Canvas - Early Access / Extending Course Access (UW-Madison)

This document outlines how to control course access for enrolled students

Modify Course Access for all students

As an instructor, you are able to change restrictions for student access in your course. These restrictions include student access to courses before or after the start and end date.

Restrict students from viewing course before start date:

  • Under default settings: When a student enrolls in a future course, it displays in the Future Enrollments section in the student Courses list. After a course is published, it displays an invitation to join the course, where the students can view course content at any time before the course begins. 
  • If student restriction is enabled: Students cannot view a link to the course until the start date, even if the course is published.

Restrict students from viewing course after end date:

  • Under default settings: Once a course has concluded, students can still view the course but all content is displayed in a read-only state. 
  • With student restriction enabled: Students can no longer view the course in the Courses list after the course has concluded. 
  • These restriction settings also apply to the override start and end dates for the course.
  • If no override dates are specified, the start and end dates apply to the term dates. (tutorial: change course start and end dates)
To modify these settings, select Settings on the left-hand navigation panel.

View Restriction Options


In the Courses tab, view the Visibility section. By default, student access check boxes are not selected, meaning students can view courses before and after course dates. To retain this default for the course, do not select any check boxes.

To set a default so that students cannot view a link to the course before the course start date, select the Restrict students from viewing courses before start date checkbox [1].

To set a default so that students cannot access the course after the course end date, Restrict students from viewing courses after end date checkbox [2].
Note: You will also have to make sure your course is published if you want students to have access to your course. Setting the course dates will not provide students access if your course is unpublished. 

Extend Access to Your Course for a Subset of Students

Instructors may want a few students to stay in the course beyond its term and/or course end date. For instance, they may do this for students who have not fulfilled all their course requirements and are marked as incomplete until they finish their work. Here's how you can extend student access to your course:

  1. Create a new section (tutorial: How do I add a section to a course?)
  2. Enter the start and end dates for the new section (tutorial: How do I edit the details for a course section?)
    • Make sure the "Users can only participate in the course between these dates" box is checked.
    • This checkbox is what causes section dates to override course dates.
      • Checking this box indicates to Canvas that you want the section dates to override the course dates.
  3. Next, go to the People page and add the student.  (tutorial: Canvas - Adding People to a Canvas Course