Teaching Guidelines

This page compiles teaching guidelines that instructors are responsible for implementing in their teaching.  These guidelines are required by entities ranging from individual University of Rochester schools, to the US Department of Education, to the New York State Education Department, to multiple accrediting bodies.  Note that the entries below are not the guidelines themselves, but a compilation of links and brief descriptions to assist instructors in locating information.

In addition, the Teaching Center has developed several syllabus resources to assist instructors in implementing the guidelines.

Teaching Guidelines for University of Rochester Instructors


The University of Rochester is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. In addition, schools and/or programs may also have additional specialized accreditors. Instructors will typically learn of their individual responsibilities through their departments and programs, including what course changes require approval and what evidence of student learning they should collect and document. For additional information, consult Accreditation - Office of the Provost.

Course Calendars

When scheduling their courses, instructors must follow the course calendars for their schools. The calendars may include reading periods—during which course activities typically must be optional as they do not count towards the course credit hours—as well as designated final exam blocks.

Course Registration

Instructors may only add students through the UR Student processes. When instructors add students manually to the learning management system (Blackboard), the students are not actually enrolled in the course. Instructors should cross-check their UR Student and Blackboard rosters partway through the semester and inform the Office of the University Registrar of any discrepancies.

Credit Hours

Instructors should ensure that their planned course meetings and homework align with the credits their course carries. Federal, state, and accrediting regulators all define the amount of time that students spend on their courses using a measurement known as a credit hour. Different courses carry different amounts of credit and therefore also differ in the amount of homework and contact time with the instructor. Accuracy is also important because credits are used to determine classroom allocation.

Instructors can consult the University’s information on credit hours to learn about general definitions, as well as school-specific information for Arts, Sciences & Engineering and Simon Business School. Please note that ONE credit hour in general equals fifteen hours of instruction and thirty hours of outside work.

Once instructors understand the amount of time that students should be spending on course components, the Teaching Center recommends consulting the Wake Forest Workload Estimator Tool to ensure that the planned coursework matches the overall time.

Disability, Accommodations, and Accessibility

If a student has a documented disability for which they receive accommodations, the course instructor will receive a notification that specifies the accommodations. Instructors can consult with the Office of Disability Resources if they are unsure how to implement the accommodations or need resources to help implement the accommodations. In addition, instructors can take proactive steps to increase accessibility that benefit all students.

For those courses with publicly available components such as websites or videos created either by students or the instructor, instructors should also consult with Disability Resources and/or their school’s web team to ensure that these are meeting legally-mandated accessibility standards such as captioning, alt-text for images, etc.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) restricts the sharing of student’s educational records. It also allows students to review and request corrections to their educational records. Instructors should consult the University’s FERPA guidance before sharing any educational records internally or externally, including when the person requesting information is a parent, background checker, or job reference. The University provides a 15-minute FERPA training module in MyPath, and the federal government offers additional information.

Note that medical fields may also have course elements subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).


Instructors must assign and properly submit grades for courses according to the schedules for their schools, as well as treat graded material confidentially.

Online Courses

Online courses are subject to specific regulatory oversight and requirements. For example, instructors cannot unilaterally change the modality of their course (e.g., move from in-person to online) for specific students or all students and should instead seek guidance from their dean’s office.

When teaching online courses, instructors should be aware that course modality carries visa consequences for students and that the University has legally-mandated compliance policies for verifying student identities, ensuring regular and substantive instructor-student interaction, and other areas. Note that online courses are also coded appropriately by the registrar to assist with required reporting.

Religious Accommodations

New York State law requires instructors to make religious accommodations for observant students. This includes offering alternative dates for assessments, alternative opportunities for course meetings times after 4 p.m. on Fridays and anytime on Saturday, and similar provisions. Alternatives for religious students must not include fees or penalties.

Instructors can reduce such conflicts by proactively consulting the schedule of major religious holidays when scheduling their course elements.

Sexual Misconduct, Title IX, and the Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment

The University is committed to maintaining a workplace and academic environment free from discrimination and harassment. Instructors should familiarize themselves with the relevant policies and how they apply to their work. Note that separate policies govern complaints against employees and complaints against students.

