What are your age requirements?

Applicants to PK (preschool) must be four years old by 31 December in the year they enter that grade.

Applicants to JA (kindergarten) must be five years old by 31 December in the year they enter that grade.

Older students normally move on to the next grade. Some UNIS applicants come from countries that begin the school year in months other than September, and those families should please contact the Admissions Department to discuss which grade their children should apply for. In addition, students applying to the tenth through twelfth grades (T2 to T4) should verify, prior to applying for admission, that they can meet graduation requirements by the end of twelfth grade.

What is UNIS' relationship to the U.N.?

UNIS maintains a strong relationship with the UN through its governance. The Secretary-General of the United Nations appoints the 18 members of the UNIS Board of Trustees, which is made up of parents, UN officials and other members of the community.

UNIS receives indirect support from the UN through a variety of service and support functions provided by the UN. Some of these include:

  • Assistance and Advice for Security Issues
  • Conference Services (including annual UNIS-UN two-day student conference)
  • Use of the General Assembly Hall for Graduation Ceremonies
  • G-4 Visas for faculty and their families. One half of the teaching staff teach at UNIS because of this arrangement. This benefit enables UNIS students to gain historic and contemporary knowledge and an understanding of the world by interacting with teachers from around the world.
  • Gifts from governments – cash in kind, books, teachers and cultural events.

The School is a not-for-profit organization under U.S. law and is chartered by the New York Regents to provide an international education for U.N. affiliated families and other families that would benefit from such an education.

Is it true that UNIS has a transient student population?

No. The average annual attrition rate at UNIS over the past five years is 10%, and over 60% of the graduating class has been here for six or more years. Furthermore, over a third of the graduating class has been at UNIS since Kindergarten.

What are UNIS' class sizes?

In the Junior School (Pre-K to J4), classes range in size from 16 to 22 students, often with two full-time teachers. Students in M1 to T4 classes typically range in number from 4 to 24. UNIS caters to all children's learning styles by offering group, individual instruction, or class instruction. Our teachers know when a child needs to be challenged or when a child needs more attention. They encourage children to learn by helping others and to seek out help when needed.

To enable the teacher to have ample time for individualized instruction, the Junior School has specialist teachers (Science, French, Spanish, ESL, Art, Music, Computer, PE, Library). Additionally, there is one Teaching Assistant at each grade level and all Teaching Assistants have college degrees and backgrounds in education.

How many students does UNIS enroll?

We have about 1600 students between two campuses: 130 in Queens (K to 8) and 1470 in Manhattan (Pre-K to 12). Our student body is the most diverse in the world, representing 109 countries and speaking 91 languages. This means that they have daily contact with students from every part of the globe.

What does the UNIS curriculum offer?

The international curriculum at UNIS from pre-kindergarten to Tutorial Four is designed to reflect the guiding principles of the UN Charter, which are enshrined in the constitution of the School.

Students discover a welcoming atmosphere of friendliness, warmth, security, and a diverse and challenging environment. They have the opportunity to work and learn with peers from different countries, cultures and backgrounds. UNIS teachers, with their equally diverse origins, understand and respect these differences and respond to the needs of a vibrant international community of learners by designing a curriculum that meets the needs of individual students. From the very first year, the social, intellectual, aesthetic, emotional and physical needs of the student are central to the curriculum, so that the classroom becomes a world in which the acquisition of skills goes hand in hand with freedom to create and explore. The integrated learning that characterizes school life in the early grades is developed and diversified in the intermediate years, whereby a rigorous, but flexible and broad-based basis for learning is maintained, to embrace the acquisition of knowledge, the development of skills and attitudes and their complex application across the disciplines.

As students move to the high school, the focus in the curriculum shifts from a more interdisciplinary focus to academic specialization, in recognition of the subject-based knowledge and understandings that are required for the UNIS Diploma, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma and Certificates and college admissions. Students study across a broad and balanced range of subject domains including languages, humanities, sciences, mathematics, technology, the arts, and physical education, drawing on content from educational cultures across the world. Tutorial House students are provided with intellectually challenging learning experiences, enabling them to examine the central ideas of an issue, question and share ideas and knowledge and use higher-order critical thinking skills to solve and construct new meanings and understandings.

