The National Association of Schools of Art and Design- or NASAD- is an accrediting organization that sets standards for under graduate and graduate degrees. The organization focuses on programs in design and the arts in particular. Almost all of the major art programs in the United States are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and most of the nation’s art school are accredited.
While accreditation is an important indicator of an art program with satisfactory standards, there are other regional accreditation boards that can evaluate graduate and undergraduate programs. One notable art school that is not accredited is the Savannah College of Art and Design.
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design was established in 1944. Currently, there are about 323 different different institutions accredited through the organization. Not only does the organization set standards for institutions offering university programs in the arts and design, but it also provides information to potential enrollees, statistics, consultation professional development services, and more.
Standards for attaining accreditation
Institutions are granted accreditation through the National Association of Schools of Art and Design through a peer review process. Institutions do not necessarily have to grant degrees to be given accreditation, and two year colleges, four year colleges, universities, art schools, design schools and graduate schools can all seek accreditation. Degree-granting institutions must meet certain standards outlined in NASAD’s handbook. These standards address a programs curricular requirements. Once granted accreditation, institutions are automatically accredited for the following five years.
The National Association for Schools of Art and Design does not only address the curriculum of degree programs. It also enforces additional requirements on member institutions. It requires schools to publish course descriptions and tuition rates.
Institutions pursuing accreditation must undergo a comprehensive review by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design that includes a Self-Study and an onsite inspection by NASAD’s reviewers. Once accreditation applications have been submitted an evaluation procedures have been carried out, the Commission on Accreditation makes a decision as to whether the institution will be granted accreditation or not.
Advantages of institutional accreditation
Accreditation is important for BFA ad MFA degree programs because it ensures that schools are offering the standard content associated with these degrees. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design not only standardizes curriculum requirements, but also specifies what exactly constitutes a “credit”. This is especially important in the case of studio classes, which are unique to art and design programs.
Potential art and design students should pay attention to the accreditation of degree programs that they are considering. It might be best to leave unaccredited programs out of consideration when contemplating the best university art or design program. Potential students need to take extra care when evaluating an unaccredited program.
In addition to institutional membership, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design also offers individual membership to educators and art and design professionals. At unaccredited institutions, individual membership among faculty members is a good first step to acquiring institutional membership.
Aspiring artists and designers should be aware of what NASAD accreditation means and should factor accreditation into their decision on which academic programs to enroll in to complete their degree.