How to get a branded YouTube channel for your institution in just a few easy steps

June 26th, 2008 Karine Joly 18 Comments

Up until today, the best way to get a branded university YouTube channel was still a mystery for many (including yours truly).

Since a few months several institutions (Duke University, UC Berkeley, Vanderbilt, among others) have rolled out branded YouTube channel without the ads displayed on the regular YouTube accounts.

However, there were no clear guidelines made publicly available to the higher ed community (at least none that I had heard of despite my strong interest in the topic)

So, when the questions was asked… and answered by James VanDyke from SMU Integrated Marketing earlier this week on the uweb-d listserv, I was really excited (yes, I know it doesn’t take much lately ;-):

Applying and being accepted to YouTube’s non-profit program gives you the additional branding options.

Here is the address to apply:

Here is SMU’s YouTube Channel:

After reading his reply to the list, I sent a note to James to ask a few more questions about the whole process.

1) How long did it take to get a a reply from YouTube?
It took 3-5 days for a reply. I’m guessing that a real person reviews each application. People who are interested should create a normal account first and then apply for the non-profit.

2) What did it take to get your channel running?

Getting the channel running was much like getting a normal YouTube Channel running with a few more options. We created a banner image and customized the layout of the page somewhat. You can upload image map code for you banner like USC has done for their page.

3) Did you sign a contract? Did you have to go through a special process?

We didn’t sign any special contracts. You just have to agree to the basic Terms and Conditions.

So, what are the requirements to apply to the YouTube Non-Profit program?

Organizations applying for the Nonprofit program must meet the following criteria.

* Must be a U.S.-based nonprofit with IRS 501(c)(3) tax status
* May not be religious or political in nature
* May not be focused primarily on lobbying for political or policy change
* Commercial organizations, credit-counseling services, donation middleman services, fee-based organizations, and nonprofit portals are not eligible for the program

If your institution fits this profile, you should definitely submit an application to get rid off the ads. It might not be the higher ed program per se, but it’s the next best thing.

And, if any of you is aware of the process to join the “real” higher ed program of YouTube, please share the secret with us by posting a comment.

18 Responses

  1. gigi says:

    thanks for sharing. but how about non-profits based in UK?

  2. Great post. I’d always wondered how UC (and others) had more flexibility for a custom branded channel. Just sent in our application!

  3. Ann White says:

    I have a question. I was excited to see this, then disappointed that religious organizations were not qualified. As a religious university, I assumed this disqualified us. However, SMU qualified, so does that mean my concerns are unfounded?

  4. Ann White says:

    We applied and were rejected. Not sure why, they just said we didn’t fit the qualifications.

  5. Karine Joly says:


    It might be that the person who reviewed your application saw your institution as a religious university, while the one who reviewed SMU didn’t.

    If anybody else applies via this program, please keep us updated about the results.

  6. [...] How to get a branded YouTube channel for your institution in just a few easy steps – It was never easily explained how to go about getting a branded YouTube Channel for a college… until now. Thanks Karine! [...]

  7. Michael says:

    Our application was just rejected. Again the reason is not direct but assumed to be the religious clause. That’s unfortunate because so many private schools are religious.

    I however am interested to know why these two groups were approved despite their open religious mission:


  8. Michael says:

    If youtube is making you cry, then go to a better service such as Veoh. They have a FREE Pro account and their videos get syndicated to youtube automatically. You can create your own channel and fully customize it or just embed a Paypal/Google button. Go to for more information.

  9. I applied for a non-profit channel under a TUAlumni account and it was denied. I received the following form email response. I did write back for further clarification, but have not heard a response.

    Temple meets all of their criteria, so I’m stumped to why we didn’t get accepted. We don’t yet have any videos on the channel, but I didn’t think that would be a problem.

    Any thoughts on this would be great!


    Thanks for your interest in the YouTube Nonprofit Program. Unfortunately, your organization doesn’t meet the qualifications at this time. Organizations that are not eligible for the program include the following types:

    * Organizations who do not have 501(c)(3) federal tax status
    * Organizations outside of the U.S.
    * Organizations that are either religious, or political in nature
    * Organizations focused primarily on lobbying for political or policy change.

    YouTube reserves the right to reject applications to any organization, and selections are made at YouTube’s sole discretion. All decisions regarding program recipients are final.

    While you did not meet the criteria for the YouTube Nonprofit Program, we encourage you to investigate other great Google products that are available to nonprofits at no cost.

    Thanks for your interest and best of luck on YouTube and beyond.

    The YouTube Nonprofit Team

  10. [...] past few weeks, I’ve seen many questions around branded YouTube channels (via the non-profit or the partner program) as well as the frustration building up in the higher [...]

  11. Deborah says:

    What are you using to add closed captions to the YouTube videos?

  12. We were denied as well. I’m assuming because we are “religious”. Wondering why other religious institutions were accepted…

  13. [...] know I know, this stuff is obvious.  The concept goes hand in hand with all the University Youtube channels springing up packed with lecture highlights and faculty interviews.  But it could go beyond [...]

  14. [...] How to get a branded YouTube channel for your institution in just a few easy steps [...]

  15. Greyman says:

    Why does YouTube exempt other countries? Surely this is not difficult to setup, legitimacy issues should be no problem they are properly structured like a non-profits. rescues children from trafficking and exploitation of children in South East Asia. All we want on our YouTube channel is to enhance our branding. Is that too much trouble for YouTube to enable?

  16. Jenny says:

    We’ve had a YouTube channel for a few months now and were investigating being a YouTube partner so we applied. A few days later we were told we were accepted into the YouTube Education Partner Program which is the Non Profit one mentioned in the post (one which we had no idea about).

    Benefits are: “You will now find advanced branding options in Account > Branding Options. Your channel is also enabled for long-form playback to accommodate lectures and special events which have proven to be the most useful and popular education content on YouTube.”

    We are an Australian university so I gather its worldwide.

  17. Karine Joly says:

    Thanks for sharing the info, Jenny. That’s kind of new and a very good news for institutions not based in the US or Canada.

  18. When I was applying for a channel for BSC, I read this in the terms and conditions: “you…agree not to use YouTube’s name or trademark in any news release, public announcement, advertisement or other publicity, or disclose any of the terms of the YouTube Nonprofit program to any third party, without the prior written consent of YouTube,”

    What does this mean? Can we tell visitors to our Web site about our YouTube channel? What kind of restrictions does this place on us?

Got a question or comment?