Canvas - FAQs for Noncredit Courses [UW-Madison]

This document provides guidance on frequently asked questions about noncredit courses in Canvas. These questions and answers do NOT apply to for-credit courses at UW-Madison.

Can I use Canvas for my noncredit course?

Yes, Canvas can be used for noncredit courses. For best results:

  • The target audience for the course should be current UW-Madison faculty, staff, or students.
  • Course content should be affiliated with a UW-Madison department or program.

If your have other needs for you noncredit course, contact to discuss whether Canvas is the best fit for your content.

How do I request a noncredit course in Canvas?

To get started, submit the Non-Credit Canvas Course Request Form. Requests may take 3-4 business days to be fulfilled.

Note: if form does not load properly, try opening it in a Private Browser Window or switch browsers (Firefox is recommended).  

Can I use Canvas to deliver courses to learners outside of UW-Madison?

Canvas is primarily intended for use by UW-Madison faculty, staff, and students. However, there are some options to provide content to learners outside of UW-Madison:

For more information, contact

How do I enroll learners into my course?

There are a few ways to enroll learners in your course, depending on your needs.

For very large courses or courses with complicated enrollment requirements, contact to request a consultation. Techniques that have been used by past courses include:

  • Enrollment through the Office of Learning and Talent Development's registration system. The registration system at is primarily intended for in-person courses, but it can be adapted for Canvas courses. Learners would enroll in the course through a link at, and the enrollment would be pushed into Canvas. This enrollment method is generally used in compliance courses that must maintain accurate completion records. It is best suited to large courses that are primarily targeted at UW-Madison employees.
  • Direct import of a file feed to Canvas. Canvas can import CSV files of learners. For this option, you would need to generate a .CSV file of learners meeting certain criteria (e.g., graduate students in a particular department, all employees, etc.). Canvas administrators would then set up the file to be processed either one time or on an ongoing basis.

Both of these options require technical collaboration across departments and may take several weeks to implement, so please plan accordingly.

Can learners self enroll for my course?

Yes, you can set up your course for self enrollment by following the steps at How do I enable course self-enrollment with a join code or secret URL?. Note that in order to self enroll, learners will need to be UW-Madison faculty, staff, students, or other holders of a Canvas-eligible NetID. If they do not meet these criteria, you will need to help them create an account by following the instructions at Canvas - Requesting Access for External Users [UW-Madison] 

Does Canvas allow me to provide learners with a certificate?

Canvas is not designed to provide course completion certificates. Depending on the needs of your course, you may be able to implement a workaround.

One potential workaround is to set up a Mastery Path in their Canvas course which allows learners to access a PDF "certificate" after they have completed the course content. A downside of this method is that the certificate would not contain the learner’s name and could potentially be shared with other course participants.

Another option may be to work with the Office of Learning and Talent Development. The Office of Learning and Talent Development maintains a registration system that can be integrated with Canvas and can be used to have learners self enroll in the Canvas course. Since this integration is technically complicated and requires working with an experienced Instructional Designer, it is only recommended in large-scale courses that prioritize completion verification (e.g. compliance courses such as the HIPAA Training Course).

When properly set up, learners would be able to enroll in your course through the registration system at After they complete the course, it would show up on the learner’s UW-Madison transcript. The transcript may or may not meet your needs for certification. This option is not available for UW-Madison students, as the registration system is available only to UW-Madison employees. 

In small courses, the easiest way to provide certificates may be to verify course completion in Canvas and manually distribute certificates.

Contact for more information about certificate options.

What types of compliance/institutional training courses are currently offered in Canvas?

There are many compliance and institutional training courses in Canvas, dealing with a wide array of topics, from environmental health and safety to job skills training. 

Please keep in mind that Canvas is not an approved tool for storing restricted data and sensitive data that is unrelated to for-credit classes, such as personal health information (PHI). So usage of Canvas for conveying or storing such data is not permitted. For more information about the University's data classifications, see this document.

What Canvas training resources are available to me?

A list of online and in-person Canvas training resources can be found at Canvas - Training Resources [UW-Madison]. When you are logged into Canvas, you can also click the Help link in the left navigation menu to view a list of resources.

What kind of support is available for learners?

Learners in your noncredit course can contact the DoIT Help Desk for help with technical issues in Canvas. The Help Desk does not support issues with your course content.

We encourage all noncredit course creators to designate a point-person to be responsible for maintaining course content and answering content-related questions. The point-person should be identified clearly in communications with learners and in the Canvas course itself.

Using Zoom

External users (specifically those users with NetIDs provisioned through Manifest) are unable to use the integrated Zoom feature in noncredit Canvas courses.  However, instructors can embed links to Zoom meeting within their Canvas content.  

How can I edit my course start and end dates?

Many ongoing courses are set to use the ongoing term. The ongoing term does not have start or end dates, so courses using that term have no start and end dates by default. Therefore, these courses can be used perpetually. However, if you'd like to add start or end dates to your course:
  1. Change your Participation setting from Term to Course
  2. Enter the desired dates
  3. Select Update Course Details at the bottom of the page.

For more detailed instructions with screenshots, please see How do I change the start and end dates for a course? from Instructure Community

Keywordscanvas, noncredit, noncredit, non-timetable, nontimetable, compliance, institutional training, enrollment, OTM, Office of Talent Management, self-enrollment, create, certificates, certification, not-for-credit, hipaa, phi, data, sensitive, restricted, course request, manifest, registration, submission, sandbox, supplemental, development, eta, request, form   Doc ID85479
OwnerLearn@UW MadisonGroupLearn@UW-Madison
Created2018-09-06 11:57:48Updated2023-09-27 11:06:39
SitesDoIT Help Desk, Learn@UW-Madison
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