What is a term?

Document created by Canvas Doc Team Employee on Oct 7, 2017Last modified by Canvas Doc Team Employee on Jul 14, 2018
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The basic function of a term is to give a default set of start and end dates to any course assigned to that term. Terms can be added manually or created through SIS imports.

Canvas always includes a default term, which cannot be removed. However, you can create terms with specific start and end dates.

Once a user is added to a course, terms set default dates for when users have access to courses assigned to that term. Access relates to published courses.

View a video about Terms.

Default User Dates

  View Term Details 

Once you have set dates for the entire term, the default settings for Canvas user roles are:

  • Students inherit the term start and term end date.
  • Teachers, TAs, and Designers dates inherit a whenever start date to the term end date. Whenever means that these user roles can always access a course before the term begins.


Retaining the default term settings seem to be preferred by the majority of Canvas institutions, as they allow Teachers, TAs, and Designers to ensure course content will be ready by the course start date.

Custom User Dates

  Custom User Dates 

If necessary, you can set specific access dates for each user role. Note that a change to the Teachers, TAs, and Designers start dates affects their ability to access unpublished courses in the term.

For example, if you want teachers to only be able to access unpublished courses two months before the term start date, and TAs only one week before the term start date, you can set a new start date for each of their respective roles. Date changes to a base role affect all users with the role, including custom roles.

Learn how to create term dates.

Note: SIS imports cannot specify specific dates for each user group. Those dates must be changed manually.

Course Override Dates

Not all courses within a term conform to the term dates, as course or section start dates may override the term dates. Course or section overrides may be before or after the start of the term. Learn how term dates work with course and section dates.

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