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University URLs and Domain Names

As part of NC State's efforts to maintain a consistent brand and provide a good experience for its constituents, the University has developed rules and best practices for how domain names are used on campus.


A domain name is the part of a web address that determines the web site that you’re trying to reach. They’re called domain names because they are entirely the “domain” of whomever owns the site. For example, because NC State owns, it has control over everything “under”

Third-Level Domains


The University maintains a rule — RUL 08.00.15 – “Third Level URL Naming Standard” — that governs the use of third-level domains on campus. Generally, a domain name must meet the following requirements to be approved at this level:

  • unambiguous, specific and descriptive,
  • generally recognized as a word or a common abbreviation,
  • reasonably unique and not likely to represent any other services offered by the University,
  • unlikely to conflict with other current or future third-level domain requests,
  • unlikely to be confused with another university unit or third-level domain,
  • free from existing or potential copyright or trademark infringements, and
  • aligned with the university’s current or anticipated strategic initiatives or objectives.

Per rule, all requests for third-level domains must be approved at the University level, by the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications (or their designees).

Due to the importance that we place on these domains, you should prepare for an extended review cycle. While you can generally expect an initial response within ten business days, additional time may be required depending on the individual situation. We encourage you to read the full rule before submitting your request.

Fourth-Level Domains


Much like the University “owns” and controls what sites are allowed underneath it, the maintainer of a third-level domain controls which sites are allowed underneath theirs. Each unit on campus maintains its own policies about fourth-level domains.

For example, if you would like to request a fourth-level domain within the College of Engineering’s third-level domain, you would contact the College of Engineering’s IT group, ITECS.

If you are not sure who maintains the third-level domain that you’d like your site to be “under,” you can contact the Office of Information Technology which will do its best to help. Domains


In some cases, you may need to have a domain name that’s not under the domain. For example, if you are working on a commercial project or an inter-institutional project, a .org domain may be a better fit for you.

All such domains must be approved by the University before you may use them.

We strongly encourage you to consult with the Office of Information Technology and your local IT staff prior to purchasing your chosen domain name to avoid any potential conflicts or issues that may arise from your use of an external domain name.

Domain squatting (registering multiple versions of the same domain name) is highly discouraged. It increases cost and complexity while negatively impacting search engine optimization (SEO) and page rank of the site.


Go Links

If you’re not able to use the URL that you originally wanted, we encourage you to try the University’s branded short links service: Go Links. These are shortened URLs that help you provide quick and easily remembered links to content that is important to you and your organization.

A Go Link can be used to link to a full site or a specific page, can be turned into a QR code, and can also keep track of how many times it has been used.

Any student, staff or faculty member may create a Go Link, but only faculty and staff may create “branded” Go Links (anything without a randomized ending).