When students graduate from UNIS, they leave not only with a solid academic foundation but they also take with them a genuine understanding of global interdependence and a respect for differences, both cultural and academic. Their education has equipped them with a sense of academic responsibility and independence and encouraged them to be responsible, informed and caring members of society.

Please see the Curriculum Page for more information.

How are the students assessed at UNIS?

The goal of assessment at the UNIS is to support both learning and teaching through varied and balanced Pre-Kindergarten to Tutorial Four assessment practices, which are aligned with the curriculum, reflect the international nature of the school, and include useful feedback to students, parents, teachers and administrators. Student-focused, authentic and age-appropriate assessment at UNIS represents a celebration of achievement, which ensures ongoing student involvement and lasting understanding.

Common subject assessment is administered in all grades through Tutorial Two while the International Baccalaureate examinations are administered in Tutorial Three and Four. Grading criteria are clear and consistent within and across subjects and are shared with students.

Information on student performance is clearly communicated through interim reports, progress reports, parent teacher conferences and other communication as needed. External standardized tests at specific grade levels are also offered to meet the specific needs of students. Included is optional standardized testing in the Middle School and required PSAT and recommended SAT and/or ACT testing in the Tutorial House.

What is the International Baccalaureate?

The UNIS curriculum in Tutorial Three and Four follows the pattern of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, and most courses are IB courses. Both broad and deep, our curriculum requires six subjects from at least five different academic areas, all studied over a two-year period. Most subjects are available at both Higher and Standard IB levels, and IB Diploma candidates must take three of their subjects at Higher Level. Required areas of study are Mathematics; two languages (one a literature course, the other either a learned-language course or a second literature course); a natural science course; a humanities/social science course; and either an arts course or a further languages/science /humanities course.

In fulfillment of this basic structure, we offer many languages in addition to English, French and Spanish. In addition we provide classes in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, a wide range of humanities choices–IB Anthropology, Economics, History, Philosophy and Psychology-as well as courses in Contemporary Issues and Information Technology in a Global Society, and Visual Arts, Music, and Theatre Arts, as well as Computer Science. All students must complete a major individual project ("extended essay"), participate in an extra-curricular program with Creative, Active and Service components; and, for IB Diploma students, take a Theory of Knowledge course which asks students to examine how they know what they know. The end result, we expect, is a broadly educated and thoughtful person, well prepared for the challenges of university study and for life in a complex 21st-century world.

Please see the International Baccalaureate page for more information.

Do you have an after-school program?

Yes, we have two types of programs. One is a Care Program for Junior School and Middle School children, which goes from 3:00 to 6:00 pm. The Care Program is designed to meet the needs of Junior and Middle School parents who want their children to do their homework and be engaged in relaxing and creative activities after school hours.

The other program, the After School Program for Junior One to Tutorial Four students, is built around specific interests, ranging from sports to art. Students may sign up for one or more of these activities which usually last for about an hour after school.

Please see the After School Page for more information.

Where do UNIS students go to college?

Helping students prepare for college is ongoing throughout the high school years. In Tutorial One, parents and students participate in Looking Ahead to College, a program that introduces them to the various facets of the college selection process and provides suggestions as to how younger students can develop their personal and academic strengths to enhance their admissibility to colleges. The college counselors work closely with administration, IB coordinators and guidance counselors in assisting Tutorial students and parents in IB course selection as it relates to university entrance. The formal college counseling program begins at the midpoint of Tutorial Three and continues until the end of Tutorial four with an extensive array of group programs, as well as individual counseling, for students and parents. For further details please refer to the Tutorial House College Counseling page. 

In the universal arena of competitive college admissions UNIS students are winners. Each year students apply to over 200 universities in North America, Europe and Asia with great success. From the University of Bristol (UK) to Brown, Harvard to Hofstra, the University of Maastrict in The Netherlands to McGill in Canada, UNIS students, armed with the power of their UNIS/IB education, find the doors to the world’s most respected universities open to them.

