Final 2010-2011 College Rankings: World Division Top 1-5

by KFC on July 27, 2011

Who are the Best College Model UN Teams in America?

Which college Model UN teams are the best in the world?

We saw many benefits to answering this question and devised a methodology to create a set of rankings — we released our first set of rankings based on results up to March 21, 2011. We then took Best Delegate readers’ feedback on the rankings and methodology and made revisions to the methodology accordingly.

Please read the Methodology article first before jumping into the rankings. We clarify in the article our purpose behind the rankings, our philosophy that drives what we value in the rankings, the two Divisions in the college circuit, and several revisions to the methodology.

With that said, here are the top 1-5 teams on the college circuit! These five teams (along with 6th-ranked Harvard) were the elites for this season and consistently racked up awards at all the conferences that they attended — these six teams had a considerable margin in their overall scores compared with the rest of the circuit. Congratulations on a successful year!

Final 2010-11 College Rankings: World Division Top 1-5

1. University of Chicago

U.Chicago poses with the Yale SCSY secretariat after winning the conference's Best Large Delegation award

The University of Chicago is the best college Model UN team in the world in our final rankings. They have been nearly dominant throughout the year while competing at some of the most competitive conferences in the world. They dominated the awards during the fall by winning Best Large Delegation at U. Penn UPMUNC, Georgetown NCSC, and Yale SCSY. They continued to perform well in the spring with an Outstanding Large Delegation at Harvard HNMUN and awards at Berkeley UCBMUN. While Yale’s victory at HNMUN might make them a better team to pick for a one-time head-to-head competition, U. Chicago’s consistency and breadth of quality awards makes them the best team this season.

2. Yale University

Yale won delegation awards at Harvard HNMUN, WorldMUN, and U.Penn UPMUNC

If you had to pick one team to win at a prestigious, traditional Model UN conference, Yale would probably be it. Yale only attended the three largest Model UN conferences in the World Division and walked away with delegation awards at all three. The team won Best Large Delegation at Harvard HNMUN, Best Small Delegation at Harvard WorldMUN, and Outstanding Large Delegation at U. Penn UPMUNC. Yale owns head-to-head victories over each of the top five teams at the most competitive conference where they faced off and they could probably claim to be the best Model UN team in the world. They’re ranked below U. Chicago in our rankings because U. Chicago scored higher across more conferences. We’ll be curious to see if Yale decides to expand its travel team schedule next season.

3. United States Military Academy at West Point

West Point won more delegation awards this year than any other team

West Point continued its dominance as the best small delegation in the world this year. We mentioned West Point’s lower winning percentages this year compared to previous years in the last rankings, but that statistic is pretty irrelevant given all the delegation awards the team swept up by the end of this year. West Point won Best Small Delegation awards at Harvard HNMUN, U. Penn UPMUNC, and Yale SCSY and complimented its resume with an Outstanding Small Delegation award at Georgetown NCSC and the Secretary-General’s Award at McGill McMUN. The team also won awards at Harvard WorldMUN, Berkeley UCBMUN, Princeton PICSim, and Oxford OxiMUN (the latter is not factored into the standings). The strength of their delegation awards won in the circuit-high nine conferences they attended allowed them to leapfrog some of the larger elite teams in our rankings this year. It will be interesting to see if West Point can improve its winning percentages to hold off increasingly formidable challenges from Columbia and Rutgers for best small delegation next year.

4. Georgetown University

Georgetown won at McMUN

Georgetown had a strong first-half of the season when it won a Best Large Delegation at McGill McMUN, captured a Best Large Delegation at Columbia CMUNNY and placed third in terms of overall awards won at U. Penn UPMUNC. The team continued to win in the second-half of the season with a Best Large Delegation at U. Chicago ChoMUN, a Best Small Delegation at Virginia VICS, and an Outstanding Delegation at NYU’s NYUMUNC. Georgetown did not beat fellow large delegation rivals U. Chicago or Yale in their only head-to-head matchup at UPMUNC this year, but the team is nonetheless one of the strongest on the circuit.

5. University of Pennsylvania

U.Penn attends the most conferences and has plenty of awards to show for it

The University of Pennsylvania has a very large team and that enabled them to tie for scheduling a circuit-high nine conferences. U. Penn almost always wins a large delegation award at every conference they attend. In fact, the team won the most delegation awards among any college this year. U. Penn won its Best Large Delegation awards at Berkeley UCBMUN, Virginia VICS, and NYU’s NYUMUNC and captured five Outstanding Large Delegation awards this year at Georgetown NCSC, Yale SCSY, Boston University BarMUN, and Princeton PICSim. Penn doesn’t just consistently dominate at mid-sized and smaller conferences though – the team showed it belongs among the elite when it placed third in terms of overall awards won at Harvard HNMUN behind only Yale and U. Chicago. The team was also in contention for a delegation award at Columbia CMUNNY.

Make sure to check out the top 6-10, top 11-15, and the top 16-25 and check back for the top 10!

What do you think of the final rankings? Please share this post and leave a comment!

  • http://http// TreasureLA

    Congrats on finishing the rankings! Very cool project.

  • Anonymous

    Hey KFC,

    I’m glad that the top 5 is finally up, but you got your facts wrong a bit. UPenn did NOT take Outstanding Large at VICS. Rather, they took Best Large Delegation. Georgetown took Best Small Delegation. With that in mind, I’m having some problems seeing why Georgetown (and West Point) beat out UPenn for 3rd and 4th in the rankings. Looking specifically at the UPenn vs. Georgetown matchup:

    – In head-to-head:
    ** CMUNNY: Georgetown beat UPenn (Best Large for Gtown; 3rd place for UPenn)
    ** NYU: UPenn beat Georgetown (Best Large for UPenn; Outstanding Large for Gtown)

    – In conferences both attended, but were NOT in same category:
    ** VICS: Best Large for UPenn; Best Small for Georgetown

    In looking at those conferences alone, UPenn has a very slight edge. CMUNNY and NYU basically cancel out, though you could make the case that Gtown’s win is a bit stronger because CMUNNY is more competitive, but a Best Large at VICS for UPenn definitely beats Gtown’s Best Small at the same conference.

    Then, I think you cancel out UPenn’s Best Large at Berkeley at Gtown’s Best Large at CHOMun. Although CHOMUN has a a better rep, each conference fielded two of the top 6 teams beyond Penn or Gtown (Berkeley- Harvard + UChicago; CHOMun- Harvard + West Point) so I think the wins are pretty comparable. I think you also have to cancel out the third place finishes: UPenn took 3rd at HNMUN and Gtown took 3rd at UPMUNC.

    What that leaves you with is this:

    Georgetown- Best Large at McGill
    UPenn- Outstanding Large at SCSY, NCSC, PicSIM, and BarMUN.

    Even if you give Georgetown an edge from the earlier stuff, I really can’t see how a Best Large at a conference that 4 (or 5) of the top 6 teams don’t attend preserves an edge when matched up against 4 Outstanding Large awards.

    You can’t fault Penn or decrease the value of these awards on the basis that the school goes to more conferences. The chance to go to more conferences could hurt if Penn lost, but the team never placed lower than third in any conference it attended.

    As for West Point, if you’re sticking to the philosophy outlined in the “methodology,” which values both Best Large and Outstanding Large over Best Small Delegation, I’m confused how West Point beat out either UPenn or Georgetown. West Point is terrific, but they did NOT go undefeated in the category that they essentially own, losing to Harvard at NCSC. A combined 7 large delegation awards for UPenn and a combined 4 large delegation awards for Gtown (plus a Best Small) should put both schools ahead of West Point.

