The Best College Model UN Teams: 2011-12 World Division Final Rankings Top 25

by KFC on May 17, 2012

Top 25 teams such as Georgetown won the vast majority of awards

Which college Model UN teams are the best on the circuit? We devised a rankings system that answers this question in order to recognize the top teams on the college circuit for their accomplishments.

Please read the revised methodology article first before jumping into the rankings. We clarify in the article our purpose for doing rankings, our philosophy that drives what we value in the rankings, and improvements in our methodology. Please note that these rankings are for what our methodology describes as the World Division and does not capture results for all of college Model UN. We consider teams that won Outstanding Delegation at NMUN to be the best in the National Division. With that said, here is the World Division Top 25!

The Best College Model UN Teams: 2011-12 World Division Final Rankings Top 25 “Best Delegations”

The teams in the top 25 are not only the best teams in North America, but almost all of them have demonstrated at major international conferences that they are among the best teams in the world. These teams consistently capture the vast majority of the individual awards and oftentimes win or contend for delegation awards. Again, here is the methodology. Please note that the methodology uses the actual scores that teams achieved at each conference but for simplicity’s sake the narratives just mention if a team placed in the top-five or top-ten of a large or mid-sized conference.

Top 25 Analysis

A veteran delegate made a comment earlier this year that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to identify the legendary delegates on the circuit. This delegate’s reasoning is that college Model UN is no longer the tight-knit community — some would say elite community — that it once was just a few years ago. Model UN has democratized and become much more accessible to many more college students in the past five years primarily because the number of conferences has doubled in the same timespan. This year marked the fifth year for the first conferences in this current wave of expansion, and the five-year anniversary is significant because that’s when the founding class has graduated and the conference has matured into a regular part of the circuit’s schedule. Most of these are smaller crisis conferences which are advantageous for newer teams as they provide more manageable committee sizes and don’t set up committees with traditional power structures such as P5 country assignments. The one notable exception to the smaller crisis conference trend is UC Santa Barbara’s SBIMUN, which smartly played their connections across circuits to grow their conference to 300 delegates in only its second year, giving West Coast teams that previously had to fly across the country for a mid-sized conference a less expensive opportunity to participate in one and a boost to their ranking.

But for all the talk about accessibility and evening the playing field, the elite teams of the past few years are still the elite teams of today. The circuit now has many more conferences, and the big teams have kept pace by going to more of them. The top 25 teams won at an average of 5.32 conferences, and the number is even higher at the top-10 level as those teams won at an average of 6.3 conferences. Most delegates don’t attend all of those 5-6 conferences a year which means the best teams are now developing a large talent pool to draw from and can win regardless of how they mix and match their lineup. More significantly for rankings purposes, the elite teams still win almost all the awards at the all the conferences and especially so at the largest and most competitive conferences. The Pareto principle states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This pretty much applies for the top 25 teams in college Model UN, as 80.62% of all weighted points available for the entire season were won by 21.55% of all teams that won awards (the top 25).

With so many teams winning awards, how do you statistically define best? If we measured for single best performance (sports analogy: picking a team for a one-game Super Bowl), then Yale would be at top with its dominating win at Harvard HNMUN. If we measured by best three scores at the most competitive conferences they participated in (sports analogy: picking the team with the best starters for a three-game playoff series), then our numbers would indicate a ranking of U.Chicago, Georgetown, Yale, U.Penn, FIU. If we measured an entire team by its performances at all conferences it attended (sports analogy: how a full team including starters and bench does in all games for an entire season), then this is what we have our rankings below. Notice that the top five are still the same but just in different order – we can debate who’s better among the top five depending on what you value in a ranking but they all belong.

