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A Guide to Trek, from the RPGs: 3. The Academy

Everyone in Starfleet - with perhaps a few special exceptions - has graduated from Starfleet Academy. So, what do we know about it?

Part 4: Starfleet Academy
Starfleet Academy was founded in 2161, when Starfleet itself was formed. Its main campus is in San Francisco, on Earth.


Enlisted Entry
There's a wholly separate Academy program for enlisted personnel, and the enlisted campus is separate from (and adjacent to) the main officer campus of Starfleet Academy.

I'll try and find more details on the Enlisted programs, but for now, assume everything from here applies to the Officer academy only, unless stated otherwise.

Officer Entry
To enter the Academy for officer training, the basic procedure is as follows. Note that this is all TNG/DS9-era details, unless otherwise stated, and things might have been quite different in the previous century.

  1. You make a formal application. (If you're not a Federation citizen, you can be sponsored by a command-level Starfleet officer who act as a referee for you.) Applicants under the age of majority must have authorization from their legal guardian.

  2. Successful applicants undergo three tests: deductive reasoning [using evidence to solve problems], stress reaction [healthy physical and psychological responses to stress] and spatial orientation [ability to visualize and operate in three dimensions]. This takes about four days and ensures cadets meet minimum standards; most applicants pass. These tests can be taken on a Starfleet vessel or at a Starfleet facility overseen by a Lieutenant or higher.

  3. If you're successful, you enter the Starfleet Academy Preparatory Program, which is a six-week summer school at an Academy Testing Centre to prepare you for the entrance exams. The program stresses skills over knowledge, but students can study in off-hours. It also includes teaching about the history and regulations of Starfleet and the Academy.

  4. If you're successful in the preparatory program, you sit the entrance exams, which include in-depth scientific knowledge exams, practical problemsolving/leadership tests, physical tests and a psychological assessment under high-stress conditions. The process usually involves hidden tests (such as staging a diplomatic visit, attack, emergency or the like) to see how the student reacts when they're not trying to pass a known test. Grading is by relative scoring and is highly competitive. Unsuccessful candidates may retake the test for future Academy years.

  5. If you pass: congratulations, you're an Academy cadet.


Cadets are expected to uphold the code of conduct, which relates to integrity, fairness and honor. New cadets take the Starfleet Officer's Oath on their first day, and repeat it in a ceremony at the end of their first year to affirm their intentions to abide by the code and the oath.

  • Cadets must abide by the Code of Conduct at all times, whether on or off campus, in uniform or not.

  • They must also obey the orders of all Starfleet officers, instructors, and senior cadets with positions of authority.

  • Cadets have unrestricted access to recreational and dining facilities on campus but all gatherings must follow Starfleet regulations.

  • Cadets are issued a combadge and must wear it at all times while in uniform.

  • They must live on campus, and dormitories are subject to inspections for tidiness, noise levels and so on. Cadets are permitted guests, but large gatherings are restricted to recreational facilities. (Graduate students in the advanced schools may live in school-specific dormitories, or in Starfleet-provided off-campus housing. Graduate quarters are similar to starship/starbase officer quarters.) See below for more housing stuff.

  • Cadets are expected to follow all Starfleet rules and regulations, and must report any violations of same to their squad leader or a superior officer immediately.

  • Cadets administer the Academy Code of Conduct themselves to teach responsibility and discipline, including convening tribunals. The Academy Superintendent determines guilt and punishments, however.

  • In general, the Superintendent is responsible for discipline and has final authority over it; cadets may appeal to Starfleet Command, and an officer of the Judge Advocate General's office will investigate.

  • Most punishments involve the awarding of demerits (which limit a cadet's extracurricular privileges for a period); demerits can be worked off by good behaviour. (Five demerits limit privileges for a month; thirty docks you a semester. A month of spotless behaviour recoups five demerits.)

  • For more serious offenses the Superintendent may add a formal reprimand to the cadet's record, which may affect his/her future assignment choice and promotion prospects.

  • Academic credits may be docked for a class, semester or entire year. The cadet will have to repeat the class(es) in question from scratch.

  • In serious cases a cadet may be suspended for a semester and is barred from Academy grounds.

  • In extreme cases, a cadet may be dismissed permanently. They can reapply in future, though these applications are rarely accepted.

The Superintendent also awards commendations at the end of each semester, for meritorious service and achievement, and academic excellence. Cadets are eligible for regular Starfleet commendations, as well as cadet-only awards. These include: Academic Achievement Award, Academy Athletics Award, Academy Marathon Medal, Award for Original Thinking, Distinguished Service Award, Scientific Achievement Award, and other Starfleet awards from this list.

The Campus
Starfleet Academy is based in San Francisco, on the site of an old military installation called the Presidio.

There are also supplemental campuses off Earth:
* Phobos Campus, aka Stickney Campus: training center in low-g and extravehicular operations.
* Venusian Campus: training in difficult atmospheric conditions, planetary survival, and terraforming studies. Probably doesn't exist in TOS-era as it was built near the terraforming station established in the first half of the 24th C.
* Academy Flight Range, orbiting Saturn: live flights in Academy trainer craft (much like shuttlecraft).

The following is a modified version of a map that came with the Star Trek Academy supplement from Last Unicorn Games; the setting is TNG-era, so naturally in TOS-era the campus would be smaller and some buildings would bear different names (i.e. those named after Pike, Kirk and Scotty).

Refer to the map for the locations of the facilities; here are some useful details:


* Academy Transport Station - houses the transporter systems; cadets earn transporter credits they can spend for trips home or for holidays. Their range is Earth and orbital locations.

* Classes - 3, 5, 13 and 14 on the map are teaching buildings full of individual classrooms. 6 is outfitted wtih holosuites for training simulators, used for functioning starship mockups, away mission simulations and student recreation.

* Sciences - 4, 9, 12 and 15 on the map are science buildings with labs as well as classrooms, equipped with state of the art research facilities as well as teaching labs. These areas are higher security than other teaching buildings.

First and second-year students share quarters; third- and fourth-year cadets may apply for individual quarters, with availability depending on the cadet's class rank and need. Dormitories have central living, dining and recreation areas and modular private quarters. There are three central replimat facilities on campus for 24 hour food service with a very wide selection (including raw ingredients for students who enjoy cooking). Dormitory replicators can also produce food and common items like clothes, but cadets have a quota of replicator credits.

Dorm halls range in size from 100 people to 400-600 people. Some areas are single species; others are mixed. Senior cadets can choose to live in more independent complexes that allow more self-reliant lifestyles.

Some programs (particularly intensive specialties) have reserved dormitories and all cadets in these programs live there, to learn from each other outside class time.

Cadets are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities. There are regular cultural performances in the Arts Center, the Athletic facilities (and holosuites) host all kinds of competitive and hobby sports and events, and there are a number of academy-hosted social functions like dances, formal dinners and music festivals.

There are also a range of cadet clubs and organisations. The startrekmovie.com website has character dossiers that refer to the following: (with thanks to [personal profile] helens78 who pointed these out!)
* Xenolinguistics club
* Astrophobia seminars
* Chorale Ensemble
* European Swordsmanship club

Cadets are organised into squadrons to instil teamwork, respect for authority and the chain of command. A squadron is 5-15 cadets in size, varying based on cadet needs (larger squadrons may be divided into smaller squads), and is led by a senior cadet with an aptitude for leadership. A cadet may be transferred into a different squadron based on instructor recommendation or at the cadet's request (if it's a non-frivolous reason).

Squadrons train together, and often have classes together when practical, as well as spending off-duty time together. Squadmates tend to look out for each other. Most squadrons are named with simple designations - Nova Squadron is a canon example from TNG, and Red Squadron is an example from DS9.

Squadrons often focus on a specialty (like an engineering or pilot squadron) or reflect exceptional ability (such as Red Squad). Being transferred to an elite squadron can be a big reward for a cadet, both for the status and because squadrons can be given special privileges (better living quarters, access to specialized training, plum field assignments, etc.) Red Squad is an extremely exclusive elite squadron with huge privileges. It does not exist in TOS-era, being founded around the TNG era, but there may well be an equivalent.


A standard four-year enrolment at the Academy involves 35 classes, 20 of which are 'required' and 15 are elective (although the required classes allow for a lot of flexibility).

Academic departments include Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Classics, Communications, Computer Science, History, Linguistics, Material Engineering, Mathematics, Medical Sciences, Philosophy, Physicial Education, Physics, Planetary Sciences, Political Science, Propulsion Engineering, Psychology, Sociology, Space Sciences, Starfleet Sciences [which is the 'command training' discipline], Systems Engineering, Tactical Sciences, Vehicle Operations, Zoology

All cadets complete a common core curriculum to give them the skills base all officers need. These compulsory classes are (with the year of study in brackets): Starfleet Skills I & II (1); writing skills (1); quantitative reasoning (1); Planetary Survival (1 or 2); Basic Self Defense (1 or 2); one physical education course (1 or 2); two additional Starfleet Sciences classes (any year); three courses in biological, physical or space sciences, with no more than two in any one area (any year); three courses in engineering (material, propulsion and systems) with no more than one in any one area (any year); one course in historical perspectives (any year); one course in foreign culture (including exchange studies; any year); two courses in social science; one course in philosophy, literature or ideas (any year).

Senior cadets will often be tapped to act as an assistant instructor or teaching aide in courses where they've excelled.

All classes have formal ongoing assessment (whether practical or theoretical) and a final assessment in the last week of semester. In addition, many classes involve 'hidden' tests - simulated accidents, a test hidden within another test (eg. the Kobayashi Maru test), etc.

To graduate with a commission, cadets must:
* have 140 class credits (ie 35 classes)
* no more than five outstanding demerits
* a grade average of at least 3.0

The cadets with the two highest grade averages are the valedictorian and salutatorian respectively. Graduation ceremonies are held every July, where cadets wear Starfleet dress uniform for the first time and receive their commissions. Duty postings are announced at or shortly after the ceremony.

Advanced Programs
The Academy also has advanced schools for existing officers furthering their qualifications. These are seen on the map as "XYZ School Campus". Most of the programs these schools offer require applicants to complete their cadetship first, or at the very least to pass prerequisite undergrad courses. Most advanced programs are accelerated; classes run eight to ten hours every day with assignments outside that time, and the programs last four to fourteen weeks. These are generally structured to allow serving officers to return to active duty as soon as possible.

* Advanced Tactical Training Program: 12 weeks, 50% lecture time and 50% simulations/debriefing. Restricted to commissioned officers with recommendation from their COs. Two options, Advanced Starship Tactics or Tactical Unit Training (ground tactics. ~50% failure rate.

* Command School: required for all officers before being assigned as commanding or executive officers of starships or facilities. Admission is by Admiralty invitation only. Participants must be Lt. Cmdr or higher, serve in (or transfer to) command branch, and demonstrate appropriate responsibility on the job. Also some course prereqs from the Starfleet Sciences undergrad department. 14 wee program, split between classes and simulations. Completion requires a battery of tests (ability, physical and psychological) and presentation of a thesis.

Clearly this was NOT around in reboot!Kirk's time. :)

* Diplomatic College: open to cadets (with appropriate course credits). Three courses: diplomacy, first contact and survey team studies.

* Leadership & Development Program: established in 2246 to prepare officers for advancement. Two specialised bodies: Certification Board and Branch Officer Training School.

- Certification Board manages all distance education and qualifications offered by the Academy, allowing serving officers to improve qualifications while remaining in active duty.

- Branch Officer Training School: 6 week program training officers to manage personnel as a department head, etc. Focuses on management, rather than leadership.

* Officer Candidate School: offers a rigorous eight week program to allow enlisted personnel (who have displayed appropriate ability and officer potential during their enlistment) with appropriate course credits to qualify as an officer and complete a cadet cruise.

* Special Operations School: training to join the Starfleet Rapid Response Forces.

* Starfleet Advanced Research Engineering School: open to cadets and serving officers who meet requirements for Engineering aptitude. Course time is split between intensive classes and self-directed research projects.

* Starfleet Law School: offers a four-year program for those entering the office on the Judge Advocate General, plus short courses for other personnel on specific legal issues.

* Starfleet Medical Academy: very prestigious four-year doctoral program, accessible after completing the 20 core Academy classes listed above. Applicants must also grade highly on an entrance exam and complete a thesis paper.

* Starfleet Science Institute: offers eight-week programs in various disciplines, open to Starfleet personnel from Science branches who pass an entrance exam.

* Strategic Operations School: accessible only to serving officers with sufficient security clearance and Starfleet Intelligence approval. Provides training in fleet deployment, large scale defense strategies, threat analysis, etc.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-17 05:34 pm (UTC)
tammylee: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tammylee
Thank you for going through the trouble to type this up! Very useful.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-19 07:28 pm (UTC)
telesilla: (trek crew)
From: [personal profile] telesilla
Thanks for this. I linked back to it from [community profile] star_trek_flashfic because our first challenge is "Academy Days (and Nights)."

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-19 08:42 pm (UTC)
green: (Default)
From: [personal profile] green
Wow, thank you!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-22 03:43 pm (UTC)
flyingcarpet: Girl with Hair Ribbon, popart (Kirk and McCoy)
From: [personal profile] flyingcarpet
Super helpful -- thank you!


eleanorjane: The one, the only, Harley Quinn. (Default)
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