The New World School of the Arts (NWSA) was created by the Florida Legislature in 1984 as a center of excellence in the performing and visual arts. The NWSA college program is an educational partnership between and is jointly administered by Miami Dade College and the University of Florida.
The NWSA college program awards an Associate of Artsdegree from Miami Dade College, then the students transfer to the University of Florida to be awarded either a Bachelor of Fine Arts or a Bachelor of Music degree from UF.
The administrative structure includes an executive board with representatives from each of the partners as well as community seats, and a foundation board.
NWSA was originally started as a high school program (it still includes a high school), through the Performing and Visual Arts Center (PAVAC) in Miami, whose vision it was to integrate Miami Northwestern High School and provide high quality arts training for students in Dade County.
In 1984, PAVAC administrators were asked to plan a successor school to PAVAC. A bill creating the "South Florida School of the Arts" passed the Florida House of Representatives on May 30, 1984. Soon afterwards, the New World School of the Arts name was chosen. The Florida Legislature enacted the "New World School of the Arts Act" in 1986.
NWSA enrolled its first freshman college students in 1988. In order to award a BFA, partnered with Florida International University (FIU). On January 12, 1994 University of Florida replaced FIU in this partnership.