Starfleet Academy

From Bravo Fleet
StarfleetAcademyLogo.png
Starfleet Academy
Founded

2161

Affiliation
  • United Federation of Planets
  • Starfleet
Headquarters

San Francisco, Earth

Primary Mission

Starfleet Officer Training

Leadership

Rear Admiral T'rirrik (Vulcan Female)

Motto

ex astris, scientia

Status

Active

Starfleet Academy is Starfleet’s in-house university, intended to train officers to join Starfleet. A part of Starfleet Training Command, this institution spans multiple campuses across Federation space, educating tens of thousands of cadets each year. The original flagship campus is located on Earth in San Francisco, within walking distance of Starfleet Command.

Admissions

See Also: Starfleet Academy Entrance Examination and Starfleet Academy Preparatory Program

Admission to Starfleet Academy is exceptionally competitive, with academics, physical fitness, life experience, aptitude, and character references all being considered in the initial application process. Even after an applicant is selected, they must go through an entrance examination, which includes intense psychological scrutiny, exams covering a wide range of subject areas, and in-person interviews. Applicants not scoring high enough to attain admission but above a certain range are allowed to take the exam again after twelve months have passed.

Non-Federation citizens are allowed to apply to the academy with the sponsorship of a command-grade officer. Unlike citizens, however, they were required to complete the Starfleet Academy Preparatory Program (SAPP), which was six weeks of classes set between the San Francisco campus's spring and fall semesters. This is an intensive, grueling experience with a high attrition rate. If the applicant successfully completes the program, they are then able to take the entrance examination itself.

Some secondary schools within the Federation also offer the Starfleet Academy Preparatory Program, allowing students to prepare themselves for the entrance examination while still in high school or its equivalent.

In-Play

  • Delinquents don't get into Starfleet Academy. It's for the best-of-the-best, as evidenced through the application process. If your character had a troubled adolescence or found academic success late, the only way they'd be likely to gain admittance is raw talent.
  • Traditional academic experience is not the only route into Starfleet Academy. In fact, as long as you've reached the age of majority for your species, you're welcome to apply regardless of what your background is, with your profile being evaluated holistically.
  • Unless your character is a savant or went through rigorous preparation, the admissions process was likely a stressful experience.

Campuses

See Also: Starfleet Academy and Starfleet Academy—Mellstoxx III

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Starfleet Academy’s main campus is located in San Francisco, California on Earth. Originally formed to serve the nascent Earth Starfleet in the 22nd century, it became the primary training facility for the Federation Starfleet in 2161. To this day, the vast majority of cadets across the Starfleet Academy system spent at least a few weeks here, and many spend at least a year on its perfectly-manicured grounds.

On Earth and within the Sol system there are dozens of subsidiary facilities, ranging from flight ranges, to zero gee training grounds, to faculties specializing in particular areas of academia. In addition to these local facilities, nearly every Federation member world has a campus of some size, as do older colonies. This allows the Academy to handle its massive student population, which is steady between a quarter million and a half million students at any one time, depending on Starfleet's recruitment and staffing needs. While this is massive when it comes to the scope of an academic institution, but it is miniscule compared to the hundreds of billions of beings living on Federation worlds.

While all Starfleet Academy campuses follow a single, unified curriculum, they can differ in terms of how long it takes to complete a program based on the cultural traditions concerning academics of their host planet: for example, ‘summer breaks’ are a North American tradition in higher education, so some planets do not have them. Others break the academic year into three or four parts, rather than into two parts. This variation is considered desirable, both to offer different schedules for individuals’ preferences, but also because it results in new officers being commissioned at many different dates throughout the year, keeping a constant stream of new officers flowing into the fleet.

All of the numbered fleets have a subsidiary campus that funnels new officers to its stations and starships. Cadets are often transferred to these academies in their second or third year from the main campus, when their talents are identified to align with that fleet's staffing needs. The Fourth Fleet's primary training facility is located at Mellstoxx III, and this is the subsidiary campus that provides this fleet with the majority of its new officers. In fact, officers earmarked to join this fleet invariably spend at least a few months here, or go through command school here.

