How long is the program? How many classes can I expect to take each semester?
The MFA in Book Art and Creative Writing Program is two years, plus a nonresident semester. You will take three courses each semester in order to finish within the two years. The nonresident semester is an additional credit.
Is it possible to attend your programs part time?
Given the rigorous nature of this program and the need to follow the sequence of courses, part-time attendance is not possible.
When are your courses offered? Is it possible to work full time while in the program?
While part-time work is certainly possible, the length and timing of the studio classes and the need to follow a specific course sequence generally mean that our students do not find full-time employment to be feasible.
Can I apply to the program in more than one creative writing genre (concentration)?
Yes, but if you are accepted in more than one area, you will need to choose one area of concentration when you enroll. An application to more than one genre will be reviewed by separate faculty committees in that area, and you may or may not be accepted into one or both genres.
What opportunities are there to work outside my primary writing genre?
MFA in book art and creative writing students must take all three writing workshops in their primary genre. You may, however, choose to take a workshop in a second genre as your elective course; placement will depend on the availability of open slots in other workshops. You may also choose to take a craft class as your elective. These classes are specifically designed for MFA students and often include creative assignments in response to readings in contemporary literatures.
What sort of teaching experience or training can I get?
Mills offers a number of opportunities both in and out of the classroom to gain hands-on teaching experience. We offer three classes in pedagogy to our graduate book art and creative writing students:
Some of these courses include a required teaching practicum, enabling students to gain direct experience—usually as a teaching assistant in local community college classrooms—and build valuable professional networks.
Book art and creative writing MFA students can choose to offer undergraduate workshops outside of class hours. While academic credit is not awarded for leading undergraduate workshops, the opportunity provides valuable experience in workshop preparation, pacing, and articulating craft practice.
I am moving to Mills from out of the area. What housing options are available for graduate students at Mills?
Mills offers a variety of housing options for graduate students to live on our beautiful, residential campus. Graduate women have the option of residing in one of our historic Mediterranean-style residence halls that accept graduate students. Graduate men and women can enjoy our Courtyard Townhouses, which overlook the Bay Area. We also offer family housing and some specialty housing choices. When you apply to Mills, please indicate your interest in on-campus housing and you will be sent a separate housing application.
Many students moving from out of the area also choose to live off campus. Some popular neighborhoods include those around Lake Merritt, Piedmont Avenue, and Rockridge.
A car is definitely useful in the East Bay, but many of our students use public transit instead. There is a campus shuttle that goes to the Rockridge BART station on its way to UC Berkeley. There is also an AC Transit bus stop right outside the Mills front gate. For full information on local public transit, visit www.511.org.
How does the nonresident semester work?
Once you have finished your formal course work and completed your creative writing thesis, you will have an additional semester to complete your book art thesis and prepare for your exhibition. You may do this in any geographic location. The program will work with you to identify a mentor-advisor who will give you support during your nonresident semester. A nominal fee will cover this support. If you need to work in a studio such as a letterpress studio, the program will work with you to locate what you need. You will be responsible for any fees charged by the studio, as well as for the materials you will need to complete your thesis. You and your local advisor will stay in contact with your Mills supervisor, who will help to keep track of your progress.
May I complete the nonresident semester at Mills?
The nonresident semester has been created as an opportunity for you to work with a mentor outside of the Mills faculty to provide exposure to other creative points of view. As a result, completing your nonresident semester at Mills is permitted only in rare instances, and the financial cost for a student is significantly higher than if they complete the semester off campus.
When does the MFA in book art and creative writing thesis exhibition take place? How will it be installed?
Following your nonresident semester, you will return to Mills for one week in January. During this time, you will install your work in the public graduate exhibition gallery (currently located in Oakland's famed Jack London Square), attend a final critique, and participate in a final seminar with your student cohort and Mills faculty. The official opening of the book art and creative writing student exhibition will take place at the end of this week. The academic costs for the week are included in the nonresident semester fee.
Will there be campus housing for the final week?
Campus housing is generally available for an additional fee for students returning for the week of the thesis exhibition.
How do students typically pay for their studies at Mills? What are my financial aid options?
The English Department is committed to ensuring that a Mills education is within reach for those who have the desire and qualifications to attend. We provide access to a range of financial aid, including need-based scholarships and a wide range of partial-tuition graduate assistantships designed to offer professional experience and funding. All prospective students are also advised to apply for federal and state financial aid in the form of loans.
To be considered for need-based scholarships, applicants must submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by February 1 at www.fafsa.gov. Usually Mills need-based scholarships that are awarded to a student for their first year will be awarded again for the second year of study, if the information provided in the student's FAFSA generally remains the same.
How can I apply for a partial-tuition graduate assistantship?
All applicants to our graduate English programs and current students who are taking two or more courses per semester are invited to apply for a wide range of partial-tuition graduate assistantships. Positions are available in the composition program, Book Art Program, undergraduate creative writing and literature classrooms, The Place for Writers, and 580 Split (our student-run literary journal).
Students are eligible for partial-tuition graduate assistantships during all years of study. Partial-tuition assistantships are awarded annually and are not guaranteed from year to year; all students must re-apply each fall for the following academic year.
Applications are due by December 15.
We encourage graduate English students to apply for as many assistantships as they are interested in and qualified for, although each student can only be awarded one position in a given academic year.
All partial-tuition assistantships carry an award of $6,500 for the year and require 12 hours/week of work during each semester.