What does Syllabus mean? Syllabus Definition:


If you are a student, especially at a college or university or at a higher level than that, you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect in your classes. The first day you walk in, you should receive a syllabus. This is a requirement in many schools, as you can plan the rest of your semester by looking at that page. The more you know, the better prepared you should be to succeed for the rest of that semester.

Syllabus Meaning

A syllabus is an outline for a course that you are either taking or teaching. In the typical context, which is for colleges and universities, it is more detailed than that. The syllabi that I used to get had several parts. The first was a brief introduction to the class and the scope of the material.

We then had a complete list of the topics that we would cover each day of the semester. We could also look at know the dates that any and all assignments, quizzes, and tests would be. They were written clearly on the document, along with important information of the class. If I needed to know how to contact the professor, I could look at the syllabus.

If there was a problem of some sort, the syllabus usually contained the information that the professor and I would need to solve it – including instances of needing to drop out of the course, how grades are calculated, the consequences of being caught cheating, etc.

The syllabus was treated almost as a binding contract; once I decided that I wanted to take the class, these were the guidelines that would help me understand what to expect from the professor and what they expected from me.


  • Some professors are very ambitious and want to start teaching new material right away, so they send out their syllabus before class starts and ask you to come to class prepared with questions if you have any.
  • If Tom has any questions about the class, he should first refer to the syllabus to get them answered, and email the professor if it is not listed in there.


Student: Good morning professor! I will be competing in the Academic Decathlon for the school’s official team next month. Unfortunately, I will have to miss a couple classes.

Professor: Thanks for giving me a heads up about that, Pat. But, I have written in the syllabus what to do if you know you will miss class. Did you read about my policy in the document?

Student: I looked at the syllabus but I still had some questions about it. That’s why I’m here. What should I include in my email?

Professor: Great. I know the syllabus is pretty long, but you can look at the last section. That is the one with all the policies about attendance. It outlines what to do if you are late to class or if you have to miss class.

Student: Oh, perfect. I must have missed the specifics about what to do. Could you give me an overview?

Professor: No problem, I have the topics that we will cover here. You can look them over when you have the time and just make sure to read the textbook as well.

Student: Got it, thank you so much, professor! I will match the dates that I will be goneto the syllabus and let you know if I have any more questions.

Other words you can create: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc (ex: mug – mugger)

As a word that ends in –s, there are two options for the plural spelling of syllabus.

  • Syllabi
  • Syllabuses

There are no verb or adjective forms of the word. Note that syllabic is a correct word but it refers to something having to do with syllables, or the parts of a word that form a distinct sound


Adjectives + Syllabus

Class syllabus

A class syllabus is one that is used for a class. This is often implied by the word syllabus itself, but this is way to emphasize that you are referring to the one specific to a particular class.

  • It does not matter what other class syllabi say; this one clearly outlines the expectations for group projects so you should follow those guidelines.
  • I still have the class syllabus from my first science class in college, and I can’t believe that I came to college with so little knowledge at the beginning!

Official syllabus

When you are looking for your syllabus for class, you need to make sure you look at the official syllabus. That is the one that contains all the information that is necessary for your class, and outlines all the policies that will affect you. It is only necessary to draw attention to the official part if you have two versions of the syllabus, and could get confused as to which one was the one that need to follow.

  • Professor, this one says that we will receive an A if we get 92% or higher on our grades, but this one says that an A is 90% or higher. Which one is the official syllabus?
  • Some students who really want to sabotage their classmates will make a fake syllabus with wrong information on it to prevent them from following the information on the official syllabus.

Extended syllabus

Many times, the syllabus for a class includes information such as class policies. These are typically dependent on the university you study in, so they do not vary much from class to class. If you want to save room on your syllabus, you can cut out those policies, as they can be found online easily. The syllabus that you are left with is the one that most students and even administrators will be interested in. It should have the class schedule, topics, and dates for assignments and tests. But, the version of the syllabus with all the class policy information included would be the extended syllabus.

  • On the first day of class, Professor Mint printed out the class schedule for us, but to save paper she emailed the extended syllabus if we wanted to refer to a class policy.
  • It looks intimidating because the extended syllabus is over 20 pages long, but most of that is information about plagiarism, absences in class, and things like that.

