The National Association of Schools of Theatre was established in 1965 to improve educational practices and to maintain high professional standards in theatre education. During its early years, NAST was an affiliate organization of the former American Theatre Association. In 1980, a national office was established and NAST became an autonomous accrediting organization and part of the National Office for Arts Accreditation. In 1982, NAST was recognized by the United States Department of Education. NAST initiated its Annual Meeting and Retreat for Administrators of Theatre Programs in Higher Education in 1986.