The National Association of Schools of Art and Design was established in 1944 to improve educational practices and maintain high professional standards in art and design education.

A general statement of aims and objectives follows:

  • To establish a national forum to stimulate the understanding and acceptance of the educational disciplines inherent in the visual arts in higher education in the United States.
  • To establish reasonable standards centered on the knowledge and skills necessary to develop academic and professional competence at various program levels.
  • To foster the development of instruction of the highest quality while simultaneously encouraging varied and experimental approaches to the teaching of art and design.
  • To evaluate, through the process of accreditation, schools of art and design and programs of studio art and design instruction in terms of their quality and the results they achieve, as judged by experienced examiners.
  • To assure students and parents that accredited art and design programs provide competent teachers, adequate plant and equipment, sound curricula, and are capable of attaining their stated objectives.
  • To counsel and assist schools in developing their programs and to encourage self-evaluation and continuing studies toward improvement.
  • To invite and encourage the cooperation of professional art and design groups and individuals of reputation in the field of art and design in the formulation of appropriate curricula and standards.
  • To establish a national voice to be heard in matters pertaining to the visual arts and design, particularly as they would affect member schools and their stated objectives.

NASAD 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 NASAD, 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 art and design.

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.


NASAD provides consultation services to developing institutions and programs. Consultative services are associated with and in addition to the Association’s accreditation function.

Professional Development

The Association publishes books and reports, holds an Annual Meeting and other forums, and provides information to leaders of art and design programs.

Policy Studies

NASAD pursues an analysis and publications program on issues in art and design, the arts, education, accreditation, and cultural development.

Institutional Research

Annually, NASAD collects, compiles, and publishes statistics associated with the operations of art and design schools and departments. More information can be found under the Higher Education Arts Data Services (HEADS) project.

Public Information

NASAD provides information to the general public about accreditation and its relationship to educational programs in art and design. All published documents of the Association are available to the public.