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Wikipedia:College and university article advice

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This set of college and university article advice is intended to apply to all college and university articles (and some related articles). While the advice presented here is well-suited for the vast majority of such articles, alternate approaches and exceptions have been taken, often the result of national educational differences. Articles for universities in the United States may differ slightly from articles in the United Kingdom, for example. However, the advice is designed to apply to all colleges and universities. If something seems unusual or out-of-place, it may be worthwhile to ask before attempting to change it, as there might be reasons for the oddity that are not immediately obvious.


In general, all colleges and universities are de facto notable and should be included on Wikipedia. (That this view has generally prevailed is expressed at WP:SCHOOLOUTCOMES.) For notability of sub-articles, see relevant advice below. This notability advice is an application of the general notability guideline to the articles this project covers, not a replacement of said guideline. Hence the advice is not intended to lend additional support to deletion discussions. Although this advice may be referred to in these discussions, keep in mind that the document you are now reading is not a policy or guideline and should not be treated as such. It is also important to bear in mind that anyone can set up an institution and call it a "college" or, in many countries, a "university", so that it is essential to be clear whether an institution warrants inclusion in Wikipedia based on that institution's use of these terms.

Reliable sourcesEdit

Wikipedia verifiability policy requires that "any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation." Statistics, historical events, rankings must be cited. All citations in college and university articles must come from reliable sources.

Special care is required for citing self-published sources, such as information about a college/university published by the institution itself or written by its paid staff: the cited information must be authentic, not be self-serving (see Neutral point of view), and not involve claims about third parties. Self-published sources cannot comprise the majority of an article's citations, and cannot be used to establish a claim of notability. Student-published college newspapers and university-published press releases are generally considered reliable sources for verifying information, but these sources are not as strong a source to demonstrate notability as mainstream news organizations, and they should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Unlike third-party sources, such self-published sources and the claims they are being used to support may be removed without discussion if they are controversial or otherwise lack neutrality. Coverage by mainstream news organizations should always be preferred over press releases by a college or university's news office and stories in the student newspaper for verifying claims made within an article.

However, colleges and universities do publish a wide variety of important and authoritative information that should be included in any article. The Common Data Set, a fact book/almanac, President's reports, course catalogs, and/or faculty handbooks are excellent and authoritative sources of information on the college or university and can commonly be found on the websites for the provost, registrar, or institutional research office. A university's library or archives office may have a list of published articles or books about the university's history that can be used as reliable sources as well.

Independent organizations and national governments also collect and disseminate information about colleges and universities. In the United States, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching publishes widely used descriptive classifications of colleges and universities, the Department of Education publishes statistics through the College Navigator website, and the National Science Foundation publishes information on research & development expenditures.

Neutral point of viewEdit

Make sure to write from a neutral point of view. Wikipedia is not the place for academic boosterism – do not praise an academic institution but describe it using neutral language and verifiable facts. Remember to Assert facts, not opinions, substantiate the basis for any opinions, and don't tell the reader what to think. With regard to controversies on campuses, represent all significant views neutrally and equitably without giving undue weight to either side.

Watch out for overly general and vague statements such as "there are many who think University of X's business program is great" or "Y College is widely recognized as a preeminent institution". Such weasel words are not particularly factual and usually nothing but the author's opinions in disguise. Try to provide more specific information, and back the statement up with references to reliable, independent sources like books, magazines, studies, etc. In addition, the use of peacock terms and other words to avoid is strongly discouraged (e.g., "University of Z is a highly prestigious…" or "Z College is a renowned…") Remember, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not an admissions pamphlet and these pieces of fluff actually lower the prose to an unprofessional level. As a general rule, all adjectives of quality or praise should be removed, and all adjectives whatsoever should be scrutinized carefully. All statements of being "first" to accomplish anything should be cited to a third party source or removed--very few of them in WP are actually based on anything other than the school's own PR.

Avoid mission statements and goals. They are generally promotional.