When students disclose sex or gender-based misconduct, instructors are responsible employees with mandatory reporting obligations and can follow these recommended responses. Instructors should explain their mandatory reporting role before a student begins to disclose sex or gender-based misconduct, or as soon as possible afterwards. Students such as teaching assistants may also be responsible employees depending on their work roles.

In accordance with New York State law, the University conducts mandatory annual sex and gender-based misconduct training, with the instructor training typically completed through the MyPath platform.

Additionally, faculty are required to report discrimination, harassment, or retaliation to the Office of Equity and Inclusion. Depending on their work roles, students such as teaching assistants may also be considered management and supervisory personnel and therefore mandatory reporters.

Instructors may also have students in their courses who have or are subject to Active Avoidance Orders. They can consult the Title IX office and school coordinators if they have questions about how to accommodate students with regard to such orders.

Student Complaints

Instructors can learn about the systems that the University and schools use to address student complaints so that they know how to refer students when issues arise.


New York State mandates the following items in syllabi:

  • Author(s) of syllabus
  • Course description
  • Course objectives
  • Prerequisites
  • Credits allocated
  • Assignments
  • Method of assessing student achievement, including the assessment rubrics at the course and project levels
  • Basis of grade determination
  • Bibliographic and other resources
  • Other course policies related to integrity of credit

The Teaching Center has created the following syllabus resources to assist instructors:

Teaching Guidelines for Arts, Sciences & Engineering Instructors

These policies are specific to instructors in AS&E. If you teach in another school, contact your dean’s office for comparable information.

Academic Honesty

Instructors have proactive requirements that include discussing the importance of honesty and integrity, calling attention to Academic Honesty Policy during the first few weeks of each term, communicating in writing any course-specific expectations (defining authorized vs. unauthorized use of technology, clarifying appropriate vs. inappropriate collaboration, and so on), and following required steps when administering exams.

In addition, instructors must follow Academic Honesty reporting procedures whenever they suspect a student may have acted in ways that violate policy. Such procedures include:

  • Observing confidentiality
  • Not allowing students to drop courses or take similar action to avoid charges
  • Not making separate agreements or independently applying penalties without going through formal resolution process

Requirements are described on the Academic Honesty website, which also contains the full policy, implementation and education resources, and contact information for board leadership and for the honesty liaisons (a confidential resource for faculty, staff, and students).

Deans’ Office Policies

The AS&E Deans’ Office maintains certain academic policies, many of which are communicated by memos directly emailed to instructors at relevant times of the semester.

  • Semester-specific policies. These typically cover areas such as semester deadlines, classroom recordings, late-arriving students, etc.
  • Syllabus policies. These policies include the New York State required elements found in the University section above. In addition, AS&E has further requirements, such as disability, academic honesty, and credit hour statements, office hour information, etc. There are also recommended best practices such as attendance and auditing policies. The Teaching Center has developed syllabus resources to assist instructors with implementing the guidelines. 
  • Best practices. Interspersed in the linked pages, you will find guidance for areas such as scheduling between 5 and 9 p.m., accommodations for athletes, managing teaching assistants, and other areas.
  • Time-specific memos. At the bottom of the linked page, you will find samples of the memos that are distributed at certain times of semester, including the memos for the first day of classes, mid-term grade reporting, electronic devices in exams, and the assignment of grades.


Instructors must assign grades according to the AS&E grading system. Certain AS&E grades may be unfamiliar to new instructors. These are reviewed on this AS&E Deans’ Office page, which also offers recommendations for managing regrades, teaching assistant grading, and other areas.

Interim (Mid-term) Grades

Instructors will receive an AS&E Deans’ Office memo partway through the semester to remind them to enter interim (mid-term) grades. These interim grades allow student support services to engage with struggling students in a timely way.

Undergraduate Academic Policies and Advising Handbook

This handbook represents a compilation of academic policy. Instructors may find the following entries particularly helpful: