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country: United States
Registry Provider: Verisign
Date Implemented: 1985
Type: sponsored top level domain (sTLD)
Community: educational institutions
Key People
Diana G. Oblinger, President & CEO
Mark Luker, Vice-president

.edu is one of the original top-level domain names (TLD) implemented into the root zone of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS). Domain name registrations for .edu are restricted to accredited post secondary educational institutions in the United States. The registry operations of the domain name are operated by EDUCAUSE through a Cooperative Agreement granted by the United States Department of Commerce (DOC), which is the final authority regarding the membership and operations of the .edu domain space.[1] [2]

EDUCAUSE is a non-profit association dedicated to promoting the intelligent use of information technology to enhance higher education. It has offices in Boulder, Colorado and Washington, D.C.[3]


The .edu TLD was introduced by Jon Postel and Joyce Reynolds in 1984 through RFC 920. It was implemented in the root zone of the internet DNS along with .arpa, .com, .gov, .mil, .net, and .org in 1985. Originally, the .edu TLD was intended for all educational institutions, however Jon Postel later restricted the registration to four-year colleges and universities. The Network Information Center (NIC) was the first registrar for the TLDs.[4] In the early 1990s, the registration of non-military domain names .com, .edu, gov and .net, were transferred to Network Solutions through a Cooperative Agreement which was granted by the National Science Foundation.[5] Network Solutions managed .edu domain name registrations until 2001. On October 21, 2001, EDUCAUSE signed a five-year Cooperative Agreement with the DOC to take over the administration of domain name registrations for .edu. The organization sub-contracted Verisign to provide the technical registry solutions.[6] [7][8]

On February 2, 2006, the DOC renewed the .edu TLD Cooperative Agreement with EDUCAUSE for another five years. Under the new contract, EDUCAUSE was authorized to charge a $40 yearly administration fee for every domain name.[9] In 2008, the organization deployed IPv6 to the .edu TLD.[10] On September 30, 2011, The Cooperative Agreement was again extended until 2016.[11]

Community Colleges Petition

In 2000, the American Association of Community Colleges petitioned the Department of Commerce to allow them to register their domain names under the .edu TLD. George R. Boggs, President of the association, said that it would be easier for students to access the websites of community colleges if their websites were registered under the .edu domain space. He said, "As our colleges are moving more and more into distance education, they want students to have easy access to what the colleges have to offer." In 1993, Jon Postel limited the .edu domain name registrations to 4-year colleges and universities while all other educational institutions were advised to register their domain names under ccTLDs. Prior to the restriction, there were approximately 200 community colleges that were registered to .edu. According to Arthur Brodsky, then spokesperson of the National Telecommunication Information Administration (NTIA), ".edu goes back to a time when they needed a way to identify supercomputing centers, and they were all universities, It's one of those pioneer things." At the time of the petition, the DOC was locked in a Cooperative Agreement with Network Solutions and changes could not be implemented until after the expiration of the contract in 2001. [12] [13]

.EDU Eligibility Expansion

EDUCAUSE proposed the inclusion of community colleges in the membership criteria for .edu TLD to DOC.[14] On February 11, 2003, the organization announced that the eligibility for domain name registrations for .edu had been changed. All accredited post secondary institutions were to be allowed to register their domain names starting April, 2003. [15] On October 21, 2004, a further update to the eligibility requirements was issued. Organizations aree classified as Category 1- Accredited Institutions and Category 2- System/District Offices. To establish their eligibility, entities must be established or recognized by a state, local or national government.[16]

All domain names that were registered before October 29, 2001 were grandfathered to the EDUCAUSE system regardless of the existing eligibility criteria.[17]

Deletion of Inactive .edu TLD

In October, 2003, the DOC and EDUCAUSE started deleting all inactive .edu domain names to ensure the accuracy of the Whois data base. All registrants were notified to correct their information on the system. Notifications were sent through e-mail and follow-up were sent through the post. All domain names that were inactive were purged, examples include allison.edu, geraldine.edu and jedi.edu.[18]

Caution to Internet Users

There are some suspected, non-educational and accredited entities who are operating their websites under the .edu domain space because their domain names were registered prior to the establishment of the existing .edu TLD registration eligibility policy. The Department of Commerce warns internet users to be vigilant when dealing with institutions offering educational programs online and to research and be knowledgeable about the institution.[19]


On February 19th 2013, the .edu registry Educause, suspended all passwords related to registrant access, data, and the Educause website after hackers seem to have stolen domain passwords. A spokesperson for the registry said, " “immediate steps to contain this breach and is working with Federal law enforcement, investigators, and security experts to make sure this incident is properly addressed.”[20]