    Bottom line, I love that the rankings are out and I think it’s going to up the competition at conferences in the years to come, but I can’t say that I agree with how things turned out.

    I appreciate all the effort, KFC! Looking forward to next year.

    • KFC

      Thanks for raising up these points.

      1. You are correct in UPenn winning Best Large at VICS and Georgetown winning Best Small. We awarded them accordingly in our formula but our narrative was incorrect — I have since fixed the narrative.

      2. I see your point with the head-to-head comparison between Georgetown and UPenn and I think it comes down to how you weight each conference. I will acknowledge here that winning Best Large Delegation at McMUN is heavily weighted. The conference may be missing some of the top 5 teams in our rankings, but we explained in our methodology that we weighted conferences by size and by the number of top 50 teams attending — we value ability to lead large, diverse groups in addition to the ability to outshine a few stellar individuals. McMUN is the 4th largest conference on the circuit and has its fair share of top 50 teams attending.

      3. We didn’t decrease the value of awards for UPenn just because it attended more conferences. Actually, we purposely decided against capping the number of conferences that we score into our rankings so UPenn had the best chance to outscore everyone else just by attending more conferences. The conference weightings were consistent for every school. And as mentioned in our methodology, we don’t penalize schools for “losing” — schools accumulate points only for winning.

      4. You must’ve observed the rankings very closely to figure out an anomaly in the case of West Point. The methodology explanation will shed some light into this:

      “There are oftentimes teams that win more awards than the team that won Best Small Delegation or just won many awards in general, and we reward them with points proportional to the number of awards won with the maximum being equivalent to the points scored by the Best Small delegation.”

      We valued delegation awards first, and West Point was able to score high points by winning many in their category. If we didn’t count delegation awards and only went by raw number of awards won, then the rankings would look slightly different. At almost every conference, there are large teams that win more awards than the best small team. In fact, the Best Large Delegation isn’t usually the team that wins the most awards!! It is oftentimes the team that had the best winning percentage, and I suspect this is because competition is so fierce that schools don’t want to get outscored for an awards just because they can’t field a larger team.

      We don’t decide how delegation awards are given. We only value them highly because everyone in the circuit values them highly. Unfortunately, this may mean that certain schools that win delegation awards get an advantage in our rankings over schools that won more awards because delegation awards do not necessarily reward the team with the most awards won.

  • anonymous

    Penn was 3rd in the previous rankings and since then won best at every conference they attended, with haber even winning best head del at vics. it’s clear the 2nd commenter is right

  • Ryan

    A few comments have been submitted that I will not be approving. Please keep comments respectful.

    Also, I will no longer accept anonymous comments.

  • Delegate

    I had assumed that the difference between this set of rankings and the earlier set would be the conferences that had come after the March 21st cutoff date, but that doesn’t seem to match up with the results.

    The conferences since then have been VICS, NYU, FCMUN, WPSC, NMUN and ChoMUN. I assume NMUN had no impact on the top 5 since none of them attended?

    To my knowledge neither Yale nor UChicago competed yet they switched in the rankings? Also for the Harvard-Georgetown-UPenn switch, Harvard won at WPSC (small conference) and got outstanding ChoMUN (medium conference) but according to the tier system, UPenn’s wins at NYU (small conference) and VICS (medium conference) should put UPenn just above Harvard by the VICS win over the ChoMUN 2nd place finish? Same with Georgetown who went to NYU and got an Outstanding (losing to Penn which is also a head-to-head) and then Best at ChoMUN (medium) which is outweighed by a Best at VICS (medium) and a Best at NYU.

    If this is an update to the standings, based on the methodology the results don’t make that much sense, unless there were other non-quantifiable judgements that were included in the new rankings?

    That said, these rankings will never be a perfect science and quite honestly I think on the whole BD has done a great job. Just curious about what, if anything, sparked the changes. In my eyes good comments either elicit further clarification so that the rankings are better understood or expose potential flaws, so hopefully the comments remain constructive.

