Combine Multiple Sections Into A Single Canvas Course

arrows_mergingA Canvas course shell is automatically generated for each official scheduled District section.  

Instructors can request to have multiple course sections combined together into a single Canvas course, while still recognizing which students are enrolled in each section.

When sections are combined, the instructor can still view student enrollments for each section, filter the Gradebook to display only a specific section, differentiate due dates per section, and more.


An instructor teaches three sections of the same class on different days and times, but the content is basically the same for all sections.  Rather than managing the same duplicated content in three Canvas courses, all students will access the content from a single Canvas course.

In this scenario, the instructor might benefit from combining the three course sections into a single Canvas course.  

Primary Course Section: An official course section in Canvas, chosen by the instructor to contain content, and serve as the single course used by students in multiple sections.

Merged Course Section #1: A second official course section in Canvas, with student enrollments, merged into the Primary Course Section.

Merged Course Section #2: A third official course section in Canvas, with student enrollments, merged into the Primary Course Section.

Diagram of Primary section and merged sections

The instructor is teaching three sections of the same course. Two sections are merged into the third, resulting in a single Canvas course for all three sections of students.

Important notes about combining course sections in Canvas:

  • Combining sections is only available by request (see link below) prior to the beginning of a term.
  • Sections may not be combined once a course has begun (student access and activity has occurred).
  • Choose a “Primary” section to hold content.  One course section will contain the course content, and serve as the single course for students in any merged sections. 

Pedagogical And Logistic Considerations

  • Develop your content in a single Primary course.  There is no need to add content in the course sections to be combined.
  • If the combine sections meet on different days of the week, most course content (modules, pages, files) cannot be released separately per section.  All areas of the course will be available to all students in all sections.
  • Assignments can be configured with a different Due Date and Availability dates separately each section.
  • Grades can be viewed separately for each section.

Technical Considerations

  • Combining sections must occur before the first day of class.
  • Any prior student work will become inaccessible once a section has been combined.
    Coursework is retained with the section, not with the enrollment, so if a Published course is merged, enrollments in the section will lose any associated assignment submissions and grades.  They will not visible in the Primary section.



15 Responses to “Combine Multiple Sections Into A Single Canvas Course”

  1. Mike Matiasek says:

    I was wondering if you could clarify this bullet point for us:
    “Coursework is retained with the course, not with the section enrollments, so if a published course is cross-listed, all cross-listed enrollments will lose any associated assignment submissions and grades.”

    Would this scenario only occur if you tried to cross-list after a course started in separate shells?

    Thanks for your clarifications.


    • Chris Palmarini (TMI) says:


      My understanding is that if a student has done work in a particular section before it was cross-listed, any student work and grades will not be carried over to the “master” (combined) course, but is left behind in the original section, making it inaccessible unless the section is de-cross-listed later.

      This is why it is recommended to perform cross-listing prior to publishing a course. Hope this helps!

      / chris p.

  2. Suzanne Wakim says:

    If we have 2 sections that are being cross-listed, would it be better to create a master and then cross-list both courses or make one course the master and cross-list one course? [Or will either way work?]

    Thanks :)

    • Chris Palmarini (TMI) says:

      If you only have two sections to combine, then you can make one of those sections the “parent” course to hold content. The other (“child”) section should then be cross-listed into the parent course. Remember, the cross-listing action is actually done in the child course. After that, the child course disappears from view on the Dashboard, Courses list, etc, and all enrollments will then be visible only in the parent course.
      / chris p.

  3. Dan Barnett says:

    Is there a way to combine my three online Intro to Logic sections? How?


    • Chris Palmarini (TMI) says:

      Hi Dan. Yes! Manual cross-listing by faculty is no longer available (due to some unforseen complications with enrollment updates when sections were cross-listed more than once. So, we’re back to the ‘by request’ method for now.

      Use the link at the bottom of the page above to get to the Section Merge Request form.

      / chris

  4. Daniel Griggs says:

    Today is 9 January. I don’t see the official shells created yet, but I have requested the cross listing. Do I need to load content (from sandbox) into both courses or just the “parent/primary”?
    I think this question might be covered above, but just to be clear: My understanding is that the “child” course appears to the instructor only as a “section” within the parent. So loading content into the “child” is not needed, nor even possible(?)

    • Chris Palmarini (TMI) says:

      Hi Daniel,

      Spring courses will be available later today. You are correct that content only needs to be added to the Primary (parent) course. Any merged (child) sections can be left empty. In fact, once a section in merged, it is no longer accessible on its own.

  5. Bill Hubbard says:

    I have 3 sections of the same course on different days that I would like to merge. I give in class quizzes and exams that require adding an assignment solely for the purpose of entering grades. Since they are on different days, will I be able to show those days (in effect due dates) for each section when adding the assignment? I understand that assignments to be completed through Canvas can have different due dates for each section, so it seems logical that the same would apply. In other words, when creating an assignment, all 3 sections would appear on the screen when putting in due dates – correct?

  6. Lisa Berman says:

    Do I copy my course from last semester first or merge my two sections first and then copy last semester’s content into the new merged parent shell? Does this make any sense and does it matter which comes first?

    • Chris Palmarini (TMI) says:

      Hi Lisa,

      While you can do these things in either order, I would recommend having the courses merged first, then doing the content import. This will avoid the possibility of importing content into a merged “child” section, which would then be unavailable after the merge.

  7. Sue says:

    I just had three sections merged but I am not sure what to do now. Is there a guide for adding content, etc. that you can point me to? I can’t seem to find anything.

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