Is this possible? I'd like to pull from a master list of universities and colleges either maintained locally in sharepoint or somewhere online (I found this). The idea is to keep users from typing in all sorts of variations of schools (i.e. UMASS vs University of Massachusetts).

2 Answers 2


I'd actually suggest using Managed Metadata Services for this.

The reason being, you want to include synonyms on your list (UMASS vs University of Massachusetts). Well, MMS fully supports this. You just create a term set with a list of all the universities, set up the synonyms for all the ones you want, and add Managed Metadata fields in the web sites where ever you need it. All you need to do is to set the MM Field to be restricted just to the universities term set.

This works across site collections (whereas lookups are tightly restricted to a single Web, can't go to subwebs or parent webs), and you can delegate management of the term set to users through the security settings available.

The downside, is that this is only available in SharePoint 2010 Server and up.

  • Great! This is part of a bigger metadata schema we're trying to set up. Can you think of a way to plug in all this data without doing it by hand?
    – samauger
    Feb 6, 2012 at 20:15
  • Yup, read this blog post from Wictor on importing term sets: wictorwilen.se/Post/…
    – James Love
    Feb 6, 2012 at 20:17
  • Excellent. Thanks so much. I appreciate your help.
    – samauger
    Feb 6, 2012 at 20:47
  • Here's another concern: is it realistic to load a massive list like that into metadata? In our situation, a CV will be uploaded and tagged with the CV content type. One of the metadata items should be where this applicant received her/his education. I'm getting the feeling that this might not be the best way to execute this.
    – samauger
    Feb 8, 2012 at 3:11

What you are looking for is called a lookup column:

  • Create a SharePoint custom list
  • Paste your list of universities and colleges (one item per name)
  • Create a lookup column that points to this list

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