The Course Syllabus tool in Canvas, is provided for instructors, to facilitate the development of digitally accessible syllabi.


We can obtain the following benefits when using this tool:

  • Create syllabi that conform with Harvard University’s policy for digital accessibility.
  • Provide a consistent format, stored in a consistent location, to simplify the course search for prospective enrollees
  • Ensure that we are compliant with the criteria defined by Accreditation Agencies

Edit your syllabus

Edit your syllabus in five easy steps:

  1. Log into your Canvas course site and look for the “Course Syllabus” item in your navigation panel
  2. When Course Syllabus loads, select the “Edit Syllabus” button at the top of the page
  3. Add content to editable syllabus components, and consider adding new syllabus components (some components are automatically supplied with data from My.Harvard)
  4. Select the “Submit” button at the bottom of the screen
  5. You are done!

For a more comprehensive overview, watch this five-minute video on how to use the Course Syllabus tool.

Develop your Content

This section contains some considerations for developing content in your Course Syllabus.

Contact Information
Names and emails of the course team auto-populate here. Optionally, you can add a title (such as “Teaching Assistant” or “Associate Professor”) by editing existing entries. You may also create new entries for additional members of your teaching team.

Course Description
The course description shown on your course syllabus feeds automatically from the my.Harvard course catalog twice a day, meaning that you cannot edit your course description on this syllabus. Email Aimée Taberner, Associate Registrar, at [email protected] if you don’t have a course description in the catalog or need to change it. Please note that there is a 3,500-character limit for descriptions in my.Harvard, but you have the option of adding a component to your syllabus to provide additional information.

Learning Outcomes
Add 4-6 learning outcomes that describe the skills, abilities, and knowledge that students will have acquired or improved at the end of the course.

For example,
After completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the theoretical foundations of global history
  • Use fabrication equipment for resource-conscious rapid prototyping
  • Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of generative AI techniques in solving design problems
  • Apply narrative techniques and strategies to create effective project presentations
  • Work in a team with community partners to address an urban planning challenge

Required Academic Background (studio courses only)
By default, studio courses are open to students from all studio-based programs. Restrictions require the department chair’s approval. If your department chair has approved restricting your audience to students from a specific department, please indicate this in your syllabus.

Materials and Fabrication
List any specific materials that students must purchase to participate in your course, including cost estimates.

Specify the graded components in your course and how much they are worth in determining the final course grade. Feel free to use the embedded table if it’s useful. You can remove the table if you prefer to use a basic list. Your column headers could include the following:

  • Description (e.g., class participation, mid-term exam, first writing assignment, etc.)
  • Weight (e.g., a point or percentage value)

Weekly Schedule and Topics
Instructors should provide a weekly schedule of course topics. The Course Syllabus tool provides a rich text environment for this component. You can format your schedule using bullet points, indents, bold, italic, hyperlinks, etc. Please note when using a table, width limitations exist. Items you can include in your weekly schedule are as follows: Lecture topic, Readings, In-class exercise, Assignment, Video recording, Guest speaker, and Events.


Additional Resources

If you have any questions or technical issues with Course Syllabus, email [email protected] to get answers or schedule a time for live support.

Web Resources: Canvas | Canvas Help | Start of Term Resources for Faculty | Teaching resources available through the Harvard Kennedy School