The Academy (忍者学校, Akademī, Literally meaning: Ninja School) is a huge building in Konohagakure located directly at the base of the Hokage Mountain. It is where prospective ninja are trained and where official ninja receive their assignments. It was founded by the Second Hokage out of military necessity.
The Academy is quite large and is comprised of several buildings which were erected over time. The building can be identified by the tree in front of it which has a swing on it and more so, by the giant sign with the kanji for "fire" (火) on it. Classrooms in the Academy are large and have high ceilings, based on a theory that larger classrooms lead to expansive education, expanding even to the blackboard itself. In front of the blackboard is a podium, situated far from the students' desks and put in a position where the teacher can view everyone at once.
Along with being a school, it is also the area where the Hokage's office is located, which is where missions are dispatched and the day-to-day running of the village takes place. The Hokage's office is a large, somewhat oval room usually filled with stacks of unfinished paperwork. Behind the Hokage's desk is a large window through which the Hokage can survey the entire village. On the desk itself is a stylised kanji for shadow (影, kage) followed by the symbol of the village. Before being moved, the Mission Assignment Desk where missions are usually dispensed to shinobi was located on the premises. In the anime, the Jōnin Standby Station is located on the compound.
- Love the village and hope to help preserve peace and prosperity.
- Have a mind that will not yield, able to endure hard training and work.
- Be healthy in mind and body.
If the above conditions are met, admission to the Academy will be granted.
As with any school, students are taught a core curriculum of reading, writing, mathematics, science, geography, etc. These lessons are typically framed in a ninja-context, and in fact are learned at all in order to facilitate later instruction in tactics and strategy. Students learn the Shinobi Rules, how to strengthen their minds and bodies, and receive special lectures from veteran shinobi. They are taken through the handling of ninja weapons and tools, like shuriken and kunai, learning how to throw and wield them through target practice, as well as instructed on the basics of trap-setting. Academy students are also taught about chakra and how to use it, hand seals. Shinobi classes can be broken into the basic levels of:
- Taijutsu classes serve as the Ninja Academy's equivalent of physical education. In taijutsu class, students are engaged in physical activities to help train their bodies and develop their stamina. Sparring is common.
- Ninjutsu classes provide the bulk of what potential ninja learn at the Academy. Students are taught about chakra, how to manipulate it and use hand seals, and ultimately how to use techniques such as the Transformation Technique and the Clone Technique.
- Genjutsu classes are focused less on how to create illusions and more on how they work. Students are taught how to determine if they are trapped in a genjutsu, and then how to release themselves from it.
Graduating from the Academy usually consists of taking both a written exam and a practical exam, administered by a chūnin instructor, to earn enough marks to pass. Upon graduating, students receive a forehead protector, proof of their achievement. Graduating students are then separated into squads of three genin and assigned to a jōnin-sensei to instruct them further, the members determined by their overall factors to create a well-balanced team. At this point, they will be tested once again by their jōnin teacher to assess whether they would be able to handle the demands that will be made of them as ninja (i.e. the dynamics of teamwork). The Sannin and members of Team 7 were given the bell test to see if they could make the cut; it is unknown if the rest of the would-be teams in Konoha use the same test. According to Kakashi, there is a 66% chance of failure, since only nine of the twenty-seven graduates of his time of testing would be allowed to pass this secondary test.
Students who don't pass the initial graduation tests or who are failed by their jōnin-sensei may either be sent back to the Academy or, if their jōnin believes them to be unsatisfactory, they can be dropped from the programme entirely.
It is not necessary for students to master all the lessons they are taught in the Academy to pass. Naruto Uzumaki could not perform the E-rank Clone Technique, but could effortlessly perform the B-rank Shadow Clone Technique, allowing him to graduate. Rock Lee lacked the aptitude for ninjutsu and genjutsu, but managed to get by with his taijutsu skills.
After the Fourth Shinobi World War, as the village continued to modernise into a more peaceful and advanced era, the Academy was also altered; while still offering a top-level training curriculum, it began offering non-ninja geared courses. Proper academic scores are now required for graduation, regardless of chosen course. Whether or not a student graduates the ninja exams, they can continue forward in the Academy to further their studies in other areas.
To make sure the next generation of shinobi were better prepared, the entire curriculum had been revamped. Advanced chakra control lessons, such as tree-walking and water-walking were made a part of the curriculum and a requirement to pass the ninja courses, and elemental ninjutsu, which was rare for young ninja to learn during Naruto's time, had been added as well.
Some limited details about the other Hidden Village Ninja Academies have also been disclosed:
- The Kiri Ninja Academy: During the Fourth Mizukage's reign (and before as the Fourth also took part of it as a graduating student), the Kiri Ninja Academy's final graduation exam consisted of pitting the entire graduating class against each other in a battle to the death, with the winners/survivors graduating; this was a method to eradicate emotions in exchange for combat efficiency, and was the very reason that Kirigakure was nicknamed "Village of the Bloody Mist" (血霧の里, Chigiri no Sato). After Zabuza Momochi, not yet himself a student, imposed himself into the fight and slaughtered all one hundred of that year's students, the practice was discontinued in favour of more humane and less depopulating methods.
- The Suna Ninja Academy: Not much has been mentioned about the previous curriculum. In the pre-Shippūden filler arc, it was revealed that the Ninja Academy at Suna has adopted a new training programme that emulated that same training programme as the Konoha Ninja Academy, and in Part II the success of the new training programme was commented upon. In the anime, during the Fourth Kazekage's reign, Sunagakure also had a rule forbidding people unable to use ninjutsu or genjutsu to enter the Academy or even become shinobi. After Gaara became Kazekage, this rule was officially abolished.
- Although the Japanese name for Ninja Academy is simply Academy (アカデミー, Akademī) written in katakana, it's written with the kanji for ninja school (忍者学校, ninja gakkō).
- In the anime, there is also an academy that teachers must pass in order to teach the next generations of ninja. The final exam includes passing through an obstacle course in a very dark room. It was destroyed from a battle between Iruka and Mizuki.
- Part of this building has often been confused with the Hokage Residence due to the fact that the Hokage's office is located here. However, according to official releases, they are in fact two separate places.
- Tuition to attend the academy seems to be inconsistent throughout, as Naruto Uzumaki and Sasuke Uchiha managed to enter despite being orphaned, and therefore lacking income at the time. Though it is likely the Third Hokage, who was caring for both boys during that time, paid for their tuition. However, Kido Tsumiki's father had to dedicate his entire income to send his son to the academy, to the point of neglecting his own medications that led to his demise.
- In the history of the Konoha Academy, Minato Namikaze made the highest score, with Itachi Uchiha coming up second to him.
- A list of general skills that are used by shinobi that are either learned while an Academy student, built on the principles learned there or simply used by most if not all shinobi.