These guidelines will assist you with retaining university records. Some guidelines are office-specific, while others apply to multiple offices and departments.  Guidelines should be followed by all relevant offices.

Following the minimum retention period, the records in question should be disposed of according to the recommendations in these guidelines.

In some cases, it is important to destroy information using a method that preserves its confidentiality. (This excludes records identified for permanent retention.) Duke University maintains contracts with several shredding facilities. For more information, please contact Procurement.

Please note that records retention guidelines are suspended if an investigation, legal action or proceeding, audit or program review is forthcoming or in progress. DO NOT dispose of any records or data if an investigation, legal action or proceeding, audit or program review is forthcoming or in progress.

List of Records Retention Guidelines:

Below please find the Records Retention Guidelines for Duke University. These guidelines should be implemented in all relevant offices as of the time of publication. Check back here frequently for updates and revisions to these guidelines.

Common Abbreviations and Definitions:

Below please find a list of definitions and abbreviations that may be used throughout the guidelines.

Definitions:

  • Administrative Value: the usefulness of a record in the conduct of the office’s business
  • Archives: The University Archives
  • Minimum Retention: the minimum amount of time a particular series of records should be retained prior to disposition
  • Permanent: an indefinite retention period; signifies that the records have sufficient value or importance to justify keeping them in perpetuity. Permanent retention also may be based on legal requirements or demonstrated and justifiable need. Long-term or permanent retention of electronic records requires resources for data migration, ensuring the integrity and trustworthiness of the data and addressing hardware/software obsolescence. An office should consider the long-term availability of its resources prior to expressing an interest in retaining information permanently. The University Archives is the official repository for information with historical or enduring value.


  • Records: all recorded information, regardless of its physical form or characteristics, created or received pursuant to the transaction of university business or in the fulfillment of its educational, administrative, business or legal obligations
  • Record Series (or Series):  a group/set of identical or related records, information or data that are normally used and filed or stored as a logical unit; synonymous with data set

Abbreviations:

  • CAP: College of American Pathologists; recommends minimum requirements for the retention of laboratory records and materials
  • CFR: Code of Federal Regulations
  • CLIA: Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (42 CFR 493)
  • DM: Undergraduate or Graduate Admissions Office
  • FERPA: Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (20 USC §1232g)
  • FIN: Undergraduate or Graduate Financial Aid Office
  • INT: International Office
  • IRS: Internal Revenue Service
  • NCGS: North Carolina General Statutes
  • PMAC: Pre-Major Advising Center
  • PRA: Pratt School of Engineering
  • PRO: Applicable Professional School (Law, Business, Medical, etc.)
  • PS: PeopleSoft Student Administration System
  • REG: University Registrar or Applicable School Registrar
  • ScFIN: Applicable School Financial Aid Office
  • TRIN: Applicable Department in Arts & Sciences and Trinity College

Help! My Records Are Not Listed in the Records Retention Guidelines!

Contact the Duke University Archives to discuss these records! University Archives will work with your office to dispose of the records, either by creating an updated or new retention guideline or approving a one-time disposition of the records.

You will be notified when it is acceptable to dispose of the records in question. Please wait until you are notified before disposing of the records.

Why is it important to document the disposition of unscheduled records?

  • In the absence of an approved set of retention guidelines, documenting disposition shows that you did not dispose of university records arbitrarily.
  • If the records are needed in the future for official actions, documenting disposition provides evidence of why the records are unavailable.

Related Recordkeeping Policies and Procedures:

Some information included in the records created and maintained at Duke is sensitive and confidential in nature. It should be protected from disclosure except under certain circumstances.

The links below provide a summary of university and federal policies and regulations that may impact the records and information in your care. This summary is intended to serve as a resource only. If you have questions about legal issues involving university records, consult with the University Counsel's office.