Office of Faculty Affairs

Faculty Handbook

Teaching Policies & Guidelines

Below is specific information about basic communication with your students, such as information that should be included on your syllabus, and student attendance policies and recommendations. This page also provides information about teaching practices, such as policies about course materials, course design, and final exam schedules. There is also information about administrative expectations, such as faculty attendance, and classroom climate.

Calendar | Useful Dates


Tuesday, August 21 - Wednesday, August 22, 2018New Faculty Orientation
Monday, August 27, 2018First Day of Fall Classes
Monday, September 3, 2018Labor Day Holiday
Monday, Oct. 15, 2018Textbook Orders Due for Spring Semester
Wednesday, Nov. 21 – Sunday Nov. 25, 2018Thanksgiving Break
Monday, Dec. 10, 2018Last Day of Fall Classes
Wednesday, Dec. 12 – Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018Final Exams
Tuesday, Dec. 18 – Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018Main and College Fall Commencements
Monday, Jan. 28, 2019First Day of Spring Classes
Friday, March 15, 2019Textbook Orders Due for Summer and Fall Semesters
Sunday, March 17 – Sunday, March 24, 2019Spring Break
Tuesday, May 14, 2019Last Day of Spring Classes
Thursday, May 16 - Wednesday, May 22, 2019Final Exams
Thursday, May 23 – Saturday, May 25, 2019Main and College Commencements
Tuesday, May 28 – Friday, July 5, 2019Summer Session I
Thursday, July 4, 2019Independence Day Holiday
Monday, July 8 – Friday, August 16, 2019Summer Session II

Course Design

Course Assessment Guidelines


  • Faculty should provide a reasonable number of graded assessments or progress reports to allow students to evaluate their performance well before the end of the semester.
  • Assignments should be returned to students in a timely manner.
  • Students should have a reasonable opportunity to review graded assignments, such as papers and examinations (including the final examination or assessment), after evaluation by the faculty member, and while materials are reasonably current.
  • Information about assessments and determination of the final course grade should be presented in a course syllabus.
  • Faculty ordinarily give exams (except for the final) during regularly scheduled class times. Assessments may take a variety of forms and need not be classroom-based written examinations. Faculty should issue mid-term grades for undergraduate students when required, in accordance with III-6.00(B), University of Maryland Policy and Procedures Concerning Mid-Term Grades for Undergraduate Students.

Final Examination Policies & Guidelines


  • Final Examination: There shall be a final examination and/or assessment in every undergraduate course. Exceptions may be made with the written approval of the department chair or other appropriate unit administrator.
  • Each faculty member shall retain, for one full semester (either fall or spring) after a course is ended, the students’ final assessments in the appropriate medium. If a faculty member goes on leave for a semester or longer, or leaves the university, the faculty member shall leave the final assessments and grade records for the course with the department chair, the program director, or the dean of the College or School, as appropriate.
  • All in-class final examinations must be held on the date and at the time listed in the official final examination schedule. Out-of-class final examination or equivalent assessments shall be due on the date and at a time listed in the official final examination schedule. Changes to final examination schedules and locations must be approved by the chair of the department or the dean of the College, or the appropriate designee. However, final examinations or assessments may not be rescheduled to the final week of classes or to Reading Day.
  • Students may seek to reschedule final examinations so that they have no more than three examinations on any given day. It is the responsibility of the student to requestinitiate the rescheduling or be responsible for taking the examination as originally scheduled. When rescheduling is desired, students should first contact their instructors. Students who encounter difficulty rescheduling examinations with their instructors are advised to contact the dean's office of their academic program for help. Faculty members are expected to accommodate students with legitimate rescheduling requests.

Class Materials

Textbook Adoption & Ordering


Best Practices

The University's Best Practices Guidelines describe how textbook choices promote a high quality educational experience through consideration of appropriate pedagogical approaches, as well minimizing the costs of textbooks. Click here for information about the Textbook Affordability Act.

Ordering Textbooks

All textbook adoption information, including the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), must be submitted to the University Book Center (UBC) by March 15th for Summer and Fall classes and by October 15th for Winter and Spring classes. You may connect with the UBC at FacultyEnlight or by emailing TM370@bncollege.com. Your department may use a book coordinator to order textbooks and you may work with your coordinator or submit your requests by using FacultyEnlight. The UBC textbook staff is available for additional assistance at 301.314.BOOK (2665) or at 301.314.7851. Remember to complete the Acknowledgement of Compliance form before or when submitting your order.

Remember to complete the Acknowledgement of Compliance form before or when submitting your order.

Textbook information may be provided to other vendors (including online vendors) but not in lieu of submitting it to the UBC. Once the textbook adoption information is verified, it will be posted on Testudo by UBC in compliance with the University policy on textbook orders. Information posted will include title, author, publisher, edition, copyright date and publication date, ISBN, and anticipated enrollment for the course.