If you cite college and university rankings, be precise and honest. Refactoring rankings (71st nationally according to the source, but 2nd among colleges in the state) to boost the score gives a non-neutral impression and is not appropriate. Claims that an institution "ranks highly" or is "highly exclusive" are just as vague as claims that it is "prestigious" and "excellent." Rankings should be neutrally worded without modifiers or disclaimers, represent a comprehensive cross-section of major rankings by national and international publications, be limited to a single section in the article, placed at or near the end and be reported as numeric values with years and verifiable sources; if possible, they should show the range: not "28th," but "28th among the 29" or "28th among the 200". In the lead, do not use rankings to synthesize an image of the institution, whether good or bad. Give one factual statement summarising overall "most recent" rankings obtained in key surveys (for example, "In 2010, institution 'A' has been ranked #3 by The Economist, #5 by The New York Times and #8 by Financial Times."). In the lead, do not give the sub factor rankings – details like "ranked #x in placements" or "ranked #3 in research" should not be the lead, and only selectively for major factors in the article anywhere. Rankings within a state or other small regions are never appropriate in the lead, and rarely appropriate in any circumstances, except sometimes to indicate ranking of a campus within a system.

Naming conventionsEdit

This section is a complement to Wikipedia's naming conventions, not a replacement. Always consider the Wikipedia conventions first when naming a page.

College and university articlesEdit

  1. Colleges and universities should always be named using the common (not necessarily official) name of the institution. This can often be determined by looking at current branding of a university via their website, published documents, and advertisements.
  2. Capitalize every word in the title except for articles such as and, of and the.
  3. In general, do not use The before the institution name unless it is the commonly recognized name of the university. Institutions may be officially named using The (such as Ohio State University and George Washington University), but it is preferred that The be left out of the article name.
  4. Never use abbreviations or acronyms in titles unless the institution you are naming is almost exclusively known only by including such terms and is widely used in that form. See Wikipedia:Naming conventions (abbreviations) for more information.
  5. For universities that are part of a larger system, in general the university name is followed by a comma and the name of the city in which the institution is located. For example, University of California, Berkeley and University of California, San Diego. Oxbridge colleges follow this advice, for example – Jesus College, Cambridge and Jesus College, Oxford. Some university systems use at (e.g., University of Colorado at Boulder); others use a hyphen (e.g., University of Wisconsin-Madison), both of which are acceptable. Most university websites should provide clarification, but in general it is preferred that all institutions in the system use the same naming convention. This may be overruled by common branding.


  1. Do not disambiguate unless a naming conflict exists.
  2. Never make a disambiguation tag longer than necessary.
  3. For institutions that share a name, both institutions should follow their name with the highest uncommon location in parentheses. For example, if there are multiple institutions with the same name in the U.S., put the state name in parentheses (not the city name) like in Augustana College (Illinois) and Augustana College (South Dakota). For institutions that have the same name between countries put the country name in parentheses.
  4. Consider creating redirects to the correct page from pages with names similar to the correct one and from pages with names which are discouraged per this convention. Also consider adding hatnotes linking between articles with similar names.
  5. Add a link to the institution on its corresponding disambiguation page, usually referenced by its initials such as MSU or UI. Some institutions may not have the same initials as others (UCLA or NYU) and can be redirected right to the university article without a disambiguation page.

Related articlesEdit

  1. Never use an acronym in the name of an institution's related articles where one is not used in the name of the institution. The entire institution's name (especially any parenthetical disambiguation) does not need to be included in the name of a related article, however all related articles should follow the same convention. Examples: History of Michigan State University (rather than "History of MSU"), Oriel College, Oxford (rather than "UO Oriel College"), and, although lengthy, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (rather than MSU College of Human Medicine).
  2. For university sports programs University can be dropped from the article name and instead followed by the team name. For example: Stanford Cardinal and California Golden Bears. Some institutions may keep University based on convention (New York University Violets). Also see #Sub-articles
  3. It is acceptable to not refer to the university at all in the title of related pages, such as Lyman Briggs College.


