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Ten Best Model UN Conferences in the USA

Written by Frank Pobutkiewicz

I'm the founder/Managing Director of the All-American Model UN Programs! If you have any questions, please email [email protected]. Happy MUNing!

December 5, 2014

Ten Best Model UN Conferences in the USA

After much delay, here is our list of the ten best high school Model UN conferences in the United States. While “best” is subjective at best, we’ve defined it as the ten conferences we would recommend schools definitely try to attend.

10. Columbia Model United Nations Conference and Exposition (CMUNCE)

Columbia runs one of the best crisis conferences for high school students. Despite the hectic nature and expense of being hosted in New York City, CMUNCE is worth the trip, if you can afford the price tags and logistical headaches. I recommend CMUNCE to schools looking for unique historic simulations, highly interactive committee sessions, and small committees. Not a great conference for young teams, though inexperienced delegates can benefit from the lack of structure in crisis committees.

9. Boston Invitational Model United Nations Conference (BosMUN)

BosMUN has built itself into a very respectable three-day conference in the crowded Northeast Region. BosMUN’s strength has never been the level of competition– though that has risen a bit over the past four years– but the delegate experience. BosMUN features all single delegations, classroom style seating with tables in GAs with a maximum of 100 students, and ample resources for advisors, including breakfast each day.

Disclaimer: As an alumnus of Boston University, I was active in BosMUN for many years. I do my best to remove my bias and critique BosMUN as I would any other conference; still, I think it is important to alert you of a potential conflict.

8. Cornell Model United Nations Conference (CMUNC)

In a relatively short period of time, Cornell has established itself as one of the best conferences in the US. While students and teachers do find it cumbersome to travel between hotels and campus, they continue to return to CMUNC for its substantive program. The level of competition has catapulted recently, too, attracting powerhouse programs such as Horace Mann and JP Stevens.

7. National High School Model United Nations (NHSMUN)

I went back and forth about whether to include a purely Academic Conference in this list. At the end of the day, however, NHSMUN is a conference that every high school student in the United States should attend at least once. If for no other reason, the chance to use the General Assembly Hall at the UN Headquarters in New York City provides all the incentive needed. More than that, NHSMUN has the single best substantive program in the US, even if competition is not the focus.

6. Johns Hopkins Model United Nations Conference (JHUMUNC)

JHUMUNC is yet another young conference that made our list, proving you may not be best served looking at a conference’s legacy alone when setting your roster. Johns Hopkins students put on a great conference that offers students a tremendous amount of versatility. The conference boasts over 19 hours of committee time and committee sizes ranging from 12-190 students.

5. Rutgers Model United Nations (RUMUN)

Any conference who owns the domain “Model UN.com” better be able to host an outstanding conference and students who attend RUMUN will not be disappointed. Backed by the power of the 501(c)3 non-profit Institute of Domestic and International Affairs, RUMUN’s operations are among the best in the country. Though schools that are forced into overflow hotels will complain about the travel to the conference hotel, and despite New Brunswick, New Jersey not being the most attractive backdrop, RUMUN’s substantive program should the model for other conferences. Each year, RUMUN chooses a conference theme that influences committees and topics and is just one example of the academic flourishes that separates RUMUN.

4. William and Mary High School Model United Nations (WMHSMUN)

It may surprise people that no conference in the top five on our list is located in the crowded Northeast Region (sorry, spoiler alert!). William and Mary should be known as the finest Model UN conference below the Mason Dixon and a top four conference in the United States. The WMHSMUN Conference plays host to nearly 1400 delegates and still fails to draw the powerhouse schools in the North and Midwest. However, that’s their loss as William and Mary features some of the most innovative committees in the country.

3. Berkeley Model United Nations (BMUN)

Berkeley Model United Nations is one of several conferences that lay claim to the title of “Oldest Conference in the US.” Through their 63 years (63!), Berkeley students have distilled the very best skills needed to run a conference. One of the things that impressed us most about Berkeley is their dedication to developing Model UN programs in high schools. They devote an entire secretariat position, USG of Outreach, to help train and organize high schools.

2. Model United Nations at the University of Chicago (MUNUC)

Despite de-emphasizing awards, MUNUC is a conference I constantly recommend to people because their stellar academic program leads to a higher level of debate than almost any other conference in the United States.  Staffed by over 230 students, MUNUC is able to maintain an impressive staff to delegate ratio of 11:1, despite having an attendance of more than 2500. MUNUC also boasts the best background guides in the country, nearly 60 pages of properly cited and well-structured research per committee.

1. North American Invitational Model United Nations Conference (NAIMUN)

I recommend NAIMUN to more schools and students than any other conference in the United States. Located in our nation’s capital, NAIMUN will require a large investment of time, energy, and money to attend. NAIMUN is the finest organized conference that I have ever attended and their secretariat works to make NAIMUN as accessible to schools as possible. Each year, NAIMUN puts aside tens of thousands of dollars in aid to schools that are eligible and bother to submit assistance applications. NAIMUN also does a tremendous job of capitalizing on the resources of Washington DC, often featuring briefings from the US State Department and helping to organize embassy visits. For all intents and purposes, NAIMUN should be considered the flagship conference of the United States.

On the bubble:

Princeton Model UN Conference (PMUNC), Model United Nations at the University of Michigan (MUNUM), Brown Simulation of the United Nations (BUSUN), Dartmouth Model United Nations (DartMUN), Washington Area Model United Nations Conference (WAMUNC), Virginia Model United Nations (VAMUN)

Noticeable misses:

Harvard Model United Nations (HMUN), Yale Model United Nations (YMUN), Ivy League Model United Nations (ILMUNC), Chicago International Model United Nations (CIMUN)

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