Faculty Acknowledgement of Compliance

As directed by the state's Textbook Affordability Law, faculty members must submit an acknowledgement of compliance with the law.

Self-Authored Materials

All orders of self-authored instructional materials that entail financial gain for the instructor must be approved by the chair of the department offering the course. For more information, refer to the University's policy on the use of self-authored course materials.

Sale of Course Materials in the Classroom

Sale of such materials is strongly discouraged unless the instructor is the sole source of the material or can provide the material at the lowest price. Even in that case, consider alternative modes of distribution such as sale through the department's business office or placing the material on reserve at the campus library.

Generally, the photocopying of print materials without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement of the owner's rights. However, making a single copy for the purposes of research, and making a classroom set of a brief text or single illustration, are deemed fair use and do not require permission. The Guidelines for Classroom Copying gives a fuller definition of fair use, and the University Libraries offers advice for instructors on Best Practices for Posting Readings to ELMS. Typically faculty rely on commercial copying services or the University Copy Services to submit requests for permission to use materials. Request for permission can be sent to the Copyright Clearance Center (278 Congress St., Salem, MA 01970). Requests must be submitted sufficiently in advance to allow for the time needed to obtain permission. There may be a fee for permission.

Reserve Lists

Information about creating reserve lists is available on-line at https://www.lib.umd.edu/access/reserves-faculty. Note that requests for reserved materials should be submitted at least two weeks prior to the date needed.

Because commercial firms have been paying students to take notes and collect course materials, which are then copied and sold, faculty members may wish to notify students at the beginning of the course that these materials are copyrighted. Course materials that exist in a tangible medium, such as written or recorded lectures, Power Point presentations, handouts and tests, are copyright protected. Students may not copy and distribute such materials except for personal use and with the instructor's permission. Course materials may also be marked copyrighted (e.g. © 2001 Smith). More information is available from the Office of General Counsel.

Faculty must acknowledge significant student assistance in the preparation of materials, articles, books, devices, and the like. Students retain their intellectual property rights as set forth in the University of Maryland Policy on Intellectual Property.

Additional Resources


Course Evaluations

The University adopted a new online evaluation system, Blue, in the summer of 2014. All evaluations and reports since that time are in the new system. Reminders to complete evaluations are sent to students and instructors automatically, through the system. However, you may also wish to take advantage of the new system's mobile functionality by setting aside some class time for students to complete their evaluations. You might ask students to bring their mobile devices or laptops to class a certain day, provide them with brief instructions for completing the evaluation including any specific areas about which you would like comments, and permit them time to complete evaluations while you are out of the room. Taking the time to do this during class will highlight to students the importance of their evaluations. Thus, this may help increase student participation, and provide you with the most useful feedback possible.

Remember that you can also view your section response rates live in the system. Access is via www.CourseEvalUM.umd.edu and Canvas. More information is available at: https://www.irpa.umd.edu/Assessment/CourseEval/CourseEval.html.

Course Grades

Course grades are determined by faculty in accordance with information found in the course syllabus.

There shall be a reasonable number of graded assessments or progress reports to permit evaluation of student performance throughout the course. These assessments shall be returned to the students in a timely manner.

Include information on how grades will be made available to students and how students will have access to review graded work including the final examination or assessment.

Confidentiality in Posting Grades

The Buckley Amendment of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects a student from the disclosure of personal and academic information to anyone other than the student, except under special circumstances. Posting student grades with either student names or social security numbers - in whole or in part - is strictly prohibited and exposes the University and the responsible faculty member to civil litigation. Other protected information includes, but is not limited to: special requests, current and past course registrations, enrollment status, financial aid disbursements, billing history and any disciplinary actions. For more information, please refer to the University's Policy on Confidentiality and Disclosure of Student Records.

Mid-Term Grades

Faculty are required to submit mMid-term grades for undergraduate students enrolled in their first year, enrolled in 100 and 200 level courses, and all student athletes. Mid-term grades are used to inform students of their performance in a course during roughly the first half of the semester; they are used for advising purposes and are not recorded on a student's academic transcript. III-6.00(B) University of Maryland Policy and Procedures Concerning Mid-Term Grades for Undergraduate Students

Incomplete "I" Grades

Incomplete grades may be used in two circumstances. They may be granted to students who are making satisfactory progress but, for circumstances beyond their control, are unable to complete a small portion of the course work. In addition, for graduate courses 799 and 899, incompletes must be assigned until the student has completed the thesis/dissertation. Excluding 799 and 899, the Incomplete Contract must be completed, signed and submitted. Procedures and regulations for incomplete grades can be found in the undergraduate and graduate catalogue.

Grade Submission

All final grades should be submitted electronically within 48 hours after the scheduled exam. Delays in grade submission impede students’ ability to finalize registration for the next semester and to take advantage of Winterterm and Summer Sessions. Please keep copies of final exams and the grade report for at least a year in case of the need to document past grades.

See below for information about the University's Grading System.

Grade Definitions

The University's marking system defines the standards for letter grades. Attendance should not be used in the computation of grades; instructors can, however, grade students on class participation. Assignment of a course grade on some basis other than performance in the course is prohibited by University policy. Students have the option to grieve a final course grade if they have evidence that the final course grade was assigned on some basis other than performance, or that the grade was assigned according to standards different from those applied to other students in the course, or that the grade was assigned in a manner that was a substantial, unreasonable, or unannounced departure from the instructor's previously articulated standards.

See: III-1.20(B) University of Maryland Procedures for Review of Alleged Arbitrary and Capricious Grading (Undergraduate Students)

Faculty are required to include in the course syllabus the basis for determining final grades, including if plus/minus grading will be used and the relationship between in-class participation and the final course grade.

  • The following symbols are used on the student's permanent record for all courses in which the student is enrolled after the initial registration and schedule adjustment period: A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, F, XF, I, P, S, W, and AU. These marks remain as part of the student's permanent record and may be changed only by the original instructor on certification, approved by the department chair and the dean, that an actual mistake was made in determining or recording the grade.
  • A+, A, A- denotes excellent mastery of the subject and outstanding scholarship. In computations of cumulative or semester averages, a grade of A+ or A will be assigned a value of 4.0 quality points per credit hour. A grade of A- will be assigned 3.7 quality points per credit hour.
  • B+, B, B- denotes good mastery of the subject and good scholarship. A grade of B+ is assigned a value of 3.3 quality points per hour. A grade of B is assigned a value of 3.0 quality points per credit hour. A grade of B- is assigned a value of 2.7 quality points per hour.
  • C+, C, C- denotes acceptable mastery of the subject. A grade of C+ is assigned a value of 2.3 quality points per hour. A grade of C is assigned a value of 2.0 points per credit hour. A grade of C- is assigned a value of 1.7 quality points per credit hour.
  • D+, D, D- denotes borderline understanding of the subject and marginal performance. It does not represent satisfactory progress toward a degree. A grade of D+ is assigned 1.3 points per credit hour. A grade of D is assigned a value of 1.0 quality point per credit hour. A grade of D- is assigned 0.7 quality points per credit.
  • F denotes failure to understand the subject and unsatisfactory performance. A grade of F is assigned a value of 0.0 quality points per credit hour.
  • XF denotes failure due to academic dishonesty. An XF is treated in the same way as F for the purposes of cumulative average.
  • The mark of 'I' is an exceptional mark that is an instructor option. It is only given to a student whose work has been qualitatively satisfactory, when, because of illness or other circumstances beyond the student's control, he or she has been unable to complete some small portion of the work of the course. In no case will the mark 'I' be recorded for a student who has not completed the major portion of the work of the course. For further explanation see "Incompletes" below.
  • The mark of P is a student option mark, equivalent to a grade of D- or better. This grade is not used in any computation of quality points or cumulative average totals at the end of the semester. The student must inform the Office of the Registrar of the selection of this option by the end of the schedule adjustment period. For a full explanation see "Pass-Fail Policy" below.
  • S is a department option mark that may be used to denote satisfactory performance by a student in progressing thesis projects, orientation courses, practice teaching, and the like. In computation of cumulative averages a mark of S will not be included.
  • W is used to indicate withdrawal from a course after the end of the schedule adjustment period. For information and completeness, the grade of W is placed on the student's permanent record by the Office of the Registrar. The instructor will be notified that the student has withdrawn from the course. This grade is not used in any computation of quality points or cumulative average totals at the end of the semester.
  • AU denotes a student registering to audit a course or courses which have been designated as available under the audit option and in which space is available. The notation AU will be placed on the transcript for each course audited. A notation to the effect that this symbol does not imply attendance or any other effort in the course will be included on the transcript in the explanation of the grading system.

Other Resources


  • The Teaching and Learning Transformation Center (TLTC) assists faculty members with their teaching and mentoring responsibilities. Access TLTC's website for a listing of available services and resources and to view the Teaching Resource Guide.
  • In conjunction with the Office of Faculty Affairs, TLTC has prepared a list of recommended items to include in the teaching portfolio, now a required part of a tenure or promotion candidate's dossier. Click here to download the list.
  • Each semester's Class Schedule is available in hardcopy or online. The Academic Calendar may also be useful. We have also created a list of campus dates useful in course planning.
  • The Campus Writing Board offers faculty resources on developing a writing-enriched currculum and on methods for assessing writing in all disciplines.
  • ELMS (powered by Blackboard) is the University's online environment that supports teaching and learning. It includes a wide variety of tools for displaying materials, communication, grading, file sharing, and other course needs.
  • UMEG is the University's electronic gradebook software.
  • Interpretation of Teaching Related Policies/Faculty Handbook: The online faculty handbook is maintained by the Office of Faculty Affairs. The Faculty Affairs Office provides support and resources for the promotion and tenure process, faculty development opportunities, recognition of faculty achievements and assistance for new faculty. The Office also assists units in recruiting, developing and retaining distinguished faculty.
  • The Office of Information Technology is committed to helping faculty members use information technology to enhance teaching, learning, and research. Teaching support includes ELMS (powered by Blackboard), UMEG, Coursemail, Clickers, Course Reserves, Course Evaluations, Technology Classrooms, OIT Computer Labs, Podcasting/audio recording, and Learning Technologies.
  • The University Libraries Guide for Faculty and Students offers information about the different libraries on campus, liaison librarians, library instruction, and many other services available to facilitate teaching.
  • The Principles of Ethical and Responsible Conduct offers quick links to relevant University policies, cross-referenced to the University community's principles. These principles set forth the underlying expectation that University activities are conducted with the highest standard of integrity and ethics.

Expectations of Faculty

In the Classroom

The instructor of record is responsible for the overall management of the course, including management of aspects of the course and coursework delegated to teaching assistants and laboratory assistants.

There shall be regular attendance by assigned faculty unless such attendance is prevented by circumstances beyond the control of the faculty member.

There shall be reasonable access to the instructor during announced regular office hours or by appointment.

All faculty are expected to meet their classes and keep office hours. When unforeseen circumstances preclude the instructor from attending classes and the instructor cannot arrange a substitute, the instructor should notify the department chair as far in advance as possible and, where possible, notify affected students. For other expectations, see the Reasonable Expectations of Faculty as outlined in the Undergraduate Student Grievance Procedure, or review the policy (Section B.1).

Attendance in Inclement Weather

Official closures and delays are announced on the campus website at umd.edu and snow phone line (301-405-SNOW), as well as on local radio and TV stations. If inclement weather conditions force a faculty member to cancel a class even though the University is open, the faculty member must notify the department chair in advance. Students must also be notified through procedures outlined in the syllabus.

Faculty Absence

In the event that faculty are unable to convene their classes due to illness or other factors, faculty should notify the department chair as far in advance as possible, and where possible, notify affected students. In the event of unavoidable faculty absence, there are three options for class coverage:

  1. Reschedule class meeting time, if acceptable to students.
  2. Arrange alternate method for teaching the session, such as on-line discussion.
  3. Arrange for a University faculty member to teach class. University staff and graduate students may also provide instruction if they possess a mastery, or at least significant understanding of, class content.

Scheduling and Location of Classes

Permanent changes in the scheduling and location of classes must be approved by the Department Chair.

Relevant Student Policies

For more information about policies that impact undergraduate courses, click here.

Topics addressed in these policies include:

  • Academic integrity,
  • Student and instructor conduct,
  • Accessibility and accommodations,
  • Attendance and excused absences,
  • Grades and appeals,
  • Copyright and intellectual property

This page also includes resources that support students’ academic success as well as their health and well-being.

If you encounter a disruptive student, please refer to the suggestions provided by the Office of Student Conduct.

If you encounter students who need support or note that a student has had extended absence from class, contact the Student Affairs office of your academic college.

College Assistant/Associate Dean
College of Agriculture and Natural ResourcesEvelyn E. Cooper ecooper@umd.edu
School of Architecture, Planning, and PreservationMadlen Simon mgsimon@umd.edu
College of Arts and HumanitiesAudran Downing audran@umd.edu
College of Behavioral and Social SciencesKatherine Ford Russell krussell@umd.edu
Robert H. Smith School of BusinessBrian L. Horick bhorick@umd.edu
College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural SciencesLisa Bradley-Klemko lbradley@umd.edu
College of EducationKathleen Angeletti kangel@umd.edu
A. James Clark School of EngineeringWilliam Fourney four@umd.edu
Philip Merrill College of JournalismOlive Reid oreid@umd.edu
College of Information StudiesBrian Butler bsbutler@umd.edu
School of Public HealthCoke Farmer cfarmer@umd.edu
School of Public PolicyNina P. Harris nharris@umd.edu
Office of Undergraduate StudiesLisa Kiely lkiely@umd.edu or Ann Smith asmith@umd.edu

Other Expectations


  • There shall be a complete course syllabus for the current term made available to students no later than the first day of class at the beginning of each undergraduate course. Any changes to the syllabus made after the first day of class must be announced and must be clearly represented with the date of the revision. The course syllabus will specify in general terms:
    • a course description, including course objectives;
    • the content and nature of assignments;
    • the schedule of major graded assessments (e.g., examinations and due dates for projects and papers);
    • the examination and/or assessment procedures;
    • the mode of communication for excused absences;
    • the basis for determining final grades, including if the plus/minus grading system will be used and the relationship between in-class participation and the final course grade; and
    • reference to the list of course-related policies maintained by the Office of Undergraduate Studies.

