Domain Names & DNS

A domain is the text characters used in a specific URL or path address. A Domain Name System (DNS) is a distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network.

  • Top-level domains are the last characters (i.e., .edu, .gov, org, .com).
  • Domain names are the text characters used to name a specific website (i.e., msu.edu, whitehouse.gov).
  • Subdomains are secondary websites under a single domain (i.e., admissions.msu.edu, tech.msu.edu).
    • Subdomains can also be extended further (i.e., apply.admissions.msu.edu, sysname.unit.msu.edu).

DNS associates various information with assigned host names and resolves queries for these names into IP addresses for the purpose of locating computer services and devices.

MSU DNS

MSU IT supports DNS for departments and units at MSU. The service provides greater redundancy than is normally designed in department-level systems.

In general, domain names for all computer systems, devices, and services at Michigan State University will be assigned under the msu.edu subdomain name. However, it’s not necessary to register all domains with MSU IT and its name servers.

Outside domain registrations are acceptable as long as the associated program or project is officially supported by a unit within Michigan State University. These exceptions are not handled by MSU IT.

Domain Name Criteria Overview

Many MSU domains follow a four-part structure. The full domain name (host name) is generally a four-part name of the form “sysname.unit.msu.edu” where you pick “sysname” and “unit” is the department or unit code that has been assigned to your unit.

Five-part (or longer) domain names are permissible, if desired to subdivide the domain names within a given unit. The name “unit.msu.edu” itself may also be assigned to a unit’s key server (file server or web server, generally), and to a unit’s mail server, which may or may not be the same as the file/web server.

The msu.edu domain is generally limited to major administrative units. MAUs are entitled to their unit’s name as a subdomain. Other subdomains may be assigned with the prior MSU IT approval. Subdomains are NOT automatically issued on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Read the Domain Name Guidelines for more information.