P: 510.430.2240

F: 510.430.3398

E: grad_eng@mills.edu

FAQs
MA in Literature/MFA in Poetry or Prose FAQs

How long is the program? How many classes can I expect to take each semester?

Is it possible to attend your programs part time?

When are your courses offered? Is it possible to work full time while in the program?

Can I apply to the MFA program in more than one genre (concentration)?

What opportunities are there to work outside my genre in the MFA program?

What sort of teaching experience or training can I get through the graduate programs in English?

I am moving to Mills from out of the area. What housing options are available for graduate students at Mills?

How do students typically pay for their studies at Mills? What are my financial aid options?

How can I apply for the full-tuition assistantships in community poetics and narrative writing and community engagement?

How can I apply for a partial-tuition graduate assistantship, and how much funding do these provide?

How can I be considered for need-based scholarships, and how much funding do these scholarships provide?

How long is the program? How many classes can I expect to take each semester?

We offer both two-year and three-year course of study options. Degree requirements are exactly the same for either option, but study is completed over a different time frame in each program. Residency requirements (the required number of semesters you must complete) are four semesters for the two-year program and six semesters for the three-year program.

Two-year program:
Students in the two-year program complete 11 required courses over the course of four semesters. Generally, students take 3 classes in their first two semesters, and at least 2.5 classes in their last two semesters. Students in the two-year program may, however, take up to four total courses in a semester depending on their interests.

Three-year program:
Students in the three-year program complete 11 required courses over the course of six semesters. Generally, students take two classes in their first four semesters, and at least 1.5 classes in their last two semesters. Students may enroll in no more than two classes every semester.

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Is it possible to attend your programs part time?

Two-year program:
If you are enrolled in the two-year program, you can drop down to a "part-time" status and take one class per semester; tuition is paid on a per-course-credit basis (which is higher than the three-year program tuition). However, you must be a full-time student to qualify for any English Department scholarship or assistantship (full-time students take two or more courses per semester).

Three-year program:
The three-year course of study requires only two classes per semester, giving students more flexibility and time to work outside of Mills College. This three-year model is our version of a "part-time" program, since it enables students to maintain other work, family, or personal commitments and still complete the program in a timely and economically wise fashion.

It is possible if, due to unforeseen circumstances, you wish to switch from the two-year to the three-year program. But be aware that once you enroll in the three-year program, you are committed to six total semesters of study, regardless of how many class credits you have already completed.

If you wish to switch programs, you must first obtain permission from your academic advisor and the department chair.

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When are your courses offered? Is it possible to work full time while in the program?

Two-year program:
Courses are scheduled throughout the day and evening. Many courses meet only once a week and students can often manage to create a course schedule that requires them to be on campus only two or three times a week. In short, the two-year program is not specifically designed to accommodate students who work full time, but many students do work part-time to take advantage of their time in the program. Some have found it possible to work full-time in the two-year program, but we strongly recommend the three-year program for those who plan to work full-time.

Three-year program:
Because courses are scheduled throughout the day and the evening, a flexible work or family schedule will allow the most course options. Many courses meet only once a week and students can often manage to create a course schedule that requires they be on campus only once or twice a week. The three-year program is more flexible and best accommodates a busier work schedule outside of Mills.

Please review the English Graduate Course Descriptions and current course schedule online to get a better sense of available classes and timing.

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Can I apply to the MFA program in more than one 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.

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What opportunities are there to work outside my genre in the MFA program?

In general, our MFA program encourages focused study in the admitted genre, with the goal of completing a risky, investigative, and confident thesis. We require three workshops in the admitted genre, two taken consecutively in the first year of study. However, there are no genre restrictions around electives.

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What sort of teaching experience or training can I get through the graduate programs in English?

Mills offers a number of opportunities both in and out of the classroom to gain hands-on teaching experience, including course work, paid assistantships, and volunteer teaching assistantships.

Course Work

We offer four classes in pedagogy to our graduate English students:

Theories and Strategies of Teaching Writing
Theories of Creativity and the Teaching of Creative Writing
Teaching English as a Second Language
Community Teaching: Literary Arts Education, Theory and Pedagogy

Many of these courses include a required teaching practicum, enabling students to gain direct experience in local community college classrooms, community centers, youth centers, libraries, or retirement homes.

Graduate Assistantships

Students are encouraged to apply for a paid, partial-tuition graduate assistantship in the composition program at Mills. You will work with students in our first-year composition classes, and/or tutor in the Writing Center. We also offer graduate assistantships in our senior (undergraduate) thesis classes in literature and creative writing.

TA in an Undergraduate Literature or Creative Writing Course

Students can earn course credit and gain valuable practical experience by arranging a teaching practicum with a Mills professor in an undergraduate classroom. These can be done in a wide array of classes, including creative writing and literature. While not paid employment, a teaching practicum will appear on your transcript as evidence of classroom teaching experience.

For more information on teaching and professional opportunities at Mills, visit our professional development page.

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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.

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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. We also offer a small number of full-tuition Fellowships in Writing and Community Engagement. All prospective students are also advised to apply for federal and state financial aid in the form of loans. Visit our tuition and financial aid page for detailed information.

Two-year program:
Given higher annual tuition costs in the two-year program, students who enroll in this option may receive both need-based scholarships and a partial-tuition graduate assistantship each year.

Three-year program:
Given lower annual tuition costs in the three-year program, students who enroll in this option may receive either need-based scholarships or a partial-tuition graduate assistantship each year.

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How can I apply for the full-tuition Fellowships in Writing and Community Engagement?

In addition to applying for partial-tuition graduate assistantships, new applicants to the MFA in Creative Writing Program may also apply for a small number of competitive full-tuition Fellowships in Writing and Community Engagement. Both assistantships are awarded for two or three years, depending on whether the student enrolls in our two-year or three-year program. Visit the Writing and Community Engagement Fellowships page for detailed information on the fellowships and on how to apply.

Fellowship application materials are due with the program application.

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How can I apply for a partial-tuition graduate assistantship, and how much funding will it provide?

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. If you are enrolled in the three-year program and receive a graduate assistantship, the assistantship award replaces your need-based scholarship for that academic year.

Application materials are due with the program application. Details on how to apply are included in the English Supplemental Application and in the online application.

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 $7,000 for the year and require 12 hours/week of work during each semester.

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How can I be considered for need-based scholarships, and how much funding do these scholarships provide?

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.

If you are enrolled in the three-year program and receive a partial-tuition graduate assistantship award, that assistantship will replace your need-based scholarship for the academic year in which the assistantship is awarded.

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Last Updated: 8/2/13