Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Mills College

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Acceptance rate
76.1% (2014)



$189.3 million (2014)

Undergraduate tuition and fees
42,918 USD (2015)

Mary Atkins

+1 510-430-2255

Mills College

Una destinatio, viae diversae. (Latin)

Motto in English
One destination, many paths.

Private liberal arts college Women's college (undergraduate)

Elizabeth L. Hillman (past presidents)

5000 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94613, USA

Notable alumni
Steve Reich, Joanna Newsom, Noah Georgeson, Jade Snow Wong, Trisha Brown

Holy Names University, Merritt College, University of San Francisco, Menlo College, Saint Mary's College o


Move in day orientation mills college

Mills College is a liberal arts and sciences college located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mills was founded as the Young Ladies Seminary in 1852 in Benicia, California. The school was relocated to Oakland, California, in 1871, and became the first women's college west of the Rockies. Currently, Mills is an undergraduate women's college with graduate programs for women and men. The college offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and minors and over 25 graduate degrees, certificates, and credentials. The college is also home to the Mills College School of Education and the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business & Public Policy.


In 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked Mills sixth overall among colleges and universities in the Western U.S. (regional universities) and one of the top colleges and universities in the Western U.S. in "Great Schools, Great Prices," which evaluated the quality of institutions' academics against the cost of attendance. The Princeton Review ranks Mills as one of the Best 380 Colleges and one of the top "green" colleges in the U.S. Washington Monthly ranks Mills as one of the top 10 master's universities in the U.S.

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Mills College was initially founded as the Young Ladies Seminary in the city of Benicia in 1852 under the leadership of Mary Atkins, a graduate of Oberlin College. In 1865, Susan Tolman Mills, a graduate of Mount Holyoke College (then Mount Holyoke Female Seminary), and her husband, Cyrus Mills, bought the Young Ladies Seminary renaming it Mills Seminary. In 1871, the school was moved to Oakland, California, and the school was incorporated in 1877. The school became Mills College in 1885. In 1890, after serving for decades as principal (under two presidents as well), Susan Mills became the president of the college and held the position for 19 years. Beginning in 1906 the seminary classes were progressively eliminated. In 1921, Mills granted its first master's degrees.

On May 3, 1990, the Trustees announced that they had voted to admit male undergraduate students to Mills. This decision led to a two-week student and staff strike, accompanied by numerous displays of non-violent protests by the students. At one point, nearly 300 students blockaded the administrative offices and boycotted classes. On May 18, the Trustees met again to reconsider the decision, leading finally to a reversal of the vote.

In 2014, Mills became the first single-sex college in the U.S. to adopt a policy explicitly welcoming transgender students. The policy states that applicants not assigned to the female sex at birth but who self-identify as women are welcome, as are applicants who identify as neither male nor female if they were assigned to the female sex at birth. It also states that students assigned to the female sex at birth who have legally become male prior to applying are not eligible unless they apply to the graduate program, which is coeducational, although female students who become male after enrolling may stay and graduate.


Mills offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and minors across the arts and sciences, as well as the option to design your own college major. The school runs on a semester system, with optional winter and summer sessions. As of the 2014-2015 academic years, Mills’ top 5 most popular majors are: English, Nursing, Psychology, Biology, and Political, Legal, and Economic Analysis (PLEA). Mills also offers a unique undergraduate degree in engineering in partnership with University of Southern California, as well as several bachelor’s-to-master’s accelerated degree programs that allow students to earn a bachelor’s and a master's degree in just five years.

The engineering program in conjunction with University of Southern California (USC) is a five-year program, with the first three years completed at Mills. After completing the program, students will have received a BA from Mills and a BS from USC. Available tracks include biomedical, chemical, computer, electrical, environmental, and industrial systems engineering.

Undergraduate students can participate in one of eight bachelor's-to-master's accelerated degree programs, which allow students to earn an undergraduate and a graduate degree in less time. The programs include BA/MA Applied Economics, BA/MBA Business Administration, BA/MA Computer Science, BA/MA Early Childhood Education, BA/MA Education/Teaching Credential, BA/MA Infant Mental Health, BA/MA Mathematics, and BA/MPP Public Policy.

Mills is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).


Rated by Washington Monthly in their 2014 Top Master’s Universities study, Mills ranked 8th out of 100 institutions when considering Social Mobility, Research, and Service. The school’s graduate program offers over 25 degrees, credentials, and certifications. These include unique programs in Bio-chemistry, Book Art, Interdisciplinary Computer Science, Infant Mental Health, and Pre-Medical studies, as well as groundbreaking joint-degree programs.

