The FBI National Academy is a professional course of study for U.S. and international law enforcement managers nominated by their agency heads because of demonstrated leadership qualities. The 10-week program—which provides coursework in intelligence theory, terrorism and terrorist mindsets, management science, law, behavioral science, law enforcement communication, and forensic science—serves to improve the administration of justice in police departments and agencies at home and abroad and to raise law enforcement standards, knowledge, and cooperation worldwide.
Leaders and managers of state, local, county, tribal, military, federal, and international law enforcement agencies attend the FBI National Academy. Participation is by invitation only, through a nomination process. Participants are drawn from every U.S. state and territory and from international partner nations.
Sessions of approximately 220 officers take undergraduate and/or graduate courses at the FBI campus in Quantico, Virginia. Classes are offered in the following areas: law, behavioral science, forensic science, understanding terrorism/terrorist mindsets, leadership, communication, and health/fitness. Officers participate in a wide range of leadership and specialized training, where they share ideas, techniques, and experiences with each other, creating lifelong partnerships that transcend state and national borders.
National Academy graduates fondly recall their experience on the “Yellow Brick Road.” The final test of the fitness challenge, the Yellow Brick Road is a grueling 6.1-mile run through a hilly, wooded trail built by the Marines. Along the way, the participants must climb over walls, run through creeks, jump through simulated windows, scale rock faces with ropes, crawl under barbed wire in muddy water, maneuver across a cargo net, and more. When (and if) the students complete this difficult test, they receive an actual yellow brick to memorialize their achievement. The course came to be known as the “Yellow Brick Road” years ago, after the Marines placed yellow bricks at various spots to show runners the way through the wooded trail. The overall fitness challenge began at the National Academy in 1981 and has evolved over the years; they started awarding yellow bricks in 1988.
Following graduation, each officer has the opportunity to join the FBI National Academy Associates, Inc., a dynamic organization of more than 16,000 law enforcement professionals who actively work to continue developing higher levels of competency, cooperation, and integrity across the law enforcement community.