Canvas Sub-account Admin Guide




Canvas sub-accounts allow departments to customize functionality such as analytics, reporting, outcomes and rubrics. Unit/department sub-accounts are managed by Unit Admins.

If you are interested in having Unit Admin access, or you wish to have users removed from a sub-account, please contact the ITS Service Center.


Custom Sub-Accounts

custom sub-account is much like a "child" sub-account that lives within an existing "parent" or main sub-account. Unit Admins can create custom sub-accounts within the department (parent) sub-account.

Creating courses within sub-accounts

Unit Admins can create courses within, move existing courses to, or delete course from their sub-account/custom sub-account.

  • Courses created via SIS upload are associated with a specific sub-account. If these courses are moved to a different sub-account (e.g., a custom sub-account), they will be moved back to their default sub-account by a subsequent SIS upload.
  • Courses created manually within a sub-account or custom sub-account (not created via SIS upload) are not affected by subsequent SIS uploads. Rosters for these courses also need to be maintained manually.
  • When creating a course, use the course site name as the reference ID and choose the No Term option (in most cases).
  • You can create nested sub-accounts to organize your manually created courses (e.g., one called Projects, one called Course Templates, etc.).

Managing courses

In addition to creating courses, Unit Admins can:

Creating a Canvas site for non-course activities

Canvas sites can be used for collaboration, research, and training. Here are some things for instructors to consider when requesting a non-course Canvas site:

  • Canvas has been designed to best suit use cases where site owners are instructing others. For example, site owners are referred to as Teachers in Canvas and members are referred to as Students.
  • If you primarily need to share and collaborate on files, Google Drive may be a better option for you and offer features such as cloud storage, MCommunity group integrations, finer control of security settings, collaboration, and versioning features.
  • If you need to conduct surveys or collect research data, Qualtrics would be a good choice.

Functions and Features


Unit Admins can track and analyze what students, teachers, observers and designers are doing throughout the sub-account.

Canvas Commons

Unit Admins can upload custom content to Canvas Commons—such as course shells, quizzes, assignments, rubrics, etc.—and make it available to the public, only to U-M Canvas users, or only to users within their sub-account. Read more about Canvas Commons and explore the complete Canvas Commons Guide.

External Apps (LTI)

Canvas supports external apps using the IMS LTI standard. These apps can be configured at the sub-account level and course level. Please note that for apps that share student information, a Data Protection Agreement is required. Also, the ITS Teaching and Learning Team should be notified about any external apps that are used. Contact the ITS Service Center.


The default file storage quota for a course is 3 gigabytes, however, Unit Admins can increase this quota as needed.


Outcomes allow for the tracking of students' progress towards mastery of specifically defined outcomes or pedagogical goals. Assessments can be aligned with the mastery of learning outcomes through the use of Rubrics.

Question Banks

Question banks are sets of questions that can be created and stored at the sub-account level, allowing users to import them for use in designing quizzes.

Reporting / Activity Logs

Several reporting options are available to Unit Admins including grade exports, user-access and outcomes results. If your unit needs a reporting option not currently available in Canvas, contact the ITS Service Center to inquire about customized reporting options.


You can create sub-account level Rubrics that can be accessed by all course sites in the sub-account.

Additional Information

For additional questions, please contact the ITS Service Center

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Article ID: 12139
Mon 5/20/24 10:54 AM
Mon 5/20/24 11:59 AM