determining the final course grade, and the students with disabilities and academic integrity statements

Course Title and Description

Since transcripts and the online student registration system limit course titles to 65 characters including spaces, which are often abbreviated, it is best to craft course titles that easily convey the focus/topics of the course without jargon. Course descriptions should not exceed 574 characters including spaces. Descriptions should state, without using jargon, the course focus and the topics to be covered.

Student Learning Outcomes

Student Learning outcomes are statements that specify what learners will know or be able to do as a result of a learning activity. The key word is DO and the need in drafting student learning outcomes is to use active verbs. Outcomes describe a desired condition such as knowledge, skills, or attitudes that need to be fulfilled.

Three characteristics of student learning outcomes:

  1. The specified action by the learners must be observable.
  2. The specified action by the learners must be measurable.
  3. The specified action must be done by the learners.

An ultimate test when writing a student learning outcome is whether or not the action taken by the participants can be assessed. If not, the outcome probably does not meet all three characteristics:

  1. Who is to perform;
  2. What action they are to take;
  3. Some result that must come from their action.
Student Learning Outcomes
CLEAR Student Learning OutcomesUNCLEAR Student Learning Outcomes
Students will evaluate two social service agencies using the case study method.Students will write case studies of social service agencies.
Students will list three reasons for participating in volunteer opportunities.Students will understand three main reasons for participating in volunteerism.
Students will summarize in writing their perceptions of cultural diversity on campus.Students will develop an appreciation of cultural diversity in the L.A. area.

** The verb chosen for each outcome statement should be an action verb that results in overt behavior that can be observed and measured. For reference, please consult this list of action verbs for student learning outcomes.

Participation and Attendance Policies

Instructors are strongly encouraged to define their attendance and participation policies, especially with regard to excused and unexcused absences and criteria for participation.

Required and Recommended Readings and Assignments

Assignments should be descriptive in terms of length and scope (written assignments should be defined as review, analysis, research, etc.). Instructors should include a grading rubric outlining the criteria for the final course grade.


A course can have both prerequisites and co-requisites as long as these are identified separately. Requisites must be in the form of an identifiable course number, i.e. MCC-UE 1xxx


Courses can either be pass/fail OR listed for a grade, but not both. Students may opt to take a graded course pass/fail with permission from an adviser. The student must complete and process the appropriate form to declare a graded course pass/fail. A student in an assigned pass/fail course cannot opt for a weighted grade.


At NYU Steinhardt, a semester hour is equal to a unit granted for the satisfactory completion of a course which requires at least 15 hours (of 50 minutes each) of instruction and at least 30 hours of supplementary assignments. The conversion from course units to course hours is described in full below.

This policy is based on Codes, Rules and Regulations of The State of New York, 50.1 (o).

UnitsHoursWeekly Class Meeting
11550 minutes
230100 minutes
345150 minutes
460200 minutes


Academic Integrity


All syllabi should include information about NYU's Academic Integrity policy. All students are responsible for understanding and complying with the NYU Steinhardt Statement on Academic Integrity.

Students with Disabilities Statement

All syllabi should include information about NYU's resources for students with disabilities: 

Students with physical or learning disabilities are required to register with the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities at 726 Broadway, 2nd Floor, (212-998-4980) and are required to present a letter from the Center to the instructor at the start of the semester in order to be considered for appropriate accommodation.

Mental Health Statement

We strongly recommend that all syllabi should include a statement about mental health, such as the following:

If you are experiencing undue personal and/or academic stress during the semester that may be interfering with your ability to perform academically, the NYU Wellness Exchange (212 443 9999) offers a range of services to assist and support you. I am available to speak with you about stresses related to your work in my course, and I can assist you in connecting with the Wellness Exchange. Additionally, if you anticipate any challenges with completing the assignments, readings, exams and other work required in this course, I encourage you to register with the Moses Center (212 998 4980) in advance so that you may be granted the proper academic accommodations.


Helpful Terms & Definitions 

Standard Course 

A course that the relevant department(s) have approved for formal listing in the official documents of the University—for example, catalogues and University web pages. It may be offered by the relevant department(s) on an indefinite basis. The course proposal form, including a sample syllabus, must be reviewed and approved by the department curriculum committee and chair as well as the Steinhardt Committee on Courses and Programs.