Last but certainly not least, we want to thank all the conference organizers and head delegates for submitting the full awards data for all the conferences. The whole purpose of the rankings was to create positive publicity of results that will benefit all teams regardless of where they are ranked, and we’re glad that participants in the community have been supportive of this endeavor. Here are the 2011-2012 results:

The Top 25 (1-25)

1. Georgetown University

Georgetown is the number one team in the circuit this year after winning Best Large Delegation at the three most competitive conferences it participated in: U.Penn UPMUNC, McGill McMUN, and U.Chicago ChoMUN. Georgetown’s victory at McMUN was one of the most dominating performances of the season as it took home 40% of the gavels there plus other awards, and that score helped them keep pace with the teams that could attend and won at Harvard HNMUN. Although the rankings don’t use head-to-head results, it is notable that Georgetown owns the head-to-head victory in terms of weighted score over each of the top five teams in the most competitive conference where they faced off. Georgetown rounded out its resume with top-two finishes at every other conference it attended: Outstanding Large Delegation awards at Yale SCSY and Columbia CMUNNY, a second place at Virginia VICS, and Best Large Delegation at NYU NYUMUNC. To paraphrase a Georgetown delegate, they have now reclaimed their title as #1 in the circuit. The challenge next year will be different: will they be able to defend it?

2. University of Pennsylvania

U.Penn not only has a solid starting lineup but also perhaps the deepest team in the circuit. That depth allowed it to field different teams but consistently win at a circuit-high nine conferences – it placed in the top five at all nine of those conferences to outscore every team except for Georgetown this year. U.Penn’s achievements include placing third at Harvard HNMUN, winning Best Large Delegation awards at Yale SCSY and Boston University BarMUN, and winning Outstanding Large Delegation awards at Georgetown NCSC, U.Chicago ChoMUN, and NYU NYUMUNC. The team also placed third at Berkeley UCBMUN and Virginia VICS and put in a top-five performance at Columbia CMUNNY. The top-to-bottom consistency of its team should mean that U.Penn will be fielding a solid team for years to come.

3. University of Chicago

U.Chicago placed first or second all season like Georgetown and would actually come out on top over Georgetown if a ranking only took into account the three highest scores of each team.  U.Chicago won an Outstanding Large Delegation award at the two most competitive conferences on the circuit, Harvard HNMUN and U.Penn UPMUNC. In addition, it won Best Large Delegation at all the mid-sized conferences it attended: Georgetown NCSC, Columbia CMUNNY, and Berkeley UCBMUN. The team placed third in this ranking since it attended at least two fewer conferences than the two teams ranked above it and the ranking uses aggregate score. Nevertheless, U.Chicago put in a strong season and should be regarded as one of the best teams this year. U.Chicago fielded a younger team for their last conference of the year, UCBMUN, and was able to put on a dominant performance by winning over half the gavels there. This should foreshadow that U.Chicago will continue to be one of the best teams next year.

4. Yale University

Yale has the most elite starting lineup in the circuit and is a force to be reckoned with when they are at full-strength. Yale impressively won one-third of the gavels at Harvard HNMUN en route to defending its Best Large Delegation award. That’s double the number of gavels from last year’s Best Large Delegation squad, showing that this year’s Yale team was by far the best team at HNMUN. The quality of the team is also pronounced when they only bring a small delegation. Yale won Best Small Delegation at both U.Penn UPMUNC and Georgetown NCSC, and both times they were actually third overall and were able to keep up in terms of weighted score with the top two large delegations. Yale is no doubt a top team despite winning at the fewest number of conferences of any top-1o team. The team has responded to criticism that it doesn’t attend enough conferences by adding NCSC to its schedule this year, and it’s beginning to develop its depth too by sending a non-MUNTY squad to McGill McMUN where its delegates were able to get on the scoreboard. There’s no question that Yale will contend for a delegation award at every conference it attends. The question remains, will teams be seeing Yale even more often next year?

5. Florida International University

FIU has ascended into “P5” status not only in this ranking but at Harvard HNMUN where it was assigned a P5 nation. After a going through a steep learning curve at its first-ever crisis conference, Yale SCSY, FIU improved with a top-ten finish at Georgetown NCSC. It then shined at the two most competitive conferences on the circuit by placing 4th overall at both Harvard HNMUN and U.Penn UPMUNC, winning an Outstanding Small Delegation award at the latter. FIU then won Best Delegation at North Carolina UNCMUNC. Finally, it embarked on an epic and record 11 straight days of MUN where it won Best Delegation at West Point WPSC, an Outstanding Delegation at Nationals NMUN (the highest team award there; it’s not counted in this circuit’s rankings), and placed in the top-ten at U.Chicago ChoMUN. But perhaps more important than just winning awards, FIU has won the respect of its peers by displaying many of the same qualities during its rise that are characteristic of other top teams: hard work, humility, and integrity.

