Manage Course Dates in Canvas  

Course availability in Canvas is dependent on the type of course and your role. The Office of the University Registrar and the LMS Steering Committee designed the dates to align with data retention policies and incomplete processes. We have provided details on when teachers and students will be able to access courses.  

Table of Contents


  • Course Settings: For academic courses, it is important not to adjust the dates or other information in the Settings tab without the support of your teaching and learning center. It could cause you or your students to lose access to the course too soon.  
  • Dashboard (i.e., Canvas homepage): The Canvas dashboard can show up to 20 courses. It can be personally customized by selecting “Courses” > “All Courses” and starring the courses you wish to see on your dashboard. If no courses are starred, then Canvas will use the section dates to show the most recent courses only on your dashboard.  
  • Course Lifecycle: Courses are deleted on a regular schedule. View the Office of the University’s Registrar’s page on Canvas Archival and Retention for more information.  

How does Canvas differ from Blackboard?  

In Blackboard, there were no consistent, university-wide dates used to close or make courses “view only.” To better align with data retention and incomplete guidance from the university, Canvas has specific dates for academic courses regarding when they open, become view only, and close. Instructors can customize some aspects of these with the support of their teaching and learning center.  

Different Enrollment States 

  • Active – The user can interact with the course to create assignments, add content, or grade assignments (for faculty), or take quizzes, submit assignments, and post to the discussion board (for students).  
  • View-only (i.e., soft concluded) – The user can only view the course but can’t interact or add content.  
  • No-access (i.e., hard concluded) – The user can no longer access the course or view anything in it 

Academic Courses  

Academic courses run on the official terms of the university and divisions from the academic calendar.  

Opening or “Publishing” Courses  

Instructors usually open or “publish” courses the day the class officially starts depending on program and division guidelines. You can see if your course is published by going to Canvas and then selecting, “Courses” > “All courses” from the Global Navigation Menu. Follow the Publish Your Course Guide for information about how to publish a course. 

  • 2 weeks before: Faculty have the option to publish their course up to two weeks prior to the course start date. Note: Students will have the ability to interact with the course and turn in assignments or post on the discussion board.  
  • More than 2 weeks before: If faculty publish a course more than two weeks prior to the start date then student will have view-only access to the course.  

Example of Opening a Course 

According to SIS, my course starts on May 14th. As a faculty member, I can publish the course as early as May 1st to give students access and they can start interacting with the course. If I publish before May 1st then students can only view the course until May 1st.  

Ending Courses and View-Only Access 

Academic courses change to view only access one additional term plus four weeks after the end date. This view-only access applies to both students and faculty. Past courses are intended to contain what occurred in the course in the past and should not be changed for the future.

Term Date the Academic Course Becomes View-Only 
Intersession July 1st of that year 
Spring October 1st of that year 
Summer February 1st of the following year 
Fall July 1st of the following year

The course is open to changes through the maximum incomplete period for any division in the university. (Check with your specific division for the incomplete timeline). After that point, the course is moved to view-only. Students can still access content and teachers can copy the course into a future shell if needed.  

Example of View-Only Access 

My fall course ends December 23rd, 2023. It won’t move to view only until four weeks after the end of the next full term. So, it would be view only July 1st, 2024.  

No Access 

Courses follow a data retention schedule set by the Office of the University Registrar and the LMS Steering Committee. Academic courses are permanently deleted from the system five years after the end of the term. More information can be found under the Canvas Archival and Retention Guidelines. 


If a course runs outside the regular term and is approved by your registrar, work with your teaching and learning center to set your course with the appropriate dates that align with the guidance on this page.  

Non-Academic Offerings 

Non-academic offerings can include lifelong learning, community sites, or non-degree non-credit offerings. These offerings may not follow the regular academic terms, and when created do not have specific open and close dates. Learn more about setting non-academic course dates. It is recommended that you work with your division’s teaching and learning center to set the appropriate and most cost-effective dates for your non-academic course(s).