I work at a university and the IT here uses a subdomain for every sub-entity like https://professor.department.faculty.university.tld, which I find highly unusual.

I actually would like a path for a project like https://university.tld/entity/project but they insist on the sub-sub-subdomains. They don't really give a reason. Searching on my own, I only found that a possible negative impact on SEO might speak against stacking subdomains.

Are there other reasons?

Are there reasons for going with stacked subdomains despite it rarely being seen?

  • 2
    "Should I use stacked subdomains" - You don't actually state the scenario in which you want to use "stacked subdomains". There may be technical reasons why the university in question has used subdomains in this way.
    – MrWhite
    Aug 23, 2018 at 16:08
  • You're right, sorry. The scenario is actually the other way round. I'd prefer a path, but IT insists in stacking subdomains. They don't give me information why, that's why I asked here.
    – jshlke
    Aug 27, 2018 at 8:20
  • "professor.department.faculty.university.tld, which I find highly unusual." It is not unusual in the sense that 40 years ago it was really the idea promoted when created TLDs, and you can see that easily in .US in the past (cf RFC 1480). Unfortunately that didn't stick as usage so the DNS namespace became mostly fat, with now "everyone" wanting its own TLD. Feb 24, 2022 at 12:26

2 Answers 2



I suspect that it is simply for user readability - a domain breadcrumb trail if you like.

While I believe it is technically okay, I agree it is a very odd choice and sounds complicated to manage - and may not be that user friendly (unexpected url pattern).

Off the top of my head, some avoidable potential problems this setup leads to could include:

  1. Security: Requires a wildcard certification to easily manage security;

  2. Will make switching platforms (if/when that were to happen) complicated;

  3. May also lend itself to longer-than-necessary uris (depending on the names of professors, faculties, filenames etc).

I would have thought a more appropriate structure might be <faculty>.uni.tld or something like that.

Anyway, I am sure you are aware of those reservations - good luck!

  • Thanks! I clarified the original question, what I meant: "stacked subdomains can be bad for SEO. Any reasons against stacked subdomains apart from this."
    – jshlke
    Aug 23, 2018 at 8:59
  • @Seul - Not that I can think of.
    – TBB
    Aug 23, 2018 at 9:02
  • Hey @Seul - I am assuming that the uni has a wildcard cert. If it is multi domain (a list) or standard per domain [extremely unlikely for a uni], then there could a 'cost' in the extra effort of setting up SSLs when new subdomains are added.
    – TBB
    Aug 23, 2018 at 9:11
  • "Will make switching platforms (if/when that were to happen) complicated;" Using subdomains make that simpler not more complicated. It allows each subdomain to be hosted separately from the rest, where URLs would need proxying/redirecting for the same goal. Feb 24, 2022 at 12:27
  • "then there could a 'cost' in the extra effort of setting up SSLs when new subdomains are added. " Can you expand on what costs? Certificates are free, and can be completely automated (from issuance to configuration). Once things are automated, by definition, having one or one hundred is the same deal. Plus you know that you can have multiple names covered by a single certificate, outside of wildcards, thanks to the SAN extension. Feb 24, 2022 at 12:30

https://professor.department.faculty.university.tld format may be easier to maintain for your IT as against the method you expect.

However the method you mentioned is the standard practice for the use case (giving information about professors).

The two methods are two different architecture and design. In a very simplistic view , consider the first as a simple static web page while the 2nd method is a DYNAMIC WEB APPLICATION

  • 1
    "In a very simplistic view , consider the first as a simple static web page while the 2nd method is a DYNAMIC WEB APPLICATION" This distinction has nothing to do with how the URLs are constructed. Just looking at an URL or an hostname you can not derive any property about what is on the other side. Also, why CAPS? Feb 24, 2022 at 12:28

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