Feature Highlight: New Student Access Settings for Canvas Sites

The Feature Highlights series shares information about neat and useful things users can do with Canvas features. Please email Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you have any questions about the features discussed in this series.

More Control over Student Access to Canvas Sites

The April 4th Production Release introduced many improvements to Canvas, with the new student access settings being perhaps the most exciting of them all. When enabled, these settings prevent students from accessing a Canvas site before or after the site’s start or end date, respectively.

How to Enable Student Access Settings

The first step to enabling these setting is to make sure start and end dates have been established for a Canvas site. For instructions on establishing start and end dates, please see:

How do I change the start and end dates for my course?

If start and end dates are not added, the student access settings will use the term start and end dates scheduled for Canvas sites at the University of Pennsylvania.

Once an instructor sets start and end dates, or if they decide to stick with the University’s scheduled dates, they can enable student access settings. To do this, enter the Canvas site and click on Settings > Course Details, if you are not already in the “Course Details” tab from setting start and end dates, and then click in the check-boxes for the access settings you want enabled.

Display of student access settings in the "Course Details" tab.
Student Access Settings are  in a Canvas site’s “Course Details” Tab.

The settings will determine when your course displays in your students’ Courses menu.

Display of a student's Canvas homepage before a course's start date.
What students see before or after a course’s start date.
Student view of the Canvas homepage on a course's start date
What students see on a course’s start date and before a course’s end date.

Some Considerations

The student access settings only affect published Canvas sites for the term in which they will be used. If you don’t want students to access a Canvas site after a term starts, you can leave it unpublished, which is the default state for all newly created Canvas sites. For more information on publishing Canvas sites, please see:

How do I publish my course?

Additionally, term restrictions on Canvas sites prevent students from using certain parts of Canvas sites from past semesters. You can learn more about term restrictions here.

The most compelling reason for using the end-date student access setting is to completely cut off student access to Canvas sites from previous semesters.


Please contact Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you have any questions about student access restrictions.

Last Updated: 20 Oct 2021

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