Canvas How-To: Merge Course & Section Enrollments

This page explains how instructors can merge enrollments from multiple Canvas course shells into a single shell.  This is useful in the case of courses that are offered in more than one department as well as cases where the same instructor is teaching multiple sections of the same numbered course.

Note: Merge with care! This page is only for instructors whose courses are not already cross-listed in PeopleSoft's course schedule.  If your courses have been cross-listed in PeopleSoft, you do not need to merge them in Canvas - it will be handled automatically for you.
Privacy: Federal privacy laws protect student names in course rosters.  As such, all course sections in Canvas have the default set to limit students to seeing only the students in their own section.  If this setting is not appropriate to your situation and you need students to be able to see students in all the sections of a course, contact OAT for assistance.

By default, every course in PeopleSoft receives a unique Canvas shell.  This is why multiple shells can appear on the Dashboard for courses that might typically be considered a single course.

Two Canvas course cards with a descriptive label reading "Note presence of two courses"
Figure 1: Multiple sections of the same course each have a unique Canvas shell.

Step 1: Determine Child-Parent Course Relationship

Decide which course will be the "child" course - meaning its enrollments and shell will become part of a "parent" course.  It is the child course that you are going to merge in Canvas.  Likewise, determine which course will be the parent course. It is the parent course that you will do all of your course development and student management in.

Tip #1: Consider the course with the highest section number to be the child course.  For example, section 002 is best thought of as the child to section 001.

Tip #2: Any Canvas course can be merged into any other course - the two courses do not need to be related in terms of department or course title.

Tip #3: You can merge as many child courses as desired into the same parent course.

After merging, students who are enrolled in the child course in PeopleSoft will have access to the parent course in Canvas.  Those students will not be officially enrolled in the parent course in PeopleSoft; they merely have access and can participate in the parent course in Canvas.

Step 2: Merge the Child Course to the Parent Course

From your Dashboard, click the CHILD course to enter it.

  1. Click Settings in the course menu
  2. Click the Sections tab
  3. Click on the named link for the child course
    Numbered steps to merge one section into another. See full text for details.

On the next screen, click the button to "Cross-List this Section".

Button labeled Cross-List this Section

In the pop-up dialog screen, search for the Parent course to cross-list into and complete the cross-listing process.

  1. Type in the "Search for course:" field to find the parent course. Click on its name to select it.
  2. Confirm that the correct course has been selected as the parent course.
  3. Click Cross-List this Section to complete the process.
    Numbered steps to search for and select a section to cross-list a course into.

Repeat all of Step 2 with any other course(s) that will be merged into the parent course.

Step 3: Confirm the Merge

Return to your Dashboard - the child course is no longer present.  Go into the parent course and click the People link to view the combined enrollments.

A single course card on the dashboard with the label "Note presence of one course"


Unmerging Courses

Instructors cannot unmerge a Canvas course once it has been cross-listed. Only a Canvas administrator can do this. Contact for assistance.

Need Help?

For questions and assistance cross-listing courses/sections, contact

Updated: January 25, 2024