Breaking Barriers Since 1852
Historically a college for women only, Mills continues its proud tradition at the undergraduate level as a community of women and gender nonbinary students. Its renowned graduate programs are open to students of all genders interested in art, business, education, public policy, and the sciences.
Mills offers a transformative educational experience to talented students in a highly individualistic yet intensely inclusive environment. Staff devote substantial resources to make its high-quality education as affordable as possible through a range of scholarships and financial aid programs. Immersed in a community committed to fighting for gender and racial justice, Mills students graduate empowered to make a statement in their careers and the world around them.
- Independent liberal arts college founded in 1852
- Oldest undergraduate college for women in the West
- Located in Oakland, California, in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area
- Ranked consistently among the best by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review
- Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Get to know Mills College
A DIVERSE CORE
The Mills Core Curriculum advances the college’s mission by providing a diverse intellectual experience for all students. With three facets—Foundational Skills, Modes of Inquiry, and Contributions to Knowledge & Community—the Mills Core allows students the freedom to choose courses that match their interests while meeting academic goals. Every Mills student learns about international cultures, race and gender power dynamics, effective communication skills, and more. The Mills Core and equips students to engage and lead in a diverse world.
Mills College emphasizes undergraduate research, which provides the opportunity for students to work closely with faculty and expand their learning outside of the classroom. Students can work on a number of existing projects across disciplines or receive funding in support of their own proposals. Projects include museum cataloguing, childhood communication, ethnic studies fieldwork, and more. Additionally, biology majors can participate in the Jill Barrett Biology Research program, a 10-week summer study of animal behavior.
DIVERSITY AND GLOBAL LEARNING
Mills College is an exceptionally diverse campus, and its academic requirements reflect and celebrate all that make such diversity so valuable.
Studying away at Mills comes with an option of more than 20 countries and nine domestic partnerships, offering students an opportunity to understand cultures different from their own. Unlike typical study abroad experiences, Mills’ programs explore several perspectives, enriching travel with consideration for how one country’s history interacted with other nations across the world. For example, a program in Italy goes beyond the typical Eurocentric worldview to incorporate the impact of Northern African people and civilizations.
Diversity is further represented in the curriculum through the Modes of Inquiry requirement in the Mills Core. With this foundation, students learn a foreign language, investigate international perspectives, and tackle issues of intersectionality both in- and outside the classroom. Mills students are largely women of color and LGBTQ students, so the Mills Core has been crafted to engage them in their communities with the tools to succeed and challenge traditional power structures. A Mills education incorporates the perspectives of its students, faculty, and staff to provide the most accurate representation possible of an increasingly diverse world.
The number of sections of each class size.
2-9: 49 | 10-19: 103 | 20-29: 59
30-39: 19 | 40-49: 1 | 50-99: 0 | 100+: 1
ENROLLMENT BY ETHNICITY
Nonresident aliens: 1%
Black or African American, non-Hispanic: 10%
White, non-Hispanic: 36%
American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic: 1%
Asian, non-Hispanic: 9%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic: 0%
Two or more races, non-Hispanic: 9%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown: 4%
Growing up in East Oakland, Patricia Legaspi (Computer science, Class of 2002) enjoyed playing video games and gravitated towards computer science classes in school. Her parents, immigrants from Mexico who hadn’t gone beyond the fourth grade, made education a high priority for their children—and Patricia excelled academically. She won scholarships and entered a local college, eventually transferring to Mills for her junior year because of its strong computer science faculty.
“My experience at Mills taught me to be confident and to learn by questioning data,” she says. “Given the small group environment at Mills, I was able to collaborate with my peers and learn from them. This experience has allowed me to feel comfortable in the collaborative setting that is core to my career.”
This “collaborative setting” that she mentions is none other than Google. Upon Patricia’s graduation from Mills, a computer science professor gave her résumé to a Google recruiter. She was readily hired and began her career as a software testing engineer, working on such projects as Google Toolbar. “Over time,” she says, “my responsibilities and impact have grown, and I’ve learned not only to handle a broader scope of technology, but also to deal with the human side of management.” Today she is an engineering manager, leading the Chrome OS test engineering team. She has also led large teams working on test tools and strategy for such products as Google Maps and Search.
A successful college experience starts a strong community of faculty, staff, and fellow students to give support along the way. And with the MPower signature academic experience, Mills students are granted access to such support with an academic success network of faculty and staff who follow them throughout their college careers.
MPower provides the opportunity for students to engage in their community through service projects, internships, and international trips. Mills’ Bay Area location offers students an especially exciting chance to connect with cutting-edge companies to engage with their interests and help guide their career search. What’s more Mills alumnae are at the top of several fields and are available for mentorship to interested students.
Getting MPowered means getting involved with leading faculty members. Students collaborate with faculty on major projects in the arts, sciences, and humanities. Past projects have included digitizing the Mills Art Museum’s collection, saving endangered plant species, presenting findings at national conferences, and more. The MPower experience engages students by offering hands-on experience in conjunction with faculty, staff, and fellow students.
