How do Master and Derivative Courses work?

Master Courses allow you to manage multiple courses while working only in one.

Master/Derivative summary

Echo's master and derivative structure allows content to be edited in the master course to be replicated to the derivative courses. This is most commonly used to create multiple sections of the same course or to allow teacher to collaborate on curriculum development.

  • Any change made to the master rolls down to the derivative(s)
  • Changes made in the derivative do not roll up to the master
  • Changes made in the derivative (i.e. due dates, settings, etc) are considered customized changes that won't be overwritten even if the same element is changed in the master.
  • Master courses CANNOT have any students enrolled

Creating a Master Course

A course becomes a master when you create a derivative.  There is no special process to creating a master course. It is the same process as creating a course.


Creating a Derivative Course

 Watch this tutorial via video.


From your Home page, click on Manage courses icon at the top right of your screen, and select Create course.

In the Create Course panel:

  1. Select the Copy From Your Domain tab at the top of the create course panel.
  2. Find the original course by entering the title or course ID.
  3. Select Updates (Derivative Child Copy).  
  4. Give the course a title that is unique from the (generally schools use derivatives as specific classes from a master, so it's good to name the course as such, like "Algebra 1 Period 1").
  5. By default, the correct school year with grading periods should already be selected (Echo Admins control the domain grading period settings).
  6. Select Teacher-Owner as your role (Note: The Teacher role cannot enroll students and the Owner role cannot enter grades. The Teacher-Owner role gives the teacher all the permissions needed to manage the course).
  7. Enter a start and end date. These dates will be used by the system as defaults when enrolling students in the course.  Enrollment start and end dates control when the course appears on the student's workspace.
  8. In most cases, the continuous course options should NOT be selected. Continuous courses are designed to allow students to start and complete the course at any time throughout the year and checking this box will disable setting due dates for assignments. To learn more about continuous courses, click here. The other checkbox allows due dates, visibility settings, and grade release dates to be adjusted based on the course's start date.
  9. If the course had grading periods set previously, they can be mapped to match the current domain set grading periods. Choose the correct grading periods in the dropdown menus if needed.
  10. Click Create to generate the course. The new course card will appear on the homepage.  


Now this course, along with the Master will appear on your homepage.


You may choose to hide the Master:

  • Click on Manage Courses
  • View/Delete Courses
  • Check the box beside the Master course to hide it

When you go to edit your derivative course, you need to be sure you are in the right course.

You are prompted to be sure which course is being edited - most course edits should be made in the master. If an edit is made to a derivative, it can break the connection to receive updates from the master.

How might you choose to use Master and Derivatives

Using Derivatives to Create Sections of the Same course

Create a master course and then a derivative for each section you teach allowing for customization of due dates and content for each section.

How  might you choose to use Master and Derivatives

Derivatives to Collaborate on Curriculum

You can also use master courses to collaborate with your teaching team.

Create a shared master that all members of the team can collaborate on and individual derivatives so that each teacher still has control of their own class activities.

Use Derivatives to Share Managed Curriculum

Schools and districts can also create master courses that are distributed to teachers.

In this case, the curriculum is centrally managed and teachers don’t have authoring rights to the master.

Additional articles



  • Save time by setting up your Master and Derivative courses so you can copy between sections, terms, school years, etc.
  • If you want to make changes to the content of a Derivative Course's Master, click on the Main Navigation Menu and click on your course. This will take you to the Main menu to select your Master course.

NOTE: For 2nd Semester Courses

For semester long courses, make a static copy of your master course and then a new set of derivatives for your different sections.  

DO NOT use the same master, this will cause issues with your existing derivatives.

More Echo 2nd Semester FAQs



Echo is constantly being improved based on the feedback from users and we strive to keep our documentation up to date.  If this document doesn’t match what you are seeing in Echo, please let us know.



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