How to: Add app roles in your application and receive them in the token

Role-based access control (RBAC) is a popular mechanism to enforce authorization in applications. When using RBAC, an administrator grants permissions to roles, and not to individual users or groups. The administrator can then assign roles to different users and groups to control who has access to what content and functionality.

Using RBAC with Application Roles and Role Claims, developers can securely enforce authorization in their apps with less effort on their part.

Another approach is to use Azure AD Groups and Group Claims, as shown in the WebApp-GroupClaims-DotNet code sample on GitHub. Azure AD Groups and Application Roles are not mutually exclusive; they can be used in tandem to provide even finer grained access control.

Declare roles for an application

Application roles are defined in the Azure portal. When a user signs into the application, Azure AD emits a roles claim for each role that the user has been granted individually to the user and from their group membership. Assignment of users and groups to roles can be done through the portal's UI, or programmatically using Microsoft Graph.

To create an app role:

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal.

  2. Select the Directory + subscription filter in top menu, and then choose the Azure Active Directory tenant that contains the app registration to which you want to add an app role.

  3. Search for and select Azure Active Directory.

  4. Under Manage, select App registrations, and then select the application you want to define app roles in.

  5. Select App roles | Preview, and then select Create app role.

    An app registration's app roles pane in the Azure portal

  6. In the Create app role pane, enter the settings for the role. The table following the image describes each setting and their parameters.

    An app registration's app roles create context pane in the Azure portal

    Field Description Example
    Display name Display name for the app role that appears in the admin consent and app assignment experiences. This value may contain spaces. Survey Writer
    Allowed member types Specifies whether this app role can be assigned to users, applications, or both. Users/Groups
    Value Specifies the value of the roles claim that the application should expect in the token. The value should exactly match the string referenced in the application's code. The value cannot contain spaces. Survey.Create
    Description A more detailed description of the app role displayed during admin app assignment and consent experiences. Writers can create surveys.
    Do you want to enable this app role? Whether the app role is enabled. To delete an app role, deselect this checkbox and apply the change before attempting the delete operation. Checked
  7. Select Apply to save your changes.


The number of roles you add counts toward limits defined for an application manifest. For information about these limits, see the Manifest limits section of Azure Active Directory app manifest reference.

Assign users and groups to roles

Once you've added app roles in your application, you can assign users and groups to the roles.

  1. In Azure Active Directory in the Azure portal, select Enterprise applications in the left-hand navigation menu.

  2. Select All applications to view a list of all your applications.

    If your application doesn't appear in the list, use the filters at the top of the All applications list to restrict the list, or scroll down the list to locate your application.

  3. Select the application in which you want to assign users or security group to roles.

  4. Under Manage, select Users and groups.

  5. Select Add user to open the Add Assignment pane.

  6. Select the Users and groups selector from the Add Assignment pane.

    A list of users and security groups is displayed. You can search for a certain user or group as well as select multiple users and groups that appear in the list.

  7. Once you've selected users and groups, select the Select button to proceed.

  8. Select Select Role in the Add assignment pane. All the roles that you've defined for the application are displayed.

  9. Choose a role and select the Select button.

  10. Select the Assign button to finish the assignment of users and groups to the app.

  11. Confirm that the users and groups you added are appear in the Users and groups list.

Receive roles in tokens

When the users assigned to the various app roles sign in to the application, their tokens will have their assigned roles in the roles claim.

Web API application permissions

You can define app roles that target Users/Groups, Applications, or Both. When you select Applications or Both, the app role appears as an application permission in a client app's API permissions.

To select the application permission in a client app registration after you've defined a role that targets Applications or Both:

  1. In Azure Active Directory in the Azure portal, select App registrations, and then select the client app's registration.
  2. Under Manage, select API permissions.
  3. Select Add a permission > My APIs.
  4. Select the app to which you added the application role, and then select Application permissions.

Next steps

Learn more about app roles with the following resources: