Essentially, the school where a military officer learns his or her trade, that of leading enlisted servicemembers into combat. A college-level military academy trains future officers in military tactics and strategy. They also do non-military coursework and get practical military experience in areas such as marksmanship. In fiction, these academies are popular for their ability to combine various School Tropes with Military and Warfare Tropes and allow for use of the various plots and characters that come with both settings.
A military academy comes in several forms:
- Traditional Military Academy: A college level program where adult students are taught to be officers, typically while simultaneously achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Students at traditional military academies are subject to military disciplinary and uniform standards "full time", unless on leave away from the academy, and are called Cadets or Midshipmen.
- Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC): A form of "part-time" military academy, where a student attends a normal civilian college or university, but additionally participates in frequent military training and additional military-related classes throughout the school year. They are then commissioned as junior officers shortly after graduation. In fiction, this can be fertile ground for plots that contrast the experiences of the ROTC cadets/midshipmen with their civilian classmates, for good or ill.
- Officer Training/Candidate School (OCS/OTS): A shorter course intended for officer candidates who already have a Bachelor's Degree and merely need the military training necessary to function as an officer. Often used for educated enlisted servicemembers to advance to the Officer's ranks. This style of academy is the closest to a Basic Training or Boot Camp for officers. Very popular during large wars where the existing officer corps is too small, and/or the traditional academy too slow, to effectively command all parts of a military that is rapidly expanding or having to replace heavy combat losses. Occasionally, a military may have an OCS or OTS as the only method by which one can become an officer, essentially forcing all officers to come up through the ranks.
- Staff College: Effectively, military graduate school. Where officers are trained in the administrative and policy areas of their profession, for high-level command, perhaps even General or Flag rank. Also attracts the more academically minded officers, who may do research and write articles on military history or theories. These may also be open to civilians (typically career diplomats and defense officials approaching the highest echelons of their fields) and foreign military officers. It is not at all uncommon for serious academic research into military strategy, tactics, national security studies and international relations to come out of a military staff college.
Often within a military service, there is some tension and/or friendly rivalry between graduates of each type. Traditional academy alumni might be elitist "Ring Knockers" who look down on "13-Week Wonder" Officer Candidate School graduates, whereas those OCS grads who were formerly enlisted servicemembers might disdain all those who became officers "the easy way" without getting experience serving in the ranks first.
This should not be confused with Basic Training or Boot Camp, which is a crash course for turning civilians into enlisted soldiers. Basic Training is aimed at the lowest common denominator and is intended to teach the most basic military skills; typically they take a few months to complete at most, whereas a military academy typically takes several months or years to create a new officer. (Not that it always helps them succeed right away!) Compare with Military School, which is a military institutional environment for junior high and high school students that typically does not graduate its students directly into the military. Nonetheless, it does provide a good background for students aiming at a military career. Also compare Space Cadet Academy, which is a Military Academy IN SPACE!.
- Busou Chuugakusei: Basket Army depicts the Eastern Private Defense Academy where the middle-to-high school students are trained in the use of weapons and learn survival exercises.
- In Maiden Rose, Klaus and Taki meet for the second first-time at the Luckenwalde military academy, which specializes in tank warfare. There is of course a Drill Sergeant Nasty and some other stock figures, though the focus is primarily on the duo.
- Any Ninja Village worth their salt now has a competent Ninja Academy in Naruto. Training as a ninja is voluntary, but it most often starts at a young age (The Rookie Nine enrolled when they were eight years old). Though, there seems to be a lacking of therapists for students who need it, though one (Naruto) is a pariah of the village, and no one would have a problem with the other (Sasuke} trying to take revenge on the person who killed his entire family. Tobirama Senju was the Hokage who founded the first ever Ninja Academy too, which quickly spread to all five nations.
- In Legend of the Galactic Heroes, the Free Planets Alliance Officer Academy is one such institution, with prospective students enrolled as officer cadets and receive free undergraduate education, provided that they stay in the military upon graduation. That's how Wen-Li ended in the military — his greatest dream was to study history, but he didn't have money for college, so he enlisted to do it on a Nation's dime. And damn did he excel at it!
- In Gunka No Baltzar, Baselland's Royal Military Academy takes in teenagers as cadets for three years and graduates them as regular or reserve officers. When an uprising happens the students (rather than the regular army or police) are mustered to quell the insurgents.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, OZ both develops mobile suit technology, and also trains the larger Alliance Mobile Suit Troops (as well as its own) at its Lake Victory Academy at least until a Gundam burns the academy to the ground.
- In the flashback arc of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, Char Aznable and Garma Zabi attend the Zeon Military Academy together and develop a strong rivalry and friendship. Later, cadets and graduates of the Academy stage the Dawn Uprising, an attack under Garma's leadership against the Federation garrison of Side 3 in response to (rumoured) Federation repression. The original Mobile Suit Gundam established that Char and Garma had attended the Academy together, but The Origin greatly elaborated on it.
- A Love Letter For The Marching Puppy is set in an Alternate History version of early 20th Century Japan in which women are allowed to join the military. It stars Shinobu Indou, an orphaned girl from the countryside, and tells the story of her relationship with older student Fujino Kagami.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe sometimes features military academies, usually those belonging to the Empire. Just how Rebels get trained isn't often shown; most characters we get to know tend to have gone through the Imperial system or sometimes a neutral third-party state's equivalent before lighting out and signing on with the Rebellion, and being La Résistance and therefore somewhat Mildly Military in character -not to mention being chronically short of funds most of the time- the Rebels might not actually have an equivalent.
- Kate Kane was the Brigade Executive Officer at West Point, but resigned after refusing to deny her lesbianism or out her female partner (in the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" era where homosexuality in the US military was forbidden but not actively inquired into). Several comics include flashbacks to this time in her life.
- Kate's father Jacob is implied to have also attended West Point.
- In the Daria Expanded Universe (specifically, the Fan Fic series 'Legion of Lawndale Heroes'), there is the United States Academy for Extranormal Studies. The academy (or 'the Axe' as it's also known) also incorporates elements of Academy of Adventure, Education Through Pyrotechnics (read up on Zero Area, where the REALLY powerful students train), Measuring Day (the word for this is 'Ow'), and Superhero School (where 'The Alliance' comes in).
- Well-Matched is a Batwoman story set during Kate Kane's junior year at West Point, when she competes for an academy boxing championship.
- Its sequel, Cadet Scrap, is also set there.
- Annapolis depicts life in the US Naval Academy, although its portrayal is particularly inaccurate.
- An Officer and a Gentleman centers on a cadet at an Officer's Training School. The school in this film is an example of a school that commissions aviators but does not provide undergraduate academics.
- The Substitute 4: Failure Is Not An Option sees former ex-soldier Karl Thomasson (Treat Williams) return to teach at a military academy and dismantle a white supremacist cult in the school.
- Carol Danvers attends the US Air Force Academy in Captain Marvel (2019).
- West Point features prominently in The General's Daughter. The title character is a graduate, and her rape as a cadet during an academy field exercise - a crime covered up by Army brass, including her own father - serves as the impetus for the events of the film.
- Two of the supporting characters from Animal House are members of the Faber University ROTC battalion, in one of the few well-known depictions of this sort of training in fiction. Notably, one of them is the trope-namer for The Neidermeyer.
- Animorphs: Ax is an aristh, or warrior-cadet, at the Andalite military academy. Most Andalite males end up going there while females specialize more in science and technology fields.
- In Starship Troopers the protagonist attends an officer commissioning school. This is not a four-year program, because the character is an excellent enlisted soldier attempting to move up in his career.
- In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath series, book 4, To Ride a Rathorn, has heroine Jame enrolled at Tentir, the Kencyr military academy, training to be a random (the Kencyr word for officer). The two following books follows her further adventures at Tentir.
