Controlling Student Visibility in your Canvas Course


Learn how to configure student access to your course content through Publication status, Term Dates, and Course Participation Settings.



When and how students access the content in your Canvas course functions can be controlled by three variables: Publication, Term Dates, and Course Participation Settings. This article will discuss those options and how they can be applied to your course. 


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When a course is created in Canvas, it is listed as Unpublished. Once you are ready to make your course visible to your students:

  1. Log in to Canvas at
  2. From your course Home page or course Settings page, select the Publish button

Once there is a graded submission in your course, you will no longer have the ability to change your course status to Unpublished. Instead, access is controlled by the Term Dates or your Course Participation Settings

You can find additional information about publishing your course by visiting the Canvas “How do I publish a course” user guide. 

Term Dates

Term Dates are like start and end dates of a given semester, with slight modifications. In Canvas, OHIO has three terms per academic year: Fall, Spring, and Summer. First, Full, and Second summer semesters are all contained within the Summer term. You can find the official semester start and end dates by viewing the official Academic Calendar on the Registrar’s website. 

For Canvas, OHIO’s Terms begin three weeks before the official semester start date and end the Thursday following the semester end date. For example, Summer Semester 2024 begins on May 13 and ends on August 17. The Canvas Summer Term begins on April 22 and ends on August 22. 

By default, students will have full access to Published Canvas courses only within the dates of the given Term. After the end date of the term, student access will become read-only, meaning that they can see content that is available to students, but they can no longer participate in the course. This read-only access remains until the course is archived. 

If you would like more personalized control over when your students will have access to your course, you can edit your Course Participation Settings. 

Course Participation Settings

The Course Participation Settings in Canvas allow the instructor to determine if student access to the course should be controlled by the Term or custom configured by the instructor. It also allows the instructor to determine if students should retain read-only access or lose access to the course entirely. 

To set custom dates in your Course Participation Settings: 

  1. Log in to Canvas at
  2. In your course Navigation, select Settings 
  3. On the Settings page, scroll down until you find the Participation area
  4. Here, you will have a drop-down menu to select either Term or Course
  5. If you would like to customize your access dates, select Course
  6. When you select Course, you will need to provide a Start and End date. These dates are the start and end dates for the student’s access to the course
  7. Once you have configured your participation dates as desired, scroll down and select the Update Course Details button to save your changes

For additional information, please review the Canvas How do I change the start and end dates for a course?user guide. 

To remove read-only access to the course: 

  1. In your course Navigation, select Settings 
  2. On the Settings page, scroll down until you find the Participation area
  3. Below the start and end date selections, you will have two checkboxes
  4. Select Restrict Students from Viewing the Course After the Term (or course) End Date, to remove all student access to the course

For additional information please review the Canvas How do I restrict student access to a course before or after the course dates? user guide. 

Outcome: You should now be able to control student access to your course.

Get Help from Canvas

  • Live chat with Canvas support (Faculty) 
  • Get 24-hours/7-days a week Canvas support  
    • Dial the Canvas Support Hotline number located under "Get Help" in the Canvas Global Navigation Menu 
    • Contact OIT at 740-593-1222 for questions related to logging in, test courses/manually created courses, or third-party tools (Panopto, VoiceThread, Inclusive Access, etc.) 

Get Help from OIT

Additional Resources 



Article ID: 852
Tue 4/9/24 1:41 PM
Tue 5/21/24 10:44 AM

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Canvas is an online Learning Management System designed to facilitate communication and the sharing of course content between instructors, teaching assistants, students, and guests.