United Nations Young Professionals Programme 2017, USA


August 22, 2017

Opportunity Cover Image - United Nations Young Professionals Programme 2017, USA

What is the UN Young Professionals Programme?

The Young Professionals Programme (YPP) is a recruitment initiative for talented, highly qualified professionals to start a career as an international civil servant with the United Nations Secretariat. It consists of an entrance examination and professional development programmes once successful candidates start their career with the UN.

Who can apply?

The YPP examination is held once a year and is open to nationals of countries participating in the annual recruitment exercise. The list of participating countries is published annually and varies from year to year.

Basic application criteria:

  • You must have the nationality of a participating country.
  • You must hold at least a first-level university degree relevant for the exam subject you are applying for.
  • You must be 32 or younger in the year of the examination.
  • You must be fluent in either English or French.

Participation of staff of the United Nations

This examination is also held for staff members of the United Nations Secretariat who work within the General Service and other related categories and aspire to a career within the Professional and higher categories.

Exam subjects

Depending on the staffing needs of the United Nations, applicants are invited to apply for different exam subjects. Descriptions of responsibilities, expected competencies and education requirements differ depending on the area. Exam subjects will be announced later this year.

Application Process

Step 1: Confirm your eligibility

Carefully review basic application criteria on the YPP Home page.

Step 2: Review the job opening

Read the job opening for the exam subject you are interested in and make sure you fulfil the requirements. The list of job openings can be found on the YPP Home page.

Step 3: Prepare an application

Apply to the selected job opening through Inspira. Additional guidelines on creating applications are available by clicking on the “Manuals and Help’’ link found in the upper right-hand corner of the webpage when you log in to Inspira.

inspira Manual      Application Guidance

Important Practical Information

  • Screening questions: Make sure you carefully read through the screening questions. They are intended to verify the eligibility of applicants. If you cannot answer all screening questions affirmatively you might not be eligible to take part in the YPP.
  • Nationality: In the field marked "Country of Nationality", enter the participating country under which you wish to be considered for the examination. Please note that the fields “Nationality at Birth” and “Other Nationalities” will not be considered in the eligibility screening.
  • Education: It might happen that your obtained education does not correspond to any of the given choices. If your exact education is not listed in the drop-down menu, please select the closest relevant option and explain discrepancies under “Additional Comments.” Only if you find no match at all, you may chose “Other” in these two fields. The “Specialization” field will not be considered in the screening process.
  • Work experience: Where more than 40 candidates of the same nationality apply for the YPP, relevant work experience will be used to rank candidates. Please be precise and succinct about your work experience.
  • Languages: You must be fluent in all four areas (speak, read, write, understand) in English or French. Indicating anything less than "Fluent" in any of the four areas will render you unqualified.

Step 4: Application evaluation

Your application will be screened to determine if you are eligible for the examination in the exam subject you applied for. If more than 40 applicants from the same country apply for the same exam area, those applicants will be further screened and ranked by a Human Resources Officer according to points given for the following additional qualifications: highest level of education completed, knowledge of official UN languages, and relevant work experience. Please be aware that many potential applicants do not pass the screening stage due to incomplete or inaccurate applications.

If your application was successful, you will be informed that you are convoked to the examination. If determined that you are not eligible to apply or if your application was unsuccessful, you will be informed that you have not been convoked to the examination. You will be able to check the status of your application by typing your application number in the search section on the Convocation status & Examination centre page.

Examination structure

In order to be placed on the roster for P1/P2 vacancies of the United Nations you need to pass the YPP examination, which consists of the written and the oral part. The total number of points a candidate can score in both parts of the exam is 1000.

  1. Written examination

    The written examination lasts a total of four and a half hours. You will need to manage you own time for the different parts of the examination.

    The written examination consists of two parts:

    • The General Paper, which is the same for all exam subjects, tests your drafting and analytical abilities in English or French. It consists of a text of approximately 900 words, which needs to be summarised to around 300 words. The number of words may slightly vary between the two languages. There are no titles, subtitles or paragraphs in the text, which you have to summarize. You can score a maximum of 150 points in the General paper.