- Saganami Island, the military academy for the Star Empire of Manticore in Honor Harrington, gets a fair amount of development in terms of its institutional culture. Honor was an instructor there for a few years while on medical leave. It also has the Advanced Tactics Course (affectionately known as The Crusher), that any officer hoping for a line command must pass (It's possible to get a destroyer command without graduating ATC, but nobody gets a bigger hyper-capable command than that without surviving The Crusher), that may be considered a Staff College of sorts. While Honor was teaching basic tactics at Saganami, she was also serving as Commandant of the ATC.
- The Vorkosigan Saga has the Imperial Service Academy, though it's only shown briefly.
- In The Forever War, officers learn to be officers via an Upgrade Artifact that downloads knowledge directly into their brain. It takes two weeks. Plus another four weeks to learn how to walk again.
- In Ender's Game the academies most students move to after graduating Battle School.
- Frank Merriwell attends Fardale Military Academy in Frank Merriwell's Schooldays, the first of the series, because politics kept him out of West Point. His rival Barton Hughes has also been in more than one Military School (and been kicked out.) Later in the series, Frank and Bart switch to Yale.
- Parodied in Eric, where an Ephebian Ensign Newbie passed the Academy with flying colours in Valadictory Poetry and Military Grammar. As opposed to his sergeant, who hasn't had an education, but simply spent the last forty years fighting people and monsters.
- Empire from the Ashes: Main protagonist Colin McIntyre is stated to have graduated from the US Naval Academy in the first book. They create an all new Imperial Academy in the third book. It seems to be heavily based on the academies that the protagonists remember.
- Darkside: This novel by alumnus and former Destroyer Squadron Commodore PT Deutermann is about a murder at the US Naval Academy, investigated by an NCIS agent who enlists the help of alumnus and former Marine infantry officer turned head of security Jim Hall to explain Academy culture to her.
- The Star Trek universe has Starfleet Academy in San Francisco, which has been the focus of a young adult books series and a Comic Book series.
- JAG: Several of the main characters are graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.
- In North and South (U.S.), several of the principle characters such as Orry Main, George Hazard, and Elkanah Bent, all attended West Point. Or, in the case of the last, was thrown out of it.
- In the American version of House of Cards, Frank Underwood's alma mater is "The Sentinel," which is obviously a thinly-veiled version of the Citadel, the military academy of South Carolina. We see it when he goes to the dedication of the library named after him.
- Certain flashbacks in Batwoman take place at Point Rock Academy, a fictionalized version of West Point.
- The Navy Lark had a Whole Episode Flashback in which Navigation Officer Phillips was shown to have tried to join the army, but got lost on his way to Sandhurst (see Real Life) and ended up at Dartmouth and the Naval College there instead, and his training there.
- BattleTech has several of these, including Sandhurst. Any major power has at least three or four which train both officers and Mech Warriors. Usually the one on the capital world is the most prestigious, and rivalries are common between graduates of different academies.
- Averted with the Clans, whose officer-equivalents generally attain higher rank via a live-fire Trial of Position. The resulting lack of strategic and logistical professionalism in most Clans, as opposed to tactical acumen, really up and bites them in the hind parts more than once in the setting.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- While not all Imperial Guard officers attend the Schola Progenium, and not all who attend the Schola go on to military careers, all of the Guard's Stormtroopers and Commissars, and the warrior-nuns of the Adepta Sororitas, are trained there. The Schola is set up specifically to teach the orphaned children of the Emperor's servants, Guardsmen, arbitrators, and the like. Considering the setting, there's no shortage of students. In fact, Schola is usually seen as a goal in itself. After all, it provides food, shelter and, let's be honest, its education is almost as good as it gets.
- Eldar Aspect Shrines also arguably qualify-they are where an Eldar embarks on the path of the Aspect Warrior, and trains in the mentality and combat style of the chosen Aspect.
- ''Eberron: Rekkenmark Academy in Karrnath is the most prominent military college in Khorvaire, and the place where all of Galifar's officers trained prior to the great war.
- The Realm in Exalted has two major academies: The House of Bells, for Dragon-Blooded from noble families, and Pasiap's Stair, for those non-noble Dragon-Blooded who Exalted too late to be adopted into a noble house. The curriculum at Pasiap's Stair is a lot harsher, but its graduates, while fewer in number, tend to go further in their careers.