BECOME A STRONG COMMUNICATOR
Every student graduates from Mills College as a strong writer and spoken communicator, considerate of the demands of a diverse global workforce. Mills requires seven credit hours in written and oral communication, first in a general course that looks at communicating in multicultural spaces, then in a major-specific course that incorporates global perspectives with a student’s field of study.
SPECIAL STUDY OPTIONS
Programs available at this institution.
Cooperative education program
Exchange student program (domestic)
Teacher certification program
Growing up in a family of Native Hawaiian fishermen and farmers, on the rural North Shore of the island of Kauaʻi, Kapua Sproat (Political, legal, and economic analysis PLEA, Class of 1995) watched as land in her community was bought up by developers and subdivided into luxury estates. “From an early age, I knew I wanted to become an attorney to provide a voice for my community and protect the areas that I lived in and loved,” she says.
When it came time to choose a college, she looked for a strong, interdisciplinary pre-law major—and that’s when she found Mills. “I also liked the historical connection of the College’s founders, Cyrus and Susan Mills, to Hawaiʻi, the College’s focus on empowerment of women, and the Bay Area location,” she explains.
Though the College was far from home, Kapua says, “Mills helped shape my identity, my perspective on who I am as a Native Hawaiian woman… It helped me strengthen my voice through exposure to powerful, courageous women of color who came to speak on campus, like political activist Angela Davis.”
In her current roles as a law professor and attorney for Earthjustice, Kapua teaches and practices Native Hawaiian and environmental law. She has worked with community leaders on litigation that has successfully preserved natural and cultural resources, from mountain streams to ocean beaches. Through her teaching and organizing work, she says, “I am empowering leaders, especially women, to be effective advocates for their communities.”
ENGAGE WITH SERVICE
Mills College students start effecting change from the moment they set foot on campus—a guarantee cemented in the curriculum through the Community Engaged Learning requirement. Here, students take their coursework into the workplace and apply learning concepts to real-world problems alongside government organizations, nonprofits, and companies. This requirement’s goal is to prepare students for a lifelong journey of service and engagement in the community.
THEMED HOUSING COMMUNITIES
Mills offers a range of housing options for both undergraduate and graduate students (families, too) depending on a student’s class year and age. Accommodations are also available to students with disabilities, allergies, service or emotional support animals, and other special needs. There are also 12-hour quiet housing and a gender-fluid living community. While every Mills student isn’t required to live on campus, those who do live in one of six themed housing communities in their first year.
Depending on one’s interests, a student can choose to join the Bay Area Exploration, Social Justice, First Gen, STEM, Holistic Wellness, or Outdoor Adventure communities to form friendships around active, involved interests. These communities only scratch the surface of Mills’ offerings to engage students throughout their academic and personal lives. Whatever their interests, students can get to know like-minded classmates in a fun and informative living experience.
Mills College is consistently named one of the greenest colleges in the nation by the Princeton Review. The college’s commitment to sustainability can be seen throughout various green initiatives like the botanic garden, the reuse depot, or the Mills Community Farm. The mile-long farm and its recently added 55 fruit trees and garden with native plants and pollinator-friendly landscaping is a great place to witness the power of learning outside of the classroom.
As one of the recipients of the Feed a Bee forage grants awarded during the sixth selection cycle of this two-year initiative, Mills College has received $5,000 to fund its planting project which, together with the additional projects honored through the initiative, will help provide a tangible, sustainable solution to the current lack of forage for bees and other pollinators.
Students majoring in Environmental Studies plan to work with, manage, and maintain the school’s garden in service to the larger community, often with the help of community volunteers from non-profit and community based organizations. In addition, those involved in the Campus Farm Practicum class learn about the significance of having a natural bee habitat on and near the farm (for the simple reason that every third bite of food is thanks to a pollinator!). The farm hosts a weekly farmstand for the Mills community to purchase vegetables and flowers, and the campus dining service purchases many pounds of produce to incorporate into its on-campus dining meals service.
BE IN THE BAY
Mills College is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most diverse areas in the United States. Work at industry leaders and innovative startups in Silicon Valley, explore the art and history of San Francisco, and celebrate the diversity of Mills’ hometown, Oakland.
Mills students don’t limit themselves to exploring Oakland. The San Francisco Bay Area extends from picturesque Napa Valley and Sonoma in the North Bay to world-famous Silicon Valley in the South Bay. In between are all the wonders of the City by the Bay—the historic Haight-Ashbury district, the LGBTQ-friendly Castro district, Golden Gate Park (whose attractions range from the California Academy of Sciences to the de Young Museum to, surprisingly, a herd of bison), and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Students also study and play in the neighboring city of Berkeley, taking advantage of Mills’ partner programs with UC Berkeley, attending plays at the Berkeley Rep, and devouring ridiculously huge pizza slices on Telegraph Avenue.
The Mills Cyclones field six NCAA Division III teams.
Teams: Cross Country, Rowing, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball
School Colors: Blue, gold, and white
Conference: American Collegiate Athletic Association (cross country, soccer, volleyball), Independent (swimming, tennis), Northwest Conference (rowing)
Percent of students living on campus.
