Academy, as applied to Orthodox theological institutions, particularly of Russian origin, is the term for theological schools whose curriculum concentrates instruction at the post-graduate level.
During his reign as Tsar of Russia, Peter I introduced revolutionary changes in the life and economy of Russia. Among these changes was the organization of the education system. Within the education system he also laid out the principles for the system of theological education. Under these principles theological education was to be conducted at three levels. These levels were the elementary, undergraduate, and graduate levels.
The titles given to the schools were:
- elementary level - spiritual schools
- undergraduates level - seminary
- graduate level - academy
Thus, the theological academy is a theological post graduate school offering high-level instruction beyond seminary or college instruction level.
In the United States, however, theological schools that follow the Russian tradition have not followed the Russian model, i.e., St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, while a graduate level institution has not used Academy in its title.