Alamo Colleges District

Cross-listing & Re-cross-listing

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A Guide for Teachers and Admins

What is cross-listing?

Cross-listing (also known as co-listing or linking) is used in Canvas to combine the enrollments (students) from two or more courses into a single Canvas course shell. Cross-listing is typically used in the following scenarios:

  • The same course is taught under different names for different degrees (typical in Computer Science - for example, "Programming fundamentals I" is ITSE-1302 and COSC-1336), but the content is the same.
  • There are two (or more) levels of a subject (such as Latin Cardio Dance I and II), and students are combined to meet enrollment quotas.
  • An academic course has a CE equivalent with the same or similar content.
  • A teacher has multiple sections of the same course (ENGL-1302-001, ENGL-1302-002), and chooses to combine them to streamline workflow.
Advantages of cross-listing:
  • Only need to maintain content in one shell.
  • Gradebook, People, and Assignments can be filtered by section or not, depending on need.
  • Low-enrollment sections are combined for better student collaboration.
Disadvantages of cross-listing:
  • If the two courses have different outcomes, assignments, or due dates, it can be difficult to juggle the necessary settings.
  • Cross-listing multiple full-size classes can lead to an unwieldy Gradebook, Speedgrader, Analytics, etc.
Things to keep in mind when cross-listing:
  • Cross-listing, re-cross-listing, and de-cross-listing should be completed before students begin to work in the course shell. If students are moved out of their native course shell (by cross-listing or any other process such as withdrawal), their work in the class will no longer be accessible.
  • If you want to keep students from seeing and/or interacting with other sections, you will need to select the "Limit this user to only see fellow section users" option for each student.
Important Terms

Section - Sections are divisions of students within a course. Sections contain nothing but enrollments. All course sections view the same course content.

Course - Courses are units of instruction in one subject that typically last one term. We also use the term course shell to refer to the unique instance of a course. A course shell is where content is created, and where student participations/submissions are housed.

Enrollment - Enrollments in Canvas include all students registered for the class AND the assigned teacher(s).

Cross-list - Cross-listing allows you to move section enrollments from individual course shells and combine them into one course.

Parent shell - The course shell that you intend to use as the source of course content; the shell that you will be moving sections INTO.

Child shell - The course shell that contains the section to be moved; the shell that you will be moving a section OUT OF. This is where you initiate the cross-listing process.

Re-cross-list - After cross-listing a section, if you decide to move it to another course, you can use the re-cross-listing process to move it again.

De-cross-list - De-cross-listing is the process of moving the section back into the original shell. This process cannot be completed by the instructor, and must be done by an Account Administrator.

How to Cross-List

IMPORTANT: The actual process of cross-listing takes place in the child shell. This is unintuitive for many people. It helps to think of it this way - You are moving the section from the child shell into the parent shell. Like when your kids go to college and move back home. But you'll notice that step one is to go to the parent shell. This is only so you can grab the course ID to make things easier.


Decide which course will be the "parent" shell, where the course content for all sections will be (or already is) housed. Go to that course. 

Copy the course ID from the URL in the browser's address bar. You should only copy the course ID number, not the full web address.

In the URL find the Canvas ID

Go to the "child" shell (where the section you will be moving resides).


Go to the course Settings [1]

Click on the Sections tab [2]

Click on the section name [3]

Click on Settings, Sections tab, and section name

Click on the "Cross-List this Section" button.

Click on Cross-list this section button

In the box labeled "Or Enter the Course's ID:", paste the course ID you copied from the parent shell URL [1]


Hit the enter/return key on your keyboard, and you will see the name of the parent shell under "Selected Course:".

Verify that it is the correct course [2]


Click the "Cross-List This Section" button [3]

Enter the Course's ID, confirm the correct course shows, and click on Cross-list this section button

You will see a message that the section was successfully cross-listed, and you will notice that you have now been taken automatically to the parent shell.

Success message should show

To double-check everything, go to Settings > Sections, and note that you now have two sections - the section that originally existed in the parent shell, and the section that you just moved from the child shell.

Two or more sections should show on the sections tab

Repeat for any other sections you want to add to the parent shell.

How to Re-Cross-List

 If you have moved a section to the incorrect shell, you can re-cross-list the section by moving it to a different shell.

Go to the shell that you MEANT to cross-list into. This will be the new parent shell. Copy the course ID from the URL.

In the URL find the Canvas ID

Go back to the shell you incorrectly cross-listed your section into.


Go to the course Settings [1]

Click on the Sections tab [2]

Click on the section you want to move [3]

click on the incorrect section name that you to re-cross-list

Click on the "Re-Cross-List this section" button.

click on re-cross-list this section button

In the box labeled "Or Enter the Course's ID:", paste the course ID you just copied from the new parent shell [1]


Hit the enter/return key, and verify that the course that displays under "Selected Course:" is the correct one [2]


Click the "Cross-List This Section" button [3]

Enter the Course's ID, confirm the correct course shows, and click on Cross-list this section button

You will see a message that the section was successfully cross-listed, and you will notice that you have now been taken automatically to the new parent shell.


Success message should show
How to De-Cross-List

If you want to move the cross-listed section back to the original shell, you will need to contact a top-level Canvas administrators or Canvas Support (210-485-0555, option 2). Because your "enrollment" was moved out of that shell along with the students, you no longer have permission to access it.

NOTE: You will find Canvas guides for de-cross-listing that make it look like you can perform this step, but those guides are for institutions with manual enrollments. Because our Canvas data comes from Banner, we are unable to change teacher access to this function.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. If I have difficulties with the cross-listing process, who can I contact?

A. First, contact your college Instructional Innovation Center. You can also contact Canvas Support at 210-485-0555 (option 2).

Q. If I need to have a section de-cross-listed (moved back to the original shell) who can I contact?

A. Only top-level Canvas administrators can de-cross-list. Contact [email protected].

Q. Can I cross-list/re-cross-list/de-cross-list sections after the semester has started?

A. You should only make cross-listing changes during the semester if students have not submitted any work or participation (in Discussions, etc.). Cross-listing during the term will seriously mess up student data and analytics, and is not recommended.

Q. I accidentally cross-listed a course in progress and I lost all the work the students did in the original shell! How do I fix this?

A. Contact the top-level Canvas administrators listed above. De-cross-listing will restore enrollments AND all submissions/participations/etc. to the original shell.

Q. Can I cross-list sections that are being taught in different semesters?

A. Technically, Canvas will allow you to do this. However, it is not recommended (with the exception of CE/Academic semester pairing).

Q. I cross-listed two sections of ENGL-1301, but they both just say "Composition I" in my Gradebook, roster, and other places. How can I easily tell which is which?

A. You can re-name your sections to make it easier to differentiate between them (for example, make them "Composition I - Monday" and "Composition I - Tuesday").

Additional Resources
Need Further Assistance?

Canvas Support: 210-485-0555 (option 2) or click on "Help" in the Canvas global navigation.

Instructional Innovation Centers:


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