It was established in 1999 and 2000 on a government mandate tasking the Conservatorio della Svizzera italiana with providing four university-level degree courses at the University of Music, that would replace the old study courses (diplomas) recognised by the Association of Directors of Swiss Conservatoires, and by the Canton of Ticino as early as 1988.

The four new degree courses were recognised by the Association of Directors of Public Education (CDPE) in 2005, while the accreditation of Master’s programmes came six years later, this time by the Confederation. Consequently, qualifications from the University School of Music are recognised both nationally and internationally.

The affiliation of the SUM to the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI), which took place in 2006, ensures university level integration, but at the same time allows independent administration and management.