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Community Member

What do you need to consider before moving your course to another sub-account?

Our school has been using Canvas for 3 years now. So, now is the time to get the Canvas hierarchy in order by organizing in sub-accounts and courses.
I have created new sub-accounts, and moved existing sub-accounts. I now need to sort courses, by moving them to the correct sub-accounts.

Are there any consequences that one must take into account, when moving courses around the hierarchy. Any links that stop working? Quizzes? etc
Or do the courses live their "isolated life", and can be moved around without thinking about the consequences?

Thank you in advance for your response.

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Community Champion

I think most built-in Canvas functionality will be unaffected by moving a course from one subaccount to another.  That being said, there are some specific cases where you could run in to issues.

Off the top of my head:

  1. If you installed any external tool integrations in one subaccount, but not any others, you'll need to be careful when moving courses out of that subaccount to another, as if they use the integration and it's not available in the new subaccount, things will break.
  2. Similarly, if you have defined any outcomes at a subaccount level, the outcomes might break if you move courses to other subaccounts
  3. Any custom css/js you've done in one subaccount might be different in another and cause minor issues.
  4. If permissions have been set differently in your subaccounts, moving courses might affect what some people can do in the course.

I'm sure there are more, but hopefully these examples give you an idea of what to look for.  Basically if you have set everything up in your root account now, you'll probably not run into issues.

Hope this helps!


Community Member

Thanks chriscas!. Then I know what to look for!

Community Coach
Community Coach

@chriscas brings up some good points that I didn't necessarily think of related to moving courses to sub-accounts.  For us, we also had all of our courses at the main root account level for a few years, and then we decided to move to the sub-account structure.  To save us some time, we actually used a CSV file and the SIS Import screen to move our courses to the new sub-account structure we now use.  We now have a structure that looks similar to this (I've removed the actual names of the sub-accounts...but you'll get the idea):

  • Sub-Account 1
    • Sub-Account 1a
    • Sub-Account 1b
    • Sub-Account 1c
  • Sub-Account 2
    • Sub-Account 2a
    • Sub-Account 2b
  • Sub-Account 3
    • Sub-Account 3a
    • Sub-Account 3b
    • Sub-Account 3c

At our Technical College, we have Deans and Associate Deans.  With this sub-account structure, we have set it up so that our three Deans have access to their own program area's sub-account (one of the bold sub-accounts).  Then, each of the Associate Deans have access to their own sub-account (in italics).  So, for example, an Associate Dean would only have access to Sub-Account 2a, and another Associate Dean would only have access to Sub-Account 2b, but a Dean (who oversees both of the ADs) would have access to Sub-Account 2.

It was a little bit of a learning process for us using the CSV file to ensure that it was going to upload properly via the SIS Import screen.  Once we created the sub-account structure, we needed to go into a given sub-account, and then click on the "Settings" menu for that sub-account.  In the SIS ID field, we needed to add a number in that field so that Canvas knew where to move the course(s) to.  So, if the URL of our sub-account looked like this: 

...we just put the sub-account SIS ID as 123 to make things easy for us.

I hope this all makes sense and will be of some help to you.

(Also, as an aside... if you want to tag people in your replies, you can type the @ symbol to mention people in your postings.  This also works for documents, too.)

Thanks for the reply @chofer!

We will use a similar structure that you have chosen.

I have spent a lot of time here in the forum to get acquainted with the administration of canvas.

Everyone who has shared their experience here with tips and tricks has been a great help to me.

I have started using API with curl and PUT command to move courses.
After figuring out which command I need to use, I paste it into the windows command prompt and press enter.
curl "https: //*******" -X PUT -H "Authorization: Bearer 12677 **********" -d " course [account_id] = 63 "

I use the concatenate function in MS Excel to create the command line. I make sure that only canvas_course_id change when the row cell is dragged down.
This way I can loop through the command. Without knowing much about programming 🙂


Community Participant

If you use blueprint courses it's worth bearing in mind that associated courses must be in the same or lower subaccount than the blueprint

Additionally, if your changes tempt you to delete a blueprint it seems that you should remove associations before deletion otherwise it seems that courses associated with a deleted blueprint cannot be associated with a new blueprint...