Revised syllabus

Sometimes, there are things that affect a class that you have not anticipated. For example, bad weather or current events could mean that you need to cancel a class and push everything back, or that you need to switch around the order of the material. When something like this happens, you need to change the syllabus. The product of this change is the revised syllabus.

  • I always forget that there is a revised syllabus, so I end up looking at the wrong thing and getting confused when what we talk about in class is not the same thing that I expected.
  • There are so many versions of the syllabus that I have that I decided to put all future version of the revised syllabus online so people know which one is the right one.

Syllabus + Verbs

Syllabus covers

The content that the syllabus has in it is the content that the syllabus covers.

  • The class will last for a whole year, but this syllabus covers only the material that we will go over this semester; I will give you another syllabus for next semester when it comes.
  • Why are you asking me all of these questions about class policies? The syllabus covers all of them so you just need to go back and look at what it says.

Syllabus contains

The things that are in the syllabus are also information that the syllabus contains.

  • The syllabus contains all the instructions for the essays that will be due each week, so if you were really ambitious and had enough time, you could start writing those now.
  • The syllabus contains all the information that you need to make up the work that you missed on the days you were sick, so that will be your best friend until you are all caught up again.

Verbs + Syllabus

Follow a syllabus

If you follow a syllabus, you make sure that you use the plans that are outlined in the syllabus. This is really important because it ensures that everyone who is involved knows what to expect. If the syllabus says that you will cover the process of photosynthesis in a biology class, then both the students and the teacher will know what to do on that day.

To follow a syllabus is important for class topics, but it is especially important when there is a conflict over a class policy. If either party can point to the place where how the situation should be handled is written in the “contract” for the class, it cannot be disputed.

  • The great thing about Dr. Tawney’s class is that she always follows the syllabus very closely. You know exactly when to expect what assignments and tests so there are no surprises.
  • I wish that the psychology professor did not follow the syllabus so closely because I want to try to bend one of the attendance rules but don’t think they would let me.

Stick to a syllabus

To stick to a syllabus means the same thing as following it, but it is more literal. You are not allowing any leeway or flexibility on its contents, especially a policy that someone is trying to bend. If a student wants to make up a test, for example, the syllabus might state that they must inform you at least 1 week in advance and take the test before everyone else. If you stick to the syllabus, you will carry out this policy even if that student begs to take it later or has a good excuse.

  • I’m sorry, students, but I have to stick to the syllabus; this means that we will be having class during the big event.
  • I am really glad that we stuck to the syllabus during the year because we now have time at the end to work on individual projects!

To depart from a syllabus

If you need to change your plans because of something or another, you depart from the syllabus. This may happen because there is an emergency that you need to take into account, or because there is something that you did not anticipate when you created the syllabus. Either way, you should probably create a revised syllabus that reflects the change so that everyone still knows what to expect in the class going forward.

  • I know I am departing from the syllabus here, but in accordance with current events, I think it is important to talk about human rights and human rights violations now instead of in two months.
  • My linguistics class is the biggest pain because the professor departs from the syllabus and then does not tell us what the changes are.

Synonyms for Syllabus; Other Ways to Say Syllabus

Lesson plan

A lesson plan is the list of things that the teacher plans to do for a single class. It is usually very detailed, including what activities the teacher plans to do and how much time it will take to complete that activity. It could also list all the materials that you need for each specific class. Because of this, lesson plans are usually written for individual classes and not shared with the students. They are just for the reference of the teachers.

  • Flotsam, would you mind sharing the lesson plans you made for your calculus I class since I will be teaching it after you retire next year?
  • This teaching job will be very simple because the lesson plans have already been created for you. Just make sure to follow them and not to share with people who are not teachers!


A curriculum is the whole plan for what you will teach a student. This is usually something that the school manages, rather than something that a single teacher needs to worry about. A curriculum for a college degree in economics, for example, will include classes in statistics, various specific subjects in economics, and introductory classes in other business and social science topics. These are all information that someone has determined is important for someone who will hold a degree in economics to learn.

  • The curriculum at a private university is the same as the one at the public university; the only thing that is different is that you will pay almost ten times the price for the private education.
  • The curriculum is something that can be customized for each student, so you need to make regular appointments with your school’s guidance counselor to make sure you are on the right track to graduate.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments