Canvas: Options for Adding Users to Course Sites

Instructors are not able to manually enroll or directly add students into Canvas course sites connected to PeopleSoft. Based on University policies, legal requirements, and regulations the University must follow, there are alternate processes which are outlined in the table below.

Please note, the process for adding instructors and teaching assistants is not changing at this time. We encourage you to work with your department scheduler to update course information in PeopleSoft. You can still add such Instructor roles as Teaching Assistant.

  • Instructors of non-PeopleSoft course sites retain the permissions to add students and users in course administrative roles.

Enrollments from PeopleSoft are automatically updated in Canvas roughly every ten minutes, minimizing delay between systems.

This article describes:

Why the process for adding students has changed

Keeping enrollments the same in both Canvas and PeopleSoft is important for several reasons. Without corresponding PeopleSoft registration, we put the University and students at risk. These risks include:

  • Inaccurate data: Official PeopleSoft registration is required for accuracy of the University transcript, charging tuition, and awarding appropriate financial aid. It also enforces registration holds due to student conduct code violations, non-payment, Title IX violations, and more. If a student is not officially registered in a class they are more likely to submit petitions for "missing" credit.
  • Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) violations: If students are not in the PeopleSoft version of the class together, they are not considered "classmates" under the law. This means they are not allowed to see each other's enrollment information, discussion posts, or other private data. See FERPA resources for more information
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC) violations: The University's accrediting body prohibits offering a course that is both for academic credit and non-credit. For example, professionals obtaining continuing education should not be added to courses offered for academic credit.

Enrollment options and procedures

The table below lays out common enrollment needs and the recommended process for filling those needs in Canvas.

Some colleges have added additional processes for certain roles, so be sure to reach out to your unit/college contact to obtain any additional requirements. For all other questions, email [email protected]


Enrollment Need


More Information

Test what a student will see.

The Student View in Canvas will allow an instructor to view the appearance of many parts of their course site including quizzes.

Discussion sections appear the same for students and instructors.

To test LTI integrations, a test student using a University of Minnesota guest account may need to be added to the course.

Canvas: Enroll a Test Student
Share course materials with a student for review.

If a student needs to see course content and discussions, but doesn't need other access, the "observer" role in Canvas will work.

Alternatively, instructors may want to work with their department to share materials another way. A separate Canvas resource site can be created, or other options such as a Google Site may work.

Enroll an Observer

Canvas: Role Types

Share materials with other instructors or future teaching assistants.There are multiple ways to share course materials, including the "observer" role in Canvas. Instructors may want to work with their department to share materials another way.

Canvas Commons allows content to be shared with specific groups. A separate Canvas resource site can be created, or other options such as a Google Site may work.

Enroll an Observer

Canvas: Role Types

Request a non-credit Canvas course site 

Allow a student registered in a different term or section to see the course materials and/or participate in the course.

Or, allow a student with a schedule conflict to see the course materials and/or participate in the course.

Ask that the student update their registration to the correct term and section of the course; their Canvas enrollment will then be updated.

Sometimes, students have been added to a Canvas course from a directed study because they have a schedule conflict with the "regular" course. It is possible to override the schedule conflict in PeopleSoft so the student can register as desired.

Sections can be combined and cross-listed if needed.

Contact your department course scheduler for more information about course set up options.

Contact student services or advising about student registration.

Help a student who needs to finish an incomplete.

First, check to see whether an incomplete is appropriate according to the Grading & Transcripts policy.

Have the student finish the work in the course site that corresponds to their registration if possible.

If not, enroll the student in a new/future course for a now-concluded class to make up an Incomplete that requires interaction with other students

Manually Create a Section and Enroll Students

Share information between students taking a course for credit, and taking a non-credit course.

Due to Higher Learning Commission (HLC) requirements, these types of students can't be in the same course site.

Create a separate non-credit course site and upload the course to Canvas Commons as a way to keep the content in sync.

Request a non-credit Canvas course site

Share content with a Teaching Assistant (TA).

If the TA is added to PeopleSoft, they will automatically be added to the course site as a TA. Teaching Assistants in PeopleSoft with grade roster access of "Grade" or "Approve" will be enrolled with the Teacher role in Canvas. Teaching Assistants in PeopleSoft with grade roster access of "  " (left blank) will be enrolled with the TA role in Canvas.

If you have a unique TA need, learn about other Canvas: Role Types, or consult with [email protected] for assistance.

Enroll an Observer

Add students from another institution who are taking a course as "visiting students"

First, make sure the appropriate agreements are in place and the course is set up correctly in PeopleSoft.

Students from another institution should register in PeopleSoft for the course as a non-degree student at UMN.


Add a student to a course site so they can see it before the course starts.

Or, add a student who can't register yet.

Or, add a student who is observing the course.

Students can register for courses several months in advance. Once they are registered and the auto-generated course site exists, the students are in the course. The course needs to be opened for students to see it in Canvas.

If the course actually starts at a different time, consult with your department scheduler to set up the course differently.

If the student can't register because of a "hold," direct them to work with their advisor and/or One Stop to resolve the hold and to register. Once they register, Canvas will be updated automatically.

If a student is observing the course, but won't be taking it for a grade, the student should still be registered as an "auditor" in PeopleSoft. The student will then be added in Canvas.