GOAL Academy Eligibility & FAQ

Eligibility Criteria

The GOAL Academy is not geared toward specific positions or disciplines; rather, this innovative program targets any NPS employee who meets all of the following criteria:

  • You are currently employed as a permanent full-time NPS employee
  • Your current position is a GS-9 through GS-12, WG-8 and above, WL-6 and above, or WS-6 and above
  • You have a minimum of three years of service as a permanent full-time NPS employee

Your Questions


  • In light of the pandemic, will there be in-person residential sessions? The three residential sessions of the FY23 GOAL Academy program are scheduled for November, February, and May. Our hope is to be able to provide these residential sessions as currently scheduled while following all COVID-19 health and safety guidance and recommendations. It is unclear at this point what the future exactly looks like. If the need to cancel, modify, or alter a residential session arises for any reason, we will explore alternative options. If a residential session is canceled, alternative programming will be introduced.
  • Should I apply or wait until next year to apply when hopefully the pandemic is over? The GOAL Academy is a highly competitive program. It usually takes a few tries to be accepted into the program. Our recommendation would be to apply and see what happens. The GOAL Academy has an impressive track record at being able to overcome obstacles and pivot at lightning speed. It will certainly be a unique year and you might appreciate having 49 new friends and colleagues in your circle! 😉
  • I do not have access to a government network or computer. How can I submit my application? Please email your application to the GOAL Academy Training Manager at Phil_Molnar@nps.gov.ow



  • I am close to meeting the eligibility criteria, but I don’t exactly meet all of them. Should I still apply? No, however examine the questions in the application and craft answers.  Look for ways to grow as a leader and offer more robust answers when you’re eligible.
  • Should more than one employee from a park apply? Yes. We recommend that all applicable candidates apply. Typically, no more than one employee from any given unit is accepted into this highly competitive program. If your unit limits the number of applicants, this greatly reduces your unit’s chances of having anyone accepted into the program. Everyone from your park who is interested should apply.
  • I am a career seasonal employee (permanent position subject to furlough or permanent less than full time). Am I eligible? Yes, so long as you are able to meet the program requirements. When you apply, you can explain your situation in your application if needed.
  • I am a term employee / I am a seasonal employee / I am a part time employee. Am I eligible? No, this program is for permanent employees.
  • Are U.S. Park Police (USPP) employees eligible? Yes, USPP employees who are the equivalent of a GS-9 through 12 are eligible (Lieutenant and Captain).
  • In the past, I was a GS-9 at NPS for more than 3 years and am now at a lower grade. Am I eligible? If you do not exactly fit the eligibility criteria, we recommend that you apply and explain your situation in your application. The selection committee will review and consider your entire application to determine eligibility and best-fit.
  • I reviewed the program schedule and I am able to participate in everything but one webinar. Should I still apply or will my application be thrown out? We recommend that you apply and explain your situation in your application. While the expectation is that you participate in all of the scheduled work, some of the work can be made up. If you know that you must miss a residential session (32 curriculum hours), you can still apply for the program though you would be less competitive than someone who can attend all of the required programming.
  • I am close to retirement. Can I still apply? Yes.
  • Is there a minimum amount of time I need to stay in my position after participating in the program? No.


  • What tips do you have for my application? Start early and prepare your responses in advance. Make your application thorough and thoughtful. Apply each and every year until you are accepted into the program.
  • I am adding references to my application. Does one of my references need to be my supervisor? No, you may select any professional references including or not including your supervisor.
  • Must my references be NPS references or can they be from other agencies, companies, learning institutions, etc.? You may use any professional references, whether internal or external to NPS.
  • Does my supervisor endorsement need to be a text file or can I upload another file format? Your supervisor endorsement should be a file type that can be opened on a government computer. This could be Word, PDF, Power Point, video, etc.
  • I am an employee of the Denver Service Center (DSC) or U.S. Park Police (USPP). In my application, what “region” do I fall under? The Washington Office (WASO).
  • Can I access the application from my personal computer? No. You can only access the application from a government computer logged in with you PIV card.
  • Should my personal biography submission be written in first person or third person? Either is fine. First person is more common.


  • How is GOAL funded? Funding is shared between the regions and the Washington Office Leadership Development Group (WASO-LDG). All travel and travel ceiling is covered by WASO-LDG while the regional offices contribute toward tuition costs. Regions 8, 9, 10, 12 (formerly the Pacific West Region) is continuing to monitor the budget situation and intend to cover most, if not all, of the participant costs. If you are in this region, please follow up with the regional employee development officer, meghan_kish@nps.gov, for follow-up questions.


  • I’ve applied multiple times and have yet to be accepted. Is that typical? Yes. This is a highly competitive program; there are many applications submitted for a limited number of spots. Most candidates apply multiple times before they are accepted. The current acceptance rate is about 1 in 4.
  • How many employees are accepted? A total of 50 participants are accepted each year, some from each region. The number of participants selected from each region is based on the total number of employees in that region. Regions with larger numbers of employees have more spots in the program compared to regions with fewer employees.
  • How are candidates selected? Each region nominates a review team. The teams review each application, scoring them according to a standardized rubric. The top nominations are approved by leadership in each region.


  • I want to have a better understanding of the program (what’s it really like?). May I speak with a former GOAL Academy participant about the program? Is there an alumni list? Absolutely! Feel free to reach out to any GOAL Academy Graduates. You may also contact the GOAL Academy Training Manager, Phil Molnar for more information.
  • Is there a leadership program for GS-5s and 7s? Yes, check out the Aspiring Leadership Development Program.

Write a Review

  1. Rating:

  2. Rating:

Arrow pointing upwards. Click this icon to go back to the top of the page.