    In cases where all or some of this information cannot be provided at the beginning of the course, an explanation of the delay and the basis of course development shall be provided.

  • There shall be a reasonable number of graded assessments or progress reports to permit evaluation of student performance throughout the course. These assessments shall be returned to the students in a timely manner. Faculty shall issue mid-term grades for undergraduate students when required, in accordance with III-6.00(B), University of Maryland Policy and Procedures Concerning Mid-Term Grades for Undergraduate Students.
  • There shall be a final examination and/or assessment in every undergraduate course, unless written permission is granted by the unit head. Each faculty member shall retain, for one full semester (either fall or spring) after a course is ended, the students’ final assessments in the appropriate medium. If a faculty member goes on leave for a semester or longer, or leaves the university, the faculty member shall leave the final assessments and grade records for the course with the department chair, the program director, or the dean of the College or School, as appropriate.
  • There shall be academic accommodations for students in accordance with University policies, including policies on disability and accessibility, excused absences, and sexual misconduct.
  • There shall be a reasonable opportunity for students to review papers and examinations, including the final examination or assessment, after evaluation by the instructor, while materials are reasonably current.
  • There shall be reasonable adherence to the course syllabus.
  • There shall be reasonable adherence to the published academic calendar, campus schedules, and location of classes and examinations.
  • Classes not specified in the schedules are to be arranged at a mutually agreeable time on campus, unless an off-campus location is clearly justified.
  • Changes to final examination schedules and locations must be approved by the chair of the department or the dean of the College, or the appropriate designee. However, final examinations or assessments may not be rescheduled to the final week of classes or to Reading Day.
  • No class meetings or required activities may be held on Reading Day. However, individual meetings and makeup exams may be scheduled at the explicit request of the student.
  • Faculty shall endeavor to maintain student privacy with respect to information shared in the course of the student-faculty relationship, subject to legal obligations to report certain information to state authorities and University officials, including child abuse and neglect and sexual misconduct.
  • There shall be public acknowledgement of significant student assistance in the preparation of materials, articles, books, devices and the like. Students retain their intellectual property rights as set forth in the University of Maryland Policy on Intellectual Property.
  • Assigned course materials should be readily available. Faculty must ensure that eligible students receive reasonable accommodations relative to their coursework in accordance with federal and state disability laws, subject to the University’s disability and accessibility policies and procedures.

Academic Freedom and Free Speech

This information is intended to facilitate discussion and inform faculty broadly regarding the scope of academic freedom and free speech. The information is not exhaustive in treatment of the topics, nor does it constitute University Policy or legal advice. In any specific factual circumstance, you should consult with the Office of General Counsel for legal advice pertaining to academic freedom and/or free speech.

What is Academic Freedom?

In general, academic freedom is the right of faculty in the discharge of their duties to express their ideas and challenge the ideas of others without fear of retribution. This principle typically flows from a research university’s core mission which can include promoting inquiry and advancing human knowledge and understanding. While aspects of academic freedom are protected by the First Amendment, the principle pre-dates the Constitution. It is a right often claimed by individual faculty members, but is primarily a right afforded to faculty members as a group. It further serves as the basis for faculty input in institutional governance and derives from a shared professional expertise and training.

See the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure with 1970 Interpretive Comments, Association of American University Professors Policy Documents and Reports, 1995. Available at: https://www.aaup.org/report/1940-statement-principles-academic-freedom-and-tenure.

What Freedoms Does Academic Freedom Generally Encompass?

Academic freedom is broad in scope, but in general includes:

  • Freedom of research and publication. Faculty enjoy freedom in their research and in circulating and publishing their results, within the standards of accountability established by their profession and individual disciplines. This freedom follows from the basic commitment of faculty to advance knowledge and understanding.
  • Freedom of teaching. Faculty must be able to disseminate the results of their research and the research of others in their profession. Instruction may occur in an atmosphere of controversy so long as what is taught remains, in a broad sense, educationally relevant, and assists students in mastering or appreciating the significance of the subject.
  • Freedom of internal criticism. Because of their education and institutional knowledge, faculty play a role as participants in university decision-making. By virtue of this role, generally, faculty are entitled to comment on University policies or decisions, either individually or through institutions of faculty governance.
  • Freedom to participate in public debate. Both within and beyond their areas of professional expertise, generally, faculty are entitled to participate as citizens in public forums and debates without fear of institutional discipline or restraint, so long as it is clear that they are not acting on behalf of or speaking for the University.

What Responsibilities Does Academic Freedom Encompass?

