In 1924, individuals representing six music schools met in Cincinnati to discuss the problems related to transfer of credits among institutions of higher education in music. At the meeting, the participants came to realize that they faced other common problems, primarily in the broad area of ethics as related to music training. It was decided that an association should be formed to secure a better understanding among schools of music; to establish a more uniform method of granting credit; and to set threshold standards for the granting of degrees and other credentials. The organizational meeting of the National Association of Schools of Music and Allied Arts was held October 20-21, 1924, in Pittsburgh. Individuals representing sixteen institutions attended the first meeting.
During the early years, the membership of the Association consisted of individuals representing music institutions. In 1928, after the initial standards for the Bachelor of Music degree had been developed, institutional membership was established. The thirty-two schools that had applied for Membership in the Association at that time became the charter members of NASM.
The Association has grown from those thirty-two charter members in 1928 to include over 650 baccalaureate and graduate degree-granting institutions, community colleges, and non-degree-granting institutions today. NASM opened a national office in Washington, D.C., in 1965; the office is now located in Reston, Virginia, fifteen miles west of Washington.