    • KFC


      Yes, there have been some changes to the methodology. The changes were based on all the feedback we received in the comments from our last set of rankings. Therefore, the rankings are not a pure update from the March set. We realize this may confuse some readers even if they read both methodologies, but we also realize that we wouldn’t get the methodology “right” the first time and wanted to make appropriate changes as soon as possible.

      Several key changes:

      1. Head-to-head matchups are no longer significant. It was easier to compare head-to-head matchups at major conferences earlier in the season and clearly tell which team “beat” another team, but by the end of the season pretty much every team took a “loss.” More important, we rewarded teams for their overall year’s results and points were scored by winning and not necessarily by who they lost to.

      2. Conferences were re-weighted. Everyone disagreed with our first methodology that size was a good proxy for competitiveness, so we no longer weighted conferences only by size. Instead, we now tiered the conferences and adjusted their weightings based on both size and the number of top 50 teams participating at that conference.

      3. More value was given to awards won. Our first set of rankings focused primarily on delegation awards won, but as we obtained better awards data, we noticed that oftentimes teams that won the delegation awards were not necessarily the teams that won the highest number of awards in their size division. We wanted to reward teams who performed well but may not have gotten the publicity for it, so we put more emphasis into giving points for individual awards won.

      Full methodology explanation is here:

      To specifically address your questions:

      1. The Yale and U.Chicago switch is primarily due to conference re-weighting. The general narrative was that Yale beat U.Chicago at HNMUN so it deserved to be #1 back in March, but many readers disagreed with how we valued HNMUN significantly over UPMUNC. The re-weighting put HNMUN and UPMUNC much closer in value and gives U.Chicago a boost there with its win over Yale at UPMUNC. Of course, the other conferences they attended were re-weighted too and this contributed to the overall change in score.

      2. The Georgetown/UPenn/Harvard scenario is due to conferences not being the exact same weighting in each tier. ChoMUN is at the higher end of the medium tier weighting while VICS is at the lower end. They do not numerically cancel each other out in our formula.

      I can say that we checked our formula many times to ensure that schools were scored accurately. The changes are more due to systematic changes to the formula that were instituted based on reader feedback. We also do acknowledge that these rankings — or any rankings — will always be biased toward whatever the rankings publisher values, and we described what Best Delegate values in a travel team in our methodology page.

  • ASA

    I’m glad to finally have these rankings out. I was happy that you decided to include a component in the weighting of the conference that depends on the competitiveness of the schools that attend. I think that it would be even easier to understand these rankings is just how much of a drop off there is between the three tiers into which you’ve divided the conferences. how much relative weight is given to the competitiveness of the schools that attend, and how much weight is given to a school that wins individual awards but not a delegation award at a conferene. While your methodology explanation was helpful in laying out what factors you considered, it didn’t really give us much indication as to the relative weights of those factors.

    I think that a lot of disagreement over your rankings comes from the fact that you may have different relative weights to the tiers than the people commenting on this article. i strongly suspect that you place a greater weight on the size of the conference than most delegates debating today would. That would explain why Yale is number 2, although it has fewer delegation awards (3) than the three schools below it: West Point (4), Georgetown (5), or Penn (7). I feel that if there were less of a drop off between the points for a large tier, medium tier, or small tier conference, then the results would look different. More broadly, if we could better understand your methodology, then it would allow us better understand your rankings, and it would make any discussion of these rankings more productive.

    Also, I was curious as to how exactly you factored in that competitiveness variable. For example, was it the number of top 50 schools that attended or was it based on which top 50 schools attended. Would the top 10 give a conference more weight than schools 40-50? And why did you look at the top 50 schools. Given that your own rankings only go up to the top 25, wouldn’t it make more sense to use that as the cutoff for the competitiveness level of a conference?

