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Edu Domain Name - What is an EDU Domain Name and How Can I Get One?

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A domain name is an Internet label used for identification in order to help sort the many different types of websites available in the vast Internet world. A domain name comprises the entire Internet address of the site including the common prefix of “www,” the second level domain which is usually comprised of the name of the website, and the top level domain which is generally a three letter suffix. Based on the top level domain name of the website you are visiting, you can instantly know the general category the site falls under, whether commerce, government, information, education, etc.
Top level domain suffixes were created in the 1980’s to help identify at a glance both the topic of the website and the country of its origin. There are currently over 250 two letter country suffixes, and more than 20 generic top level domain suffixes, among them the well known GOV, COM, ORG, NET, and EDU.
Among all the top level domain names, the EDU domain name started out as one of the most tightly controlled suffixes and remains one of the most difficult to obtain. While practically anyone can be a .COM or a .NET, to have an EDU domain name comes with a long list of difficult eligibility requirements and prerequisites that must first be filled. Although these requirements have ensured that not just anyone can obtain an EDU domain name, the difficulty in obtaining EDU domain name status reflects the importance society has placed on quality education. It’s not easy to get into this tight club but you can be sure that those who have done the hard work and jumped through the required hoops are top quality educational institutions.
This article aims to help those of you interested in obtaining an EDU domain name to do so. The requirements are discussed below in a clear and concise manner and we will try to guide you through the difficult terminology so that you clearly understand what is necessary.
The EDU domain name, including the management of existing sites as well as the creation and registration of new ones, is entirely handled by a non-profit organization named EDUCAUSE. This organization was created with the goal of promoting intelligence and information—and therefore education—via electronic means. This it accomplishes mainly through promotion of strictly educational websites. EDUCAUSE was awarded management of the EDU domain name by the Department of Commerce in late 2001 and remains the sole body responsible for registration of new sites wishing to display an EDU domain name.
In short, as stated on their website, eligibility for an EDU domain name is only awarded to “U.S. postsecondary institutions that are institutionally accredited by an agency on the U.S. Department of Education’s list of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies.” This is a mouthful but we will break it down a bit in order to make it easier for you to understand and, hopefully, accomplish the inherent requirements.
Websites with the EDU domain name are generally only awarded to institutions located inside the United States. The term postsecondary refers to any education beyond high school. If you are an elementary, middle, or high school wishing to be granted an EDU domain name, you will most likely not be eligible.
The United States Department of Education’s list of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies is available on the EDUCAUSE website, but although many of these agencies have looser requirements for program accreditation, in order to obtain an EDU domain name, full institutional accreditation is required. This means that even if your learning institution has a number of great programs accredited by an agency on the list, you will need to obtain accreditation for your institution as a body before you will be able to apply for an EDU domain name.
Although there are some websites with an EDU domain name that don’t meet the eligibility requirements, these are covered under EDUCAUSE’s grandfathering policy agreement with the Department of Commerce. This states that any websites that had obtained an EDU domain name prior to the strict requirements instituted by EDUCAUSE at its takeover in late 2001 are allowed to keep their name regardless of whether they meet any or all of the strict requirements.

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