In-Play

  • In the various shows, it's clear that the vast majority of Starfleet officers have at least a passing familiarity with Starfleet Academy's main campus. Give the size of the Federation and of Starfleet itself, though, it's unlikely that just this one campus would be able to train all of the fleet's officers, hence the subsidiary campuses mentioned here. Your character might have been in San Francisco for their entire degree, for just a year, or for a training program of a few weeks.
  • If your character is a cadet, they're enrolled at the academy on Mellstoxx III, i.e. the Fourth Fleet Academy.
  • If your character is a junior officer, they might take additional coursework or specialized training at the Fourth Fleet Academy before being posted to one of our ships.
  • If your character is a senior officer and needs to go to command school, they would do that at the Fourth Fleet Academy.
  • Because of the Academy system's size, there are as diverse a set of campuses as you could imagine, allowing for some interesting character possibilities. We know that Benzites need breathing apparatus on standard M-Class worlds, but how would a Human handle a term on Benzar?

Academic Programs

The time it takes to complete a particular program at Starfleet Academy depends on several factors, ranging from the individual’s age and prior experience to which campus it’s being taken on to the program itself. Generally, it takes four years to graduate from most programs as an Ensign with a bachelor’s degree. Specialized programs such as medicine and counseling take an additional two or four years. In addition, individuals may opt to spend longer at the academy to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree, especially in the sciences.

While cadets wear the branch color of either Command, Engineering, or Sciences during their time at the academy based on their intended career path, they receive degrees in an academic area during their time there. All cadets receive training in starship operations and self-defense, alongside a rigorous core curriculum of science, history, mathematics, and the arts, to become well-rounded critical thinkers. Cadets declare both a major (and possibly a minor or additional major(s)) and a career path, which informs how they pass through the academy.

Degrees and Subject Areas

Everyone graduating through Starfleet Academy’s traditional four-year program earns a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. These degrees are always in an academic discipline, rather than just in a branch of Starfleet or in a position. Starfleet Academy also offers masters and doctoral programs in most of its academic areas.

Social Sciences Natural Sciences Formal Sciences Applied Sciences Engineering
(Xeno)Anthropology Astronautics Computer Science Agriculture Aerospace Engineering
(Xeno)Archaeology Astronomy Logic Architecture Bio-Electronic Engineering
Art History Astrophysics Mathematics Archival Science Mechanical Engineering
Criminal Justice (Xeno)Biology Statistics Astronautical Tactics Quantum Engineering
Cultural Studies Chemistry Systems Science Counseling Structural Engineering
Economics Cosmology Cybernetics Warp Systems Engineering
Geography Geology Education
History Meteorology Exology
Xeno/Linguistics Minerology Forensics
Philosophy Planetology Interstellar Relations
Political Science Physics Nursing
Xeno/Psychology Stellar Cartography Public Health
Xeno/Sociology Vulcanology Small-Group Tactics
Rhetoric

Starfleet Legal Academy offers the degree of Juris Doctor (JD), which is a four-year program covering interstellar law, Federation law, the Starfleet Uniform Code of Justice, and legal history.

Starfleet Medical Academy offers medical doctorates, research doctorates in medical fields, and advanced degrees in fields like public health and nursing. Many new MDs also complete residencies, which do not earn a further degree but do grant additional qualifications.

In-Play

  • One does not graduate with a degree in Command or Security, but rather with a degree in a relevant academic area.
  • This is not an all-inclusive list; you could drill down much more specifically in almost every scientific area.

4-year Bridge Officer Track

Cadets in a traditional four-year program will spend most of their first two years going through the core curriculum, with their second two years spent specializing. Interspersed throughout classroom studies are practical excursions, such as survival training, zero-gee training, and the all-important cadet cruises performed on actual starships. Ensigns who graduate in this manner are qualified to serve as bridge officers immediately upon their commissioning without taking the Bridge Officer’s Exam, as this is built into the program.

4-year Bridge Officer Track
Years 1 & 2 Years 3 & 4 Graduation
General Education

Basic Starship Operations

Specialization in major content area

Advanced Starship Operations

Bachelor's Degree

Ensign

Bridge-Qualified

In-Play

  • Generally, if your character wants to become a bridge officer, they’ll spend four years at Starfleet Academy, earning a content degree (astrophysics, interstellar relations, engineering, etc.) and robust training in starship operations, resulting in a commission as an ensign.
  • Someone who wants to be both bridge-qualified and earn a Ph.D. might spend eight or ten years between Starfleet Academy and their graduate program, possibly even earning a commission as a full lieutenant in the process.
  • This is the standard academy experience.

4-year Specialist Officer Track

Some programs, including nursing, and interstellar relations where the academic requirements are too rigorous to allow for completion of both advanced starship operations and their discipline's requirements within four years. Cadets in these programs take just one year of general education and basic starship operations, followed by three intensive years in their discipline. This is also an option for cadets in other areas who wish to add another major or minor while completing their degree. Cadets who take this path must take the Bridge Officer’s Exam later in their career to qualify for bridge duty and be eligible for promotion beyond the rank of lieutenant commander.

4-year Specialist Officer Track (Nursing, Interstellar Relations, Counseling, etc.)
Year 1 Years 2, 3, & 4 Graduation
General Education

Basic Starship Operations

Specialization in major content area Bachelor's Degree

Ensign

In-Play

  • This track represents spending more time on one's specialty at the expense of being an expert in starship operations like the ensigns graduating from the traditional four-year track would.
  • What would be considered "Staff Officers" in many modern militaries, such as nurses, diplomatic aids, intelligence specialists, and so on are represented here. Each of these fields, especially nursing, requires extensive academic training, meaning that they have less time to spend on starship operations. This is why they must take the bridge officer's exam to be eligible for command and for promotion past Lieutenant Commander.
  • Scientists and engineers also have the option of an abbreviated general studies program, with three years in the specialized study of their content area. This is the track that researchers who don’t intend on becoming bridge officers initially might take. They would also graduate as ensigns and then need to eventually take the bridge officer’s exam if they wanted to progress past lieutenant commander.
  • Counselors undergoing this track would complete on-the-job training as Ensigns before being promoted to Lieutenant J.G. upon being qualified as counselors, the example being Ezri Dax.

Medical, Counseling, and Law Tracks

See Also: Starfleet Medical Academy

Medicine, counseling, and the law have two options: an accelerated six-year track which allows them to earn a bachelor's degree and a master's or professional doctorate at the same time without bridge officer qualification, and an eight-year track with the two degrees earned separately, with or without bridge officer qualification, depending on their career path. A law student, for instance, might find it useful in their future role advocating for Starfleet officers to be fully qualified for bridge duty, while a physician might take on a xenobiology major alongside their pre-medical studies in preparation for studying xeno-medicine. A counselor would take the eight year path to become a psychiatrist, and thus a medical doctor. Counselors, Judge-Advocates, and Doctors end their studies as Lieutenants Junior Grade, with the eight year track including an initial commission as an Ensign before professional school.

6-year Specialist Officer Track (Medicine, Counseling, Law)
Year 1 Years 2 & 3 Years 4, 5, & 6 Graduation
General Education

Basic Starship Operations

Specialization in pre-professional area Professional studies Bachelor's Degree

M.D., J.D., or M.S.

Lieutenant Junior Grade

8-year Specialist Officer Track (Medicine, Counseling, Law)
Year 1 Years 2, 3, & 4 Graduation Years 5, 6, 7, & 8 Graduation
General Education

Basic Starship Operations

Specialization in major content area Bachelor's Degree

Ensign

Professional Studies M.D. or J.D.

Lieutenant Junior Grade

Years 1 & 2 Years 3 & 4 Graduation Years 5, 6, 7, & 8 Graduation
General Education

Basic Starship Operations

Specialization in major content area

Advanced Starship Operations

Bachelor's Degree

Ensign

Bridge-Qualified

Professional Studies M.D. or J.D.

Lieutenant Junior Grade

In-Play

  • We know from the Deep Space 9 that medical officers and fully-trained counselors enter their service as Lieutenants Junior Grade. It is logical that Judge-Advocates would also enter at this level, given that law school is a professional doctorate like medicine. These two different tracks, an accelerated program which combines the professional and undergraduate credentialing process, and a more standard program where candidates earn their bachelor's degree separately from their secondary degree, provide multiple options for your character's backstory.
  • Counselor's could either be psychologists or psychiatrists, the latter of which would require a medical doctorate.

General Training

Whether you're meant to be a records officer or a captain, every graduate of Starfleet Academy receives at least basic training in starship operations. No one graduates from the academy without ever having been in space, and graduates of traditional four-year bridge officer programs are among the most capable starship crew members of any power in the Alpha or Beta Quadrants. This training includes wilderness survival, zero-gee training, basic flight control, and self-defense training, all of which is expected beyond any academic program a cadet might be engaged in.

Training Squadrons

All cadets are part of a training squadron while at Starfleet Academy. Despite the name, this is not a reference to them needing to be pilots necessarily, but is a hold-over from earlier Academy structures on a number of Federation worlds. Typically, a cadet will remain with the same squadron for their entire tenure at Starfleet Academy, and squadrons generally include members of all four cadet ranks. Squadrons are typically made up of between 48 and 64 cadets, overseen by a senior cadet who is mentored by a command-grade officer ranked between Lieutenant Commander and Captain.

Training squadrons are the locus of most of the training in survival, self-defense, leadership, and discipline at Starfleet Academy. These units function as self-contained residential groups as well, with cadets in the same squadron living, working, and eating together. Mentorships naturally occur and more senior cadets are encouraged to take more junior ones under their wings, which is meant to set up that same behavior within the fleet itself.

There are a number of elite training squadrons for cadets in different areas:

  • Red Squadron is Starfleet Academy's most elite squadron. Dominated by command cadets and tactical, this unit is often given extended cadet cruises. All members of this squadron are seen as future captains. Between 2374 and 2384, this unit was disbanded after the ignominious fate of the USS Valiant.
  • Gold Squadron is Starfleet Academy's dedicated elite technical squadron, made up of cadets destined for a future in engineering and operations. Cadets in this squadron often see significant secondments to the Starfleet Corps of Engineers during their tenure at the academy.
  • Blue Squadron is Starfleet Academy's dedicated elite scientific squadron, made up of cadets destined for a future in the sciences. They receive additional field training assisting with scientific projects in the Sol system.
  • White Squadron is Starfleet Academy's dedicate elite medical and nursing squadron, with cadets both from the nursing program and those intending to enter Starfleet Medical Academy. They receive additional hands-on experience at Starfleet Medical's main facility.
  • Nova Squadron was an elite training squadron that was disbanded following a disastrous accident in 2368. Unlike other squadrons, it was a dedicated flight team. It was also much smaller than other squadrons, at only 5 members.

In addition, numbered fleets maintain training squadrons at the academies that service them. Notably:

  • The Fourth Fleet's training squadron is known as Cadet Squadron Bravo. It prepares cadets for the unique burden of being placed with Starfleet's premiere rapid-response fleet. It is based out of the Mellstox III campus.

In-Play

  • Most of your characters will belong to a random cadet squadron, like Cadet Squadron Seven or Cadet Squadron Thirty, rather than one of the elite squadrons noted here. That is, they will unless you assign them to the Fourth Fleet Academy, where they'd be a member of Cadet Squadron Bravo!
  • The colored squadrons would be a great placement for someone who truly shines in their disciplinary area. Someone used to getting special treatment and extra opportunities might chafe at the realities of being a junior officer, though.
  • Your squadron at the academy would be your Hogwarts House, your tribe, your clan, etc. This is the team that you would belong to, which would celebrate your successes and punish misbehavior.

Training Vessels and Cadet Cruises

Every cadet at Starfleet Academy undergoes at lease one cadet cruise on one of the Academy's training vessels, either following their third or fourth year. While aboard a training vessel, cadets are known as midshipmen and stand in the place of regular officers. The most advanced cadets serve as department heads, while the rest of their class fill in roles all over the ship, with commissioned officers overseeing them the entire time. These cruises last for several weeks at a time, as cadets get accustomed to life aboard a starship and practice practical skills that can't be simulated in a classroom. Without exception, training cruises are commanded by Starfleet captains.

Starfleet Academy employs a number of different training vessels, the most famous being the USS Republic. Subsidiary campuses either have their own training vessel or have active service starships stand in temporarily. The Mellstoxx III campus which serves the Fourth Fleet, for example, has the USS Exeter at its disposal.

Members of specialized training squadrons or who demonstrate particular promise might spend a cadet cruise aboard an active service starship.

In-Play

  • The cadet cruise is an integral part of the Starfleet Academy experience. It's something cadets look forward to (and possibly dread?) and serves as the culmination of their training in starship operations.
  • If your character wasn't trained as some sort of bridge officer or specialist (like a doctor or nurse), they might have served in roles like records officer or yeoman during their cruise.
  • Cadets are never in command of the cruise itself, but might have a stint on the bridge. This is evidenced by Nog's shock that the Valiant was in command of a cadet, given that cadets never had commands of anything larger than a runabout.