With academic freedom also comes responsibilities:

  • Faculty should not subject students, as a general matter, to discussion in the classroom that is not educationally relevant to the subject matter of what is being taught.
  • Faculty should demonstrate respect for others as individuals, and show respect for the rights of others to express their views.
  • Faculty should feel free to discuss subjects within their academic competencies, exercise intellectual honesty, and present opinions justified by the facts and standards of scholarship.
  • Faculty should exercise caution not to speak on subjects not within their area(s) of expertise.

Unlike some employees, faculty always wear several hats. They are members of a learned profession, officers of a specific educational institution, and private individuals. These multiple roles impose special obligations. As scholars and university officers, faculty should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their speech. Thus, at all times, faculty are advised to exercise appropriate restraint, show respect for the opinions of others, and make every effort to clarify when they are speaking for themselves individually, and when they are speaking for their institution.

What First Amendment rights do faculty enjoy?

Like all members of a university community, faculty, as private citizens, enjoy the same First Amendment rights to speak as any private citizen. Speech is a broad term: it encompasses, for example, the spoken word, the written word, visual arts, music, drama, dance and forms of symbolic expression. With limited exceptions, all these forms of speech are protected from government and university interference. Categories of speech excluded from protection by the Supreme Court include defamation, invasion of privacy, fraudulent misrepresentation, obscenity, advocacy of imminent lawless behavior and fighting words. Commercial speech is another exception. While commercial speech is entitled to First Amendment protection, it does not receive the same protection as “political speech” which is closer to the First Amendment’s core values.

Faculty should be cognizant that their institutional affiliation carries with them as they enter public debates as individuals – a right noted in the above in the Freedom to participate in public debate section. Faculty, when exercising their First Amendment rights as individuals, should make clear that they are not speaking or acting on behalf of their University.

Click here to download this information as a handout.

Academic Integrity

The student-administered Honor Code and Honor Pledge prohibits students from cheating on exams, plagiarizing papers, submitting the same paper for credit in two courses without authorization, buying papers, submitting fraudulent documents and forging signatures.

On every examination, paper or other academic exercise not specifically exempted by the instructor, students shall write by hand and sign the following pledge:

I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination (or assignment).

Failure to sign the pledge is not a violation of the Code of Academic Integrity, but neither is it a defense in case of violation of this code. Students who do not sign the pledge will be given the opportunity to do so. Refusal to sign must be explained to the instructor. A student’s decision about this will not be considered in grading or judicial procedures. Material submitted electronically should contain the pledge, and submission implies an electronic signature.

Compliance with the code is administered by the Student Honor Council, which strives to promote a community of trust on the College Park campus. Allegations of academic dishonesty should be reported directly to the Honor Council (301-314-8450) by any member of the campus community. For additional information, consult the Office of Student Conduct.

For a description of the University's definition of academic dishonesty, suggestions on how to prevent cheating, and practical answers to frequently asked questions about the Code of Academic Integrity, consult the Student Honor Council's webpage and click on the faculty tab.

Student Attendance

An excused absence is an absence for which the student has the right to receive, and the instructor has the responsibility to provide, academic accommodation.

Students are expected to take full responsibility for their own academic work and progress. Students, to progress satisfactorily, must meet all of the requirements of each course for which they are registered. Students are expected to attend classes regularly. Consistent attendance offers students the most effective opportunity to gain command of course concepts and materials. Excused absences must be requested promptly and must be supported by appropriate documentation.

Excused absences do not alter the academic requirements for the course. Students are responsible for information and material missed on the day of absence. Students are, within reason, entitled to receive any materials provided to the class during the absence. Students are responsible for making provision to determine what course material they have missed and for completing required exercises in a timely manner.

Events that justify an excused absence include:

  • Religious observances
  • Mandatory military obligation
  • Illness of the student or illness of an immediate family member
  • Participation in university activities at the request of university authorities
  • Compelling circumstances beyond the student's control (e.g., death in the family, required court appearance)

Absences stemming from work duties other than military obligation (e.g., unexpected changes in shift assignments) and traffic/transit problems do not typically qualify for an excused absence.

Notification and Documentation

To receive academic accommodation for an excused absence:

  1. The student must notify the instructor in a timely manner. The notification should be provided either prior to the absence or as soon afterwards as possible. In the case of religious observances, athletic events, and planned absences known at the beginning of the semester, the student must inform the instructor during the schedule adjustment period. All other absences must be reported as soon as is practical.
  2. The student must provide appropriate documentation. The documentation must be provided in writing to the instructor by the means specified in the syllabus.
    1. For medically necessitated absences: Students may, one time per course per semester, provide a self-signed excuse as documentation of an absence from a single class (e.g., lecture, recitation, or laboratory session) that does not coincide with a major assessment or assignment due date. For all other medically necessitated absences, students must provide documentation from a physician or the University Health Center, upon request of the course instructor.
    2. For all other absences students must provide verifiable documentation upon request (e.g., religious calendar, court summons, death announcement, etc.).
  3. Providing false information to University officials is prohibited under Part 9(h) of the Code of Student Conduct (V-1.00(B) University of Maryland Code of Student Conduct) and may result in disciplinary action.

