Lifelong Learners (L3) - Enrollment Process

This document describes the enrollment process for Lifelong Learners. The process beings after registration for a non-credit course up to logging into the Canvas Dashboard.

In order to access a Canvas course, Lifelong Learners must complete these steps:

  1. Create a UW Madison NetID and password. This account username and password will be used to access your Canvas course.
  2. Confirm your account using the email address you used to sign up for the course.
  3. Log in to your Canvas course. It may take 24 hours for your Canvas course to populate.

Please reserve approximately 15 minutes to complete this process. If it takes longer than 30 minutes, please contact your course provider directly.

1: Getting Started After Registration

After registration, you will receive a "Get Started" email:


Subject: "UW-Madison: Access Your Online Course Site"

Get started email with red box link in center

The link in the “Get Started” button is unique to each learner.
If you did not receive a registration confirmation please contact your course provider directly.

2: Requesting a NetID

After clicking the Get Started button, you will arrive at the website and begin the account creation process.

  • If you suspect or are sure that you have never had a UW-Madison "NetID" account, click No - I might not have a UW-Madison NetID.
  • If you have any previous affiliation with UW-Madison such as having been a student, employed at UW-Madison, or have taken an online course from UW-Madison, even if it is no longer active, click Yes - I definitely have a UW-Madison NetID.

Net ID Question - yes or no

If you select "Yes - I definitely have a UW-Madison NetID" you will then be directed to the NetID login screen where you will link your L3 course(s) to your existing NetID.

Email about account Self-Linking Tool

At this point, you may skip the rest of the process and log in to Canvas directly at

If you select “No-I might not have a UW-Madison NetID” the activation process will begin.  Please allow yourself 10-15 minutes to complete this process.  If you need to return to the task at a later time, simply click the “Get Started” button in your email again to pick up where you left off.  If the process takes longer than 30 minutes in total, please contact your course provider directly.

Click “Set up your NetID

Button to Set Up NetID

Browser pop up confirmation

Some browsers have pop-up blockers enabled.  Please click the pop-up symbol in the address bar to allow pop-ups if that is the case.

popup symbol

Immediate Activation: In some cases, your new NetID will be immediately ready for you to activate it. In that case you will next see these instructions. Click Set up your NetID and proceed to step 3 below.

In some cases, such as the beginning of the fall semester on campus, you may have to wait for a period of time after completing the NetID setup process to receive the confirmation that your NetID is ready to be used. In rare cases this could take up to 24 hours. If there’s a wait, you’ll see the following screen:

Notification that a NetID is being created

In these cases, you will also receive a separate email notifying you when your new NetID is ready to activate. When you receive this email (below), please proceed to activate your NetID.

Subject: Next Step: Activate your NetID for your UW-Madison course

 Click Begin NetID Activation

Red button Link to begin NetID activation

3: Setting up NetID

In some cases, there may be a waiting period for NetID activation as described above. If this is true for you, you will receive an email when you can proceed. Follow the link in that email to continue the set-up process. If you did not have to wait for activation, proceed to Set up your NetID.

Set up Net ID

A separate browser window will open up and take you through the activation process. If you have pop-up blockers enabled, you will need to deactivate them for this website.  

Be sure to keep a record of your NetID! 

UW-Madison IT Compliance Agreement

Once you see the screen below, your NetID is ready for use. Be sure to record the choices you made. You can now close this browser window.

Summary of NetID information

You will then see this window:

Login to canvas link button

4: Logging Into Canvas

After you log in with your NetID, you will arrive at your Canvas "Dashboard." You should see links for the online course site(s) for the course you just registered for. You can bookmark this page to quickly return to your course site(s) in the future. The address is

Note: You will likely not be able to log into Canvas immediately. Canvas updates accounts with a new NetID overnight. After activating your NetID, you should wait at least until the next day to log into your Canvas course. If you attempt to log in right after activation, you will most likely receive an error. 

5: Retrieving a Lost NetID/Password

If you do not know your NetID, but you do know your password, you can recover your NetID via the Recovery Utility:

If you have forgotten your password and need it reset, please call the DoIT HelpDesk at 608-264-4357 (option 1). It is very important you identify yourself as a Lifelong Learner.

Please note that you will need to be able to access the email account that you used to register for your course during the call, as that will be used in the password reset process.


For post-enrollment questions like the following, please contact your program directly:

  • After enrollment, where do I find course information, such as the start date and how to access the course?
  • What is the contact point for invoices and/or bill questions?
  • What is the contact point for certificate of completion?

Additional Assistance Needed

For most issues, including updating your email address and/or name, please contact your course provider directly.

For enrollment after registration and NetID assistance, please call the DoIT HelpDesk at 608-264-4357 (option 1). It is very important you identify yourself as a Lifelong Learner.

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OwnerPaul M.GroupDoIT Help Desk
Created2022-06-07 11:02:17Updated2024-04-03 15:57:46
SitesDoIT Help Desk
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