Canvas Guides (en)Canvas Admin Guide TermsHow do term dates, course dates, and section dates work in Canvas?

How do term dates, course dates, and section dates work in Canvas?

Term dates, course dates, and section dates are very symbiotic. All of them flow together in all aspects of Canvas. Various dates allow different users to participate in the course.

When a term has concluded, associated courses are placed in a read-only (archived) state. Read-only means that a course is not available for submitting assignments, posting discussions, uploading files, grading, or any other action-based task within a course.

However, course dates and section dates can override term dates, and some overrides may leave the course open for participation.

Term dates, course dates, and section dates can also be added through SIS imports.

In conjunction with this lesson, to see an example of how term dates, course dates, and section dates work together, view the Terms, Courses, and Section Enrollments PDF.

View Term Details

Term dates define a fixed period of time for an institution where users can participate in a course. Term dates can also be used for semesters, trimesters, or quarters. In this example, a term could run from January 9, 2017, to May 27, 2017.

Administrators have control over when specific users can participate in the courses. Unless otherwise specified, Students inherit the term start and term end date, while Teachers, TAs and Designers dates inherit a whenever start date to the term end date. Whenever means that these user roles can always access a course before the term begins.

Administrators cannot extend term access for a specific role outside the main term dates.

Warning about End Term Dates

Unlike other dates in Canvas, term dates do not support times. Setting a time as part of a term date does not apply. By default, user access is cut off at midnight on your indicated end date, meaning the previous day is the last full day that users have access to the term.

Again, in the example about access dates, the ending dates would be as follows:

  • Instructors (teachers) [1] can access courses until 12:00 am on January 5, 2018  (last full day is January 4).
  • Everyone else with a term end date [2] can access courses until 12:00 am on December 30, 2017 (last full day is December 29).


Note: Canvas currently does not generate a warning about term dates as it does for course dates.

View Future Enrollments

Once a user is added to a course, terms set default dates for when users have access to courses assigned to that term. Access relates to published courses.

If a course is unpublished [1], students cannot have access to any course content until the start date of the term.

If a course is published [2], students are able to view content before the start of the term. However, they cannot fully participate in the course, such as submitting an assignment or contributing to a discussion topic. On the start date of the term, students can fully participate in the course.

Some institutions may choose to publish their courses on the same day as the term start date, so prior access to course content is not an issue. However, if your institution prefers to allow instructors to publish their own courses ahead of the term start date, learn how to restrict student access. You can also restrict access to students from being able to view a course after it has ended.

View Course Dates

View Course Dates

Course dates default to the term dates. However, you can change the course start and end dates to override the term dates. You can create course start and end dates [1] that are within the term or that extend past the term. Entering an end date in the course will tell Canvas to conclude the course on the entered date. When the course is concluded, the course is removed from the Dashboard, and in the Courses list, the course will be moved to the Past Enrollments section.

If you do not want to let students participate in the course outside of the course dates, select the Users can only participate in the course between these dates checkbox [2]. This checkbox ensures that students can only participate in the course between the specified dates (instructors and admins are not affected). If this checkbox is not selected, students can participate in the course before and after the start date, and participation will only be limited by the term dates.

For example, if the term dates were January 9, 2017, to May 27, 2017, the instructor could set access to the course a week later and end the course a week earlier. By shortening the course end date, and selecting the student participation checkbox, students will only have read-only access to the course after that date. The instructor can still manage course content and grades before the term end date set for instructors.

Warning about End Course Dates

Warning about End Course Dates

Note: In your end date, if you do not set a time, or you set the end time to midnight, a warning icon will appear notifying you that the date prior to the set end date will be the last full day in the course; student access will be cut off at midnight on your indicated date. For instance, if the course were set to end May 3, the last full available date for the course would be May 2.

View Sections

View Sections

The Section dates are the most mobile. Sections can be moved from term to term or course to course. Make sure the students are not concluded in the courses or sections before you move them.

Section dates default to the course dates, unless you also set up section override dates.

Sections can have various start and end dates. For example, Section 2 could be set with a start date of February 6, 2017, and an end date of April 28, 2017. Sections within the same course can share course material and have varied due dates. Learn how to edit section details.