4.23.5. Advanced Third Party Authentication Features#

The Open edX Third Party Authentication feature offers many advanced configuration options and integration points that can be used to customize the sign in experience for learners using specific third party providers. None of the following features are required for a typical installation, but they may be useful. Skip Registration Form#

When you configure an OAuth2 or SAML provider in the Django admin, there is a boolean Skip registration form option for that provider. Normally, when a new user signs in with an external provider, the information sent to Open edX is only used to pre-fill the registration form. When Skip registration form is enabled for a provider, the information sent to Open edX is also used to pre- fill the registration form, but then the form is automatically submitted before the user has a chance to see it. If the registration succeeds, the user will immediately be signed in to their newly created account and can start learning right away. However, if there is any error, such as no email address was provided automatically (since email addresses are required) or the email address of the student conflicts with another existing Open edX user account, then the pre-filled registration form will still be displayed to the student, along with an error message. The student can then fix the error and submit the form to complete the registration process. Skip Email Verification#

When you configure an OAuth2 or SAML provider in the Django admin, there is a boolean Skip email verification for that provider. Normally, all users are required to verify their email address by clicking a link in the verification email that gets automatically sent to the user upon registration. When this option is selected, Open edX trusts that the email address provided by the external authentication provider is correct.

If a user registering with a provider that has this option enabled, and the user’s email address matches the email address that was sent to Open edX by the external provider, the user’s email address will be marked as verified, and no verification email will be required. (However, the email address sent by the external provider is only used to pre-fill the registration form, and the user has a chance to edit the email address on the registration form before creating their account. If they edit their email address so that it no longer matches the email address sent by the external provider, the user will still be required to verify their email address as usual.) Hinted Sign In#

When you link to Open edX, you can create “hinted links” that prompt the user to sign in using a specific provider. For example, the following link represents a typical link to an example course.


The following link represents a hinted link to the same course. At the end of the URL, ?tpa_hint=oa2-google-oauth2 has been added.


When users select the typical link, they go to the sign in page. When they select the hinted link, they receive a “Would you like to sign in using your Google credentials?” prompt that includes a large button to use Google to sign in, as well as a small button to use other sign in options.

The intended use case of this feature is for organizations that wish to provide a link from an on-premise system (or a course in another LMS like Canvas) to a course in Open edX. In that case, the organizations will want students to sign in using the organizations’ SAML providers. By using hinted links, the sign in and/or registration process will be simpler for students, as they won’t have to select a sign in provider or enter a password.

To create a hinted link for an OAuth2 provider, append ?tpa_hint=oa2-providername to any Open edX URL, where providername is the “Backend Name” value from the “Provider Configuration (OAuth)” section of the Open edX Django admin.

To create a hinted link for a SAML provider, append ?tpa_hint=saml-idpslug to any Open edX URL, where idpslug is the “Idp slug” value from the “Provider Configuration (SAML IdP)” section of the Open edX Django admin. Auto-enrollment#

Open edX has a feature that allows instructors, marketing teams, and others to create links that automatically enroll students who click the link into a specific course.

If you send users to {LMS base URL}/account/finish_auth and include course_id, enrollment_action, and optional course_mode and email_opt_in parameters, the system auto-enrolls the user in the specified course.

For example, the following URL would auto-enroll the user who clicks this link into the edX Demo course (that course’s ID, course-v1:edX+DemoX+Demo_Course, has been url-encoded as the value of the course_id parameter). If the user is not signed in, they are auto-enrolled after they sign in or register.


You can include the following parameters.

  • enrollment_action: This is required so that the auto-enrollment behavior is triggered. It must be set to either enroll (for free courses) or add_to_cart (for paid courses). If add_to_cart is used, learners are directed to the e-commerce basket page rather than being instantly enrolled.

  • course_id: This is required. The ID of the course to enroll the user in, or add to cart, etc. The value must be URL-encoded.

  • course_mode: One of audit, honor, verified, etc. This parameter applies only if enrollment_action is enroll. If course_mode is not specified, and the course has more than one mode, learners are sent to the track selection page, where they can choose which track of the course to enroll in. If honor or audit is specified, learners are instantly enrolled. If any other mode is specified, learners are sent to the payment/verification flow.

  • email_opt_in: Can be true or false. If true, this indicates that the user has consented to receiving marketing emails from Open edX and the course partner.

The auto-enrollment feature can be combined with hinted sign in, if you create a URL such as the following example.

https://courses.example.com/account/finish_auth?course_id=course-v1%3AedX%2BDemoX%2BDemo_Course&enrollment_action=enroll&email_opt_in=false&tpa_hint=oa2-facebook Secondary Providers#

When you configure an OAuth2 or SAML provider in the Django admin, there is a boolean option to mark the provider as a Secondary provider. Normally, third party sign in providers are displayed on the Open edX sign in and register pages. However, secondary providers are not displayed directly on the sign in or register pages. Instead, users see a button that says “Use my institution/campus credentials”. Clicking that will bring up a separate menu that lists all the secondary providers.

The intended use case of this feature is to keep the sign in/register page from being cluttered with too many buttons. SAML Attribute Requirements#

When you integrate Open edX with a SAML provider, you can allow only some users to sign in based on some criteria. For example, organizations may not want alumni or guest users to be able to sign in to Open edX using their SAML provider, even though those users have valid sign in credentials for the organization.

Users can be filtered based on eduPersonEntitlement attributes (supported out of the box), or other attributes (requires custom code). For details on how this can be set up, refer to this edx-code mailing list post.