Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies

Academic Standards and Expectations for Syllabi

The University of Wisconsin - River Falls promotes safe, inclusive, and effective learning environments that protect the rights and support the interests of both faculty and students.  Faculty and students are encouraged to review the inclusivity expectations and academic policies and requirements below. 

Faculty Senate

The following syllabus requirements were approved by the Faculty Senate on March 1, 2017, and amended on April 10, 2019.  A checklist of items is available here.

The official course specifications, sometimes referred to as the official syllabus, have been defined by the University Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Senate.  The requirements are located here.

A working syllabus refers to the document provided to students in each section of a course.  A working syllabus in pdf format for each section of a course will also be filed in the university's syllabi repository.  The repository is located here:  T:Collaboration\Syllabi Repository\Working Syllabi. 

All faculty and instructional staff will be expected to complete a working syllabus for each class, excluding courses focused on individualized instruction, such as internships, mentorship, independent readings, and independent study.  The working syllabus will be provided to students, either online or as a hard copy, and will including the following items.

  • Course Title
  • Subject Code or Department/Program Prefix
  • Course Number
  • Section Number
  • Credits
  • Prerequisites and Co-requisites
  • Course Objectives
  • Required Course Content and any additional content
  • Grading Policy
  • Distinction between the requirements and/or performance for undergraduate and graduate students (for courses that are taught simultaneously as a combined undergraduate and graduate courses).  The following unique expectations of graduate students must be addressed:
    • Content:  e.g. the additional content that graduate students will explore, or the additional depth and scope of course content that will be covered by graduate students.
    • Intensity:  e.g. the additional readings, assignments, additional requirements, evaluations, and so on that reflect additional rigor.
    • Self-direction:  e.g. the work required outside of class that reflects increased self-directed learning.
  • Class meeting dates and times (i.e. as appropriate, based on the mode of instruction)
  • Classroom or Location (as appropriate, based on the mode of instruction)
  • The Mode of Instruction
  • Description of how required student contact hours are met.  For courses that are not offered 100 percent face-to-face, instructors should detail how meetings, assignments, activities, and/or the on-line work meet the expectations of the U.S. Department of Education and the Higher Learning Commission. [See credit hour guidelines, below]
  • Name of Instructor(s)
  • Instructor's Email
  • Instructor's Phone Number
  • Instructor In-Person and/or On-Line Office Hours
  • Course On-Line Location or Web Page (for courses that are partially or wholly offered through distance education)
  • Required Textbook and other Required Materials
  • List of Major Assignments and/or Examinations
  • Attendance and/or Participation Policy, or the requirements for student interaction for courses that are offered partially or wholly through distance education.
  • Late work and missed examination policies
  • Campus policies on inclusion, respect, ability/disability, accommodation, and academic integrity and/or a link to campus policies regarding inclusion, respect, ability/disability, accommodation, and academic integrity.
  • Individual instructors may set reasonable policies regarding the recording of instructional materials and lectures that are presented in an academic course.  These policies may include the recording of materials and lecture, which is allowed only after receiving advance permission from the instructor of record in writing.  In the event that personal recordings are allowed, they are meant specifically for personal study and may not be distributed or circulated or sold without permission in writing from the instructor.
  • Instructors retain the ability to modify aspects of the class in order to meet course objectives and to respond to student needs and interests, as long as such modifications are consistent with both the official course specifications and any written departmental expectations (i.e. approved formally by the department), and that they are communicated to students in a timely manner.
  • Instructors retain the academic freedom to deliver course content to achieve academic rigor and to serve the best interests of students.

Credit Hour Guidelines

UWRF follows the United States Department of Education’s credit hour guidelines. At UWRF a “semester credit hour” is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than:

  1. At least 740 minutes of class time, or direct faculty instruction, and a minimum of approximately 1480 minutes of out-of-class work, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time, such as compressed courses.
  2. Equivalent amounts of work as per #1, above, for any other academic activities established by UWRF, including distance/online education, mixed face to face/hybrid or other indirect faculty instruction, studios, co-op experiences, internships, laboratory work, education abroad, directed independent work (e.g., independent study, or independent readings), and any other academic work leading to the awarding of credit hours.  

This policy applies to all academic, credit-bearing activities at all levels, undergraduate and graduate.  Faculty and Academic Staff Handbook, section 9.2.2.

Religious Observances

In addition, the Faculty Senate has approved policies about religious observances, located in section 9.2.12 of the Faculty and Staff Handbook.  It is possible to include in syllabi either summaries of or all of the following language related to religious observances and student rights.

