Over the last year, the leadership of Oberlin Conservatory of Music has made the decision to withdraw from the accreditation process governed by the National Association of Schools of Music.
The conservatory is a founding member of NASM and was last accredited by the association in 2007-08. At that time, NASM commended Oberlin “for its creative approaches to curriculum…and for its continuing contributions to the music profession.”
The conservatory remains fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The school’s access to federal student financial aid programs, administered through Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, is reliant on HLC accreditation.
Accreditation from NASM is not necessary for a school of music. Many of Oberlin’s peer schools are no longer part of NASM. The Juilliard School has not been a member since the 1950s, and Yale School of Music, New England Conservatory, and the University of Southern California all withdrew in the past couple of years, joining Mannes College of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.
In the past, the Higher Learning Commission deferred to NASM’s accreditation designation. That is no longer the case, as HLC accreditation processes have evolved significantly over the past decade. Continued NASM membership commits schools to a second set of accreditation and annual reporting requirements. For Oberlin and many of its peer schools, the redundancy of cumbersome accreditation processes is no longer possible to rationalize.
In terms of quality, conservatory dean Andrea Kalyn stated that “withdrawing from NASM has no negative impact on Oberlin Conservatory. The conservatory will continue to uphold the highest standards in preparing students for the profession and beyond.
“Oberlin Conservatory prioritizes advocacy for arts education for children as well as leadership that demonstrates the role of music in promoting the educational, cultural, and economic well-being of this country,” she added.
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