Canvas: Role Types

Everyone enrolled in a Canvas course site must be assigned a role. Each role has an associated set of permissions that give the user appropriate levels of access to Canvas functions in that site.

Role Types


Users with the Student role can:

  • View course content
  • Complete assigned activities
  • Produce/upload appropriate content types (discussion postings, group pages, file uploads, etc.)
  • Administrative privileges are limited to those specifically assigned by instructors:
    • Creating/editing course pages as assigned
    • Grading colleagues in peer review activities, etc.

Test Student

This Test Student role functions identically to the Student role. The role enables instructors and designers to:

  • Simulate the student experience
  • Validate course and activity settings
  • Review content structure and sequencing, etc.

See Enroll a Test Student.


Teacher (PeopleSoft-associated class sites)

Users with the Teacher (PeopleSoft-associated class sites) role have the permissions required to build/manage PeopleSoft-enrolled classes, including:

  • Creating/editing course content and activities
  • Manage top-level activities such as:
    • Changing the course state i.e., publish/unpublish courses
    • Building/managing course outcomes
    • Grading student work, etc.

Teachers can add/remove teachers/designers/TAs. 

New users with the student/teacher/TAs roles will be added directly from PeopleSoft. For more information, see Options for Adding Users to Course Sites.

Teacher (non-PeopleSoft class sites)

Users with the Teacher (non-PeopleSoft class sites) role have broad permissions to:

  • Manage course content/activities
  • Assess student work
  • Oversee day-to-day operations in non-PeopleSoft course settings.

Since this role is intended for use in sites without PeopleSoft enrollments or formal FERPA security requirements, users in this role have the ability to:

  • Add students and users in course administrative roles (teachers, designers, TAs, etc.)

Non-Editing Instructor

Users with the Non-Editing Instructor role:

  • Can manage day-to-day course operations
  • Can grade student work
  • Cannot build/edit course content

Disability Resource Center (DRC) Service Provider

The purpose of this role is to enable service providers (DRC staff such as interpreters, captioners, and Document Conversion staff) to review published and unpublished learning content and activities (including Discussions postings). This access will allow DRC service providers to:

  • Prepare course materials to provide access for students registered with the DRC. 
  • View your content only; they will not edit or change the visibility of your content.

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant

Meant for those with lightweight course-administrative responsibilities, users with the Undergraduate Teaching Assistant role can:

  • Add/build course content
  • Monitor course workflows, i.e.:
    • Viewing/responding to discussion postings
    • Tracking activity submissions and posting reminders
    • Updating course announcements

Currently, users with this role cannot grade assignments, view the course gradebook, or build/edit assignments.

Teaching Assistant

Users with the Teacher Assistant (TA) role have the permissions required to build/manage PeopleSoft-enrolled classes, including:

  • Creating/editing course content and activities
  • Grade student work


Users with the Designer role have the permissions necessary to

  • Build/edit course content and activities
  • Manage day-to-day course operations
  • Manage administrative permissions for PeopleSoft courses (e.g., managing learning outcomes).

Although Designers can see grades in a course site, the Designer role lacks the permissions necessary to grade student work. Those permissions are currently reserved for Teachers and Teaching Assistants.


Users with the Observer role can

  • Review course content
  • Review instructor-student interactions in the Discussions tool

Observers cannot:

  • View grades
  • Create or edit course content
  • View student assignment submissions
  • Assess students
  • Exercise higher order course administrative functions


Users with the Advisor role can:

  • Review course content
  • See grades and course participation measures. Having these permissions allows the user to appropriately advise and support students.

Like Observers, Advisors lack permissions to:

  • Build course content
  • Assess student work
  • Administer courses

*Due to FERPA regulations, unofficial auditing of a course is no longer permitted. Contact [email protected] for help with any enrollment situations that fall outside of the chart below for possible workaround solutions that will allow someone to view course content without compromising FERPA regulations.  

Role comparison table

The table below shows the access levels for each role.

Access Levels for Each Role

View Course


Add or Edit Course Content or Activities (publish/unpublish, etc.)

View Users in Class People List*



Participate in Activities or Post to Discussions



Edit Grades (including sending to PeopleSoft)

Student   ✔* own  
Test Student   ✔* own  
Non-Editing Instructor  
Undergraduate Teaching Assistant    
Teaching Assistant  
Disability Resource Center (DRC) Service Provider          

* Instructors can choose to remove the People list option from the Student/Test Student view.