The National Association of Schools of Music was founded in 1924 to secure a better understanding among institutions of higher education engaged in work in music; to establish a more uniform method of granting credit; and to develop and maintain basic, threshold standards for the granting of degrees and other credentials.
The purpose of the Association as articulated in its Constitution is:
- To advance the course of music in American life and especially in higher education.
- To establish and maintain threshold standards for the education of musicians, while encouraging both diversity and excellence.
- To provide a national forum for the discussion of issues related to these purposes.
A general statement of aims and objectives follows:
- To provide a national forum for the discussion and consideration of concerns relevant to the preservation and advancement of standards in the field of music, particularly in higher education.
- To develop a national unity and strength for the purpose of maintaining the position of music study in the family of fine arts and humanities in our universities, colleges, and schools of music.
- To maintain professional leadership in music training and to develop a national context for the professional growth of individual musicians as artists, scholars, teachers, and participants in music and music-related enterprises.
- To establish threshold standards of achievement in music curricula without restricting an administration or school in its freedom to develop new ideas, to experiment, or to expand its program.
- To recognize that inspired, creative teaching may rightly lead to new content, methodologies, and results.
- To establish that the prime objective of all educational programs in music is to provide the opportunity for every music student to develop individual potentialities to the utmost.
NASM fulfills these purposes, aims, and objectives through the areas outlined below.
The Association’s main role is that of a specialized, professional accrediting agency. Accreditation is the process whereby an association or agency recognizes an institution as having met certain qualifications or standards. In NASM, the process focuses upon two principal concerns: educational quality and institutional probity.
The review of educational quality is made according to nationally recognized standards developed by the Association with the full participation of its member institutions and in consultation with various professional groups in the field of music.
The review of probity is made by determining whether the institution is indeed providing the educational services it says it is offering to the public, and whether its own stated operational procedures are being followed.
The Association publishes books and reports, holds an Annual Meeting and other forums, and provides information to leaders of music programs.
NASM pursues an analysis and publications program on issues in music, the arts, education, accreditation, and cultural development.
Annually, NASM collects, compiles, and publishes statistics associated with the operations of music schools and departments. More information can be found under the Higher Education Arts Data Services (HEADS) project.
NASM also provides assistance through the following initiatives:
NASM provides consultation services to developing institutions and programs. Consultative services are associated with and in addition to the Association’s accreditation function.
NASM provides information to the general public about accreditation and its relationship to educational programs in music. All published documents of the Association are available to the public.