The league said Peterson will not be considered for reinstatement until at least April 15.
Peterson may appeal the decision to league commissioner Roger Goodell within three business days. He will remain on the Exempt List and continue to be paid pending a decision.
The National Football League Players Association said it will appeal the decision and "demand that a neutral arbitrator oversee the appeal."
Peterson was indicted on felony charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child in September. On Nov. 4, Peterson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault after authorities said he hit his 4-year old son with a switch. He was ordered to pay a $4,000 fine and perform 80 hours of community service.
The NFLPA criticized the league for what it called an "arbitrary disciplinary proceeding" after Peterson's legal matters had been already resolved.
"The decision by the NFL to suspend Adrian Peterson is another example of the credibility gap that exists between the agreements they make and the actions they take. Since Adrian’s legal matter was adjudicated, the NFL has ignored their obligations and attempted to impose a new and arbitrary disciplinary proceeding," the NFLPA said in a statement.
The league held a hearing over conference call on Monday to determine whether Peterson should be further punished under the league's personal conduct policy. The decision was made by arbitrator Shyam Das.
The NFL said in a statement that Peterson showed no remorse for his conduct.
"When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not ‘eliminate whooping my kids’ and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother," the league said.
The league also took issue with Peterson's use of a switch to punish his son, saying the tree branch was equivalent to a weapon, "particularly in the hands of someone with the strength of an accomplished professional athlete."
The Vikings released a statement on Tuesday following the NFL's announcement.
The NFL has informed the Vikings of today's decision regarding Adrian Peterson. We respect the league's decision and will have no further comment at this time.
Peterson has missed the Vikings' last nine games after his indictment. On Sept. 17, Peterson agreed to be placed on the Commissioner's Exempt list. He has been paid despite not playing.
Since Peterson was placed on the Commissioner's Exempt list, he must be reinstated before he is allowed to play again. On Nov. 6, the NFL announced that Peterson's case would be reviewed for potential discipline under the personal conduct policy and asked him to submit any relevant information.
Peterson did not show up for an NFL disciplinary hearing on Friday. Peterson said he never agreed to the meeting because when he consulted with the union, he found the hearing was "something new and inconsistent with the CBA" and told the NFL he would not participate.
“It is imperative that you avoid any incident of this kind in the future,” Goodell stated in his letter. “Any further violation of the Personal Conduct Policy will result in additional discipline and may subject you to banishment from the NFL.”
- Sarah Barshop and Scooby Axson