RUL 08.00.15 – Third-Level URL Naming Standard

First Issued: December 17, 2015

Related Policies:
POL 08.00.01 – Computer Use Policy
REG 08.00.02 – Computer Use Regulation 

Additional References:
NC State URL Request Form
Obtaining Internet Domain Names outside of NCSU.EDU

  1. Definitions

1.1 URL

A Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is commonly understood as the address of a file or site on the Web. It can also be understood as a path consisting of domains, separated by periods, at increasing levels reading from right to left. For example, in the URL

(a) edu is the first (top) domain level
(b) ncsu is the second domain level
(c) oit is the third domain level

1.2   Third-level URL

For convenience in this document, we will refer to a URL that:

(a) contains only three domain levels and
(b) ends in

as a Third-level URL; e.g.,

  1. Overview

2.1 All websites and other Internet sites used to conduct NC State University activities must adhere to all of the following:

(a) Contribute to the overall mission of the university.
(b) Be consistent with the highest standards of academic and professional conduct.
(c) Clearly identify their NC State connection.
(d) Comply with all university policies, rules and regulations.
(e) Comply with any applicable state or federal laws.

2.2 All URLs associated with NC State must end with This includes URLs for:

(a) Official university websites.
(b) Colleges, departments, divisions, or other university units.
(c) Faculty or staff performing university functions.

  1. Branding

NC State requires all university websites to follow the branding and communications guidelines found at

  1. Accessibility

NC State is committed to providing effective access to educational programs, services, and activities. Accessibility services, policies, and procedures can be found at

  1. Student Organization URLs

Registered student organizations may choose to have their websites hosted under specific Third-level URLs, such as, that have been reserved for student organization use.

  1. Improved Search Ranking

Every website or service whose URL ends in will get the benefit of improved search ranking by virtue of that inclusion.

  1. Approval of a Third-level URL

7.1 Because a Third-level URL at NC State is an important means of communication and marketing for the university, its approval involves consideration of the university’s strategic communication plan as well as technical issues.

7.2 The Vice Chancellor for Information Technology (VCIT) and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications (AVCC) or their designees may approve a request for a Third-level URL that is governed by this standard. They will also make final decisions on all requests for exceptions and appeals.

  1. Criteria for a Third-level URL

8.1 At least one of the following three criteria must be met:

8.1.1 The requesting NC State unit is one of the following:
(a) officially recognized center or institute,
(b) major business unit, or
(c) similar organization.

8.1.2 The requesting unit provides services to a substantial number of sectors of the NC State community.

8.1.3 The requested URL represents a service or application to be used by most sectors of the NC State community.

8.2 In addition to the above, all of the following criteria must be met:

8.2.1 The requesting unit:

(a) expects to provide its services on a permanent basis. (For temporary services, see Alternatives to Third-level URLs below.)
(b) is not a subunit of a unit that already has a Third-level URL.

8.2.2 The requested Third-level URL:

(a) is unambiguous, specific and descriptive.
(b) is generally recognized as a word (e.g., news) or a common abbreviation (e.g., aa for Academic Affairs).
(c) is reasonably unique to the services offered and not likely to represent services offered by any other NC State unit.
(d) is unlikely to conflict with other current or future Third-level URL requests for websites, services, programs or systems.
(e) is unlikely to be confused with another university unit; e.g., might be confused with the College of Education.
(f) is unlikely to be misspelled in ways that would result in confusion with another Third-level URL.
(g) does not contain existing or potential copyright or trademark infringements.
(h) must align with the university’s current or anticipated strategic initiatives or objectives.
(i) must not conflict with other current or future uses for that URL; e.g., is appropriate for a policy clearinghouse for all NC State policies and could not be used by a department or other university unit.

  1. Third-level URL Request Procedure

9.1 Prior Collaboration

Before you request a Third-level URL, we strongly encourage you to collaborate with appropriate IT and communications personnel in your unit and related units. This will help to avoid unforeseen issues that might arise from the use of a particular URL.

9.2 Initiation

Initiate a request in one of these two ways:

(a) The requesting party must first obtain approval from his/her dean, director or department head (or their designee) before submitting a Third-level URL request.

(b) A dean, director or department head (or their designee) may submit a Third-level URL request directly.

9.3 Submission

Submit an approved request via OIT’s online form: link will open in a new window.

9.4. Consideration

Requests are considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Because Third-level URLs are highly important, submitters should plan on an extended review cycle. A response to a request should be expected within 10 business days, but additional time may be required to work with the requestor to identify a Third-level URL that both meets their needs and complies with this naming standard.

9.5 Appeals

If the requestor disagrees with the decision of the appointed OIT and University Communications designees, either party may request the VCIT and AVCC to rule on the request and they will have the final decision.

  1. Previously Approved Third-level URLs

In general, Third-level URLs that were approved and registered prior to the institution of this standard may remain in use. Occasionally an exception to this standard may be approved and review of a previously approved Third-level URL may be initiated.

  1. Reserved Words

In general, the words wolf, pack, den and wolfpack in a Third-level URL will not be approved. Such use will require specific approval from the Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications or his/her designee.

  1. Third-level URLs for Centers, Institutes, and Multi-disciplinary and Multi-institutional Endeavors

Officially recognized centers and institutes may request a Third-level URL. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis, using the above criteria and considering any unique situations (e.g., funding source or hosting requirements).

  1. Alternatives to Third-level URLs

Go Links, shortened URLs that are easier to remember and use, are good alternatives to Third-level URLs. They are particularly good for limited-duration activities or events that would not be eligible for Third-level URLs. Go Links are offered through NC State’s Office of Information Technology at

  1. Fourth-level URLs

Approval is not required for fourth-level URLs. Each website’s managing group has its own request procedures and approval criteria for fourth-level URLs. Be aware, however, that in some cases fourth-level URLs may cause confusion, and you may wish to use a directory structure; e.g. instead of As another alternative, consider using Go Links, which also offer a lot of flexibility. See

  1. Domains outside of

15.1 Domains outside of may be purchased and hosted at NC State for a number of reasons, such as protecting intellectual property, helping NC State groups collaborate with colleagues outside the university, and minimizing confusion.

15.2 Before you purchase such a domain, we strongly encourage you to consult with the appropriate IT and communications personnel in your unit and related units in order to avoid unforeseen issues arising from the use of that domain.

15.3 All such domains must be used for legitimate university-related activities and must be approved by NC State University. You may submit requests for approval to ComTech’s “Network Procedures” at