6. Harvard University

Despite fielding a young team, Harvard contended for a delegation award all Fall as it placed in the top five at U.Penn UPMUNC, Yale SCSY, and Columbia CMUNNY – it came the closest at CMUNNY where it finished third. Harvard also had a top-ten finish at Georgetown NCSC during the Fall. Perhaps taking a break to staff its winter conferences was the perfect way to spark the team because Harvard returned to the circuit with a splash. In the second half of the season, Harvard won Best Small Delegation at Berkeley UCBMUN, Outstanding Delegation at West Point WPSC, and finished third at U.Chicago ChoMUN. It looks like Harvard’s younger delegates have finally gained enough experience now and the team should be ready to try to contend for more delegation awards next year.

7. Claremont McKenna College

Claremont McKenna put on performances typical of top-five teams on the rapidly expanding West Coast circuit and was overall by far the best team from the West Coast this year. It took home over half the gavels at UC Santa Barbara SBIMUN to win Best Large Delegation and also won Best California Delegation at Berkeley UCBMUN and at UCLA LAMUN – both of the latter two were second place overall finishes. For any skeptics, Claremont McKenna can point to their Best Small Delegation award at Harvard WorldMUN this year (which was a top-five overall finish and second among North American teams) in addition to its win at UCBMUN where it placed only behind U.Chicago. Claremont McKenna also got on the scoreboard at U.Penn UPMUNC. Claremont McKenna’s rise shows that with dedicated training and balanced scheduling, a small liberal arts college can rise to national prominence in a circuit populated by much bigger universities.

8. United States Military Academy at West Point

West Point put in a solid season this year with a Best Small Delegation at McGill McMUN and an Outstanding Small Delegation at Georgetown NCSC. It also placed third overall at Yale SCSY where it fielded a rare large delegation, and had top ten overall finishes at Harvard HNMUN, Harvard WorldMUN, and U.Penn UPMUNC. The results at the latter three conferences are impressive given that they’re a small team competing at such large conferences. Qualitatively, one of West Point’s standout moments was when one of its delegates won Best Delegate at Harvard HNMUN and the rest of his committee clapped for him. It’s very rare to see teams celebrate the success of someone on another team, and that shows that West Point wins with class and is widely respected by its peers.

9. George Washington University

GW fielded a large team of primarily freshmen from their Colonial Cadets program and set up perhaps the toughest schedule on the circuit with attendance at all six of the biggest conferences. This relatively young team as able to hold its own though as it took home a pair of Best Small Delegation awards at Harvard HNMUN and Columbia CMUNNY, placed in the top-five at McGill McMUN and finished in the top-ten at U.Penn UPMUNC, U.Chicago ChoMUN, and Berkeley UCBMUN. GW also won awards at Harvard WorldMUN and participated at Georgetown NCSC. It will be interesting to see how sustainable the Colonial Cadets program is – have GW’s schedule burned out the freshmen or will they return to form the core of a budding powerhouse?

10. College of William & Mary

William & Mary is the highest ranked team to have not won a delegation award this year, but that just means it was consistently good at the conferences it attended. Similar to last year, W&M seems to perform better outside of the United States than within it as the team placed third overall at Harvard WorldMUN and McGill McMUN. The WorldMUN result was also the highest score among North American teams. But W&M does well in America too as it put in top-five performances at Yale SCSY and Columbia CMUNNY. Ironically, it won the fewest awards at Georgetown NCSC and Virginia VICS, the conferences that are geographically closest to the team. Nevertheless, all these results combined enabled William & Mary to break into the top ten. The high quality of the team also makes it a good time to launch their college conference for next year, &MUN.

11. Emory University

Emory continues to rise up the rankings and its best performance – placing fifth among North American teams and sixth overall at Harvard HNMUN – showed that it has potential to be a top-10 ranked team in the future. Emory also had top-ten finishes at U.Chicago ChoMUN, Georgetown NCSC, and Virginia VICS. Taking advantage of newer conferences in the South, Emory won an Outstanding Delegation at Duke DISCon and awards at North Carolina UNCMUNC. The team also won awards at Columbia CMUNNY. Emory has strong leadership in place that aims to improve its assignments and the quality of its delegates and will be a team to look out for in the future.

