The Music Department at Missouri Southern has been granted associate membership with the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

The association, which was founded in 1924, sets national standards for undergraduates and graduate degrees as well as other credentials, and provides assistance to institutions and individuals engaged in artistic, scholarly, educational and other music-related endeavors.

“It’s a big deal to be accredited and recognized by this organization,” said Dr. David Sharlow, interim department chair. “Our degrees are accredited by the state and the Higher Learning Commission, but to be recognized as a music program that meets national standards in the arts is something to brag about.”

The application process for membership with NASM began back in 2016, when Dr. Keith Talley, professor of music, was serving as department chair.

“We started by filing our intent to apply in August of 2016,” Talley said. “In the fall of 2017, along with writing a self-study, we had a consultant – Dan Dressen, associate provost at St. Olaf College – who looked at our study and wrote a report to help guide us.

“We then had a formal visit from a two-person team from NASM in 2018. We had our self-study completed, they met with faculty and students, toured our facilities, met with administrators and attended a student recital.”

In June of 2019, the association’s commission sought more information in several areas, which Missouri Southern then provided. The commission had been scheduled to meet in June of this year, but that meeting was delayed due to the pandemic.

Last month, the commission granted MSSU associate membership within the organization.

“Typically, it’s a three- to five-year process for initial accreditation,” Talley said. “We’re accredited for five year, and then we’ll go through the whole process again. Hopefully, at that point it will start a 10-year accreditation cycle.”

Talley said there are several hundred schools accredited by NASM, and the accreditation creates standards that must be met no matter what the size of the school.

“It helps students realize they’re getting roughly the same equivalent level of education here that they would at any other NASM-accredited institution,” he said. “And it holds us to keeping those standards. It’s all about the quality of programs for our music students.”