The official text of the standards may be found in the NASM Handbook.
The standards represent professional consensus regarding threshold conditions for offering various types of music degrees and other credentials. They provide a framework for the individual approaches of various institutions. They focus on what students should know and be able to do.
Standards and Guidelines for Accredited Institutional Membership
Standards for Baccalaureate and Graduate Degree-Granting Institutions and Programs
Music in General Education
Standards for Community/Junior Colleges and Associate Degree Programs
Standards for Non-Degree-Granting Institutions and Programs
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do the standards come from?
NASM standards are established by vote of the institutional members. They have evolved to their present form during over seventy-five years of study, consultation, and debate. They reflect the combined wisdom of the field about essential conditions and components for the preparation of various types of music professionals.
Do the standards force all schools to operate in the same way?
No. The standards focus on functions to be served, not methods for implementation. Thus, the standards are met in as many different ways as there are institutions. The standards do establish basic competencies expected of those who hold specific degrees and other credentials, and fundamental conditions for the operation of schools and departments of music. They maintain a common set of expectations that provide the basis for specific institutional practice.
Do the standards change?
Usually annually. Almost every year, there are small adjustments to the standards. Major comprehensive reviews are scheduled periodically and changes may result.
What causes the standards to change?
Evolving conditions, new technologies, constant attention to textual clarity, experiences in the accreditation process all contribute to change at one time or another. Changes are made only after comment periods and a vote by the membership. The standards are always open for comment through the office of the Executive Director.
Do the standards preclude innovation?
Because the standards provide a framework, not a blueprint, they facilitate innovation. NASM officially encourages experimentation, and the development of new approaches to curricula. The standards now contain many sections based on innovations by member institutions that eventually became common practice.
Do all the standards apply to all schools in the same way?
Yes and no. "No" in the sense that all standards are not applicable to all music units, as an example, not all institutions offer master's degrees. "No" in the sense that each standard is met in unique ways by each institution -- adequate facilities for 100 music majors is different than adequate facilities for 400. "Yes" in the sense that all are bound by common function and competencies associated with particular goals, objectives, and curricula.