Academic Accommodations

In keeping with the USM III-5.10 Policy Concerning the Scheduling of Academic Assignments on Dates of Religious Observance, "Students shall not be penalized because of observances of their religious holidays and shall be given an opportunity, whenever feasible, to make up within a reasonable time any academic assignment that is missed due to individual participation in religious observances." For all other excused absences, the student must be provided reasonable accommodation. The accommodation provided should, within reason, neither advantage nor disadvantage either the student or the rest of the class.

If the accommodation is a makeup assessment, it must be timely, at a time and place agreed upon by the instructor and student, cover the same material, and be at the same level of difficulty as the original assessment. In the event that a group of students requires the same makeup assessment, one time and place may be scheduled. The makeup assessment must not interfere with the student's regularly scheduled classes, and must be consistent with the V-1.00(A) University of Maryland Policy on the Conduct of Undergraduate Classes and Student Grievance Procedure. If makeup work is not feasible, an alternate accommodation for excused absences will be provided. Alternate accommodations will be according to the principles established by the unit offering the course.

Students who miss a substantial number of class sessions or course assignments should seek guidance from an academic advisor with respect to academic options. Extended absences stemming from active military duty are addressed in the USM V-7.00 Policy on Students who are called to Active Military Duty during a National or International Crisis or Conflict. Absences related to a student's disability are addressed in the VI-1.00(D) University of Maryland Disability & Accessibility Policy and Procedures.

Appeals

Students who feel that they have unfairly been denied either excused absence or appropriate accommodation for an excused absence should first seek to resolve the disagreement with the course instructor. If the student and instructor are unable to find a mutually agreeable resolution, the student may file an appeal with the head of the administrative unit offering the class. In most cases this will be the Chair of the Department. In the case of non-departmentalized units and interdepartmental programs, this role will be taken by the Dean (or the Dean's designee). The unit head should use procedures similar to those specified in the III-1.20(B) University of Maryland Procedures for Review of Alleged Arbitrary and Capricious Grading – Undergraduate Students – but with clear indication that the appeal is with regard to excused absence, not arbitrary and capricious grading.

Tests / Other Significant Assessment

Faculty should be considerate of known religious observances when scheduling significant exams/events/activities. Further, tests and due dates of other significant assessments should not be scheduled during high holidays, such as Rosh Hashanah, Eid Al-Adha, or Good Friday (see http://www.interfaith-calendar.org for an interfaith listing of such holidays). Faculty seeking further information regarding religious holy days may wish to consult with the campus chaplains: https://thestamp.umd.edu/memorial_chapel/chaplains.

Faculty should remind students in advance, preferably on the syllabus, that it is the student's responsibility to inform the instructor of any intended absences for religious observances in advance and that prior notification is especially important in connection with final examinations, since failure to reschedule a final examination before the conclusion of the final examination period may result in loss of credits during the semester. This problem is especially likely to arise when final exams are scheduled on Saturdays. Your failure to understand and adhere to this policy may result in a false perception that the campus is insensitive to religious diversity. Accordingly, please make every feasible effort to accommodate students' requests based on attendance of religious observances.

Academic Integrity

The student-administered Honor Code and Honor Pledge prohibits students from cheating on exams, plagiarizing papers, submitting the same paper for credit in two courses without authorization, buying papers, submitting fraudulent documents and forging signatures.

On every examination, paper or other academic exercise not specifically exempted by the instructor, students shall write by hand and sign the following pledge:

I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination (or assignment).

Failure to sign the pledge is not a violation of the Code of Academic Integrity, but neither is it a defense in case of violation of this code. Students who do not sign the pledge will be given the opportunity to do so. Refusal to sign must be explained to the instructor. A student’s decision about this will not be considered in grading or judicial procedures. Material submitted electronically should contain the pledge, and submission implies an electronic signature.

Compliance with the code is administered by the Student Honor Council, which strives to promote a community of trust on the College Park campus. Allegations of academic dishonesty should be reported directly to the Honor Council (301-314-8450) by any member of the campus community. For additional information, consult the Office of Student Conduct.

For a description of the University's definition of academic dishonesty, suggestions on how to prevent cheating, and practical answers to frequently asked questions about the Code of Academic Integrity, consult the Student Honor Council's webpage and click on the faculty tab.

Student Resources

Students with Disabilities

The University is legally obligated to provide appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities. The campus's Disability Support Service Office (DSS) works with students and faculty members to address a variety of issues ranging from test anxiety to physical and psychological disabilities. If an instructor believes that a student may have a disability, DSS should be consulted (4-7682 or dissup@umd.edu). Note that to receive accommodations, students must first have their disabilities documented by DSS. The office then prepares an Accommodation Letter for course instructors regarding needed accommodations. Students are responsible for presenting this letter to their instructors by the end of the drop/add period.