Currently the school’s top 5 most popular graduate programs are: Education, Business Administration(MBA), Pre-Med, English, and Music. Many of these programs are connected to top-tier, nationally renowned facilities such as the: Betty Irene Moore Natural Sciences Building, Center for Contemporary Music, the Heller Rare Books Room, Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business, and Mills College Children’s School.

Changes in major fields such as Business, Public Policy, and Education led the school to create two joint-degree programs: MBA/MA in Education Leadership, and the MA in Public Policy(MPP)/MBA. The joint MBA/MA is specifically designed to prepare educational leaders and managers for success by giving them knowledge of both the educational process and dynamics, and strategic business and management skills to help graduates confront the complex challenges of the rapidly changing educational landscape. On the other hand, the joint MPP/MBA provides graduates with the training to handle the evolving demand of professionals with cross-sector competencies who are trained in the logic of government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and social or business enterprises, as well as the intersection of these sectors.

Mills also offers unique post-baccalaureate certificate programs in: Bio-chemistry, Computer Science, and Pre-Med, designed for students pursuing degrees or careers in fields with requirements that do not overlap with coursework completed during their undergraduate career. The school’s Post-baccalaureate Pre-Medical program boasts a 90% acceptance rate to medical and health science professional schools. Also, the post-Baccalaureate Computer Science Certificate program has no programming or math prerequisites, allowing students to continue on to the Master’s in Interdisciplinary Computer Science with an undergraduate background in a non-computer science related field.


In recent years, Mills College has been recognized for its sustainability efforts on campus. The Princeton Review has ranked it one of the top "green" colleges in the U.S. four years in a row. Sierra, the Sierra Club magazine, also ranked the college as one of "America's Coolest" green schools.

  • Ranked among the Best Western Colleges by the Princeton Review (2015)
  • Ranked among The Best 379 Colleges by the Princeton Review (2015)
  • Ranked among the top 332 Green Colleges by the Princeton Review (2015)
  • 6th among colleges and universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report
  • 11th for Best Value among colleges and universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report
  • 11th in Best Health Services by the Princeton Review (2015)
  • 13th for Lots of Race/Class Interaction by the Princeton Review (2015)
  • 14th in the Princeton Review’s Got Milk? rating for sober schools (2015)
  • 15th for Most Liberal Students by the Princeton Review (2015)
  • 16th for Stone-Cold Sober Schools by the Princeton Review (2015)
  • Graduate

  • 8th among the Best Master’s Universities in the U.S. by Washington Monthly (2014)
  • 82nd in Fine Arts Graduate Schools by U.S. News & World Report (2014)
  • 135th among the Best Education Schools by U.S. News & World Report (2014)
  • Betty Irene Moore Natural Sciences Building

    Completed in 2007, the Natural Sciences Building was the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design "green" building at Mills, and the facility met the most rigorous standards for materials selection, energy consumption, and water usage and was awarded platinum certification.. Specifically designed to bring together the fields of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Psychology, the Natural Sciences Building encourages collaboration and research across disciplines. The building features state of the art equipment including: the Scheffler Bio-Imaging Center which contains a transilluminating fluorescence microscope with digital camera and imaging software, walk-in warm and cold rooms and a marine culture system. The building's instrumentation includes: an atomic absorption spectrophotometer, a Fourier transform infrared spectrometer, a Fourier transform nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometers, an electrochemistry apparatus, high-performance liquid chromatographs, gas-liquid chromatographs, and standard low-speed and high-speed ultracentrifuges as well as numerous smaller instruments

    As part of the The Natural Sciences Complex the building offers a wide variety of classroom, laboratory, and research space equipped with up-to-date instrumentation, special outdoor teaching courtyards, and the William Joseph McInnes Botanic Garden for hands-on research and study. The Betty Irene Moore Natural Sciences building, annexed to our existing life sciences facilities, offers five high-tech classrooms, four teaching laboratories, a research lab, and community space for interdisciplinary study.

    Center for Contemporary Music (CCM)

    The San Francisco Tape Music Center moved to Mills Campus in 1966, and became the Mills Tape Music Center (later the Center for Contemporary Music). The CCM’s archives contains over fifty years of collected recordings made at Mills and the San Francisco Tape Center. It is internationally renowned as a leading center for innovation in music, and functions as an important resource center for Bay Area composers and artists. Its facilities feature a 24-track Recording Studio, Hybrid Computer Music Studio, Electronic Music Studio, Dubbing and Editing Studio, Technical and Project Development Lab, Studio V, and Musicianship Lab.

