How To Loop Through A Comma Delimited String In SQL

Looping through a comma delimited string in SQL is easy to do, but can take a few minutes to write and test the scripts, which I never really have the time for, so now I have a permanent home for this script for me to reference.

Here’s what I setup this script for (you can easily modify it):

I have a registration form that accepts Degree Types(e.g., MD, PHD, MS, etc.) to be  freely typed in a textbox (I know, I hate this too) so that doctors don’t have to select them from a listbox, which I think is much easier, but the issue is obvious – you can’t just insert a string of comma-delimited degrees into the database, that is if your database is properly structured (many to many relationship) anyway, so I needed to accept the string into my Stored Procedure and then break the comma-delimited string up so that I can insert it into the database. Anyhow, feel free to copy and adjust this script as needed.

DECLARE @arrItems         VARCHAR(1000)  SET @arrItems = 'MD,PHD,MS'
DECLARE @Item             VARCHAR(50)
DECLARE @Position         INT
DECLARE @Loop             BIT
--Make sure we enter the loop, even if there's only one item
IF(right(@arrItems,1) <> ',' and Len(@arrItems)>0)
@arrItems = @arrItems + ','

SET @Loop = CASE WHEN LEN(@arrItems) > 0 THEN 1 ELSE 0 END
WHILE (SELECT @Loop) = 1
SELECT @Position = CHARINDEX(',', @arrItems, 1)

IF(@Position > 0)
SELECT @Item         = SUBSTRING(@arrItems, 1, @Position - 1)
SELECT @arrItems     = SUBSTRING(@arrItems, @Position + 1, LEN(@arrItems) -                                                         @Position)

-- Look up Degree ID
SET @DegreeID = (Select Degree.fld_Degree_ID from tbl_Lookup_Degrees Degree
where Degree.fld_Degree_Name = @Item)

-- Make sure the database found and returned a Degree ID
IF(@DegreeID <> 0)
--Insert person's degree into the database
Insert into tbl_Person_By_Degree(fld_Person_ID, fld_Degree_ID)
Values(@PersonID, @DegreeID)

SELECT @Item = @arrItems
SELECT @Loop = 0


  1. Just what I needed, thanks.

  2. Thanks, this helped me solve a comma delimited problem. I had to loop through a list of contracts and check each one (which was sent to me as a comma delimited string) and do some processing on each of those contracts.

  3. teresa

    Thanks for sharing. Helped a lot.

  4. First of all I would like to say awesome blog!
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  5. This is good, it was helpful to me. Thanks

  6. But good article. Hard to Read the code block

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