  1. Lists include embedded lists and stand-alone list articles.
  2. A list article's title should accurately describe its content.
  3. Lists should be named "List of..." (e.g. List of alumni of Jesus College, Oxford).

Article structureEdit

The basic structure of a college or university article should follow the general format below. Sections may be expanded, customized, or moved depending on need and type of institution. It may help to take a look at some of our example articles before you start and/or edit your own. Make sure to always cite references.

  • Infobox – All institution articles should utilize {{Infobox University}} to provide the basic details about the institution, preferably with a lead image of the institution's official seal or coat of arms and an image at the bottom of the institution's wordmark; do not adorn the infobox with additional images/icons. If copyrighted, the image should have its own specific fair use rationale. Include as much information as you can, giving verifiable references to potentially contentious information such as endowment and enrollment.
  • Lead – This should include basic information: the name(s) of the institution, location (city name; describe multiple campuses if present), founder and founding name, and affiliation with any larger university system or major local affiliate network, if applicable. Give other names for which the university may be known (e.g. Cal) and bold them, too. Use italic text for names that aren't in English. A thumbnail sketch of the dominant and distinguishing characteristics should be given in the lead, and expanded later. Attributes should include public/private, coeducational/single-sex, 2/4-year, religious affiliation if applicable, and type (liberal arts college, multi-school university, vocational school, research institution, community college, etc.). It should be mentioned whether it is an undergraduate-only institution, or if graduate programs are present (and if so, specific stand-alone programs like medical, law, and divinity schools should be mentioned). Do not include images in the lead; they should be placed elsewhere. The lead should not include information not covered in the main body of the article. Summarize the rest of the article without giving undue weight to any particular section (such as rankings) and mention distinguishing academic, historical, or demographic characteristics. The lead should be a concise summary of the entire article – not simply an introduction.
  • History – Include noteworthy milestones such as sexual and racial integration, major campus expansions, mergers, renames, foundation of new schools, notable controversies such as student protests or reforms, and impact of major historical events like wars. It is a good idea to include old pictures of buildings which no longer exist or photos of traditions practiced centuries ago. You can find many old images on public domain image search engines. Do not repeat this information in a timeline.
  • Campus, or if more appropriate Facilities or Buildings – Describe the overall layout and size of the campus as well as its geographical context or proximity to major cities. Expand on the previous historical discussion of the expansion of the university by describing important buildings, their design, and uses. If any buildings have been included on historic registers or have historic or cultural importance beyond the university itself, mention this with appropriate citations. This section could also summarize information about satellite campuses, study abroad sites, libraries (which may also be found in the academic or research sections depending on emphasis), and ongoing campus planning activities. If the college or university has made significant commitments to sustainability or other environmental initiatives, summarize this information as a subsection here.
  • Organization and administration – Discuss the structure of the administration, current leadership, budget, relationship with a board of trustees or regents, student government, endowment information, and academic divisions of the college/university. If this college/university has a special organizational structure, such as a residential college system, then it should be mentioned here. If the university is part of a larger system (as in University of California) or otherwise has formal relationships with other colleges/universities, discuss this relationship and provide requisite wikilinks. Capital campaigns and major endowment numbers should also be presented here, with any notable gifts being referenced. If the college or university has formal affiliations with other educational institutions (e.g., Five Colleges) or is a member of a major consortium or other inter-university organization (Annapolis Group, Association of American Universities, etc.), mention these as well.
