New Member

How did you plan out your Sub Accounts and Groups?

We're currently in the midst of moving from D2L SaaS to Canvas. Currently our courses all fall into a "one big bucket" system. Can anyone share their strategy surrounding the implementation of Sub Accounts and Groups?  

10 Replies
Community Team
Community Team

Hello  @shah_yazdanian , and welcome to the Community.  Welcome to Canvas!

Many institutions choose to create nested sub-account structures that mirror their own institutional hierarchy or that of their student information system, so you might have sub-accounts for universities with sub-accounts for colleges, with sub-accounts for departments, etc.

You can read more about sub-accounts here: How do I view and manage a sub-account? 

I hope this helps you!

Community Champion

For what it is worth, the more delineated you make your sub-accounts the better.  We have had several situations where we have needed to make some global settings changes that we really did not want to affect too many courses and the fact we could dial down really helped.  

We also created a few sub-accounts not tied to any actual taught courses for the purpose of having/giving different rights on those courses.  For example, we created a sub-account for "sandboxes" so that those are not tied to a term.

Coach Emeritus

Hi  @shah_yazdanian  

I am happy to see you asking this question in here. You will want to think closely about sub-accounts, and even if you really need them. We just created our first ones (after 7 years), based on our instructional divisions with the Division Deans as the sub-account admins.

 @scottdennis  and  @nwilson7  provided excellent advice.  I would suggest creating a diagram of how you might like to structure your sub-accounts, then share it with a few key folks the see if it makes sense and get their input.

Ask yourself, "What do you hope to accomplish using sub-accounts?" 


Coach Emeritus

Hi Shah,
I wanted to provide some additional advice from my learnings, I would add (to all the other awesome advice you have received) think about how you want to delineate access permissions.

The great thing I have used the Sub-account delineation for in the past is to empower areas of the institution/school over their subset of the data. For example this might be logical to be per faculty. You can then let them see statistics about their subset of the data and have some more finely tuned administrative permissions, without giving them access to everything system wide.

So I absolutely echo Kelley's thoughts about, what do you hope to accomplish? If you can tell us that we can collectively help guide your design.

Hope that helps!


Hi  @stuart_ryan  

Yes, our not-so-secret goal was to empower our Deans to be much more aware and directly involved in course quality and accessibility, otherwise, we had little need for sub-accounts; and prior to some recent changes, our Deans had little interest. But then, we are a small school and did not really need this level of organization, nor a more finite level of control.


Coach Emeritus

OOOH smart move Kelley, it certainly is a great way to empower areas of the school/institution. I think anything that helps us provide that to the school at large is definitely a win! As you mentioned though, largely depends on how much organisation and granularity you need.

Community Coach
Community Coach

 @shah_yazdanian ...

We just recently implemented sub-accounts at our school after having all courses listed in our main account for several years.  It kinda looks like this:

  • Main Account (no courses)
    • Applied Trades & Technologies (no courses)
      • Business & IT (courses)
      • Manufacturing (courses)
      • Trades (courses)
    • Health & Human Services (no courses)
      • Health (courses)
      • Human Services (courses)
      • Nursing (courses)

This is only part of our sub-account structure...but you get the idea.  Courses are only assigned to the sub-accounts I've listed that are in bold lettering...not to any of the upper-level sub-accounts...if that makes sense.

I hope this helps.

Community Participant


We are in the process of setting up our account structure and I am looking for a way that we could create an export report or diagram from Canvas to show all the sub-accounts that we've set up, did you come across anything like this? I'd like to be able to illustrate the structure to explain to different admin roles what they will have access to, and do this from Canvas rather than my own diagram if that was possible. Any suggestions would be welcome!

0 Kudos

Hi Helen,

Unfortunately I don't know of an automated report like you are describing.  When we were setting up our sub accounts I just manually created a slide deck organized pretty closely to what Chris shared above.

Community Participant

Thanks Scott, I've just realised that if I run the SIS export report for accounts from root instead of from the sub-account that I was using, then this will give us a full list of all the sub-accounts. This at least gives us something to check.