The university’s accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission, the U.S. Department of Education, and UW-Madison denote the requirement for a course syllabus for each offering of a course. It is the responsibility of the Department Chair to ensure syllabi are created and retained in departmental files.
The Higher Learning Commission’s assumed practice states that instructors communicate course requirements to students, and the expectation is that this is through syllabi. In addition, the Higher Learning Commission has a role in reviewing institutional compliance with the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements related to credit hour definition. That compliance is conducted through the review of syllabi; thus, a syllabus is to be available for each course taught. Criterion 2B in the HLC Criteria for Accreditation requires that clear and complete information be provided to students, a requirement that is also supported through the syllabus.
To meet these requirements, and to support the learning experience of students, instructors of record are required to develop a course syllabus for each offering of a course and communicate the syllabus to students. Students frequently seek copies of syllabi for past courses, for example to support application to graduate or professional programs, in the context of an employment search, or in relation to seeking transfer credit equivalency at another institution.
Departments must also keep syllabus records of courses taught in their department. It is expected that syllabi from all course sections will be kept for a period of no less than 10 years. Departments may contact University Archives regarding the disposition of syllabi that are more than 10 years old.
UW-Madison’s Faculty Policies and Procedures (FP&P), Chapter 5.31D Departmental Chair: Duties, reads, “The chair of the department determines that all necessary records of teaching, research, and public service of the department are properly kept and are always accessible to the proper authorities.”
Given that access to syllabi is a requirement for the university’s accreditation, departments are responsible for keeping syllabi on file.