Liberal Arts Core

A course of a general or theoretical nature that is designed to develop judgment and understanding about human beings’ relationship to the social, cultural, and natural facets of their total environment. Working corollaries for counting liberal arts courses include:

  • Independent of specific application
  • Theoretical understandings as opposed to practical application
  • Breadth and scope in principle covered
  • Not definitely directed toward particular career or specific professional objectives
  • Not chiefly "how to" in manipulative skills or techniques
  • Not "applied" aspects of a field

Pilot or Experimental Courses

NYU Steinhardt requires that all courses offered for degree credit be approved by the Committee for Courses and Programs (CCP), a subcommittee of the Faculty Academic Affairs Committee (FAAC). Both the FAAC and the CCP are standing committees of the Steinhardt Faculty Senate. Representatives from the dean’s office are ex-officio on both committees. Historically, Steinhardt faculty have offered pilot or experimental courses without full review and formal approval by the CCP. 

Standard CCP Procedures Should Apply Wherever Possible 
Wherever and whenever possible, faculty should be encouraged to follow the standard CCP procedure for review and approval of courses. Program directors, Chairs and CCP members should regularly remind faculty of the CCP approval process.

Common Rationales for Pilot or Experimental Courses

I. New faculty member offering new course
II. Unanticipated change in state or accreditation requirement
III. Visiting Faculty member offering a specialized course
IV. Special request from Chair and Program Director for experimental course

Procedure for Approval 
Requests to offer pilot or experimental courses must include a letter of support from a department Chair and relevant program director, where applicable. The request must include a draft syllabus with title, short course description, learning objectives, student assessment and evaluation tools, readings and assignments, and weekly schedule. Pilot or experimental courses require the approval of the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs. The Vice Dean will normally accept the recommendation of the department chair and program director and will evaluate the proposal according to the standard school-wide criteria such as redundancy and resource allocation, in consultation with the chair of the Committee on Courses and Programs.

Pilot courses can only be offered for one semester or term. Pilot courses cannot be used as Liberal Arts Core courses.

Pilot Course Follow-up 
In order for a pilot course to be added to the regular inventory of classes it must go through full CCP review and approval. In addition to the regular CCP procedures, the proposal must include an assessment of student feedback on the pilot course and a description of substantive changes, if any, to the course’s learning objectives, assessment tools, and content.

(Please note: Due to the academic limitations of pilot courses, the Office of Academic Affairs rarely grants administrative approval and strongly encourages faculty to pursue the standard course approval procedure).


A course format that allows for a general focus with different specific topics depending on location, context or module. The umbrella format is useful for advanced, specialized, or global courses that shift in topics/context, but which remain consistent with the general umbrella focus. Advanced courses call for prerequisites; Special courses are limited and serve a specific function. The advantage of the umbrella course is that it allows students to take the course more than once and indicates on the transcript the specific focus of the course thus eliminating the appearance that a student has taken the same course multiple times.

The (umbrella) general focus requires CCP approval and topics may be added by submitting a brief description of the new topic, the change in title (what comes after the colon), and a syllabus to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness at Department Chair approval is required. The specific topic will receive a discrete number.

Example of a Global Umbrella Course

Food and Culture carries the broad description:

Study of the complex interactions between food and culture, the effects of cultural factors on dietary practices, and the cross-cultural exchange of dietary practices, beliefs, and foods between the United States and countries throughout the world. The focus of this course will remain "the interactions between food and culture", but the topics will be influenced by the context of the global site. For example, this course can be offered in different global sites and is repeatable, e.g., Food and Cultures: New Orleans, Food and Cultures: Paris, Food and Cultures: Shanghai.

Example of a Special/Advanced Umbrella Course

Special Topics in Visual Culture and Cultural Studies refers to specific modules:

This umbrella course is designed to examine specific topics within the field of visual culture, one of the core areas of focus in the MCC MA program. Incorporates historical theoretical frameworks and situates contemporary readings in relation to genealogies of the field. Specific themes may include globalization and memory; visual culture and eco-criticism; the visual culture of science and technology; visual culture, diaspora, and post-colonialism; the politics of visual display; the history of screen; global flows and visual culture; and visuality and modernity.

The faculty agreed that the field of Visual Culture and Cultural Studies is too large to be covered by one course, and that students do not need to be exposed to each topic covered by its scope. The different topics are modules of Visual Culture and Cultural Studies.

MCC-GE.2401 Special Topics in Visual Culture and Cultural Studies: Visuality and Modernity

MCC-GE.2402 Special Topics in Visual Culture and Cultural Studies: The Political History of Visual Display and Representation.

MCC-GE.2403 Special Topics in Visual Culture and Cultural Studies: Visuality and Globalization