12. Columbia University

Columbia has one of the best small delegations on the circuit and they’re very active too with participation in eight conferences. Columbia claimed the Best Small Delegation award at Yale SCSY and the Outstanding Small Delegation award at U.Chicago ChoMUN. It also won awards at Harvard HNMUN, McGill McMUN, Georgetown NCSC (this was a top-ten finish), and NYU NYUMUNC. Finally, it also split its team on one weekend to capture awards at both West Point WPSC and Five College FCMUN. Participating in eight conferences and being able to split a team for a weekend — and winning in all of them — isn’t typical of small delegations and it’s a testament to both the quality and depth of the full Columbia team.

13. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley started its season with a top-five finish at UC Santa Barbara SBIMUN. It was then one of two teams (the other being GWU) to embark on the grueling schedule of attending all five of the five biggest conferences. Berkeley was almost able to get on the scoreboard at all of them; the team won awards Harvard HNMUN, Harvard WorldMUN, U.Penn UPMUNC, and U.Chicago ChoMUN (this was a top-ten finish); it received verbal commendations at McGill McMUN. Better late than never though, Berkeley ended its season by winning Best Large Delegation at UCLA LAMUN to bump them up from the pack of teams with only individual awards.

14. Boston University

After starting its season with awards at Columbia CMUNNY, Boston University went through a tough stretch of the three most competitive conferences on the circuit where it placed in the top-ten at U.Penn UPMUNC and McGill McMUN and even got on the scoreboard at Harvard HNMUN despite prepping to host its high school conference in the same venue the following week. BU finally broke through in terms of team awards when it took home the Best Small Delegation award at U.Chicago ChoMUN to end its season on a high note.

15. Rutgers University

Rutgers had a strong Fall season. Its best performance of the year was at Georgetown NCSC where it tied with Yale for third place overall and this result shows the potential in the Rutgers team to compete with the best. Rutgers also had a rare showing at U.Penn UPMUNC due to the conference’s scheduling anomaly (normally it conflicts with Rutgers’ high school conference) and the team took advantage of the opportunity to put in a top-ten finish. Rutgers also won awards at Columbia CMUNNY in the Fall. The team then followed-up with a solid Spring, placing in the top-five at McGill McMUN and winning awards at U.Chicago ChoMUN, NYU NYUMUNC, and Five College FCMUN.

16. Cornell University

Cornell also had a tough schedule but it always managed to get on the scoreboard with awards at the three most competitive conferences: Harvard HNMUN, U.Penn UPMUNC, and McGill McMUN. The McMUN performance was in the top-five and it shows the quality and depth of the Cornell team to win at a big conference. Cornell also placed in the top-ten at U.Chicago ChoMUN and Yale SCSY, won awards at Georgetown NCSC, and won Best Small Delegation at Penn State PUNC. Overall, the program is on the rise and is beginning to build a deeper team beyond its top delegates.

17. University of Florida

Talk about a breakout performance: Florida was having a quiet season until it won almost half the gavels at VICS to win Best Large Delegation and surprise many other prominent teams. Normally winning a Best Large Delegation at a mid-sized conference isn’t necessarily a high enough score on its own to break into the top 25, but Florida dominated at that conference and at the very least owns more gavels than all the teams ranked below them do. The team complimented its second-half score with a top-ten finish at U.Chicago ChoMUN, and the two scores catapulted Florida into the top 25. The team is relatively young and the future should be bright for them.

18. New York University

NYU was solid throughout the season. Its best performance was across town when it fielded a top-five team at Columbia CMUNNY. NYU also had top-ten finishes at McGill McMUN and Georgetown NCSC as well as awards at West Point WPSC. One notable result left off the scoreboard was that NYU won the most verbal commendations at U.Penn UPMUNC, the most competitive conference they participated in this year. That suggests that they don’t quite have elite delegates yet, but they’re getting there. Given that this team is still considered to be among the newest on the circuit and their consistent performances at all the other conferences, NYU has already surpassed expectations and should only improve with time.

19. Tulane University

Tulane continues to be one of the best teams from the South as it won the Best Delegation award at Duke DISCon. But perhaps its best performance was at Berkeley UCBMUN where it placed in the top-five against stiffer competition. Tulane also won multiple awards at U.Penn UPMUNC and U.Chicago ChoMUN, showing that it can do well nationally. In fact, Tulane was the only team to have won awards in all of the different regions in the United States — Northeast, Midwest, West, and South — giving it some real national cachet.

