The Mage's Academy of Mageside City is a first-class school for aspiring mages and those gifted in the magical arts. Like any college and university, payments are necessary, but payment plans and flexible loans are available. Options such as taking on jobs benefiting the school itself in return for classes are also available and is often the best choice for students whose parents are unable to afford the base cost of tuition.
The Academy spans the entire city of Mageside, but most classes are conducted at the center cathedral lying at the heart of Mageside. A separate, close-by building set with comfortable dorms are reserved for students and teachers who live too far away to go home in between classes and in-school seasons. The other buildings within the city and the center cathedral are lecture halls, demonstration rooms, and chambers set up with magical shields for offensive spellcasting and potentially dangerous practices.
The first classes a student takes is generally one lecture class or lab a day. This class begins by explaining the laws and rules of the mages, covering the history of magic and how it works. It explains each type of magic, such as the elemental magics, in depth and how they affect each other and why. Spell circles are also introduced later; students are expected to know basic spell circle designs and able to explain what each design means. Live demonstrations by the headmaster will be made, and visitations by other mages are a frequent occurrence. Extracurricular classes are offered, and field trips are conducted daily.
At the end of the first season, students will take an exam covering in detail all that they learned. A passing score indicates they are ready to advance; a score that is not satisfactory holds no consequence but a requirement that they retake what they did not demonstrate sufficient knowledge in.
At this time passing students will be introduced to the core elements and basic spellcasting of simple spells of the base elements: Earth, Water, Wind, Fire, Lightning, Light, and Dark. Several master mages for each of these elements are chosen and the students divided among them, rotating throughout the day so that a balance of learning is achieved. Students are further introduced to the study of the elements and coinciding spell circles, as well as casting spells and creating magical objects. Home assignments involve first identifying spells contained in an object; a glowing glass ball, for example, may contain a light spell and fire spell. A student will be expected to identify both spells and furthermore be expected to explain how the spells work together and effect on another. Advice, private tutoring, and general help is provided by the headmaster and master mages, as well as advanced students.
As the student progresses, he or she is encouraged to pick a particular area of magic with which to focus on. This may be anything form focusing on a particular element to focusing on a particular type of casting (e.g., healing or defensive magic). This area of focus will be the primary concern for the student; while the other practices will not be neglected, the majority of the time will be spent expanding understanding of the student's chosen area.
When the student proves to be experienced and competent enough, the student will be taught to cast upper-class spells and promoted in rank (apprentice to journeyman to master). This is when the high-security buildings are used. Students are taken inside these buildings, surrounded by shields and accompanied at all times by a master mage, and taught to cast within these shields spells of high attack power and spells of a high-energy level. If not surrounded and protected by these shields, these spells have a risk of self-harm and external damage. Students are forbidden to cast such dangerous spells until graduating at a certain level.
Advanced students proceed to learn continuously advanced spells, keeping in mind their area of focus. As they learn, they are introduced to combinations of magic. Combinations are known as Tiers. Tier One means casting a spell involving only one element; Tier Two means casting a spell using two; Tier Three means, three, and so on. The highest is Tier Eight.
At a high level students are introduced to the highest level of magic, known as Alta. Alta is the magic every living being has within itself; the magic manifests in the soul and is the magic that holds the ability to control all the other elements. Usually used in conjunction with the base elements but ignored, by itself Alta can be used to cast the most dangerous of spells. Even when used by itself Alta is always considered Tier Eight.
The headmaster, Kevinar Reyse, is at the moment a Archmage of Tier Eight as well as an accomplished master of the other elements. He takes a hand-on approach and close guidance with his students, keeping an eye on students who prove to be especially skilled in certain areas or particular good at certain magics. Occasionally, a student with powers beyond the normal mage (Sensers, Va'Elar, etc.) are identified and specific teachers of these gifted people are sent for.
When deemed ready, the students are journeymen level are given the Master rank, and may either pursue their study or enter the world of the spellcasters.