Art schools that go through the rigorous accreditation process ensure their students a high standard of education, institutional integrity, and a curriculum that keeps up with necessary innovations in the art world. Being accredited means that a board of peers has evaluated the curriculum and campus to make sure the school is achieving its educational objectives and that its curriculum lives up to the highest educational standards currently established.
Who Accredits Art Schools?
The top United States accrediting agency for both degree- and non-degree-granting art schools is known as the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) (http://nasad.arts-accredit.org/). NASAD is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the agency responsible for the accreditation of all art and design curriculum. The standards of accreditation used by NASAD were developed by its members, who are mostly art school faculty and administrators, and art and design professionals. The purpose of these standards is not to limit what an art school can teach or to tell a school how to structure its programs. They simply provide a reference for high standards.
Other accrediting agencies include:
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) (http://www.accsc.org/)
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) (http://www.acics.org/)
- Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) (http://www.accredit-id.org/)
How Does an Art School Get Accredited?
The art school accreditation process includes:
- A written self-evaluation of the school or department within the school
- A review by a visiting (on-site) team of evaluators
- A final decision on accreditation made by a commission or a board of peers
The process doesn’t end there. Since institutions continue to be evaluated after achieving accreditation status, art schools are obligated to send to their accrediting agency annual reports on new curriculum or major program and institutional changes.
What Are NASAD’s Standards for Art School Accreditation?
NASAD’s most up-to-date standards are always available in the most recent edition of its handbook. You can read a free version of the accreditation handbook (http://nasad.arts-accredit.org/index.jsp?page=Books) on the NASAD website. A hard-copy version is sold for $20. A few of the main areas the standards focus on are:
- Transparency of the institution (Does the art school deliver what it promises in terms of course work and tuition fees?)
- Availability of a nurturing environment for student artists to flourish in
- Curriculum that trains students and keeps them in touch with innovations in the art world
- Appropriate facilities, equipment, materials, and learning resources to train students in the arts
- Student health and safety
- Knowledgeability of staff of instructors
- Appropriate components of undergraduate, graduate, two-year, and non-degree-granting programs
- Continual self-evaluation by the institution
How Does NASAD Create Its Standards?
NASAD standards are created and continually reassessed by all of its accredited members and professionals in the world of art and design, which ensures that standards are as objective and up to date as possible.
What Art Schools Have Been Accredited by NASAD?
NASAD offers for $20 a hard-copy unranked list of the institutions it has accredited. If you don’t want to purchase the list, you can search for individual schools on the NASAD website. To find out if the art schools you’re looking at have been accredited by NASAD, enter the name into the search tool here (http://nasad.arts-accredit.org/index.jsp?page=Member%20Lists).
To get more information on accreditation, read NASAD’s FAQs for Students, Parents, and the Public (http://nasad.arts-accredit.org/index.jsp?page=Students%2C+Parents%2C+General+Public).