Website URLs and Links
Name Usage: USC website domain names
(sitename.usc.edu or the redirect, usc.edu/sitename)
University URLs are guided by the principle of spectrum scarcity; meaning there is ultimately a finite number of URL names that may be granted. URL requests are managed by Web Services in Information Technology Services, in consultation with University Communications Marketing group.
University Communications maintains primary gateway presences for the university and reserves usage and governance of sites residing on broad, all-university URLs including about.usc.edu, president.usc.edu, ask.usc.edu, etc.
The following are circumstances for which URLs would typically be granted:
- Administrative service URLs that clearly indicate the purpose of the site to the user. Examples: careers.usc.edu (Career Center), admission.usc.edu (Admissions), arts.usc.edu (all six arts schools)
- Named School or Academic Unit acknowledging a philanthropic gift. Also may be used in the case of a center or institute that is cooperatively housed in more than one academic school or unit, or is administratively housed within the Office of the Provost. Naming convention will be guided by terms set in the formal gift agreement. Examples include: roski.usc.edu, viterbischool.usc.edu michelson.usc.edu, healthpolicy.usc.edu, etc. Note: in the case of very common surnames, or donors who have multiple areas of philanthropic support at USC, requestors are advised to use additional language in the URL to avoid confusion.
The following are circumstances for which URLs would typically NOT be granted:
- Use of personal names (see above section for exception)
- Overly broad terms, including acronyms (fire.usc.edu, escape.usc.edu, students.usc.edu, etc.)
Labs and Research Group Sites
For Principal Investigators who head labs or faculty research or personal pages, the suggested syntax is:
A Note on Centers within one academic school
Centers affiliated with a school should use a URL that represents that affiliation as a way of further establishing reputational branding of the school. It is preferred to connect the URL to the school to further establish reputational branding of the school. Examples, dornsife.usc.edu/unruh, annenberg.usc.edu/research/center-public-relation, etc.
A Note on Research Projects
The criteria for research projects to be granted a domain name on usc.edu is as follows: the project should
- be consortium level
- have federal funding, or
- reflect research across the entire university, subject to review by Provost Office Communications.
Requestors must present a content maintenance plan (who to contact, what will be published) and agree to update any out of date or incorrect information upon request. Priority is granted to projects and entities requiring a broad national or international level of public recognition for the benefit of the university’s reputation.
Requirements for Site Owners on USC Domains
Requestors who are granted sitename.usc.edu domains and/or usc.edu/sitename redirects are required to keep their websites current with university visual identity, privacy policies, brand guidelines, and factual information standards. Sites that do not meet these standards will be subject to a 30 day period of for updating information. If the required updates are not made within 30 days, usage of the university URL may be revoked.
Grandfather Clause Exceptions
Current websites that have existing URLs may be “grandfathered” to keep existing URLs that do not meet the criteria outlined in these guidelines. Review of exceptions will be at the discretion of the academic unit communication office and/or Provost Office Communications, in conjunction with Web Services and University Communications.
Revocation of URL Names
University Communications, in conjunction with Web Services, reserves to right to revoke any previously assigned URL at any time if it conflicts with the guidelines elucidated here, or other university policies, priorities, or interests. A period of 10 days will be given to site owners in preparation for revocation.
Other Domain Use
Occasionally, USC brand presence may be permitted on website properties on that exist on .com, .org, .net or other non-“.edu” domains for specific consumer-facing, conference, consortium, or affinity group purposes.
Typical permitted use cases of other domains, where the sponsoring department is:
- USC Athletics (as governed by NCAA rules)
- USC Alumni Association and its formally recognized clubs and chapters
- USC Campus Activities and its formally recognized student clubs and organizations
- USC academic schools and units and their formally recognized student and alumni clubs, classes, or organizations
In these cases, site content managers are asked to confer with the sponsoring school, department, or divisional unit to keep their site content within brand standards for visual identity, editorial content, and current data privacy and online security best practices.
External Organization Affiliation
It is the ethical responsibility of USC departments and units, as representatives of the university, to protect the USC brand and its marks, thereby preserving its reputation, academic prestige, and historical contributions.
It is in these interests that affiliation of the brand with third party products or services, outside of contractual agreements reviewed and approved by the appropriate Dean and Provost, or members of the President’s Cabinet, are strictly prohibited.
The appearance of endorsement of a third-party good or service should be carefully considered before entering into an agreement to affiliate, as a risk to the brand reputation. When in doubt, it is advisable to consult with the University Communications Marketing group, Trademarks and Licensing, General Counsel, or if applicable, Government Relations.
Corporate Logos and Links on USC’s Website
Corporate logos and links may not be included on any USC academic website (academic defined as granted a presence on a usc.edu website property) except as permitted below:
- Event-Related Sponsorship: Event and sponsor’s names and logos may be included in event and program materials so long as they are included in a section that is clearly identified as event or program sponsors and this section is less prominently featured than the other event or program information. Examples include USC Global Conference event sponsors, Visions and Voices event sponsors, and academic conference sponsors.
- Funding Agency, Academic Consortium, Philanthropic Gift Recognition: USC program/project websites may include external grant funding agencies and academic consortia marks if required in funding agreements. Proportional size of marks must be no greater than 3:5 ratio of external mark: USC logo. Recommended placement is to place the funders’ names and logos on research project web pages that are designated to to identifying/honoring funding sources.
Academic and administrative units may display marks from accrediting organizations, in a ratio of 3:5 ratio of external mark: USC logo.