- In Traveller, military academies are built (some versions of) the character creation rules.
- Final Fantasy:
- The Gardens from Final Fantasy VIII, which combine this with Elaborate University High. Oddly, rather than feeding their graduates into a particular nation's military, they seem to act more like regular colleges in that it just prepares you for a job which you then have to go find on your own. Also, all its students are under eighteen, to as young as five.
- The Peristylium from Final Fantasy Type-0 is said to be another military academy in the 'verse of Final Fantasy, but this one looks to be stationary.
- Will/Ed in Advance Wars: Dark Conflict/Days Of Ruin was attending a military school before the meteor shower and was the only survivor.
- The main setting of Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the Officers Academy at Garreg Mach Monastery, located at the centre of the continent of Fódlan. It’s operated by one of the most powerful institutions on the continent, the Church of Seiros, and the students of the academy are tasked with putting down threats to the peace, from bandit attacks to rebellions against the church. Early on the player chooses from one of three classes of students to instruct in the ways of combat and leadership, and it is where the player spends most of their downtime. After the Time Skip, when Fódlan is engulfed in war, the monastery is the player's main base of operations.
- You start out in one of these during the "Chronicles of the Sword" custom player mode in Soulcalibur 3.
- You're a cadet at one, along with your squad, when you start the first chapter of Final Fantasy Tactics.
- The 15th Hierarchical City of Torifune, also known as the Academy City, is one of these in BlazBlue, with Noel Vermillion, Jin Kisaragi, Tsubaki Yayoi, Makoto Nanaya and Carl Clover all having attended during the backstory.
- In one of the early missions of the Allied campaign of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, you liberate and then defend the United States Air Force Academy from the Soviets (who have taken the cadets hostage in the Chapel), and then use it as a base to wipe the Soviets out. You can garrison the Academy Chapel, for what it's worth.
- In many 4X games, military academies can be built in your cities (or equivalent), usually providing some type of bonus to troops built in that city later on.
- The Knight Academy in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword educates its students in swordsmanship and Loftwing training in order to protect the city of Skyloft. However, since Skyloft is a floating city far from anything that could actually threaten its inhabitants, the Knights of Skyloft's main job is to rescue anyone who falls off.
- In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, the students of Class VII attend Thors Military Academy, a prestigious Military academy in the Erebonian Empire. It also helps to prepare them for what's to come.
- Pharaoh: Building an Academy gives newly-trained troops a slight increase in combat experience.
- The Terran Confederacy - and later the Dominion - has the Ghost Academy, which is used to train psychic candidates into Super Soldiers known as Ghosts. StarCraft Ghost: Nova and StarCraft: Ghost Academy depicted the Academy during Nova's training days.
- The short story "Icehouse" depicted a training facility of the same name, which served to train hardcore criminals that cannot be neural resocialized into Reapers.
- The Lanseal Military Academy serves as the main hub for Valkyria Chronicles II.
- Several mentioned in the Wing Commander series, one of which is the core of a mission generator package (Wing Commander Academy, naturally enough). In the cartoon (also called Wing Commander Academy), Blair, Maniac, and some others are finishing up their time at the TCSF Academy, with their cadet cruise being aboard the Tiger's Claw.
- In Xenogears, Jugend was the Solaris-based military academy attended by Elly and the Elements (Dominia, Kelvena, Seraphita, and Tolone), in addition to Citan, Sigurd, Jessie, and Ramsus in their youth before becoming the Elements squad preceding the current one.
- Ascension Academy: Ascension Academy is an Officer Training School that aims to produce the finest Officers for the Cross-Allied Forces' Specialist Units. The Cadets of this Academy are trained in combat, survival skills, diplomacy and negotiation, and in the use of various magics. By the end of their four years of education and training the Cadets should be capable of moving into the Specialist Units of the CAF, or to take on other roles within the Forces or within their home nations. Many nobles send their children to the Academy for advanced education to make them better leaders. The Academy's true purpose however, forgotten by most of the world, is to protect the Door to the Darkness' prison. The last time the Darkness was free during the Dark War, over 80% of the world's population was lost. The price of failure is high.
