What role does N.A.S.M. play in education?

The major responsibility of the National Association of Schools of Music is the accreditation of education programs in music, including the establishment of curricular standards and guidelines for specific degrees and credentials.

The Association also provides counsel and assistance to established and developing institutions and programs. NASM is recognized by the United States Department of Education as the agency responsible for the accreditation of all music curricula.

In addition to the accreditation and consultation functions of the Association, NASM publishes books and reports, holds an annual meeting and other forums, and provides information to the general public about educational programs in music.

NASM works with other peer accrediting associations such as the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), and the AACSB International — The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) as well as professional associations affiliated with music and related areas such as College Music Society (CMS) and National Association for Music Educators (NAfME, formerly MENC), the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), and the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).

NASM participates in the national conversation about educational issues with special emphases on music, the arts, and higher education.

What does accreditation mean?

Accreditation is a non-governmental system of academic review. It is a process which periodically evaluates and produces an independent judgment by peers about the extent to which an institution or program achieves its own educational objectives and meets the standards established by an Association. Standards address operational and curricular issues fundamental to educational quality.

The granting of accredited membership by an accreditation commission signifies that an institution has successfully demonstrated compliance with the procedures, standards, and guidelines of the Association. Integral to this voluntary process is ongoing, regularized self-evaluation and peer review.

Accreditation, in practical terms, is a stamp of approval; a sign that an institution ascribes to, believes in, and has met an external set of basic criteria for the programs it offers. In some cases, accreditation assists in the transfer of credits from one institution to another. In all cases, it indicates that threshold standards are adhered to in a fashion that provides a base of academic strength and operational integrity.

What standards are used for accreditation?

The standards are developed and approved by the accredited institutional members of NASM in consultation with other music professionals and organizations. As published in the Handbook of the Association, they provide a basic framework for the accreditation process, thus allowing objective analysis of a music unit including all curricular offerings in music. They serve as the basis for dialogue (a) within an institution as it prepares a self-study in preparation for an NASM review, (b) between an institution and the Association (the visiting evaluators and the Commissions), and (c) between the Association and the public as a whole.

The Association does not attempt to develop detailed formulas, plans of course work, or other inflexible specifications, which might impinge on the freedom of an institution to develop individual programs. Instead, NASM has developed standards and associated guidelines, which are specific enough to ensure a certain level of educational quality, but are not so restrictive as to stifle experimentation, innovation, and individuality of program content.

The NASM Handbook contains standards and guidelines for degree-granting programs in music in the following areas:

    Basic Criteria for Membership
    Purposes and Operations
    Music Program Components
    Undergraduate Programs in Music
    Admission to Undergraduate Study
    Two-Year Degree-Granting Programs
    The Liberal Arts Degree with a Major in Music
    All Professional Baccalaureate Degrees in Music and All Undergraduate Degrees
    Leading to Teacher Certification
    Specific Professional Baccalaureate Degrees in Music
    Graduate Programs in Music
    Admission to Graduate Study
    Master’s Degrees
    The General Master’s Degree
    Specific Master’s Degrees
    Specialist Programs
    Doctoral Degrees in Music

NASM has also developed standards and guidelines for community college, non-degree-granting, and community education music programs.