    Housed within the Jeannik Mequet Littlefield Concert Hall since 1966, the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM, formerly the San Francisco Tape Music Center) has emphasized experimental methods in contemporary music and its allied arts and sciences. CCM maintains a variety of electronic equipment, instruments and studios, provides instruction and technical assistance, and archives audio recordings. The Center also performs a wide variety of community services in the arts, including public concerts and lecture series, informational and technical assistance, and artist residencies. Maggi Payne and Chris Brown are presently co-directors of CCM. Payne is a composer, performer, interdisciplinary artist, and recording engineer. Brown is an instrument builder, a pianist, and a composer.

    The Music Program at Mills is noted for being at the forefront of experimental music study and composition. Well-known composer Luciano Berio was on the music faculty of Mills in 1962-1964, and in 1966 Pauline Oliveros became the first director of the Tape Music Center (later the Center for Contemporary Music), where she composed her electronic works "Alien Bog" and "Beautiful Soop". Morton Subotnick, later a member of the faculty, received his master's degree from Mills, studying composition with Leon Kirchner and Darius Milhaud. Laurie Anderson, Dave Brubeck, Joanna Newsom, Phil Lesh, Noah Georgeson, and Steve Reich attended the program, as well as the famous synthesizer designer Don Buchla. Terry Riley taught at Mills starting in the early 1970s. Avant-garde jazz pioneer Anthony Braxton has taught at Mills on an intermittent basis since the 1970s. Lou Harrison, Pandit Pran Nath, Iannis Xenakis, Alvin Curran, Gordon Mumma, Maggi Payne, Pauline Oliveros, Frederic Rzewski, Zeena Parkins, Fred Frith, and many others have all taught music at Mills.

    F.W. Olin Library

    The Library houses a collection of over 240,000 volumes and other media - with special emphasis on literature, history, women’s studies, art and music. It also offers access to more than 60 online databases including: Academic Search, LexisNexis, PsycINFO, Sociological Abstracts, MEDLINE, ERIC, MLA Bibliography, Contemporary Women’s Issues, Britannica Online, Biography Resource Center, and Science Direct, and many more. The library includes 280 study and workstations, a listening-viewing room with fully equipped audio-visual stations, and a seminar room. Open 88.5 hours a week, the library’s online catalog, MINERVA, is accessible throughout the library and via the internet.

    The Special Collections is housed within the library in the Elinor Raas Heller Rare Book Room and includes printed books from the 15th century to the present, as well as the Mills College Collection. Containing 12,000 volumes and 10,000 manuscripts, Special Collections features: a copy of Shakespeare’s first folio circa 1623, an original Mozart manuscript, and a leaf from a Gutenberg Bible. It is also home to the Mills Center for the Book, a forum for cultural, literary, and aesthetic heritage of the book.

    Mills is also home to the Center for the Book which was established in 1989 to promote the cultural, literary, and aesthetic heritage of the book. Programs and projects encompass contemporary and historical concerns, and include the book arts, literacy, and local history. The Center for the Book involves both Mills College and the local communities, acknowledging the extraordinarily rich resources of the Bay Area.

    Lorry I Lokey Graduate School of Business

    Completed in 2010, the Graduate School of Business is a Gold LEED certified building. It reflects Mills’ core competence in education women for leadership and aims to educate ethical and socially responsible organizational leaders. This is reflected in the Center for Socially Responsible Business (CSRB) designed to create knowledge and practice around building profitable, sustainable organizations that solve social and environmental problems. The CSRB has produced its first publication, CSRB Insights , which revolves around building sustainable social enterprises and innovative financing. The School’s focus on social responsibility leads to the cultivation of an integrative perspective across disciplines and functional areas of business and to build partnerships with organizations that share similar values.

    The Lorry I Lokey Graduate School of Business is also home to the Public Policy department. Mills College offers a BA in Public Policy, an MPP, a BA/MPP accelerated degree program, and an MPP/MBA to students dedicated to social justice issues and policy analysis. Mills Public Policy students are focused on "assessing public problems, developing creative solutions, and implementing policies that are efficient, equitable, and feasible."

    The school's first student-run policy journal, The Policy Forum at Mills, was successfully launched in 2013, and provides a forum for policy solutions and analysis to its students, as well as allowing for discourse on published issues.