20. Michigan State University

Michigan State started the season with awards at Columbia CMUNNY and at U.Penn UPMUNC. It wasn’t as strong of a performance as the team put in last Fall, and the leadership vowed to make a comeback during the second-half of the season. Michigan State fielded its usual full, large team at McGill McMUN and the team was able to deliver on that promise when it placed second overall at the conference behind only Georgetown. Finally, the team ended its season with a top-ten finish at U.Chicago ChoMUN. These results enabled Michigan State to climb back in the top 25 and back to the spotlight as one of the best teams from the Midwest.

21. University of California, Los Angeles

UCLA has a strong team when they are at full-strength as evidenced by their Outstanding Large Delegation at UC Santa Barbara SBIMUN. UCLA fielded smaller teams but still put in top-ten performances at McGill McMUN and Berkeley UCBMUN – they sent a smaller team than usual for the latter this year since they were staffing UNA-USA’s Global Classrooms LA the same weekend. UCLA also won awards at U.Chicago ChoMUN and participated at Georgetown NCSC. It will be interesting to see how UCLA, which may continue to bolster its travel schedule, balances traveling across the country with the busiest conference staffing schedule of any West Coast team.

22. Stanford University

Stanford has put increased efforts on training its team and it’s paying off. Outside of California, it was able to get on the scoreboard at U.Penn UPMUNC, McGill McMUN, U.Chicago ChoMUN, and Georgetown NCSC. Back home, it did better with a top-ten finish at Berkeley UCBMUN before the team finally broke through for a team award with a Best Small Delegation award at UCLA LAMUN. Unlike most West Coast teams, Stanford couldn’t benefit from the rise of the mid-sized SBIMUN since it hosted its high school conference on the same weekend, but its renewed focus on the travel team allowed it to make up their score at other conferences around the nation. Stanford’s team has a lot of potential to rapidly rise in the near future.

23. McGill University

McGill smartly scheduled a lineup of only mid-sized and small conferences this year as it was going through a rebuilding mode and the team did well. The team started off its Fall campaign with a top-ten finish at CMUNNY and also won awards at Georgetown NCSC. Last year the team fell out from the final rankings after being ranked in the Fall, so the goal was to maintain their solid Fall performance for the second half of this season. The McGill team exceeded those expectations as it took home a Best Small Delegation at Virginia VICS and complimented that win with awards at West Point WPSC. Could this be start of a return by McGill, one of the most-established programs on the circuit, to the top half of the rankings?

24. University of North Carolina, Charlotte

UNC Charlotte is technically out-of-circuit as it doesn’t participate in any of the domestic college-hosted conferences listed in the methodology, but it does get credit for participating in Harvard WorldMUN and UNC Charlotte won big there. The team tied with William & Mary for third overall and for the honors of being the top North American team at WorldMUN. That performance suggests that this team is probably much better than their rank here which is based on aggregate score. Although relatively unknown to most of this circuit, those who have participated at WorldMUN with them can confirm that they are a very good team.

25. University of Miami

Miami re-enters the top 25 with a solid second-half push. Miami showed potential early in the season with a top-ten finish at Columbia CMUNNY. The team then put on a strong performance to place in the top-ten among North American teams at Harvard HNMUN and also had a top-ten finish at U.Chicago ChoMUN. The trio of top-ten finishes shows that Miami is good, but it’s the HNMUN result that really distinguished this team from those ranked below them and helped create a natural cut-off in the scores to make this year’s rankings a true top 25.


Congratulations to all the teams! Also, check out the top 50, top 75, and top international delegations!

  • Anonymous

    Just a small point out, Columbia University won Outstanding Small Delegation at ChoMUN, while BU was awarded Best Small Delegation at ChoMUN. Great blurbs about each school!

    • Ryan Villanueva

      Made this correction, too — thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Uh, UChicago won Best Large at NCSC, BestDelegate. You have us and UPenn both winning Best Large at NCSC, which isn’t right. Just sayin’

    • Ryan Villanueva

      Correction made — thanks!

Previous post:

Next post: