Web Address / URL Guide & Subdomain Protocol

Your sites's URL is its address on the web. Here's help making it descriptive and succinct.

Your site’s web address – called its URL – takes visitors to your homepage. Websites officially identified with Washington University in St. Louis have wustl.edu web addresses.

Depending on how your site is created, its URL will be either a wustl.edu subdirectory (sites.wustl.edu/yoursite) or subdomain (yoursite.wustl.edu).

Examples of Washington University web addresses include:

  • sites.wustl.edu/publichealthsciences
  • sites.wustl.edu/schafferlab
  • diversity.med.wustl.edu
  • whitecoat.wustl.edu

These URLs are all on subdomains of the parent domain wustl.edu, which lends each site the credibility of a .edu domain, as well as a clear relationship to Washington University. The wustl.edu domain automatically associates your site with a reputable institution and provides a consistent and predictable experience across Washington University websites.

Vanity URLs

A vanity URL is a shorter or more memorable URL that redirects to a website’s actual (canonical) web address. The use of vanity URLs is practical and can be beneficial to a website when limited to the following scenarios:

  • When the canonical URL is difficult to spell or remember, and/or the URL needs to be shortened for branding or marketing purposes (eg., c3.wustl.edu redirects to contraceptivechoicecenter.wustl.edu).
  •  When a domain name has a widely accepted alternate spelling or punctuation (e.g., orthopedics.wustl.edu/orthopaedics.wustl.edu; womens-care.wustl.edu/womenscare.wustl.edu).

Vanity URLs should not be used to presuppose URL variations that people may search to find a website. This is usually subjective and can result in too many redirects, confusing the audience and diluting the SEO value of the canonical subdomain.

Requesting a subdomain or vanity URL

Subdomains can be created for select websites related to Washington University. Whether or not a site is permitted to have its own subdomain is subject to the discretion of University Marketing & Communications and WashU Medicine Marketing & Communications and cannot be guaranteed.

The subdomain guidelines below promote consistency and clarity amongst School of Medicine site URLs. Please follow these guidelines when requesting a new subdomain.

Your guide to URLs

Jump to section on this page:

The general rule

Your site’s address should be short and recognizable, consisting of a known keyword, proper name, abbreviation or acronym.

  • Honor your group’s official name, but shorten or abbreviate it as much as possible without risking recognizability
    • Drop office ofprogram in, project, center, proper names, etc.
    • Use abbreviations or acronyms that are recognizable for your target audience (e.g., PT for physical therapy)
    • Avoid acronyms that are not widely known
  • Make the address easy to read and understand in URL form; this typically means limiting phrases to two words (e.g., medicalalumni.wustl.edu instead of medicalalumnianddevelopment.wustl.edu)
  • Include the keywords your target audience might use to look for your site on Google and other search engines; though the URL is a minor ranking factor for search engine optimization / SEO, the URL is displayed on the search results page and is therefore a key indicator for users deciding if they want to click through
  • Avoid hyphens, underscores or other characters
  • If your site is related to medical education, or if your group has a parallel office at the university level, see below for additional URL conventions


  • sites.wustl.edu/psychiatry
    Department of Psychiatry
  • sites.wustl.edu/lymphaticmetabolism
    Laboratory of Lymphatic Biology and Metabolism
  • pt.wustl.edu
    Program in Physical Therapy
  • sleep.wustl.edu
    Sleep Medicine Center
  • genome.wustl.edu
    McDonnell Genome Institute

Medical education (MD) program sites

To clarify offices and sites that are specific to the medical education program rather than the entire School of Medicine, include MD at the beginning of URL or path.



  • MDadmissions.wustl.edu
  • MDdiversity.wustl.edu
  • sites.wustl.edu/MDstudentaffairs

The MD convention is not to be used in conjunction with .med as described below. While MD refers to offices and services specific to the medical education program, .med is for school-wide offices or services.

Offices and programs that have parallel services at the university level

If your group provides services parallel to those provided by groups on the Danforth Campus, include .med as shown below to logically distinguish your office’s site from the Danforth office’s site.



  • facilities.med.wustl.edu
  • publicaffairs.med.wustl.edu
  • diversity.med.wustl.edu

Registering additional URLs

In compliance with the university’s domain name policy, all sites related to Washington University, including the School of Medicine or Washington University Physicians, must use the wustl.edu domain name. 

After consultation with and approval from WashU Medicine Marketing & Communications, some groups may register additional web addresses in the university’s name on non-wustl.edu domains.

Request an additional URL »


Acronym Guide

Acronym Guide

Decode the many, many lettered abbreviations for the centers, offices, degrees and buildings of WashU Med.

Editorial Style Guide

Editorial Style Guide

Check the official styles for abbreviations, punctuation, citations, titles and more.

Media Release/Consent Forms: Photos, Video, Audio & Testimonials

Media Release/Consent Forms: Photos, Video, Audio & Testimonials

Showing or quoting non-WashU people gives your message perspective. Here’s how to get permission.

Social Media Account Names

Social Media Account Names

Give your social media account a proper name following these guidelines.

Social Media Graphics

Social Media Graphics

Use these profile and banner templates to give your social accounts a professional edge.

Social Media Guide

Social Media Guide

If you get social on behalf of the school, get to know the school’s and the university’s social media policies.

Visual Brand Guide

Visual Brand Guide

Your group’s story is part of the WashU brand! Use this guide to help build and benefit from our national reputation.