(Data graciously provided by Star Trek Magazine.)
For more than 200 years, StarFleet Academy has taken the Federation’s brightest and best and turned them into officers of the fleet. The Academy is one of the most rigorous and prestigious educational institutions in the Federation. It was founded in 2161, and has since trained thousands of StarFleet Officers.
Most non-StarFleet individuals make the mistake of assuming that StarFleet Academy has only one campus: Earth’s San Francisco campus near StarFleet Command. This is a widely held misconception on the part of the general population of the Federation, mostly due to how well publicized the Academy on Earth is. The Academy, however, is actually a university of sorts, in that it has many campuses, a graduate school, and offers multiple levels of achievement akin to bachelor, masters, and doctorate degrees.
It would be impractical for all students who desire to be trained as StarFleet officers to travel to Earth, considering the enormous size of the Federation. Thus, many StarBases, and member worlds have satellite campuses that range from small (on bases), to very large (like Betazed’s). The Academy’s main campus is located in San Francisco on Earth, and there are several other facilities in the Terran system – the academy flight range is near Saturn, and there is also a branch of the Academy in Marseille, France.
The Academy uses a method of Distance Learning, which ensures the maximum efficiency of classes being taught. Most classrooms are outfitted with holographic projection equipment, which allows professors to teach classes to dozens, if not hundreds of students (or more) within the Academy system, all at the same time. This is useful for both high and low level courses. In low level courses, where a larger number of students per class is acceptable, one professor can teach dozens of students over vast distances in the Academy system. In high level courses, a problem often encountered in small collegiate systems involves too few students requesting to be taught a given course per semester. If the number of students is too small, it is inefficient to allott a professor to the class. Often, classes need to be taught on rotating schedules, with some high level classes being taught once per year, or once every other year. However, in the holographic distance learning system, because so many professors and so many students are linked through the system, high level courses can be taught as often as necessary to fulfill the needs of those being taught.
Entry Exams and Preparatory Program
Competition to enter the academy is intense, and few applicants are accepted the first time they apply. Most successful applicants spend years preparing for the entrance exams and many prospective cadets enroll in the StarFleet Academy Preparatory Program. This program is a six-week course that is designed to prepare applicants to sit the grueling Academy entrance exam.
All students who apply must have a certain level of learning prior to admission. This includes being able to speak, read, and write Federation Standard, and having good mathematics skill. No applicants who have been genetically engineered may attend StarFleet Academy.
The entrance exam itself consists of a variety of tests and includes subjects such as history, dynamic relationships, and hyper-space physics. There may also be unannounced tests of the candidates’ ability to deal with inter-species and cross-cultural differences.
One of the most formidable parts of the examination process is the psych test or, to give it its full name, the “Psychological Evaluation Based on Reactions to Various Individual Problems”. This test is designed to confront the prospective cadet with his or her greatest fears; the examiners then evaluate how well they react. When Wesley Crusher sat the entrance exam in 2364, his psych test involved forcing him to choose which of two officers to rescue from a lab accident. The exams are held in San Francisco and at various locations throughout the Federation, such as the StarBase on Relva VIII. Any location which has a satellite Academy campus, as well as very few locations which do not have a satellite campus, will proctor the entrance exam for the Academy.
If the applicant passes the first test, he or she faces an oral examination. Three command rank officers conduct the interview, which is used to assess the applicant’s personality and commitment to a career in StarFleet.
Once an applicant has completed and passed their entrance exam, they will be assigned an Academy campus to begin their training on. Generally the campus is decided based on its geographical closeness to where the applicant took the entrance exam, and which campuses have openings in their next class of students. Accepted applicants are then scheduled a date on which a vessel will arrive at their homeworld to ferry them to their campus.
Overview of Academy Life
Life at the Academy is very demanding. The Academy motto is “Ex astris, scientia,” meaning, “From the stars, knowledge,” and cadets are required to study a wide range of disciplines, from statistical mathematics and warp field theory to exophilosophy. Most StarFleet cadets go through a four year program, one year of which is often spent on assignment in the field. Some StarFleet divisions require a longer period of study – doctors, for example, study for eight years.
As soon as cadets arrive at their Academy campus, and before they begin their academic studies, they spend two weeks in a prep squad, where a drill instructor turns them into a disciplined and efficient unit. Students can then apply for specific courses depending on their areas of interest.
Although cadets can choose to specialize in areas such as command or engineering, many of the courses are obligatory. All cadets take the survival test and spend six weeks practicing space walks in the third year so that they are accustomed to working in zero gravity situations. You can learn more about the Academy Courses on our wiki.
The Academy is commanded by a superintendent who is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the school. Most of the teaching staff are experienced StarFleet officers on secondment to the Academy. Over the years, highly-respected officers such as Captain Spock and Admiral Owen Paris have accepted teaching posts and many serving officers, such as Lieutenant Uhura, have chaired seminars in their areas of expertise. The Academy also attracts some of the greatest civilian minds in the Federation; for example, Professor Richard Galen, the preeminent archeologist of his generation, spent several years teaching there.
The Academy’s program is designed to prepare its students for anything they may encounter during StarFleet’s mission of exploration, and all cadets are required to undergo extensive military training. Tactical training involves the use of simulators that recreate the bridge of a starship and cadets also spend time on real vessels that have been assigned to the Academy.
The Academy holds competitive sportsmanship in high regard, and cadets compete in a number of sports including the Academy marathon, wrestling, and Parrises squares. Jean-Luc Picard was the first freshman to win the StarFleet Academy marathon.
The school also encourages academic competition and rewards the best students with special duties. For example, only the most promising cadets are assigned to the flight teams.
StarFleet Academy Living Quarters
Life at StarFleet Academy on Earth is a tough four years of hard work and commitment. Private quarters where cadets can study, socialize, and relax help to ensure success. Cadets normally live on campus in simple quarters for the duration of their tenure at the Academy. Cadet accommodation is not strictly necessary in the age of transporters, but it is favored because it helps cadets to establish their independence.
Housing may vary from campus to campus, but generally first year cadets share a room with at least one other cadet. After their first year, most cadets are transferred into their own quarters.
Cadet quarters are designed to be comfortable but simple so as to encourage study. In keeping with this philosophy the room’s central piece of furniture is a large curved desk, fitted with a computer terminal. At the San Francisco campus, the housing for cadets is situated close to the main quad, among the facility’s beautiful landscaped grounds. Many other campuses also keep cadet housing near gathering areas for the comfort of the cadets.
StarFleet regulations require that the bed be made with a mitered corner. A cadet will be put on report by a dorm officer if this is not done properly. Dorm officers act as chaperons for the cadets, by ensuring order and that all the cadets are safe and working diligently while in their living atmosphere.
The rooms themselves are arranged as follows: The wall to the right of the bed houses a small storage closet and further among the wall there is a replicator unit that provides food and other basic needs. Along the left-hand wall, opposite the bed, there is an L-shaped sofa and coffee table. The couch is not a separate piece of furniture, but is formed by portions of the wall molded to create a seating area, with cushions added for comfort. Near to the sofa section there is a door to the bathroom. Inside are facilities similar to those the cadet will find on a starship, including a sonic shower.
Leaving the Academy
A respected StarFleet officer often gives the commencement address. At graduation, the first and second highest-placed cadets address the rest of the student body. A graduate’s position in his or her class also affects the chances of getting the assignment they request. Only nine percent of graduates are posted to Command Squadron vessels.