The International Baccalaureate program is an internationally renowned credential that is regarded as the gold standard in terms of secondary school preparation for college. In many countries, the IB diploma program is the equivalent of the national exam that enables students to complete a university degree in three years. Many colleges in the U.S. grant up to a year’s advanced standing for IB students.

Does UNIS only accept UN-affiliated families?

The primary purpose of UNIS is to provide an international education for families affiliated with the United Nations as well as for other families seeking a similar education for their children. UN-affiliated families represent about 50% of the student body with the 50% coming from other families living in the New York City area.

How do the school and parents communicate?

The school encourages close home-school partnerships in order to ensure that communication is positive and open. There are two formal parent/teacher conferences each year, and parents are also encouraged to contact their children’s teachers if the need for other conferences arises. Report cards are issued twice a year to all students. Teachers also communicate on an as-need basis with parents.

The Parent Association meets on a monthly basis, and these meetings are open to all UNIS parents. Each school division also hosts coffee mornings that focus on speakers and topics of interest to each particular school division. Curriculum nights are scheduled at the beginning of the school year and teachers present the year’s curriculum and topics of studies to parents. Many other school events are open to parents during the year, such as special cultural events, assemblies, college counseling events, workshops, to name a few.

Weekly emails are sent out from division principals and archived on the division resource pages. The newsletters included general school news and newsletters from each of the school divisions that provide information about particular activities and events happening in that division.

How can parents volunteer and become involved?

In the Junior School, the Parent Association organizes two class parents per homeroom each year whose role is to support the classroom teachers in homeroom activities, such as field trips and special class activities. In the homerooms, parents will often come and share with students presentations about their home country or information about their job. Parents are welcome to attend special presentations by students either in the homeroom or in specialist classes during the year. There are also Junior School Coffee mornings, where speakers present information on a topic of interest to Junior School parents.

Middle School and Tutorial House parents can volunteer to be Tutorial House coordinators or grade representatives. Parents can volunteer to organize or help with the International Lunch for students as part of the UN Day celebrations. Parents also organize “Let’s Lunch” programs for each of the grades Tutorial One, Tutorial Two and Tutorial Three, when parents and alumni professionals to come to UNIS and talk to students about different career opportunities.

There are regular morning meetings organized for Tutorial House parents where topics of general interest are discussed and any general question can be raised by parents.

At the Queens Campus, parents are encouraged to be active members of the Parents Association. The PA organizes a number of events throughout the year such as bake sales, book fairs, multi-cultural assemblies, charitable fund raisers, and international lunches. Parents support learning by working in the classrooms with teachers, particularly by sharing their cultural festivals and customs, and by helping to chaperone field trips. Coffee mornings are held monthly throughout the year for parents to discuss topics of interest presented by visiting specialists from around the School.

Do you have a payment plan?

The tuition and fee schedule requires payment of 70 percent of tuition by 1 August  and 30 percent by 1 January.   Alternatively,  

  • Tuition Management Systems  (www.afford.com/unis) (888-805-9817)  offers a monthly payment plan which allows you to pay annual expenses in 10 interest-free installments beginning the 1 May before the school year begins.   
  • Your Tuition Solution ( www.yourtuitionsolution.com) (800-920-9777) offers a loan with a repayment term, low fixed rates, no prepayment penalty, no down payment or application fees.

Do you have a financial aid program?

A family with a demonstrated need may be eligible for a financial aid award to assist them in meeting a portion of their tuition fees for their child(ren) enrolled in UNIS. For further information, please contact Delia Arellano-Doyle, Controller, at (212) 584-3043.

Financial Aid is based solely on documented financial need. UNIS’ financial aid program exists to make its educational program accessible to highly qualified students, regardless of family income. In service of this commitment, UNIS offers need-based financial aid to newly admitted students who will enrich and be enriched by our educational community. For families receiving aid, the school is also committed to underwriting the costs of required or essential educational resources, services, and opportunities not covered by tuition and to providing funds and resources to support participation in school-sponsored enrichment opportunities. An application for Financial Aid will not prejudice an admissions decision. UNIS uses its own Financial Aid form. Prospective families should submit Financial Aid applications to the Admissions Office. Early submission of the Financial Aid application will help insure a response at the same time that an admissions decision is given.

