Change Course Role in Canvas via the API

Published: 2019-06-12 01:53 |

Category: Code | Tags: api, canvas lms, code, python, user management

Continuing my Canvas excursions...

We recently made a change where teachers could not manually add students to their courses. The change was made because manually enrolling a student breaks the grade passback to our SIS, which causes double the work to fix the problem in the first place.

But, this also affects manually-created courses that don't need the grade passback. One workaround is to add all students as a TA or teacher, but then you run into issues where students have access to grades.

The API doesn't allow you to directly change a user's enrollment status. You need to delete the user object from the course and then re-enroll to change the status. The change in the UI on the website does the same thing, but they make it look nice with a dropdown and it doesn't actually tell you that the user was deleted and re-added all in one step.

The nice thing about the API method is that you can set their enrollment state to active by default, which removes the course invitation notification and acceptance step for someone who is just having their status changed.

The example below is what I used to convert all students who were added as TAs back into Students. As always, I'm using the UCF Open Python library to handle the API calls.

from canvasapi import Canvas

canvas = Canvas('your_url', 'your_key')

course = canvas.get_course(course_id)

enrollments = course.get_enrollments(type='TaEnrollment')

for stu in enrollments:
    user_id = stu.user_id

    # the `deactivate` method takes a **kwarg to define what type of deactivation.
    # accepted strings: ['conclude', 'delete', 'deactivate', 'inactivate']
    course.enroll_user(user_id, 'StudentEnrollment', enrollment_state='active')

This does wipe out the 'Last Activity' field in the People tab, so if that's important to you, make the change before the course is published. I made the change for a user, going from student to teacher and back with no loss of grade data, which was nice to see.

Comments are always open. You can get in touch by sending me an email at