  • Academics or Academic profile – This section contains information related to the academic environment. Try to include information about the institution's accreditation, tuition and financial aid, number of degrees/programs offered, number of degrees awarded annually, academic honors, academic calendar, and admissions statistics. It may be appropriate to discuss the library, museums, or other scholarly collections in a subsection if these are particularly notable for their size, scope, or uniqueness and have not been discussed elsewhere. If there is a special course system, grading scheme, or requisites for enrollment, mention them here. It would be appropriate to mention the notable academic divisions (such as faculties/schools/colleges) of this university and briefly summarize the number of enrollments. Because Wikipedia is not a directory, do not attempt to list every major, degree, or program offered in this or any section. Many articles summarize their academic rankings here, which may be listed in a template or in paragraph form, but should never be an embedded list. Per WP:BOOSTER, the rankings should be presented neutrally and without undue weight – do not exclude or re-factor rankings to present them more favorably, attempt to include every ranking or all historical rankings, or emphasize rankings of sub-disciplines over rankings of the college or university as a whole.
  • Research – This section may be included as a subsection of academic profile, but there needs to be information regarding research expenditures, government support and significant grants (land grant or space grant status, in the U.S. for example), the scale of the physical research plant, and notable research programs.
  • Student life – This section discusses specific traditions of the college/university, like students' union activities, a student newspaper, fraternities, regular activities, etc. The heading may be changed accordingly in regard to the importance of sports, clubs, traditions, students' unions, etc. Mention the sports team(s) of the institution and what is notable about them; larger institutions may require a separate section for their sports programs. This section also includes residence life, student clubs and activities, and related activities. Per Wikipedia's notability and external linking policies, do not include minor or common activities or provide links to homepages. As before, do not attempt to include an exhaustive list of all student activities or present the list of activities as embedded lists.
  • Noted people – This section should give a sense of the extent to which persons with well-known deeds or highly significant accomplishments are or have been associated with the school (as by attendance there or by being on staff or faculty). For most schools this might take the form of a list of people meeting Wikipedia's notability standards (each with perhaps a very brief descriptive phrase), where such a list would not be excessively long. For very old, very large, or very prestigious schools it may be more appropriate to use categories ("Alumni of", "Faculty of", etc.) instead, limiting the explicit list to very well-known persons (heads of state, historical figures, etc.) and adding a narrative summary of statistics on such things as Nobel Prizes, other prestigious awards, and so on.
  • In popular culture or Cultural references – If there are numerous reliable sources that discuss the institution's influence on popular culture then it may be appropriate to have a brief section describing that influence and offering well-known, pertinent examples. Such a section should not be an indiscriminate list of instances where the college or university is mentioned (in movies, books, television shows, etc.) nor should the section offer examples and discussion selected only by Wikipedia editors.
  • Notes/References – If you use the appropriate inline citations throughout the article (as you should), then this section is simply typing <references /> or {{Reflist}} If the same source is cited multiple times, collapse these repeated citations into a single reference by using <ref name="XYZ">citation template</ref> (where XYZ is a short name such as "CDS" for Common Data Set for example) after the first instance and <ref name="XYZ"/> for every subsequent instance.
  • External links – Give a link to the official website of the college/university, preferably in the English language. The number of links here should be kept to an absolute minimum: do not to link other university pages (e.g., admissions, School of Law, Department of Psychology), related groups (e.g., student media, unions, clubs), or pages already linked from earlier citations.
  • Navigation templates – Some major universities have enough related articles that they create navigation templates to allow users to navigate through them. Universities may also be members of athletic conferences, research consortia, or other types of organizations which have navigation templates as well. All navigation templates should be placed at the very end of the article.