    Either way, I appreciate the difficulty in coming up with any set of rankings by any coherent methodology, and I reocgnize that no matter what you do, you won’t please everyone. If your methodology place a high value on conference size that’s fine; it just should be clear how much your methodology will value that. I think that this is a good set of rankings, and even though I don’t agree with the results, I still applaud the work that you’ve done here. I hope that you continue to publish this list and perhaps even incorporate other suggestions that I am sure delegates will give to you if you make your methodology more transparent.

    And for proper disclosure, I am a delegate from Georgetown University.

    • KFC

      Hi ASA,

      We purposely did not disclose specific weighting numbers for the conferences. Our fear is that teams will start selecting conferences based on which ones yield the highest potential score. We already saw this at the high school level — several high school readers have emailed us or commented on our posts asking for which conferences will help them obtain the highest high school ranking next year. It goes against our philosophy of choosing the best conferences for each individual team based on what they value in a conference. Going to HNMUN for example is prestigious and competitive but it may not be the right experience for every team, and in fact there are many excellent conferences that are smaller and less competitive.

      We mentioned in the methodology that teams that did not win delegation awards but won many individual awards can score as high as the Best Small Delegation award winner. Many large teams actually win a higher number of awards than the best small team, but we didn’t want to de-value a conference’s best small delegation award or make it unfair for smaller teams so we scaled it to there.

      I didn’t see much disagreement about the weightings for the conferences during the March edition of the rankings. The only complaint was that HNMUN was overweighted, but otherwise readers seemed to be fine with it. If all conferences were weighted equally, then of course the results would be very different. In our opinion, all conferences are not equal — the difficulty of winning an award at certain conferences is much greater than at others. After we ran the numbers, we would go back in to check to see if the logic made sense i.e. did it make sense for College X to score 4 points at this small conference when it didn’t/couldn’t score 4 points at this larger conference?

      We chose top 50 instead of top 25 because it gave us a more accurate number to work off of and because we valued leading and winning against diverse competition. We didn’t want top 25 teams to perpetuate their ranking by continually boosting each other up — there are actually really good teams who just made the top 25 or are outside the top 25 that for a variety of reasons outside of their control isn’t able to consistently participate at the largest conferences where many of the top 25 teams attend and this would be a significant disadvantage for them. We drew this conclusion originally from the high school set of rankings — there are schools from South Carolina or Colorado for example that would win delegation awards at major national conferences beating teams from the Northeast or California, but since they are rarely exposed to schools in the Northeast and California they would get hurt in the rankings if Northeast and California schools could just keep piling up points by competing against each other. For the same reason, we used just the number of top 50 teams; teams that are ranked 1-10 do not carry more weight.

      We realize using top 50 isn’t perfect but that was our compromise to be fair. I’m open to suggestions.

  • HGA

    ASA- out of curiosity, how do you think the top 5 should have looked?

    KFC- Speaking as a college delegate, I would not worry too much about BestDelegate shaping the way that colleges pick their conferences. This website is terrific and, balanced out by the less formal, provides a great instrument for tracking the progress of the MUN community. However, I know from personal experience and in speaking with peers that very few (if any) would say that they would alter their trip selections based on positioning themselves for a higher slot in your rankings. I mean no disrespect by this comment; I just want to put in perspective the earlier comment in regards to releasing the weighting of each conference. Perhaps this is not the case for high school delegates, but I would be shocked if a university picked its trips based on how you and Ryan valued them.

  • Penn Student

    Full disclosure right up front! West Point doesn’t have the most delegation awards, Penn does. Just pointing that out, maybe you meant the most delegate awards? Though considering that they bring small teams I’d also doubt that in terms of pure numbers. This comment isn’t about the ranking – merely the picture caption 😛

    Also, was West Point even at PicSIM?

  • Slotter

    If only there was a “what school throws down the hardest parties at mun conferences” Maryland would be clear winner here

  • Penn Student

    I dunno, anyone who visited Penn’s suite at NCSC might disagree.

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