- The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, which has trained officers for many countries and is frequently the destination for second sons of the British Royal Family. It is near exclusively known as Sandhurst.
- The Staff College at Camberley (now defunct), replaced with several institutes.
- The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy get RAFC Cranwell and Britannia Royal Naval College (HMS Dartmouth) respectively.
- The Royal Marines have the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone which trains both enlisted men and officers.
- For the US armed forces:
- United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Famous for being the newest major academy, its beautiful chapel, and fantastic cadets' uniforms designed by Cecil B. DeMille. It is also responsible for training officers of the US Space Force, which is part of the Department of the Air Force and does not have its own academy.
- United States Coast Guard Academy, New London, Connecticut.
- United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York: Unlike other academies, Merchant Marine graduates do not join the uniformed services, instead becoming officers in the US Merchant Marine—i.e. commercial ships working (typically) for companies, though some merchant ships are government-owned—that get called into military service on the logistical side during really big wars.
- United States Military Academy, West Point, New York: Most definitely not ever called the United States Army Academy, despite it being exclusively for the training of Army officers. (Nonetheless, West Point's sports teams are referred to as "Army".) So named because it's by far the oldest of the US military academies, and there was no expectation at its founding that additional ones would later exist or be needed.
- "Military" also used to somewhat regularly be used to refer to things related to armies and their activities, whereas "naval" referred sea-related activities and obviously the Navy.
- United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland: Trains Navy officers, as well as Marine officers, since as a part of the Department of the Navy they do not have their own academy (though they do have their own Officer Candidate School).
- Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland: Trains doctors, nurses and dentists for the Army, Navy and Air Force (the Marine Corps has no medical personnel of its own, relying on the Navy for that), as well as the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
- No less than seven Staff Colleges across the country. The most prominent (e.g. the Army War College) also admit high-ranking civilian bureaucrats for education in foreign and defense policy.
- Staff colleges train high ranking officers seeking to become commanding cadre of the military. The US Army Command and General Staff college, for example, trains Army majors expected to take on command positions. The War College trains colonels expected to become generals.
- The Army, Navy, and Air Force run Reserve Officers' Training Corps programs at civilian universities around the country. The majority of the Cadets/Midshipmen at these units have scholarships granted by the armed services, allowing them to both attend prestigious universities at no/low cost and have a guaranteed job as an officer upon graduation.
- There are 6 Senior Military Colleges (SMCs) across the US, approved by Congress. Among them are Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Virginia Military Institute, Norwich, The Citadel, and North Georgia. Some are strictly military schools, while others allow civilians.
- Texas A&M University is considered a senior military college by the US Armed forces. The reason why it allows civilian students is because every year the Commandant of the Corps of Cadets writes a special exemption for them. (Said exemption originally existed for veterans and National Guard/State Guard troops.) Much the same situation exists at Virginia Tech, North Georgia, and Norwich.
- All full-time undergraduates at The Citadel, except for active-duty military members and a small number of veteransnote , are members of the school's cadet corps. Apart from these veterans, all civilians at The Citadel are in the school's evening program, made up mostly of graduate students, or its online graduate program.
- Virginia Military Institute is the last SMC that does not accept any civilians in any form, and also is the only one that awards only bachelor's degrees. VMI was the last to admit no women until ordered to take female cadets by the Supreme Court.
- Interestingly, under federal law, ROTC students at the SMCs are not required to take a military commission upon graduation, although most do. This differs from ROTC at civilian four-year schools, where students who wish to enter their third year of ROTC must sign a contract binding them to a military commission. It also differs from the service academies, where students sign the same contract as a condition of continuing after their second year.
- A number served to train Soviet / Russian Officers:
- The Frunze Military Academy is a staff college for long-term career officers, which is kind of a Ph.D course for officers, and, indeed, many of its alumni get a degree in military sciences. Lowest rank for admission is Major. Common officer training schools are much more numerous.
