Back ​Academic reference check and relevant experience in the UN


It is the responsibility of the hiring unit to ensure the proper and thorough verification of critical information, including academic qualifications, languages, nationality, prior UN employment, and detailed reference checks. The UNDP Personal History Form (P.11) or e-Recruit online application is mandatory for all recruitments and selections and relevant candidate information on these matters requires verification and, in particular, the candidate’s employment history for purposes of reference-checking. Please see UNDP’s Policy on Academic Qualifications which spells out specific criteria for verifying academic qualifications and UNDP’s Policy on Minimum Academic requirements. In addition to conducting the prescribed reference checks, the hiring unit may be required to conduct additional verifications such as mandated by resolution, bulletin, and administrative instruction or as recommended by the Ethics Office.

Given the importance of the verification process for the proper selection of a candidate, under no circumstances may a proposed initial appointment be submitted to the MHQ, or an offer of appointment be extended or otherwise communicated to a candidate, without the hiring unit first having completed all reference checks and found them to be satisfactory.

All selected candidates will be required to submit evidence of their academic qualifications and may be subject to academic reference checks. Candidates found to have falsified their academic credentials, or to have submitted qualifications from non-accredited academic institutions (sometimes referred to as ‘diploma mills’) is a basis for withdrawing the offer of employment, or, if the employment has started, to terminate it without notice or indemnity.

The authority to determine whether degrees presented to UNDP by staff members and applicants constitute recognized academic qualifications lies with the Director, OHR. In making such determinations, the Director, OHR, is normally guided by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) listing (referred to as “the UNESCO list” of higher education institutions recognized or otherwise approved by competent authorities in participating countries.

UNDP will normally recognize only degrees obtained from institutions on the UNESCO list, except where the Director, OHR, has explicitly, in writing, confirmed the degree as acceptable. Degrees requiring little or no actual course work, degrees awarded for payment of fees only, and degrees granting substantial credits for “lifetime achievements” or “life/work experience” will not be recognized.


In determining the number of years of relevant work experience, HR practitioners must take into account any relevant experience gained after completion of the first university degree (Bachelors or equivalent) unless the candidate has undertaken ‘mid-career’ studies, in which case some flexibility may be exercised. Compulsory Military Service completed prior to a first university degree may also be taken into account provided that it is directly relevant to the position being recruited for and may be counted as 50% Full Time Equivalent (FTE). Determination of relevance of Military Service will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

In determining the ‘relevancy’ of experience, HR practitioners will make a determination based on the nature of the functions and the competencies required for the position as articulated in the vacancy announcement, or more generally on experience in the UN Common System.

Full-time consulting experience in the UN Common System, or like-institutions, may be counted at ‘one-for-one’ or 100% Full Time Equivalent (FTE). Formal volunteer work (for example UNV) may also be counted one-for-one. Non-UN Common System independent consulting, non-formal volunteer work, and remunerated teaching while pursuing academic study, in most cases, may not be counted at greater than 50% FTE. Internships are not counted when determining months of relevant experience.

Incomplete degrees are unacceptable to UNDP as proof of academic qualification, regardless of whether they are associated with a recognized higher education institution.

If an academic degree was obtained from an institution that is not in the UNESCO list, the candidates, including internal candidates are obliged to provide supporting evidence that the degree is legitimate. Hiring managers or staff members may request a review by the Director, OHR, who will confirm, explicitly and in writing, whether the degree is recognized. Without proper documentation and until this confirmation is received, no offer of appointment cannot be made to the candidate.

Staff members who, in their P.11 and other application documents, misrepresent their qualifications or present a degree that is determined to be illegitimate, are subject to disciplinary proceedings or any other appropriate administrative action.