Model Syllabi

Model Syllabi

You have the academic freedom and professional responsibility to design a syllabus that is best suited to you and your class. It is your syllabus.

That said, keep in mind that the syllabus is considered a contract with your students. For this and other reasons, there are certain guidelines and best practices expected.

First and foremost, your class is expected to cover certain material. Second, there are certain Is to dot and Ts to cross to keep you and your department in good graces with the administration and accreditation agencies. Finally, the class you’re teaching may be offered as an equivalent class for credit at John Jay College, or another school entirely. You owe it to your students and the school to keep your class in sync with its equivalent class. In order to transfer credits and requirements from one school to another, it is expected that certain classes have much in common, even when taught differently.

Additionally, at least with regard to the syllabus, why reinvent the wheel? Unless you relish designing a class from scratch, take advantage of the hard work others have done. Your department probably has a “model syllabus” that includes a general outline and a specific course description and “learning objectives.” You should copy these directly. Below are the learning objectives (approved in 2013) for the introductory classes at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Your department should be using identical or very similar objectives. The model syllabi are designed to standardize such things.

The outline for a model syllabus is provided below. Syllabi for specific classes (Intro to Criminal Justice, Intro to Corrections, Intro to Police, and Criminology) are provided at the end of the appropriate sections in this website. Perhaps even more useful, John Jay College’s Department of Law, Police Science, and Criminal Justice Administration keeps up-to-date model syllabi for all its classes in a Google folder. These syllabi are particular useful for their boilerplate and administration-approved course requirements and learning objectives.

Of course you may have your own departmental requirements or standards for a course syllabus, but you probably can’t go wrong by using John Jay’s model syllabus. Because many community college courses transfer to John Jay, it is necessary (and fair) to make sure these courses cover similar material and are, in fact, similar courses.

This syllabus is current as of September 2015. Check the Google folder for any update.

John Jay College Model Syllabus Effective Summer 2012

The City University of New York

Model Syllabus Revision 
This document contains a list of required elements for syllabi for John Jay College of Criminal Justice. This list adheres to best practices in higher education. Your syllabus represents a contract between you and your students and reflects the care and time you expect them to take with their assignments. This is the minimum information required on the syllabus; faculty may add additional information if desired. 

Syllabus Content: 
College name and address 
Course title and section (i.e., Syllabus for English 101-01) 
Professor’s name 
Office location 
Contact hours:   
E-mail address 
Course description 
Learning outcomes

  • What will the student know or be able to do by the end of the course? List three to five learning outcomes for the course that map to the program’s outcomes. (All Writing Intensive courses need to include a writing-intensive outcome that maps to the program’s outcomes.)


Course prerequisites or corequisites 
Requirements / Your course policies

  • Specify your policies on acceptable methods of citation/documentation and formatting
  • Policies on lateness, absence, classroom behavior, etc.


Required texts

  • List all texts with full citation, including ISBN numbers. Indicate if ordered and available in the bookstore, on the web with URL, on course Blackboard site, on e-reserve, etc. Specify if the library owns the book and the call number.



  • How will you determine the final grade? List assessments. Include, for instance, participation, assignments, exams, and quizzes and provide the percentage of the final grade for each. Syllabi for Writing Intensive courses should include both the number and type of assignments required by the program.


Course calendar

  • List theme and key topics for each week. Include reading and other assignments due.


College-wide policies for undergraduate courses (see the Undergraduate Bulletin, Chapter IV: Academic Standards)

  • Incomplete Grade Policy
  • Extra Work During the Semester
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Policies 

Sample syllabus statement: “Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable academic accommodations if determined eligible by the Office of Accessibility Services (OAS). Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student’s eligibility from the OAS, which is located at L66 in the new building (212-237-8031). It is the student’s responsibility to initiate contact with the office and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.”

Source: Reasonable Accommodations: A Faculty Guide to Teaching College Students with Disabilities, 4th ed., City University of New York, p. 3. 

Statement of the College Policy on Plagiarism 
Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else’s ideas, words, or artistic, scientific, or technical work as one’s own creation. Using the ideas or work of another is permissible only when the original author is identified. Paraphrasing and summarizing, as well as direct quotations, require citations of the original source. 

Plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional. Lack of dishonest intent does not necessarily absolve a student of responsibility for plagiarism. 

It is the student’s responsibility to recognize the difference between statements that are common knowledge (which do not require documentation) and restatements of the ideas of others. Paraphrase, summary, and direct quotation are acceptable forms of restatement, as long as the source is cited. 

Students who are unsure how and when to provide documentation are advised to consult with their instructors. The Library has free guides designed to help students with problems of documentation. 

Source: John Jay College of Criminal Justice Undergraduate Bulletin

Plagiarism detection software: The College subscribes to, and Blackboard has a similar module called SafeAssign. If you will be using any plagiarism detection software in your course, you must state it on the syllabus.

For a syllabus template, see the Faculty eHandbook on the Center for Teaching website.

The course description for John Jay’s intro class, CJBS 101: Introduction to the American Criminal Justice System, is as follows:

This course is an introductory survey of the American criminal justice system with a view to its social and institutional context, as well as its structure and functioning. The course provides an overview of the foundations and components of the criminal justice system, including (substantive and procedural) criminal law, police, courts, and corrections. The main emphasis will be placed on the criminal justice process and how the various institutions of criminal justice interact. Key issues will be addressed as they arise at different stages of the process, such as the conflict between crime control and due process, and conflicts related to, for example, gender, class, and ethnicity.

The learning objectives are:
1. Identify and describe criminal justice institutions and how they interact and complement each other in the criminal justice process.
2. Understand trends in the use of technology in criminal justice.
3. Explain basic concepts and theories of criminology, criminal justice, and crime prevention.
4. Understand the social context of crime and the mechanisms of formal and informal social control.
5. Explain the role of the rule of law in democratic societies.
6. Articulate the consensus, conflict, and interactionist perspectives of the criminal justice system.
7. Perform analytical, ethical, and critical reasoning skills through writing assignments and class discussions.
8. Discuss the issues of diversity embedded in the field of criminal justice.

Introductory classes almost always use a textbook. Your department may wish for you to use a certain textbook. The choice is yours, but you should get approval for any textbook that isn’t on this list. The preferred texts include:

Regoli, R.M., J.D. Hewitt & M. Maras (2012). Exploring Criminal Justice: The Essentials (2nd ed.). Jones & Bartlett.
Owen, S., H. Fradella, T. Burke & J. Joplin (2012). Foundations of Criminal Justice. Oxford University Press.

Other approved options:
Albanese, J. (2013). Criminal Justice (5th ed.). Pearson.
Cole, S., C. Smith & C. DeJong (2013). Criminal Justice in America (7th ed.). Cengage. 
Fagin, J. (2013). CJ2013. Prentice Hall.
Fuller, J.R. (2009). Criminal Justice: Mainstream and Crosscurrents (2nd ed.). Prentice Hall. 
Lab, S.P., M.R. Williams, J.E. Holcomb, M. Burek, W.R. King & M. Buerger (2011). Criminal Justice: The Essentials. Oxford University Press.
Schmalleger, F. (2011). Criminal Justice: A Brief Introduction (9th ed.). Prentice Hall.
Siegel, L.J. & J.L. Worrall (2012). Introduction to Criminal Justice. Wadsworth.

by Peter Moskos