As of Fall 2023, GSD syllabi are created and shared via the Course Syllabus tool in Canvas. This enables instructors to produce a syllabus that meets the University's guidelines for digitally accessible documents. Please read below to learn about what information you'll need to provide in your syllabus.


Course Syllabus allows you to create a syllabus that meets Harvard University’s requirements for digital accessibility. Simply add content to the components in the editor; most are rich text editors, allowing you to add images and tables. Some fields are automatically populated with data from My.Harvard such as course number, course title, meeting times, meeting location and course description, as well as GSD resources and policies.

Contact Information

Names and emails of the course team auto-populate in this component of Course Syllabus. You may 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.

Office Hours

Office Hours are a tool at students’ disposal so they can take full advantage of their courses, build relationships with faculty members, and define goals for their education and career.

Instructors are required to offer office hours for two hours per week. Include sign-up instructions or a link to a scheduling tool. Information about using Canvas or Microsoft Bookings to manage sign-ups can be found on the Office Hour Sign-up Tools resource page.

Your Course Syllabus has a link to the list of office hours that is accessible to all GSD students. You will be prompted via email to submit a form with that information at the start of the term.

Course Description

The course description shown on your course syllabus feeds automatically from the my.Harvard course catalog twice a day.

Please submit your course description via the Course Planning Survey. You may also email your description to Aimée Taberner, Associate Registrar, at [email protected].Please note that there is a 3,500-character limit for descriptions in my.Harvard, and a 100-character limit for titles, but you have the option of adding sections to your course syllabus to provide additional information.

Please consider the following questions as you draft your brief course description:

  • What will students learn in the course?
  • Why will this matter to students?
  • How will the course help students develop?
  • What types of assignments or activities will students experience?
  • How is the course taught and what are the instructional methods?
  • What role does the course play in the curriculum and are there any prerequisites?

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. Please see below for examples.

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, GSD 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 are required to purchase to participate in your course, including cost estimates.


Add all of 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 or a different format. Your column headers could be:

  • 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 are encouraged to create a table view of their weekly schedule and course topics. These are some sample column headers:

  • Date
  • Lecture topic
  • Readings
  • In-class exercise
  • Assignment
  • Video recording
  • Guest speaker
  • Events
  • etc.

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.

For additional resources on planning, teaching, or grading a course, see teaching resources available through the Harvard Kennedy School.