All About Art School Accreditation

Learn why you should consider attending an accredited art college.

Art students kneel as they create the Mona Lisa on concreteBenefits of Attending Accredited Colleges

Location, cost of tuition, program availability—these features are often foremost in the thoughts of students pursuing higher education.

When looking for higher education, however, art school accreditation should also make the list of deciding factors.

Accreditation is the stamp of approval that ensures that you will be investing in a quality education. It can also affect your ability to continue your education, either in earning a Master’s level degree or transferring to a different school while earning your degree.

Why Accreditation Matters

  • It’s an assurance of high quality standards
    Accreditation assures students, parents and the public that a school adheres to high quality standards based on the latest research and professional practice. In order to keep their accredited status through regular review cycles, accredited art colleges must demonstrate ongoing development and growth—beyond just maintaining existing standards.
  • It’s a requirement for financial aid programs
    Art school accreditation also creates a gateway for students to participate in federally funded and state financial aid programs. In order to receive federal funds, art colleges must be accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).
  • It’s a plus when pursuing graduate studies
    Graduates from programs at accredited art colleges qualify to attend other accredited schools to pursue advanced studies, including MFA and doctoral programs. While most accredited schools will recognize undergraduate credits from non-accredited schools as satisfying first-year requirements, graduates of non-accredited institutions will need to fulfill additional requirements before proceeding with an advanced degree. Accreditation also affects transfer credits if you should relocate while in the progress of pursuing, for example, your MFA.

How Does Art School Accreditation Work?

The art school accreditation process includes:

  • a self-evaluation of the institution or unit
  • an on-site review by a group of evaluators
  • judgment by an accreditation decision-making body, normally a commission

Accreditation reviews focus on educational quality, institutional integrity and educational improvements.

The granting of accredited membership by the Commission on Accreditation signifies that an institution has successfully demonstrated compliance with the procedures, standards and guidelines of the association. Integral to this voluntary process is ongoing, regularized self-evaluation and peer review.

Accrediting Agencies

The following accrediting bodies make sure that art schools and programs adhere to national standards:

Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC): ACCSC is an independent accrediting agency whose goal is maintaining educational quality in the career schools and colleges it accredits by striving to assure academic excellence and ethical practices. The Commission was established as an independent body in 1993 to conform to the Higher Education Act Amendments of 1992. The resulting organization, ACCSC, is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a national accrediting agency for private, postsecondary institutions offering occupational and vocational programs.

Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS): ACICS, a non-profit education corporation, is recognized by the United States Secretary of Education as an autonomous national accrediting body that accredits institutions of higher education offering programs of study through the master’s degree level.

Council for Interior Design Accreditation: Formerly known as the Foundation for Interior Design Education Research (FIDER), the Council for Interior Design Accreditation is the agency responsible for accrediting interior design schools and programs.

National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD): Founded in 1944, the NASAD is an organization of schools, colleges, and universities. It establishes national standards for undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees and other credentials for schools of art and design.

National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD): NASD was founded in 1981 and is an organization of schools, conservatories, colleges and universities. It establishes national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees and other credentials.

National Association of Schools of Music (NASM): NASM was founded in 1924 and is an organization of schools, conservatories, colleges and universities. It establishes national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees and other credentials.

National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST): NAST was founded in 1969 and is an organization of schools, conservatories, colleges and universities. It establishes national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees and other credentials.

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