The National Association of Schools of Theatre was established in 1965 to improve educational practices and maintain high professional standards in theatre 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 creative 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 theatre.
- To evaluate, through the processes of voluntary accreditation, schools of theatre and programs of theatre instruction in terms of their quality and the results they achieve, as judged by experienced examiners.
- To assure students and parents that accredited theatre programs provide competent teachers, adequate plant and equipment, and sound curricula, and that they are capable of attaining their stated objectives.
- To counsel and assist institutions in developing their programs, and to encourage self-evaluation and continuing studies toward improvement.
- To invite and encourage the cooperation of professional theatre groups and individuals of reputation in the field of theatre in the formulation of curricular and operational standards.
- To establish a national voice to be heard in matters pertaining to theatre, particularly as they would affect member schools and their stated objectives.
NAST 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 NAST, 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 theatre.
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.
NAST provides consultation services to developing institutions and programs. Consultative services are associated with and in addition to the Association’s accreditation function.
The Association publishes books and reports, holds an Annual Meeting and other forums, and provides information to leaders of theatre programs.
NAST pursues an analysis and publications program on issues in theatre, the arts, education, accreditation, and cultural development.
Annually, NAST collects, compiles, and publishes statistics associated with the operations of theatre schools and departments. More information can be found under the Higher Education Arts Data Services (HEADS) project.
NAST provides information to the general public about accreditation and its relationship to educational programs in theatre. All published documents of the Association are available to the public.