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Northwestern Website Domain Name Guidelines

These guidelines are intended to assist Northwestern schools and departments in establishing consistent URLs for their websites.

What is a Subdomain? 

A subdomain is a child of the main northwestern.edu domain, used to differentiate major areas of the university, such as schools and outward-facing departments (for example admissions.northwestern.edu). Most administrative sites fall into directories under northwestern.edu instead (for example northwestern.edu/president). This hierarchy allows site visitors to differentiate between types of Northwestern departments and allows for IT groups to establish and organize websites across different servers and platforms. Consistent URLs improve site trust. They also assist SEO efforts and improve our ability to track users between properties using analytics. 

Terminology 

Top-level domain: The main domain for the university (northwestern.edu) or for a center (example: icair.org) 

Top-level directory: A site that lives within a top-level domain (example: northwestern.edu/provost/) 

Subdomain: A child under the top-level domain; also known as a third-level domain (example: weinberg.northwestern.edu) 

Fourth-level domain: A child under a subdomain (example: homer.library.northwestern.edu) 

Subdomain Policy by Site Type 

Please note, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine faculty, students and units must comply with the medical school’s Website Development Policy. 

Site Type 

Top-Level Subdomain Allowed? 

University-wide resource, application, research center or initiative 

Yes, if approved by OGMC 

Example: class-descriptions.northwestern.edu 

Administrative office  

No, should be a directory 

Example: www.northwestern.edu/provost/

Research lab 

No, may use a fourth-level domain under lab.northwestern.edu or fall under a school subdomain

Faculty site (CV, class materials) 

No, may use sites.northwestern.edu/name or fall under a school subdomain

School program or department 

Follow school policies. Programs are strongly encouraged to fall under a school subdomain

Example: www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/biomedical/

Student group (non-school specific) 

No, may use studentorgs.northwestern.edu

School-sponsored student group 

No, should use a directory or fall under a school subdomain 

Example: jimc.medill.northwestern.edu 

Multiple-institution organization or conference 

No, may use a .org 

Example: icair.org 

 

General Subdomain Policies 

Subdomain Request Process 

If your site meets the requirements outlined above, use one of these methods to request a subdomain: 

* Feinberg faculty, students and units must comply with the medical school’s Website Development Policy.