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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 domain, used to differentiate major areas of the university, such as schools and outward-facing departments (for example Most administrative sites fall into directories under instead (for example 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.


Top-level domain: The main domain for the university ( or for a center (example:

Top-level directory: A site that lives within a top-level domain (example:

Subdomain: A child under the top-level domain; also known as a third-level domain (example:

Fourth-level domain: A child under a subdomain (example:

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.

Subdomain Policy by Site Type

Site Type

Top-Level Subdomain Allowed?

University-wide resource, application, research center or initiative

Yes, if approved by OGMC


Administrative office

No, should be a directory (also needs approval from OGMC)


Research lab

No, may use a fourth-level domain under or fall under a school subdomain

Faculty site (CV, class materials)

No, may use or fall under a school subdomain

School program or department

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


Student group (non-school specific)

No, may use

School-sponsored student group

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


Multiple-institution organization or conference

No, may use a .org


General Subdomain Policies

  • The subdomain should reflect the name of your unit or describe an overall resource or initiative for which your group is the main point of contact (for example “sustainability”)
  • Avoid using generic or confusing words--the site’s purpose should be clear from its address
  • Ideally, subdomains should be short and memorable; superfluous words like “office” or “department” are unnecessary
  • Avoid using acronyms or abbreviations that users are unlikely to know
  • If there are multiple departments with names similar to yours, be specific, for example “research-facilities” vs “facilities”
  • Sites should only have one active subdomain; older variants may be redirected to primary target
  • Subdomains should not be established for temporary sites or for names expected to change
  • Don’t use copyrighted or trademarked terms owned by outside entities
  • Subdomains should not be used as shortcuts redirecting to other URLs
  • Special characters other than hyphens are not allowed
  • Domain names are case insensitive, but should be formatted in all lowercase
  • Top-level domains should not begin with www. For example, use rather than and redirect the www version to the non-www version
  • Loosely affiliated sites (conferences, multi-institution groups) may register a .org domain name
  • By policy, .com, .biz, and other commercial types are not permitted. For questions on addresses please contact

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.