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UNDP Graduate Schemes

by Minoas Vitalis
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the largest multilateral development agency in the world. It operates in 170 countries, and works with governments to help them develop policies and programmes that reduce poverty and promote social justice.  The UNDP Graduate Programme offers a unique opportunity to gain first-hand experience of how the United Nations works, and to contribute to the organisation’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

In this article, we are going to examine the UNDP Graduate Programme in greater detail and explore what it has to offer potential candidates.

What is the UNDP and what does it do?

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the United Nations’ global development network. Headquartered in New York City, UNDP advocates for a world without poverty, in which women are empowered and have access to quality education and health care, among other rights.

UNDP also works to end conflict and build resilience by supporting governments in their efforts to strengthen institutions, promote inclusive growth, and protect human rights. The UNDP has a presence in  170 countries and territories, and its programmes reach nearly every corner of the globe.

UNDP strives to help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

The UNDP Graduate Programme offers young professionals the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of development work in a global organisation. This two year-long programme provides successful applicants with an immersive learning experience, as well as the chance to contribute to UNDP’s efforts to achieve the SDGs.

Why should you work at the UNDP?

Whatever your skills and experience, if you are passionate about making a difference in the world, they would like to hear from you. The UNDP Graduate Programme offers an opportunity to gain first-hand exposure to UNDP’s work around the world. The programme is open to highly qualified and motivated individuals who have recently completed at least their undergraduate studies.

Through the programme, participants will have the opportunity to:

  1. Undertake challenging assignments in UNDP offices around the world;
  2. Develop their professional skills and knowledge;
  3. Enhance their understanding of UNDP’s mandate, priorities and activities;
  4. Network with UNDP staff and other professionals working in development.

The programme is offered on a competitive basis and successful applicants will be placed in entry-level positions in UNDP offices worldwide. The programme typically lasts for two years, after which participants may be offered a position in UNDP or return to their studies or work.

If you are interested in applying for the UNDP Graduate Programme, please visit their website for the most up-to-date information on the application process.

What are the eligibility criteria?

To be eligible for the UNDP Graduate Programme, you must:

  • Be a citizen of a country the UNDP is active in
  • Hold at least a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a related field
  • Have at least 2 years of relevant professional experience and not more than 3 years
  • Be proficient in English. Working knowledge of another official UN language is an asset.

Applications usually open every summer.  For the policy stream of the programme, you need to have studied economics, development, public administration, international relations or another relevant field.  If you are interested in the corporate operations stream of the programme, you need to have studied law, data management, business or another relevant field.

If you meet the eligibility criteria and are interested in applying for the UNDP Graduate Programme, please visit their website for more information on how to apply.

What is the selection process?

To be considered for the UNDP Graduate Programme, you must first submit an online application including your CV and cover letter. If you’re shortlisted you may be invited to sit an interview or complete tests which  assess your technical skills and aptitude for the role you’ve applied for. You may also need to attend an assessment centre. Successful candidates will be offered a place on the programme, which typically lasts two years.

The selection process for the UNDP Graduate Programme is designed to identify individuals who have the potential to become leaders in their field. If you’re shortlisted for the programme, you can expect to undergo a series of interviews and aptitude tests which assess your technical skills and ability to thrive in a challenging environment. Successful candidates will be offered a place on the programme, which typically lasts two years.

So if you’re looking for an opportunity to develop your skills and experience in a truly global organisation, the UNDP Graduate Programme could be the perfect fit for you.

What benefits do they offer?

The UNDP Graduate Programme offers a number of benefits to participants, including:

  • The opportunity to work in an international environment and gain first-hand experience of the UNDP’s work
  • A competitive salary and allowances
  • Paid annual and sick leave. They also offer health and disability insurance.
  • The chance to develop professional skills and knowledge through on-the-job training and exposure to UNDP’s global network of experts
  • The opportunity to make a difference and contribute to the UNDP’s efforts to fight poverty and promote sustainable development.

What kind of skills do you need to be a part of the UNDP Graduate Programme?

To be a part of UNDP, it is useful to have the following skills:

  • An ability to see the big picture and understand how different factors interconnect. This is important because as a development organisation, they often have to consider many different factors when working on projects.
  • An ability to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions. This is important because development work can be challenging, and sometimes they need to find innovative ways to solve problems.
  • An ability to communicate effectively, both in writing and verbally. This is important because they often have to present their work to different audiences, and they need to be able to explain complex concepts in a clear and concise way.
  • An ability to work well in a team. This is important because development projects are often collaborative in nature, and they need to be able to work effectively with others.
  • An ability to work independently. This is important because they often have to take initiative and work on their own in order to get things done.
  • A genuine interest in international development issues and a passion for making a difference.
  • Strong analytical skills, including the ability to research, process and present information clearly and concisely.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English.
  • Flexibility and adaptability, as well as the ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines.
  • Cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity.
  • IT skills, including proficiency in Microsoft Office applications.
  • Relevant work experience, either in your home country or overseas.
  • A relevant first degree from an accredited university. A master’s degree or higher will be an advantage.

If you have these skills, then you will be well-positioned to succeed in the UNDP Graduate Programme.

Examples of day-to-day tasks

A UNDP Graduate Programme participant may expect:

– Meeting with different UNDP officials to learn about the organisation and its various programs

– Assisting with research and data analysis for UNDP projects

– Writing reports and briefs on UNDP programs and activities

– Presenting findings and recommendations to UNDP staff and management

– Attending and participating in conferences, workshops and other events related to UNDP’s work

– Supporting the work of UNDP field offices in different countries

The UNDP Graduate Programme is an excellent way to learn about the work of the United Nations Development Programme and gain valuable experience in the field of international development. Apply now!

What are the working conditions?

The working conditions for the UNDP Graduate Programme are pretty great. You’ll have a lot of responsibility and you’ll be able to work from a different country than the one you are now. The programme is flexible and you’ll be able to make a difference. Of course, there are some downsides too. You’ll have to deal with bureaucracy and you won’t always be able to see the results of your work. But overall, it’s a great experience.


The UNDP Graduate Programme is a unique opportunity to gain experience in the United Nations system. It offers graduates from around the world the chance to work in different departments and programmes of the United Nations, learn about its work and contribute their skills and knowledge. If you are interested in working for the United Nations or want to learn more about its work, then this programme is for you.

Minoas graduated with a Merit upon studying the full-time MPA Public Administration – International Development degree (MPA-ID) at the University of York. He is currently working as a freelance EU affairs consultant in Belgium.
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