Students in Distress

Services for students in various forms of distress are offered by the Counseling Center and the Mental Health Service in the Health Center. During evenings and weekends, the student peer-counseling hotline (4-HELP or 4-4357) is available. Faculty members who wish to consult with professionals may call 4-7651 for immediate assistance. For non-emergency issues, faculty can call the Warmline (4-7653). A therapist will respond within a few hours. In addition, a resource guide is available to assist faculty in identifying and responding to students who may be having problems related to depression, test anxiety, career plans and more.

Threatening Behavior from Students

In the event of an emergency, faculty should contact Campus Police (5-3333 or 911). In cases involving individuals who are perceived as threatening, disruptive, or otherwise problematic, faculty should contact the Behavior Evaluation and Threat Assessment Resource Group. BETA provides resources to faculty and makes referrals to appropriate University or off-campus entities.

Syllabus Guidelines

University policies regarding the content of syllabi for undergraduate courses have recently changed, while policies regarding graduate level courses have not changed. Click here for a summary of the changes in the policy. The information below represents requirements and recommendations for undergraduate course syllabi, including the policy changes, but this information may be considered as best practice for a syllabus on any level.

Instructors are required to make a complete course syllabus available on the first day of class, containing the information noted in the three sections below. There is no requirement that the syllabus be printed. Any changes to the syllabus made after the first day of class must be announced and must be clearly represented with the date of the revision.

Also see Useful Information for Preparing the Syllabus and the TLTC's Syllabus Guidance & Template page.

Course Information

  • Course Title
  • Course and Section Number, Semester
  • Meeting Location and Time
  • Name of Instructor and Contact Information
  • Indicate specifically how students should contact you to:

    • Ask course related questions
    • Provide notification of an absence
    • Provide documentation for an excused absence
    • Arrange a meeting for discussion of academic accommodation for an excused absence
    • Arrange a meeting for discussion of DSS accommodations

    You may want to provide a model for how to contact the course instructor or TA by email and/or indicate to students how you would like to be addressed and what kind of issues are appropriate for email contact. You may also wish to indicate how students should communicate with you about issues such as course-related questions, absence from exams, the disclosure of a disability with request for accommodations, etc. Request on your syllabus that students notify you about an absence either before or as soon after the missed class as possible. In the case of religious observances, athletic events, and other planned absences, notification must be sent during the schedule adjustment period.

    Note: The Policy on Excused Absences has recently changed. Click here for a summary of the changes.

  • TA Names and Contact Information
  • Indicate the role that the TA will play in the course. The instructor of record is responsible for the overall management of the course, which includes delegation of tasks to TA’s. Clarify to students whether they should take a grade complaint directly to you or begin with the TA.

  • Office Location and Office Hours
  • Instructors should be available during their announced office hours, and may additionally offer to meet with students by appointment as well.

  • ELMS Site or Course Webpage
  • Include information on how grades will be made available to students and how students will have access to review graded work, including the final examination.

  • Required Textbooks
    Include ISBN numbers if available
  • Required Technology
    For example, personal response devices (clickers), calculator, or software package
  • Prerequisites
  • Course Communication for Announcements
    Let students know how you will communicate with them regarding class cancellation, room change, or other timely announcements.
  • Emergency Protocol
    Let students know how courses will continue in case of an emergency closure.

Course Description, Goals, and Expectations

  • General Description of the Course
  • Statement of Course Goals and / or list of Student Learning Outcomes
    Refer to University, Department, and/or General Education Learning Outcomes goals.
  • Expectations for Students
    Include information about expectations for participation, contribution to group work, and other information supporting a successful student experience. List all the assignments and their due dates; list exams and their format.
  • Grading Procedures
    Explain the basis for determining final grades, including whether the plus/minus grading system will be used. Explain the relationship between in-class participation and the final course grade.
  • Course Schedule
    Outline activities for each course meeting. Provide dates for (at a minimum) the major graded assessments (e.g., examinations and due dates for projects and papers), including the final exam/assessment.

University Policies and Resources

  • Reference the Course Related Policies site hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Studies. Indicate to students that it is their responsibility to understand their rights and responsibilities as expressed in these policies. Students will also find on this page information about valuable resources to support academic success in this course, as well as overall health and well-being.
  • Sample text: Policies relevant to Undergraduate Courses are found here: http://ugst.umd.edu/courserelatedpolicies.html. Topics that are addressed in these various policies include academic integrity, student and instructor conduct, accessibility and accommodations, attendance and excused absences, grades and appeals, copyright and intellectual property.

Course Procedures and Policies

  • Include policies specific to the course, such as policies for
    • Making up work after an excused absence
    • Team work (sample policy from Smith School)
    • Preferred citation style
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