Why do some students appear enrolled in multiple sections of my cross-listed Canvas course?

Quick Links: | Environment | Solution | Root Cause |

Instructors who have courses cross-listed in Canvas may encounter a confusing issue where it appears that students are enrolled in multiple sections. This situation can lead to misunderstandings about the actual enrollment status of students, potentially impacting class management and communication. The issue stems from Canvas retaining students' previous enrollments, even after they have switched sections, making the course roster seem inaccurate.


  • This issue is observed in Canvas by instructors using cross-listed courses.
  • Affects course rosters viewed directly from the course's People page.


To address the confusion arising from viewing enrollments in cross-listed courses in Canvas, follow these steps to view an accurate roster:

  1. To verify a student's current section enrollment, select the student's name in the course's People section. A menu will slide out displaying the section they are actually enrolled in.
    Student context card in a cross-listed course. The student is shown as being in a different section than the parent course.
  2. For an accurate view of the roster for each section, select New Analytics from the course's sidebar.
  3. In the New Analytics interface, click on Students.
  4. Use the dropdown menu to choose the section you wish to view. This will display an accurate roster for the selected section, showing only the students currently enrolled in it.

Root Cause

The issue stems from Canvas's handling of enrollments in cross-listed courses. When students switch sections within a cross-listed course, Canvas retains a record of their old enrollment while updating to reflect their new section. This retention leads to the appearance of students being enrolled in multiple sections simultaneously, even though they are officially only enrolled in one. This behavior is part of Canvas's design to maintain enrollment history.

Still need help? Reach out to Canvas support or the Technology & Learning Program for further assistance.

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Article ID: 113719
Wed 2/7/24 1:15 PM
Mon 2/12/24 3:28 PM

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Cross-listing courses in Canvas is a useful feature that allows instructors to combine multiple course sections into a single "parent" course. In Canvas, cross-listing is performed by the instructor. This article discusses what a cross-listed course is, who can cross-list courses, and provides step-by-step instructions on how to cross-list courses in Canvas.