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Learner II

Sub-Account Usage

I am working on organizing my production catalog courses in Canvas into Sub-Accounts and Sub-Sub-accounts. Eventually, my plan is to have deans of colleges or staff members have an observer role so that they can see how the courses are being used. My question is, how are other schools using sub-accounts? Do you use them for data elements?

Any feedback would be awesome!

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9 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

We only use sub-accounts for divisions that have "Coordinators" so that way the Coordinators can have full admin access to the courses in their division. This is great for us because that way they can copy content into courses as needed (without having to be added to EVERY course), add updates/information as needed, and go in and check on courses as needed.

I know we use sub-accounts sparingly compared to some schools, but I hope this helps! I'm also going to share this with the Canvas Admins​ group to see if they can provide additional ideas/information.

Thank you, Kona! Messaging was one of the elements I overlooked!


We use sub-accounts as a way to assign courses to their colleges in Canvas. Basically, our automated feed is pulling the college code of course assignment from our SIS and when created in Canvas, we are placing them in that sub-account. We do this because we have Academic Technology Liaisons (ATLs) that are an extension to Academic Technology and work specifically for a college. They have sub-account admin access and can be on the front lines of support. Additionally, this helps us deploy college specific LTIs and prevent unauthorized use by the rest of the college.


Thank you, Shane! I like the idea of assigning specific items to colleges. Do you know if your colleges do anything with the analytics of the subaccounts, for instance for accreditation or strategic planning or number knowledge?

Great question...we are still fairly new onto Canvas, so the sub-account admins have been going slowly to learn about it. It is not their primary job after all, so the uptake is slow. I do anticipate that they'll begin using analytics and some reporting for accreditation soon.

Community Member

Much like others, we use sub-accounts to provide visibility for administrators/support. We're a secondary school, so we have slightly different priorities/needs, but it's been great to have a sub-account under each of our deans, which breaks into sub-sub-accounts of departments, with sub-sub-sub-accounts (rarely) for specific programs. We define dean and department chair administrator roles that have total (read-only) visibility. We also add faculty (with read-only visibility to teacher-posted content) into their departments and divisions. This gives them visibility into whatever good ideas their peers have — everyone can just share links to "that thing in my class" and everyone can see it. Plus they have a shortcut to departmental course info under the Admin menu. We also use sub-accounts to target particular LTI integrations, and periodically will even rebrand particular sub-accounts (especially for programs that host external students in online courses). Kona's point about messaging to particular sub-accounts is huge — and we've been targeting particular roles within particular sub-accounts, even. On top of all that, as we do more and more with Canvas Data, having an account structure that mirrors our organization makes (pretty) easy to group or drill down into analytics by division, department, program, teacher, etc.

So, yeah… a rich sub-account structure hasn't created any unnecessary overhead for us, and it gives us lots more hooks for targeting/analyzing teaching and learning. With a flatter structure, we would be storing much of this same information in course SIS IDs and having to parse it back out again — meh.

Surveyor II

We too are pulling sub-accounts/sub-sub-accounts from our SIS.  There are Division Chairs who are assigned elevated roles to keep an eye on courses in their departments.  There are two primary advantages to sub-accounts for us right now:

  • isolation of elevated roles
  • department level control and reporting of outcomes and rubrics

We are leaning into our second year with Canvas, and still working on some things, but it's coming together nicely.

Learner II

I have an idea out for voting on sub accounts to help more with analytics pitching to departments:

Great idea, thanks for posting it.