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls, in concert with University of Wisconsin System Policy, promotes a commitment to the individual needs of students by reducing attendance conflicts between education requirements and the exercise of religious beliefs. University of Wisconsin-River Falls specific guidelines are as follows

  1. Students with a legitimate conflict between an academic requirement and a religious observance must be given an alternative means of meeting the academic requirement. Individuals must notify the instructor within the first three weeks of the class (or earlier if the religious observance comes sooner), of the specific days or dates on which they will request relief.
  2. Mandatory academic requirements should not be scheduled on days when an acknowledged religious observance causes students to be absent from scheduled functions. The claim of a religious function should be accepted. However, the instructor may set reasonable limits on the total number of days claimed by any one student.
  3. Student grades should not be affected because the individuals are absent from class due to a legitimate conflict with a religious observance (this includes attendance requirements).

Inclusivity, Respect, and Ability/Disability Expectations

1.  The University of Wisconsin-River Falls strives to maintain our campus as a place of work and study for faculty, staff, and students that is free of all forms of prohibited discrimination and harassment. If you have concerns about such behavior, contact your instructor, the Dean of Students Office at 715-425-0720, or the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at 715-425-3833. For a list of prohibited behaviors and protected classes or to report something that is inappropriate using an online process, go to this page

2.  The University of Wisconsin-River Falls is committed to upholding standards that promote respect and human dignity in an environment that fosters academic excellence and professionalism.  Sexual misconduct and relationship violence in any form are antithetical to the university's mission and core values, violate university policies, and may also violate federal and state law.  Faculty members are considered "Responsible Employees" and are required to report incidents of sexual misconduct and relationship violence.  If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking, or sexual exploitation, please visit Title IX to access information about university support and resources.

3.  The University of Wisconsin-River Falls welcomes students with disabilities into its educational programs, activities, residential halls, and everything else it offers. Those who will need academic adjustments or accommodations for a disability should contact the Disability Resource Center. Decisions to allow adjustments and accommodations are made by the Disability Resource Center on the basis of clinical documentation that students provide to sufficiently indicate the nature of their situation.

Academic Integrity

Language regarding the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Academic Misconduct code, including a discussion of the appropriate policies and procedures to be followed in any case of potential misconduct, is located here.

"UWS Chapter 14 is the chapter of the University of Wisconsin System Administrative code that regulates academic misconduct" for all campuses in the UW System and outlines the process by which the code is adjudicated.

UWS 14.03 defines academic misconduct as follows:

Academic misconduct is an act in which a student:

  • seeks to claim credit for the work or efforts of another without authorization or citation;
  • uses unauthorized materials or fabricated data in any academic exercise;
  • forges or falsifies academic documents or records;
  • intentionally impedes or damages the academic work of others;
  • engages in conduct aimed at making false representation of a student's academic performance;
  • assists other students in any of these acts.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Cutting and pasting text from the web without quotation marks or proper citation
  • Paraphrasing from the web without crediting the source;
  • Using notes or a programmable calculator in an exam when such use is not allowed;
  • Using another person's ideas, words, or research and presenting it as one's own by not properly crediting the originator; stealing examinations or course materials;
  • Changing or creating data in a lab experiment;
  • Altering a transcript;
  • Signing another person's name to an attendance sheet;
  • Hiding a book knowing that another student needs it to prepare an assignment;
  • Collaboration that is contrary to the stated rules of the course, or tampering with a lab experiment or computer program of another student.

If you are suspected of misconduct, you may have questions and concerns about the process. If so, you should feel free to call the Dean of Students Office at 715-425-0720, send an email, and/or consult its website for additional information.

Land Acknowledgement

At the April 13, 2022 Faculty Senate meeting, Motion 90 was passed, encouraging faculty to include the Land Acknowldgement on their syllabi.  

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls sits on the shared ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe and the Dakota Nations and Tribal Communities. Acknowledging our university’s historical contributions to the disenfranchisement of indigenous communities, we declare a standing commitment toward campus-wide education, increased awareness of current indigenous issues, and the development of sustainable partnerships with indigenous nations of the area.  (Faculty Senate Motion 68)

The following short version is appropriate to use if the audience is aware of where they can view the full version.

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls sits on the shared ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe and the Dakota Nations and Tribal Communities.

Additional information about UWRF's commitment towards increasing knowledge and awareness, historical background, and more is available on the Land Acknowledgement page

Counseling Services

As a college student, there may be times when personal stressors interfere with your academic performance and/or negatively impact your daily life. If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health challenges at UW-River Falls, please contact Student Health & Counseling Services at 715-425-3884 or email. These services are free and confidential. In addition, UW Mental Health Support 24/7 is available via call or text (888-531-2142).

You can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus as well as virtually at the Student Health and Counseling website.

Note:  As per Faculty Senate motion #9, 2023-2024, the inclusion of this paragraph is recommended for Fall 2023-2024 and required for later semesters.

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