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Canvas - Course Dates and Access FAQ and Information

A Canvas course's Settings page includes options for setting course start and end dates to control when students can access a course after it is published. This page explains the effects of these settings and an instructor's available options for controlling access to your Canvas course. A basic FAQ is followed by a deeper explanation of the settings that control Canvas course access.

screenshot of the Canvas course settings page participation settings

Table of Contents

  1. Frequently Asked Questions
  2. Course start and end dates explained
  3. The effects of the checkboxes underneath the course date settings
  4. Canvas term dates explained

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to questions commonly asked about course access dates.

Q: Do I need to set course start and end dates in my course settings page?

A: No! To facilitate consistent behavior across courses, it's best to leave these settings untouched unless you have a specific reason to use special course dates. If you leave the course participation settings at their default setting, the course's publishing status and institutionally-set Canvas term dates will manage when your course can be accessed and viewed by students.

Q: If I don't edit my course dates, when can students access the course?

A: If course access settings are left at their default setting, institutionally set Canvas term dates in conjunction with when you publish the course will determine when students can access the course. With the default settings:

  • Students can view and participate in the course as soon as you publish it.
  • Students can view and participate in the course up until the Canvas term end date as follows:
    • Spring Terms: Student access ends on June 15
    • Summer Terms: Student access ends on September 15
    • Fall Terms: Student access ends on January 15
    • January Interim: Student access ends on February 15

Q: How do I set custom dates for when my students can access the course?

A: To set custom dates for when students can access a Canvas course, select Course in the "Participation" drop-down menu in your course settings page and then edit the Start and End dates. Remember to click the Update Course Details button at the bottom of the settings page to save your changes.

Q: How can I let my students view (but not participate in) a Canvas course after it ends?

A: Uncheck the "Restrict students from viewing course after term/course end date" checkbox in the course settings page. With this box unchecked, students can retain indefinite view-only access to a Canvas course for as long as they have a UWGB network account. Once the term date or course date ends a course, the course will no longer appear in student dashboards; however, these past courses can still be accessed by students via their All Courses lists.

Q: Why can't my students see their course?

A: If all students in a course cannot view the course, there are a few things to check.

  • If it is before or at the start of the term, make sure you have published the course.
  • If the course is published, check the course settings page to see if an incorrect course start or end date is preventing access. Course start and/or end dates are sometimes unknowingly copied from a previous course when an instructor imports content from a previous Canvas course.
  • If the course is from a concluded semester, check the course settings page. If the "Restrict students from viewing course after term/course end date" box is checked, students cannot view the course from their "All Courses" list. You may be able to uncheck this box yourself in a recently concluded course; for older courses, you may need to contact dle@uwgb.edu to ask a Canvas admin to edit the setting on your behalf.

Q: Why can't I edit my course start and end dates?

A: When the "Participation" drop-down menu is set to Term, the dates shown underneath the drop-down are the institutionally-set term dates. To use your own dates to control student access to the course, you must first change this drop-down menu's setting to Course. About six months after the end of a Canvas course's term, the course will lock into a view-only state, and the course instructor will no longer be able to edit course dates. Please contact dle@uwgb.edu if you need to change participation settings in an older course.


Read below for detailed information on how the date and access settings control access to Canvas courses.

Course start and end dates explained

screenshot of the Canvas course settings page participation settings with drop down menu and start and end dates highlighted

A Canvas course can be set to use either Term or Course dates to control student participation. The default setting for a Canvas course is to use the institutionally-set term dates to control access to the course. Term dates cannot be edited by instructors; however, instructors can override the term dates and set their own start and end dates in the course settings page by switching the "Participation" drop-down menu's setting to Course and then editing the Start and End dates. Students can only participate in a course between the Start and End dates. The checkboxes beneath the start and end dates determine whether students have view-only access to the course before the start date or after the end date.

A course must also be published before it can be accessed by students. 

The effects of the checkboxes underneath the course date settings

screenshot of the Canvas course settings page participation settings with the "restrict students from viewing" checkboxes highlighted

The two checkboxes directly underneath the course participation "End" date in the Canvas course settings page determine whether students have view-only access to a course outside of the start and end dates. When a student has view-only access to the course, they can view published course content and their own grades, but they cannot submit to assignments, post to discussions, or attempt quizzes. Both of these boxes are checked by default but may be unchecked by the course instructor.

  • When "Restrict students from viewing course before term/course start date" is unchecked, students will have view-only access to the Canvas course between when the course is published and the start date.
  • When "Restrict students from viewing course before term/course start date" is checked, students cannot view the course before the start date even if the course is published.

  • When "Restrict students from viewing course after term/course end date" is unchecked, students retain view-only access to the Canvas course after the end date.
  • When "Restrict students from viewing course after term/course end date" is checked, students cannot view the course after the end date.

Canvas term dates explained

screenshot of the Canvas course settings page participation setting drop down menu

Canvas term dates control access to Canvas courses unless an instructor edits the course participation setting and changes the drop-down menu from "Term" to "Course."

The term start dates are blank and set to start "whenever," meaning students gain full access to a Canvas course as soon it is published by the instructor. Canvas term end dates are set to end for students a few weeks after the actual end of a term. This "loose" end date is set to help facilitate short-term student incompletes. Canvas term dates allow instructors to edit a course up until about six months after the actual end of the term; at that point, the Canvas term concludes entirely and courses lock into a view-only state.

Here is a list of important Canvas term dates (adapted from this UW System KnowledgeBase page):

  • Spring Terms:
    • Student participation and viewing* access ends on June 15
    • Teacher edit access ends on December 23
  • Summer Terms:
    • Student participation and viewing* access ends on September 15
    • Teacher edit access ends on February 28
  • Fall Terms:
    • Student participation and viewing* access ends on January 15
    • Teacher edit access ends on June 30
  • January Interim:
    • Student participation and viewing* access ends on February 15
    • Teacher edit access ends on July 31

*Students can retain view-only access to a concluded Canvas course if the instructor unchecks the "Restrict students from viewing course after term/course end date" box in the course settings page. Students can view courses that have this box unchecked for as long as they have an active UWGB network account. After the end date, courses are removed from student dashboards, but can still be viewed in their All Courses list.




Keywords:view participate read write can't see dashboard settings date start starts end ends hidden prevent viewing participating publish published checkbox checkboxes check box term participation setting set   Doc ID:108123
Owner:Scott B.Group:UW Green Bay
Created:2020-12-29 15:23 CDTUpdated:2021-04-26 09:34 CDT
Sites:UW Green Bay
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