The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance to Macalester College faculty, staff, and students regarding passwords in order to protect individual and College information and resources. Adherence to this policy will help ensure that the college network and information systems are secure and available to all.

The Macalester College network and information systems provide the technical foundation for its academic mission. Providing open access to information is imperative to ensuring academic freedom at the institution. An important part of providing this network access is ensuring that the network and associated information is secure.

Macalester account credentials must meet the minimum password complexity standards set by Macalester College, and where possible, Information Technology Services (ITS) will technically enforce these standards. Faculty, staff and students must adhere to the minimum passwords standards for all systems and applications that come into contact with College resources.

Systems that Cannot Comply with Minimum Standards

If the minimum standards cannot be met, the system must be protected by other means, such as, but not limited to, a dedicated firewall, limited network access or multi-factor authentication.

Passwords must contain:

  • a minimum of 12 characters

Passwords must have 3 of the 4 requirements:

  • at least 1 uppercase letter (A-Z)
  • at least 1 lowercase letter (a-z)
  • at least 1 number (0-9)
  • at least 1 non-alphanumeric character

Password must NOT contain:

  • your name or username
  • the last 10 passwords used

It is strongly recommended that:

  • password be changed at least once per year
  • passwords not be shared
  • password length be in excess of 15 characters, or a passphrase consisting of four or more words be used (e.g. Funny9drink2apple7White)
  • passwords avoid commonly used words (e.g. September2016)
  • password be memorized or use a password manager
  • passwords include any non-alphanumeric character

Self Service Password Reset

  1. Go to
  2. Enter your Macalester username and password. Click Sign in.
  3. Follow the prompts to reset your password.

Computing password guidelines has suggestions on how to craft a secure password.

Created: January 2017