At Mills, our English graduate programs balance traditional academic disciplinary training with cutting-edge work in new media, critical theory, and diverse cultural traditions. Publish, teach, perform, and exhibit while engaging the world around you.
A Vibrant Literary Environment
Mills is located in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area’s vibrant literary scene with access to a rich tradition of intellectual innovation. The Bay Area’s diverse literary and art communities have long nurtured our MA program in English and American literature, founded in 1920, and the MFA in creative writing (poetry and prose), founded in 1980. In 2009, Mills became the first college to offer the MFA in book art and creative writing.
Distinguished and Accessible Faculty
English graduate faculty members at Mills are renowned writers, scholars, and artists who are dedicated to teaching. Students work closely with these inspiring professors, often one-on-one. In the culminating year of study, students complete a focused MFA thesis or MA research project under the direction of a faculty member.
Intimate Classes and a Breadth of Opportunities
Classes at Mills are intimate and interactive—student-to-faculty ratios in our workshops and literature classes average 12:1. Students benefit from a broad and diverse range of disciplinary expertise and approaches, including literature classes in ethnic studies, and women's, gender and sexuality studies. Cross-registration at local institutions such as the University of California at Berkeley offers a greater range of study in specialized areas.
Flexibility and Rigor
Mills graduate English programs maintain a healthy tension between flexibility and rigor. Each program's degree requirements allow for individualized courses of study, preparing each student to complete a culminating project that pushes their development as a writer, thinker, or artist. Students are encouraged to pursue course work integrated with their long-term professional goals, whether they want to to complete a novel, pursue a PhD, deepen their knowledge of literature, publish a book of poetry, or teach in community colleges. Our two- and three-year options in the MA in literature and MFA in creative writing programs offer financial and scheduling flexibility that supports diverse student goals and commitments.
Community On and Off Campus
Mills offers a close-knit community of scholars and artists who come together outside the classroom on a regular basis. Faculty and students present new work side by side at the critical and creative Works in Progress series. At on-campus readings, talks, and faculty-hosted receptions, students meet and talk with world-class writers, scholars, and artists who visit campus as part of the Contemporary Writers Series. The community comes together off campus to attend talks and performances at La Peña Cultural Center, Litquake, Oakland Art Murmur, Small Press Traffic, and the Townsend Center for Humanities at UC Berkeley. English program alumnae/i regularly go on to begin new reading series and publishing projects.
Literature as a Force for Social Change
The English Department at Mills believes in literature's transformative possibilities. Full-tuition graduate assistantships in community poetics and narrative writing and community engagement explore new ways to make creative writing available outside of the traditional academic environment and use literature as a force for social change. Students have the opportunity to develop and teach creative and critical writing workshops to local residents through the Mills Community Teaching Project or teach critical writing to Oakland high school students through our Upward Bound program. Graduate teaching classes also create strong relationships between Mills graduate students and local community colleges.