Sample General Paper

    • The Specialized Paper tests your substantive knowledge and analytical thinking. It is specific to the exam subject you are taking the exam in. This part of the written examination can be answered in any of the six official UN languages. You can score a maximum of 650 points in the Specialised paper.

Part 1: Multiple choice items

Part I of the Specialized Paper consists of up to 50 multiple choice questions relevant to the exam subject you are applying for. Each question is worth 3 points; no points are deducted for a wrong answer. The answers to the multiple choice items need to be indicated in the Answer Booklet by filling in the circle corresponding to the correct answer from the Questions Booklet.

Part II: Constructed response items

Part II of the Specialised Paper consists of up to 13 items where candidates need to produce a longer text, speech, analysis or a similar answer. Candidates are expected to write a longer response (up to 4 pages) to the first three questions and a shorter text to questions 4 to13 (up to two pages). Please note that not every exam will have three longer and ten shorter questions. Sometimes an exam may have fewer questions as well.


Candidates are expected to answer the correct question on the correct page in the Answer Booklet. For example: “Question 1” needs to be answered under “Question 1” in the Answer Booklet, and “Question 10” needs to be answered under “Question 10” in the Answer Booklet.

Answers provided on the wrong page in the Answer Booklet will be marked with zero points. Only the pages provided for the answer will be marked. Texts going over the pages provided for a specific answer will not be considered.

Every candidate gets one Answer Booklet only. Any preparatory notes can be done on scrap paper provided.

Experience shows that successful candidates have trained their handwriting for months to be able to provide the optimal answer. Please write legibly so that the markers will be able to read your handwriting.

Sample Answer Paper


Answers to the General Paper are marked anonymously by a panel of external markers. The Specialized Paper is marked by a Specialized Examination Board of experts from the United Nations. All answers are double blind marked by two different markers.

The Specialized Examination Board usually sets different cut-off points after each part of the exam and only the candidates who are above that threshold are evaluated further. The first cut-off is usually determined after multiple choice questions have been marked.

Each of the further items, which require longer and constructed answers, may serve as an additional cut-off point. An announcement will be made regarding which papers and/or parts of the exam will be eliminatory. Only examinees successful in that part of the examination will have the other parts marked.

The General Paper is generally marked last. It is marked only for candidates who pass the Specialized Paper.

  1. Oral examination

    If you are successful in the written examination, you will be invited to take part in the oral part of the examination which consists of a competency-based video-conference interview. Each candidate will be interviewed by an interview panel consisting of members of the Specialized Examination Board. The total number of points in the oral examination is 200. 

  2. Results notification

    Only successful candidates will be individually informed that they have passed the YPP examination. All remaining candidates will be informed through the Important Updates page that the examination process has been concluded. Please note that the time of notification may vary from one exam subject to the next, depending on the number of examinees in each one.

Recruitment process

Placement on the roster

Successful candidates will be placed on their respective rosters in July and will remain on the roster for the duration of two years. After two years the roster closes. Those not placed within these two years will no longer be considered for posts and will have to re-take the YPP examination if they wish to be reconsidered.

Type of contract offered

Candidates who are selected from the reserve list will be offered a two-year fixed term contract at the start of their Professional career with the Secretariat. After two years and subject to satisfactory performance, they may be granted a continuing contract.

Level of first placement

Your placement level can only be at a P-1 or P-2 level. Successful candidates holding a bachelor’s degree and no work experience will be offered placement at the P-1 level. Successful candidates holding a bachelor’s degree and two years of work experience, or a master’s degree and no work experience, will be offered placement at the P-2 level. You are expected to serve for a minimum of two years in that position before being considered for appointment to another position.

Managed Reassignment Programme

Once a year, junior professionals with a minimum of 2 years in their first function will be invited to participate in a Managed Reassignment Program (MRP). They are invited to select other positions of interest to them so they can be reassigned to another position, normally in a different department and duty station. The objective of this programme is to provide Junior Professional staff with new opportunities to diversify and develop their career, to acquire new skills and to consolidate a solid foundation for their career advancement. It should be noted that staff are responsible for selecting as many positions as possible in order to maximise their chances of reassignment. Those who are not successful may be required to participate in the following MRP.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

Publish Date
August 16, 2017
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