    Mills College School of Education

    The School of Education houses the Mills College Children’s School which opened in 1926 to provide students with opportunities to learn about child behavior and cognitive development. It was the first laboratory school on the West Coast. Today, the school offers programs for infants through fifth graders, and provides Mills students with the opportunity to study progressive educational practices that focus on the whole child. In the Children's School classrooms, Mills students observe developmentally, culturally, and linguistically responsive teaching, as well as a constructivist model of classroom learning and the integration of theory and practice. The Children's School has a dual mission of providing high-quality education to the approximately 135 students in its infant, preschool, and K–5 programs, as well as offering a collaborative research setting for undergraduate and graduate education students.

    Programs in Infant Mental Health, Early Childhood Education, Educational Leadership, and Teacher Education are housed in The School of Education and utilize the Children's School. The School of Education also participates in community partnerships with: The Center for Urban Schools and Partnerships, Educating for Democracy in a Digital Age, Inquiry into Leadership for Early Childhood Professionals, the Lesson Study Group, Mills Teacher Scholars, Oakland Education Cabinet, and TRIO Programs.

    College demographics

    For the 2014–15 academic year, Mills student body totaled 1,548 students, with 922 undergraduate women and 626 graduate men and women. Forty states are represented in the student body, and international students from 6 different countries attend the college. The average class size at Mills is 16 students, with a student:faculty ratio of 11:1. Of all courses at Mills, seventy-five percent have class sizes of 20 students or less.

    Fifty-six percent of the undergraduate students self-identify as students of color or multi-racial. Sixteen percent of the undergraduate population are "Resumer" students who are 23 years or older and returning to college. Over half of Mills Undergraduates live on-campus in any of the twelve housing options offered by the college.

    Forty-one percent of the graduate students self-identify as students of color or multi-racial. Of the graduate student body, eighty-six percent are full-time students. Over three-quarters of Graduate students commute to campus with only thirteen percent opting to live on-campus.


    Mills College teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III. The Cyclones are a member of the Association of Division III Independents. Women's sports include: Cross country, Rowing, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, and Volleyball. All students are welcome to join the sports teams. The Mills swim team was awarded the Scholar All-America Team award for swimming and diving teams who have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher. The athletics, physical education, and recreation facilities are housed within Haas Pavilion.

    The Trefethan Aquatics Center, completed in 1998, features an olympic-size outdoor swimming pool. The Center is accessible to students, faculty, staff, and immediate family free of charge, and is also open for public use at a small fee.

    Mills maintains the Tennis Center featuring six lighted courts, which is used for recreation, events, and competitions. The tennis team also hosts a Family Day every year to promote interaction with the community.

    The campus houses a Fitness Center, inside Haas Pavilion, for students, faculty and staff use. Athletics also maintains the Hellman Soccer Field and track, as well as Pine Top Trail which runs the circumference of campus.

    Clubs and organizations

    There are more than 50 student organizations at Mills run by both undergraduate and graduate students. These groups host campus-wide art exhibitions, dance performances, concerts, and lectures; as well as annual events such as Black & White Ball, Earth Day Fair, or Spring Fling.

    Students also participate in the Associated Students of Mills College (ASMC), an executive board of elected and appointed positions. Under the governance of a student-drafted Constitution, the board manages and disburses an annual budget that supports more than 50 student organizations, student publications, campus-wide events, and various student initiatives. ASMC is the voice of the student body to the College administration.

    Mills' undergraduate student publications include the Campanil, an award-winning campus newspaper and the voice of Mills students. It has won the top journalism award in its division for general newspaper excellence from the California College Media Association and has also been honored in editorial, news, entertainment and photography categories. The Crest is the Mills College yearbook which has run for 95 years. In 2010 Mills published the first annual Mills Academic Research Journal (MARJ) which focuses on research on the Mills College campus. The college also supports The Walrus Literary Journal an annual publication which includes "wonderful, whacky, weird, witty, and whimsical poetry, prose, and art from the Bay Area and beyond. Another annual literary journal on-campus is the Womanist, A Women of Color Journal which features prose, poetry, and artwork by students, alumnae, faculty, and staff of color. The publication is compiled and edited by a group of Mills students.

    Graduate students also create the 580 Split, an annual journal of arts and literature, publishes innovative and experimental prose, poetry, and art and was founded specifically for graduate students to participate and hone skills in editing, publishing, and creative writing. The journal has expanded its presence in the Bay Area and can be found in such well-known bookstores as City Lights. It is also one of the few literary journals carried by the Oakland Public Library.

    Campus housing

    Ten different on-campus living options are available at Mills, including traditional residence halls, a housing cooperative, family housing, and apartment living. Traditional-age, first-year students are introduced to the Mills community through a Themed Housing Community that is organized around a shared interest. Over the course of the fall term, faculty, students, and a specially assigned member of the Division of Student Life may attend lectures, films, museum exhibitions, or other extracurricular activities related to the central theme of their community. Transfer, resumer, graduate, and continuing Mills students reside in one of our six historic Mediterranean-inspired Residence Halls or our three Craftsman-style apartment complexes.

    Warren Olney Hall

    Named for Oakland Mayor and Mills College Trustee (1886-1921) Warren Olney, Warren Olney Hall houses students of all academic levels. Built by Bakewell and Brown, a well-known architectural firm in the early 1900s, they designed the structure in a Beaux Arts Mediterranean style. The building is three-stories, wood frame, stucco exterior with a Spanish tile roof. All of the rooms are either Single or Double rooms with hardwood floors and a sink, some of which feature California sleeping porches. The residence hall contains multiple common rooms, a computer lab, and full disability access.

    Orchard Meadow Hall

    Built at the turn of the century, Orchard Meadow residence hall houses mostly first-year students and consists of two separate wings, all students are housed in either Single or Double rooms with hardwood floors and a sink. Connected by a large living room with paneled oak walls and tile floors, the wings share a meeting room and a computer lab. Orchard Meadow also features multiple rooms with sleeping porches. This building also features two libraries with antique furniture and disability access. The residence hall shares a courtyard with a small reflecting pond and brick barbeque with Warren Olney.

    Ethel Moore Hall

    Designed in a Mediterranean-style with red tile roof and blue trim, Ethel Moore Hall—which houses juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Located atop Prospect Hill, Ethel Moore was built in the late-1920s/early-1930s by Walter H Ratcliffe Jr. The flagstone entrance to Ethel Moore Hall connects to a downhill path into the center of campus. Ethel Moore also opens onto the Rhododendron Courtyard which is shared with Mary Morse and accessed through the building or through a garden gate. The newly renovated Olive Courtyard is accessed through the lobby. The building contains Single and Double rooms with hardwood floors and a sink, a computer lab, and antique furnishings in the common spaces.

    Mary Morse Hall

    Also built by Walter H Ratcliffe Jr in 1935, Mary Morse offers housing to both undergraduate and graduate students. From its location atop Prospect Hill, students look out upon the Rhododendron Courtyard shared with Ethel Moore. The building features: Single or Double rooms with hardwood or carpeted floors and a sink, a large stone fireplace in the living room, a community sun room, antique furnishings in the common areas, and a computer lab.

    Lynn Townsend White Hall

    Named for former Mills College President Lynn White, this residence hall offers housing to both undergraduate and graduate students. The building has three wings, with an open design with modern-style furnishings and a spacious recreation room. Students have the option of living in single or double rooms (some in suites featuring one double and two single rooms) or two-bedroom suites with private bathrooms and shared kitchenette, living room, and bathroom. Each wing has its own common space in addition to the recreation room, and a computer lab is also located in the building.

    Campus history

    The 135-acre (0.55 km2) campus is located in the foothills of Oakland on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay.

    The campus is described in alumna Jade Snow Wong's book Fifth Chinese Daughter, first published in 1945.

    Julia Morgan buildings

    In 1904, Mills president Susan Mills became interested in architect Julia Morgan because she wished to further the career of a female architect and because Morgan, just beginning her career, charged less than her male counterparts.

    Morgan designed six buildings for the Mills campus, including El Campanil, believed to be the first freestanding bell tower on a United States college campus. Morgan's reputation grew when the tower was unscathed by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The bells in the tower "were cast for the World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago-1893), and given to Mills by a trustee". The Margaret Carnegie Library (1906), which was named after Andrew Carnegie's daughter. The Ming Quong Home for Chinese girls, built in 1924 and purchased by Mills in 1936, which was renamed Alderwood Hall and now houses the Julia Morgan School for Girls (independent of the College). She designed the Student Union in 1916. Kapiolani Cottage, which has served as an infirmary, faculty housing, and administration offices. And finally, Mills's original gymnasium and pool, which have been replaced by the Tea Shop and Suzanne Adams Plaza.

    Mills Hall

    Designed in 1869 by S. C. Bugbee & Son, Mills Hall became the College's new home when it moved from Benicia to Oakland in 1871. Mills Hall is "a long, four-story building with a high central observatory. The mansarded structure, which provided homes for faculty and students as well as classrooms and dining halls, long was considered the most beautiful educational building in the state". Mills Hall is a California Historical Landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


    Mills College Wikipedia

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