When university pages become too large or too comprehensive it may be beneficial to break off certain sections into sub-pages. When this happens, a summary style should be used in the institution's article. Occasionally these sub-articles can become excellent as well (see Campus of Michigan State University and Georgia Tech traditions). Which articles are notable will depend on the criteria for notability as well as the following criteria:

General splitting of articlesEdit

Separate articles explaining a college or university's history (History of Texas A&M University), campus (Campus of Michigan State University), and alumni (List of Athabasca University people – see lists advice above) must still fulfill the notability policy of receiving significant coverage in reliable sources independent of the university. Such articles are generally notable only at large institutions or institutions where one of these aspects is especially important or significant. Smaller institutions with historical significance (like Harvard University) are an example of this exception.


Separate sports articles for institutions which have large sports programs are acceptable (i.e. Division I in the United States, and well-known programs elsewhere). Again, sports programs at large institutions or those which are significant may also have their own sub-article. For some larger sports program articles it is acceptable to create additional sub-articles for specific sports (Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football), seasons (2007 Appalachian State Mountaineers football team), and, although rare, games (2007 Appalachian State vs. Michigan football game) so long as they fulfill the notability policy of receiving significant coverage in reliable sources independent of the university.

Faculties and academic collegesEdit

If an institution's faculties, constituent academic colleges, or academic departments are especially notable or significant they may have their own dedicated article (e.g. Jesus College, Oxford, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania). In general these organizations are not notable (see WP:ORG) and should not be split off from the main institution article in the absence of significant coverage by reliable, independent sources. If some faculties or academic colleges have significance and others do not, it may be the case that the institution's academic programs as a whole are notable. In this case it may be acceptable to create a separate academics article (see Michigan State University academics, Colleges of the University of Oxford)

Student lifeEdit

Student life and university traditions articles are generally not notable unless they are sufficiently unusual that they have received significant coverage in reliable sources independent of the university. Some articles satisfy this criterion (Fightin' Texas Aggie Band and Georgia Tech traditions). Wikipedia is not a place for cruft and university-related articles. Also, per WP:ORG, students' unions/organizations/governments should only have their own article if they are independently notable. This means that they:

Have been the subject of coverage in secondary sources. Such sources must be reliable, and independent of the subject. The depth of coverage of the subject by the source must be considered. If the depth of coverage is not substantial, then multiple independent sources should be cited to establish notability. Trivial or incidental coverage of a subject by secondary sources is not sufficient to establish notability. Once notability is established, primary sources may be used to add content. Ultimately, and most importantly, all content must be attributable.

  • The "secondary sources" in the criterion include reliable published works in all forms, such as (for examples) newspaper articles, books, television documentaries, and published reports by organizations – none of which should be written by any part of the union/organization/government or university itself. These sources may come from other universities or from the university press but never from the university which the group or organization is a part of.
  • Press releases; advertising for the student group or organization; and other works where the group talks about itself – whether published by the university, group itself, or re-printed by other people – are not acceptable sources to establish notability.
  • Works carrying merely trivial coverage are also not acceptable to establish notability. For example: newspaper articles that simply report meeting times or election results, or the publications of telephone numbers, addresses, and directions in business directories.
  • Individual chapters of national and international organizations are almost always not notable enough to warrant a separate article (even if the parent organization is notable). Local chapters may be notable only in the rare circumstances that sufficient notability is established through reliable sources. However, chapter information may be included in list articles as long as only verifiable information is included. This especially applies to Greek organizations.
  • Organizations whose activities are local in scope are usually not notable unless verifiable information from reliable independent sources can be found.
  • The organization’s longevity, size of membership, or major achievements, or other factors specific to the organization may be considered. This list is not exhaustive and not conclusive.

Under Wikipedia's rules for media notability, a campus or college radio station is notable if it is duly licensed by the appropriate media regulatory authority, such as the FCC in the United States or the CRTC in Canada. Unlicensed university or college radio stations which broadcast only on Part 15, carrier current or Internet radio may be mentioned in the school's main article, but are not entitled to independent articles unless they are themselves the subject of reliable secondary sources. Similarly, student newspapers may be mentioned in the school's main article, but need to be the primary subject of reliable secondary sources to qualify for independent articles.

In popular cultureEdit

"University of X in popular culture" articles are generally not notable and should be integrated into the rest of the article. Most of the time these articles are indiscriminate lists. Although some of these articles exist (Yale in popular culture), their content should be merged into the primary article when appropriate and ultimately nominated for deletion (also see WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS). It may be the case that a particular academic program (film, radio, etc.) is notable with regard to its portrayal in popular culture. In this scenario the pop culture info could be included in the academics section or article rather than creating a separate article for popular culture. If this happens it should not be a trivia list or section, but rather a collection of analyses regarding the university's role in popular culture using reliable sources.

Example articlesEdit

Featured articlesEdit

Former featured articlesEdit

Featured listsEdit

Former featured listsEdit

Good articlesEdit

Former good articlesEdit

Featured topicsEdit

Did you know? articlesEdit

Featured picturesEdit

Picture of the day picturesEdit