The Best College Model UN Teams: Divisions and Methodology

by KFC on March 23, 2011

The college circuit had to be divided into two divisions because we noticed two different circuits of conferences with very little overlap in participating colleges. We explain below the two divisions as well as our methodology behind the standings.


The two divisions are: World Division and National Division. We further separated the World Division into two lists — North America and International.

World Division (North America): These are colleges based in the United States and Canada that primarily compete in conferences on the college-hosted circuit, which means Harvard National HNMUN is seen as the most competitive conference on their circuit. Teams may also participate in Harvard WorldMUN.

World Division (International): These are colleges based outside of North America that compete at Harvard HNMUN and/or Harvard WorldMUN with the rest of the colleges in the World Division but tend to not participate at most of the other conferences in North America. We separated the World Division because we did not want to undervalue wins by teams at conferences outside of HNMUN and WorldMUN. If we placed more weighting on those two conferences and combined the World Division lists, most of the colleges on this list would break into the combined Top 25.

National Division: These are colleges that compete in regional, organization-hosted conferences and treat the National MUN conference in New York (NMUN-NY) as the most competitive conference on their circuit. The colleges are located in many different countries.  


World Division (North America and International)

The Best College Model UN Teams World Division standings are determined by awards won at the most competitive conferences hosted by North America-based colleges and by head-to-head matchups between colleges attending the same conferences. We did not have enough data to include conferences held by colleges outside of North America.

We used conference size as a proxy for competitiveness – winning Best Delegation awards or even performing well at larger conferences are weighted more heavily into the standings. Since we have first-hand observation and head-to-head data of many conferences, we were able to rank conferences of similar size by competitiveness. In instances where conferences are similar in size and competitiveness, the tiebreaker went to conferences hosted during the second semester when participating teams tend to be at peak performance.

The ranking of conference competitiveness is as follows:

We also made sure to take note of smaller or newer conferences such as:

  • Princeton PicSIM
  • Cornell CIAC
  • Duke DISC
  • York YMUN
  • Toronto NAMUN
  • West Point WPSC
  • Penn State PUNC
  • North Carolina UNCMUNC

We valued delegation awards in this order: Best Large, Outstanding Large, Best Small, and Outstanding Small. Delegation awards won at the more competitive conferences carry more weight. Conferences where we were able to obtain more awards data will be more influential in the standings – colleges that did not win delegation awards but had many award winners are counted as winning “3rd place,” “4th place,” and so forth.

In our analysis of the most competitive conferences in the World Division circuit that have taken place by March 21st, 2011, we were able to determine over 60 college MUN teams that have consistently won awards so far this year. We have awards results and head-to-head matchups from the five most competitive conferences as well as awards data from nearly every conference that has taken place to date and the standings will reflect these results.

Again, the World Division is purposely separated into two lists: North America and International.

National Division

The Best College Model UN Teams (National Division) standings are determined by Outstanding Delegation awards won at the National Model United Nations Conference in New York (NMUN-NY).

Colleges that compete on this circuit of organization-hosted conferences tend to participate in regional conferences throughout the year that have little head-to-head overlap and tend to be dwarfed in size and competitiveness by NMUN-NY, so we used the NMUN 2010 results as the official standings to date. Regional conferences include AMUN in Chicago, SRMUN in Atlanta, MUNFW in San Francisco, NMUN DC, Midwest MUN in St. Louis, West MUN in Santa Barbara, as well as several conferences listed in the exceptions below.

Notable Overlaps and Exceptions

Florida International University, Universidad Catolica Andres Bello have traditionally competed and won awards in both the World Division and National Division, and Florida State University, the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte notably competed in both divisions this year as well. The teams are classified in both divisions.  

Although it does not have any bearing on our rankings, we list two college-hosted conferences, UC Santa Barbara SBIMUN and University of British Columbia UBCMUN, as conferences that fall in the National Division circuit since those host colleges attend NMUN and tend to draw National Division circuit colleges to their conferences.

Previous post:

Next post: