UN Internships Quality Index

UN Internships

Quality Index 2019 & 2021


In 2019, the Fair Internship Initiative created a UN Internships Quality Index based on data collected in our 2019 survey of interns in the UN system.

The objectives of this index were to raise awareness about the strengths and weaknesses of UN internship programmes, as well as to encourage and applaud positive reforms. Since the publication of the 2019 Quality Index, several organizations have reviewed their internship programmes and/or begun providing stipends to their interns.*

*See also: Which Organisations Pay Interns?

We are pleased to present an updated Quality Index, based on the responses to our 2021 UN-wide intern survey.

The Index

The table below shows UN internship programmes’ positions in the ranking as well as their overall scores, both for 2021 and for 2019.

All scores range from 0 to 5. Based on their scores, internship programmes are graded from ‘Very Poor’ to ‘Very Good’. The table is colour-coded to indicate the grades.


The icons in the “Rank 2021” column indicate whether internship programmes moved up or down in the ranking between 2019 and 2021.

Scoring Mechanism:
0-1: Very Poor
1-2: Poor
2-3: Mediocre
3-4: Good
4-5: Very Good


🔼: moved up
🔽: moved down
⏫: moved up 5+ places
⏸: no change in rank
*️⃣: not scored in 2019

UN organisationRank 2021Overall Score 2021Rank 2019Overall Score 2019
ILO (International Labour Organization)*
1   ⏸4.34 13.99
UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)
2   ⏫4.01191.97
WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
3   🔽3.95 23.91
IOM (International Organization for Migration)
4   🔼3.74 73.14
WHO (World Health Organization)
5   ⏫3.72112.43
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund)
6   🔼3.5892.73
UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services)
7   🔽3.4443.56
UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)
8   🔽3.34 63.29
UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women)
9   ⏫3.27221.70
WFP (World Food Programme)
10   🔽3.2553.42
UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization)
11   🔼3.08132.37
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)12   🔽2.8983.01
IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)13   *️⃣2.85N/AN/A
ITU (International Telecommunication Union)14   🔼2.75172.11
ICC (International Criminal Court)15   *️⃣2.74N/AN/A
UN Secretariat16   🔽2.56142.35
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)17   🔼1.87182.06
UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East)18   🔼1.79201.95
WTO (World Trade Organization)N/AN/A33.84
UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research)N/AN/A102.70
UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund)N/AN/A122.40
UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS)N/AN/A162.23
UN UniversityN/AN/A152.25
United Nations VolunteersN/AN/A211.80
* Some internship programmes, including ILO’s, were suspended in response to the COVID19 pandemic, but still have 2021 scores because the 2021 intern survey includes responses from interns who completed their internships as far back as January 2020. While this should be kept in mind when comparing with UN internship programmes that continued recruiting interns throughout the pandemic;, most of the questions used in the index pertain to the formal procedures, policies, and mechanisms in place, as opposed to more qualitative or subjective aspects of the internship experience which would be more likely to be affected by the exceptional conditions of the pandemic.

Notably, three organisations (marked ⏫) stand out as having climbed dramatically in the ranking since 2019. It’s no coincidence that these three—UNDP, WHO, and UN Women—all began providing stipends to their interns between our 2019 and 2021 surveys.*

*See also: Which Organisations Pay Interns?

The Report


A PDF report on the 2021 UN Internship Programme Quality Index is also available to read or download below, including more details on the methodology, and analysis and breakdown of the scores by the four JIU Benchmark assessment areas:

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