Is there a lunch program?

Some students have the school meal plan, and others buy food a la carte or bring their own lunches. The Manhattan dining program is administered by the FLIK Independent Schools. Please contact Corey Dorn at (212) 584-3069 or by email at cdorn@unis.org for further information. The Queens dining program is administered by Butterbeans. Please see the Food at UNIS page for more information.

Is there a transportation program?

The school participates in a transportation program administered by the New York City Board of Education Office of Pupil Transportation. If you reside in Manhattan and your child is enrolled at the Manhattan campus in Junior A through Middle Two, he or she may be eligible for yellow school bus transportation. 

Students enrolled in grades Middle Three through Tutorial Four are eligible for either half-fare or full-fare metro cards based on distance and grade. Please refer to https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-life/transportation/metro-cards for metro cards.

For any further information regarding enrollment, schedules, and metro cards, please contact Ernie Lentini at elentini@unis.org.

For the Queens Campus, parents should check transportation arrangements with the Queens’ Administrative Assistant.

My children only speak English. Will they be at a disadvantage when they enter a language class?

We have beginning French and Spanish classes at most grade levels, and we teach those classes as well on more advanced levels. Students usually begin French or Spanish in pre-kindergarten, and Mandarin is available after school, starting in kindergarten. Students add another language in seventh grade, and UNIS teaches eight languages besides English during the school day: in addition to French, Spanish, and Mandarin, we teach Russian, Japanese, Arabic, German, and Italian. For a number of other languages, Mother Tongue classes are held after school.

UNIS is bigger than my children's school. How will they adjust?

Before each school year begins, we have an orientation for all new students and parents, and so they begin the school year already knowing all the other new students as well as many of the continuing students and the teachers and administrators. In addition, each student has an advisor and a guidance counselor, and meetings with them are scheduled for throughout the year. As a global school with unrivaled diversity, UNIS has students and teachers who have moved, in many cases, from far away, and so the school is supportive of new students, in practical ways that have been successful for many years.

Where is your faculty from?

Our faculty and staff represent over 69 countries. Approximately 80% of them have taught abroad and speak two or more languages. 40% of them have been at UNIS for ten or more years, which means that they are experienced enough to provide individualized attention to a child the moment he or she enters the classroom. The faculty is chosen not only for their subject mastery but also for their nurturing skills.

When was UNIS founded?

In 1947, as a small nursery school in Queens, by UN parents who wanted to ensure that their children could maintain their cultural identities, as well as get an education that would enable them to return to any national educational system. Gradually more grades were added, and admission was opened to non-UN students who could follow the program of study.

Enrollment grew quickly, and the first 12th grade class graduated in 1964. The Manhattan campus was designed by Harrison & Abramovitz (part of the architectural team that designed the UN) and it was finished in 1973 with the financial help of the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Since there is more than one section in each grade, how is the teacher chosen for any given child?

Over the summer the principals work with the current-student lists and new-student lists. They study each new student's folder carefully and read any comments that parents and teachers have made to ensure a good student-teacher match. They also plan classes with an even balance of boys and girls, of national backgrounds, and of personalities.

For the Junior School, list preparation begins in early May. Teachers are actively involved in developing a full profile document on each student. This documents looks at all aspects of the whole child, both academic and socio-emotional. Teachers work as grade level teams to develop the groupings for the following year ensuring a balance of gender, nationality, friendship groupings and academic balance. After homeroom teachers are finished with this process, the specialist teachers, student support teachers and administrators review the lists to confirm the appropriateness of each placement.

What kind of student does UNIS admit?

The school is selective and looks for students who can follow the program of study, are socially mature, intellectually curious and whose parents are supportive of the School's mission.

Can my child spend a day at UNIS?

Admitted students from fifth grade onward may attend classes for one day.

Students perform during a strings concert.