What Is UNIS? UNIS Creation and Establishment

UNIS stands for the United Nations International School, which is located in New York near the UN headquarters. The education is bilingual. Classes are conducted in English and French or Spanish, depending on the students’ preferences.

What Is UNIS?



UNIS school is a coeducational, college-preparatory institution. It offers its students an International Baccalaureate called IB Diploma Program. This is a complete general secondary education developed by the international non-profit private educational foundation named International Baccalaureate. The IB Diploma Program was created for high school students of 11th and 12th grades.

The IB diplomas, as well as the school’s excellent academic standards, give students a chance to pursue higher education in the best and most privileged universities and colleges of the USA and other countries of the world.

Over 1,600 students representing 109 countries are currently enrolled in UNIS NYC. Within the United Nations School program, they study not only English, French, or Spanish but also other languages, including native ones (depending on their countries of origin). 

To understand what is UNIS and why it is special, one should look at the school's history, values, and mission.

UNIS Mission

UNIS mission statement is to allow students to be more conscious about differences among people and work for humankind’s prosperity and well-being. Following the UN’s ideals, UNIS creates a learning environment that is

  • inclusive, diverse, and innovative;

  • known for high academic standards;

  • educating students how to communicate on a cross-cultural level;

  • helping them become the world’s changers – those who will make it more sustainable and peaceful.

UNIS History of Creation

After the UN’s founding and building of its headquarters, a serious question arose: where should UN’s employees’ children study? And that’s exactly when the UNIS New York history began.

There were three possible solutions. They could have been educated in their country of origin, go to a local school in New York, or staff members should have established a school and education system that was perfect for children in the UN community. This is how UNIS NY was born in 1947.

Initially, it was a nursery school with four teachers for 36 children. Over time, UN school NYC was replenished with new students and teachers. 11 years later, in 1958, the first senior class graduated from the UN international school. United Nations high school programs followed the principles of political idealism and educational values. 

Interesting to know, the 1964 graduation ceremony took place in the General Assembly Hall. Then, the Secretary-General’s speech was delivered to 27 seniors of the UNIS New York School.

UNIS history of creation has another important date in store. It’s the year 1973 when UNIS Manhattan was finished. It was designed by the architect who also worked on planning the Rockefeller Center and the UN’s headquarters. Overall, its construction took 20 years. The campus is now located next to the Waterside Plaza business complex. 

UNIS Campus Information

Without a doubt, United Nation School NYC has a brilliant location. Its Manhattan campus is situated in a place that overlooks the East River, merely one mile south of the UN. Children from prekindergarten to 12th grade study here.

As for the second UNIS campus information, UNIS Queens is located about 13 miles east of the Manhattan campus, in Jamaica Estates. Unlike the Manhattan campus, UNIS Queens accepts children to 8th grade only. However, they may be transferred to the Manhattan campus in the 9th grade automatically. 

The United Nations International Schools

UNIS is a member of CIS (Council of International Schools) and ECIS (European Council of International Schools). United Nations International Schools consists of different divisions – read on to know more.

UN Junior School

UN School students are to become leaders and an active force in shaping a greater future. So, the tasks they work on at UNIS Manhattan are truly engaging as they make children analyze global issues. The curriculum follows the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s idea: knowledge, education, and information are the basis of progress.

Besides, here, students gain skills necessary for further education at college or university. These are:

  • critical thinking;

  • independence and confidence;

  • Investigating abilities;

  • self-management and curiosity. 

UN Junior School makes them use design thinking principles on an everyday basis. The teachers apply a team approach: they help students develop both intellectually and emotionally. That’s why the pastoral care program is also part of the UN Junior School’s curriculum.

UN Middle School

Over 500 students from grades 5th to 9th are enrolled in UNIS middle school. It is a bridge connecting Middle UNIS school NYC and Tutorial House.

Children in grades 5-6 continue to study the same subjects as in junior school. But with the beginning of the 7th grade, also called M3, they start learning an additional foreign language - there are 7 of them to choose from. 

As for the academic program, its goal is to foster knowledge and skills required for modern reality. Thus, the schedule consists of academic subjects, physical education, music, and art.
The Tutorial House of UNIS

The Tutorial House is a United Nation high school uniting students from grades 9-12. Its curriculum is a culmination of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.

The principle of the United Nations high school is to assist children in strengthening responsibility for their studies. So, the goal is achieved through developing such qualities as 

  • creative problem-solving;

  • leadership;

  • communication and openness;

  • readiness to take risks.

In addition to the academic United Nations high school program, students are engaged in extracurricular activities such as art classes or sports clubs. Some events are even partnered with the UN. Moreover, students can form their clubs to celebrate their hobbies and offer help and services to others. 

In the learning environment of the Tutorial House of UNIS, proactive high school students build self-awareness, promoting their voice.

UNIS Queens

UNIS Queens provides international education while still saving each student’s cultural legacy. And the environment contributes to this process as the campus is situated in the most multicultural urban area in the world. 

Every grade level of the United Nations International School Queens has one class. Therefore, the atmosphere on the UNIS Queens Campus is personalized, comfortable, and supportive. Particular attention is paid to foreign languages classes and arts. 

When students graduate from the 8th grade, they are already prepared for UNIS Manhattan high school, where they will study the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.

UNIS Queens is known for educating not only minds but also hearts. Here, students become compassionate global citizens willing to take responsibility and contribute to our community. 


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