About Mills College
Located in the foothills of Oakland, California, on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay, Mills College is an independent liberal arts college for undergraduate women with graduate programs for women and men. The College educates students to think critically and communicate responsibly and effectively, to accept the challenges of their creative visions, and to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to effect thoughtful changes in a global, multicultural society. Founded in 1852 as an undergraduate college for women, Mills introduced its first graduate programs in the 1920s. Since that time, Mills has earned a national and international reputation based on groundbreaking work in fields such as electronic music, studio art, and education.
Mills offers graduate degree and certificate programs to approximately 600 students on an intimate campus with a total student body of more than 1,600. Our graduate programs include: Studio Art, Computer Science, Dance, Education, English, Infant Mental Health, MBA, Music, Pre-Med, and Public Policy. In recent years, Mills has built on its tradition of innovation with the introduction of new joint graduate degrees, including the joint MBA/MA in educational leadership and the joint MPP/MBA degree.
Ranked fifth among top colleges in the West by U.S. News & World Report, Mills also has been named one of the top "Great Schools, Great Prices" for high academic quality relative to net cost of attendance. Mills was recognized as one of the Best 378 Colleges and one of the greenest colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. The Washington Monthly also ranked Mills one of the top 10 master's universities in the United States.
The Mills advanced-degree candidates are accomplished students who are drawn by the outstanding reputation of our curriculum, faculty, and the intellectual environment of the campus itself. Graduate programs at Mills offer serious students an opportunity to delve intensely into their field of study, cross traditional disciplinary boundaries, and explore new ways of thinking.
At Mills, we value the diversity of people and ideas. Forty percent of our graduate population identify themselves as students of color, and Mills students and faculty bring a wide range of interests, experiences, and ideas to our graduate programs.
Thanks to the extraordinary reputation of Mills and its faculty, we also attract an amazing array of world-class speakers and performers to the campus. Due to the intentionally small size of these events, Mills graduate students have access to these dignitaries and often engage with them one-on-one before, during, and after events. In addition, Mills’ dedicated alumnae/i are an integral part of the life of the College, participating in activities and sharing their professional expertise. Since so many Mills graduates have gone on to success in their areas of study, this network and influence can be far reaching. It all adds up to a dynamic environment that is the signature of the Mills graduate experience.
Students can also experience one-of-a-kind resources such as the Eucalyptus Press, the imprint of the Book Art Program at Mills; or the Children’s School, the first laboratory school founded west of the Mississippi. The Special Collections of the F. W. Olin Library contain more than 22,000 rare books and manuscripts, including a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, a Mozart manuscript, and a leaf from a Gutenberg Bible. The Trefethen Aquatic Center and Haas Pavilion offer a wide variety of options for athletics, physical fitness, and recreation, while the campus Chapel provides a peaceful environment for spiritual reflection and renewal.
Missionaries Cyrus and Susan Mills bought the Seminary in 1865 for $5,000, renamed it Mills College, and moved it in 1871 to its current 135-acre oasis. At the time, Oakland was a bustling metropolis of about 10,000.
The student body quickly grew, with students of diverse faiths and backgrounds enrolled from many states and countries. In 1920, Mills launched its Graduate Division, offering programs to both women and men.
Over the decades, Mills "firsts" have been numerous: the first women′s college west of the Rockies (chartered 1885); the first laboratory school west of the Mississippi for aspiring teachers (1926); the first women’s college to offer a computer science major (1974) and a bachelor's to master's BA/MBA accelerated degree program (2001); the first business school in the West for women (2005); and the first MFA program in book art and creative writing in the nation (2009).
Always a leader in the arts, Mills was among the first liberal arts colleges to offer a modern dance degree (1941), and it became the national center for modern dance outside New York City. The Center for Contemporary Music, dedicated in 1967, is a preeminent center for electronic music.
Many of the world’s foremost artists, politicians, and scholars have taught, lectured, and performed at Mills, including Isabel Allende, John Cage, Don Ed Hardy, Dolores Huerta, Darius Milhaud, Joyce Carol Oates, Nancy Pelosi, Gertrude Stein, and Gloria Steinem.
Notable alumnae/i of the College include Jennifer Losch Bartlett, abstract artist; Renel Brooks-Moon, voice of the San Francisco Giants and the first African American woman to announce for a professional sports team; Trisha Brown, renowned dancer and one of the first female choreographers to be awarded a MacArthur Genius Award; Stephanie Mills, groundbreaking ecological activist and author; and Susan Perrine, developer of a revolutionary treatment for sickle cell anemia.
For more than 160 years, Mills has continued to attract people interested in creativity, experimentation, leadership, and social justice—the hallmarks of a 21st-century Mills education.