First-time, first-year (freshman) students: 74%
Campus housing options.
Apartments for married students
Apartments for single students
Special housing for disabled students
Less than two years after graduation, Elizabeth Trobaugh found herself in the high desert of eastern Afghanistan. She was one of the first women in “combat arms” in her infantry battalion. Her mission: to lead a seven-soldier Female Engagement Team in building relationships with local Afghan women as part of the army’s effort to bring social and economic stability to the country. “Mills opened my eyes to the importance of helping people in the right way. I learned that you need to walk into dire situations and ask, ‘How can we help?’ and work in partnership.” – Cpt. Elizabeth Trobough, US Army, International Relations ‘10
Mills College is located in the Bay Area, unlocking the doors to the most innovative and diverse work opportunities in the country. With internationally leading technology companies in nearby Silicon Valley, or at world-class social justice organizations, students can find internships and complement their coursework with real-world work. Mills has connections with more than 200 local businesses, nonprofits, and community organizations, offering every student the chance to explore their career interests and bolster their résumés for the future.
Mills College offers a career services office that seeks not only to help students find work, but also to make connections between current Mills students and alumnae. Mills alumnae are exceptionally accomplished, represented at the top of industry, education, and non-profit fields. The Career Connections and Community Engagement office provides students with the resources to follow in their footsteps, and a social media app called Mills Connect lets students meet alumnae in their chosen fields to ensure that they have the guidance to understand their next step.
Class of 2018: Where Are They Now?
92% are employed or pursuing further education, 79% of those in school seek master’s or doctoral degrees, and their top career fields are Education, Business/Finance, Healthcare/Biotech, and Nonprofit Administration.
Gaining experience as a research assistant, competing on the crew and cross-country teams, working part-time, and carrying a full-time course load—Emily Dirksen (Environmental science, Class of 2015) successfully juggled it all at Mills. “The campus community helped me to be a well-rounded student and to be my best self,” she says. “Professors were willing to work with me, employers allowed me to be flexible with my hours, teammates would encourage me in and out of practice, and friends would study with me.” Her summer job as a research assistant for her environmental science professor boosted her résumé and helped her land an internship, which led to a full-time position as an environmental scientist. She conducts soil sampling, groundwater sampling, and other tests that can identify environmental contamination at sites proposed for residential or commercial development.
In the long term, she says, “I hope to work for a regulatory agency, like the Environmental Protection Agency, that brings issues such as climate change, waste, development, and land misuse to the forefront of public consciousness. I feel a responsibility to keep our environment healthy and inspire the change our earth desperately needs.”
First-year, transfer, resumer, and international students are invited to apply for admission to Mills for the fall or spring terms.
November 15 – Fall Early Action: This is a nonbinding option for first-year students who want to receive an admission decision as early as possible. Those who meet the early action deadline will hear back by December.
January 15 – Fall Regular Decision: The regular decision option gives applicants additional time to prepare a strong admission application. Admission decisions will be made by March.
February 15 – Financial Aid Forms: More than 80 percent of Mills students receive some form of financial aid. To be considered for need-based aid, all applicants should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). California residents also should submit a Cal Grant GPA Verification form to be considered for state aid.
Financial forms for First-Year International students: International students must submit a completed Certification of Finances form (PDF) and official supporting financial information. See application requirements below for more details. International students are also eligible for merit scholarships from Mills.
March 2 – Financial Forms for International Transfer Students: International students must submit a completed Certification of Finances form (PDF) and official supporting financial information. See application requirements below for more details.
April 1 – Fall Regular Admission for International Transfer Students: Those who submit a transfer application by the April 1 deadline will receive an admission decision in just a few weeks. Fall classes start in late August.
November 1 – Spring Admission: Spring classes start in mid-January. For those who find the spring semester to be a better time to start at Mills, the application deadline is November 1. Decisions are made by December.
The Mills admission process is selective yet holistic, designed to let students share a full picture of who they are now and how they want to grow at Mills.
- Admission Application
- School Transcripts
- Letters of Recommendation
- English Language Proficiency Requirement (International students only)
Test Scores: Mills would love to see SAT or ACT scores from students who feel that their results are a strong indication of their academic ability. Otherwise, it’s not necessary to submit any; as a test-optional college, Mills considers all students for admission and merit scholarships, with or without standardized test scores. Note that homeschooled students and students who graduate from schools without traditional grades are required to submit a standardized test score.
Rigor of secondary school record
Class rank | Academic GPA | Application Essay
Recommendation(s) | Extracurricular activities | Character/personal qualities
Interview | Talent/ability | First generation
Alumni/ae relation | Geographical residence | State residency
Racial/ethnic status | Volunteer work | Work experience
SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
25th Percentile: 513 | 75th Percentile: 640
25th Percentile: 495 | 75th Percentile: 600
25th Percentile: 19 | 75th Percentile: 26
25th Percentile: 19 | 75th Percentile: 26
25th Percentile: 21 | 75th Percentile: 31
Tuition & Cost
Room & Board: $13,883