Founded in 1944, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) is an organization of schools, conservatories, colleges, and universities with approximately 349 accredited institutional members. It establishes national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees and other credentials for art and design and art/design-related disciplines, and provides assistance to institutions and individuals engaged in artistic, scholarly, educational, and other art/design-related endeavors. 


Why NASAD Institutional Membership is Important

NASAD Membership involves far more than a periodic accreditation review that includes self-study, an on-site visit, Commission action, and public notice of accredited institutional membership. It provides more than the immediate benefits and improvements that usually occur during and after this process. Participation in NASAD also means shouldering important institutional responsibilities for art and design, and particularly for its place and role in higher education. This page outlines the principal ways NASAD supports institutions and faculties, and how NASAD combines the strengths of all members to serve the whole field. 


What Membership Signifies 

Institutional Membership in NASAD represents a strategic choice. It signifies a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between the work of individual institutions and the work of the entire community of institutions that prepare artists and designers at the collegiate level. It signifies a willingness to connect with others, both in order to give and to receive. It signifies that individuals with high levels of art/design capability, expertise, and experience must take leadership responsibility in accreditation and related areas lest a vacuum be created for non-artists/designers to fill. It signifies a pledge to continue what NASAD has always done: seek optimum learning conditions for art and design students and develop the strength and quality of art and design in higher education by assisting institutional members and their faculties to do their best work. 

No one of us ever sees all the work or knows all the people that are helping us accomplish our purposes. Although NASAD works quietly, preferring that attention go to the work of its member institutions, each faculty member can be assured that his or her work is supported by NASAD day after day and year after year. The following points explain why. 


Membership and Standards 

NASAD member institutions develop national accreditation standards and guidelines in consultation with other individuals and organizations. Only the member institutions have a vote when standards are being set, however. Professional consensus of this magnitude–among the faculties and administrators of approximately 349 institutions–produces authority. It enables the standards to protect as well as to inform. The standards are referenced many times each day at all levels of education. They promote good decisions because they focus attention on artistic and educational essentials. 

The standards are effective because they create a framework of basic competencies and operational conditions rather than a blueprint for standardizing programs. The approach to process is based on support for each institution’s fulfillment of its mission, goals, and objectives. Through NASAD, its member institutions have a common means for centering critical responsibility for standards and assessment in art and design while respecting the prerogatives of individual institutions and faculty members to create, develop, and evaluate local programs. 

For these and many other reasons, NASAD institutional Membership means investing in the stature and health of our own profession, in the maintenance of conditions and resources necessary for student learning, and in a system of national review and accountability that we ourselves own and operate. No organization or group outside the field could fulfil these comprehensive and interlocking responsibilities for us.  

Information from NASAD website