- And there is the Voroshilov General Staff Academy attended by the "best and the brightest" of the Soviet/Russian military. Students are admitted in the ranks of lieutenant colonel, colonel, and one-star general.
- Dzerzhinsky Military Academy of Rocket Forces, now Peter the Great Military Academy of the Strategic Missile Force, for staff officers in the Strategic Rocket Forces.
- The Kirov Military Medical Academy, which trained the senior medical staff of the Soviet armed forces (and also for Russian and neighboring military forces), and offers training both for the Ph.D level and post-doctorate level.
- There are a ridiculous number of other senior officer academies alone—the USSR had more than any other country, and an even greater number of junior schools. Russia is left with far more than they could realistically need.
- Undergraduate officer training and officer training school are usually the same thing under the Soviet doctrine, called a voyennoe uchilische (military teaching facility). The Soviet military did need many more junior officers than its American counterparts, due to lack of a professional NCO corps, many positions that in other armies would've been filled by NCOs were considered a junior officer's billet, and on the other side the Soviet standing army was gigantic. The military academy is another beast of another stripe, attended by senior officers and providing doctorates in military sciences, necessary if you want to be a general. There are also military schools attached to civilian universities, called voyennaya kafedra, a kind of ROTC that train Mildly Military Ensign Newbies that go then straight to reserve; after the fall of the Union, they aren't as numerous and remain only in several universities.
- In France:
- Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr. Its motto is "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre": literally "They study to vanquish" or "Training for victory".
- The Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, while it is an university specializing in science and engineering, retains a heavy military character. The students are technically officers, undergo military training, and wear a very sweet 19th century officer uniform (with a bicorn and a sword). The school banner is also entitled to be emblazoned with the battle honour "Paris 1814", as the students participated in the (ultimately futile) defence of Paris from the armies of the Sixth Coalition in March 1814.
- The Australian Defence Force Academy
- Which is a tri-service academy/university (you get a degree at the end from the University of New South Wales).
- Then you have the Royal Military College, RMC Duntroon, which is the officer academy for the Australian Army
- The Royal Australian Navy sends its new officers to the Royal Australian Naval College, HMAS Creswell
- The Royal Australian Air Force has RAAF East Sale for initial officer training.
- And while technically not officer training schools, there are also the three enlisted schools: ARTC Kapooka (Army Recruit Training Centre); 1RTU, RAAF Wagga (No.1 Recruit Trg. Unit); and RAN RS, HMAS Cerberus (RAN Recruit School).
- Which is a tri-service academy/university (you get a degree at the end from the University of New South Wales).
- The Royal Military College of Canada, in Kingston, ON, trains officers for the whole Canadian Forces. Now there's also the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean (English: Royal Military College of Saint-Jean) for French speakers.
- Fun fact: The RMCC's flag was the direct inspiration for the current, iconic Maple Leaf flag of Canada. TOW link
- There were formerly three Canadian Military Colleges: RMC (established 1876), CMR (est 1952), and Royal Roads Military College (est 1940) in British Columbia. Following the general cutbacks that many militaries experienced after the Cold War, RRMC and CMR were changed to civilian colleges in 1995. CMR was resurrected as a military institution (albeit with a much smaller student population than it had once had) in 2007.
- Fun fact: The RMCC's flag was the direct inspiration for the current, iconic Maple Leaf flag of Canada. TOW link
- The Maria-Theresien Academy in Austria. Established in 1751 and the oldest military academy in the world.
- The Maanpuolustuskorkeakoulu (National Defence Academy) in Helsinki, Finland, originally established in 1788 and in 1919 in its current form. It is divided in three branches: Maasotakoulu (Land Warfare School) educates Army cadets, Merisotakoulu (Sea Warfare School) the Naval cadets and Ilmasotakoulu the Air Force cadets.
- And, of course, RUK (Reserviupseerikoulu), the Reserve Officers' Academy in Hamina, which trains the selected conscripts to become Second Lieutenants in reserve.