Degree Requirements

To earn a degree, each student must meet the minimum course requirements as specified by the department. A student's degree requirements, including sequence requirements, are those stated in the catalog in the term in which she/he is admitted to Mills. Some advanced upper-division work (100 level) may be accepted by the department. Candidates for the credential enroll in courses at the 300 level; doctoral degree candidates enroll in courses at the 400 level. Post-baccalaureate certificate students enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.

All graduate students should consult the departmental or program listing for information regarding appropriate course levels and complete degree requirements. 

Thesis/Dissertation and Comprehensive Examinations

Most departments offering an advanced degree require a final project or examination. For MA candidates, it may take the form of a comprehensive examination of at least six hours and may be written, oral, or a combination of both, at the discretion of the department. For MFA candidates, it may be a substantial essay relating to their project or performance, to be approved by the department.

Master's candidates in certain departments are required to complete a thesis (refer to specific degree requirements for details). The thesis may be a critical written exposition (type A) or a creative work in the fine arts, interdisciplinary computer science, or creative writing (type B).

The bibliographical format of the thesis must be approved by the reference librarian. Certain programs of study require a thesis or formal paper in conjunction with a performance or compilation of an artistic work. Students must enroll in the appropriate thesis class by their last semester of regular enrollment. Students may take up to three additional years to complete their thesis, but must maintain “In Progress” status during this period (see In Progress Status). Thesis guidelines are available from the academic department.

A nonrefundable $45 Thesis Binding Fee will be charged to the student's account.

Doctoral candidates are required to complete 80 semester course credits toward the EdD as well as the dissertation. Upon completing 80 semester course credits, students who need additional time to complete the dissertation must petition for "Dissertation In Progress" status (see In Progress Status).

Dissertation in-progress status (dissertation only) for doctoral students signifies that you have completed the required 80 semester course credits toward the doctoral degree and have successfully completed the proposal hearing for the dissertation. Students are permitted a maximum of six semesters of dissertation in progress status. Students will remain on in-progress status every semester after completion of course work until completion of the dissertation. The maximum time allowable to complete the EdD, including the time for "In Progress" status is eight years. Extensions may be granted, under exceptional circumstances, with permission from the dean of the School of Education. The fee for registering for in-progress status is $625 per semester.

Courses Outside Degree Field

As a liberal arts college, Mills encourages students, even at the graduate level, to take some courses in a related discipline but outside the degree field. These courses count toward the degree only with department approval.

Residency Requirement

A graduate degree at Mills, with the exception of the MBA and MPP, and the accelerated degree programs, requires full-time enrollment for a minimum of four semesters. The MBA and MPP require full-time enrollment for a minimum of two semesters. Degree candidates must be enrolled in course work leading to the degree, or enrolled as a continuing candidate “In Progress” in the semester in which the degree is awarded.

Part-time graduate study is considered on a case-by-case basis and must be approved in writing by the department. Students who are in attendance part time in any semester must enroll for five or more semesters before completing the degree with the exception of the MBA and MPP. If part-time study is approved, all policies and stipulations must be followed. Note: The MFA program in studio art and teacher credential programs do not permit part-time studies. No exceptions will be made.

A student may not receive a degree in a semester in which she/he is officially on a leave of absence.

Program Limits

The maximum period of time allowable to complete programs on the master's level, with the exception of the M.A. in Education, is five years; for the doctoral level, three years following completion of course work and the qualifying exam, generally eight years total. The Master's in Education with Emphasis in Teaching (MEET) Program allows for eight years maximum for the completion of the degree. Students in this program complete their credential course work first and then have up to five years in which to teach and gain experience before returning to complete the master’s degree.

Concurrent Enrollment in Two Graduate Programs at Mills

Concurrent enrollment in two graduate programs at Mills College is not allowed. Graduate program enrollment is offered to interested students sequentially. As a student reaches completion of their currently enrolled graduate program, they may apply to the next graduate program of their choosing. A maximum of 12 credits from the previous degree may be applied to the subsequent degree.

Transfer credit is credit completed at an outside institution. Mills credits are not considered transfer credit and are not included in transfer credit permitted by the program.

Transfer Credit Policy

Transfer credit is credit completed at an outside institution. Students who have attended another college or university as graduate students and have not applied the work done there to an advanced degree may have, with department approval, up to 6 semester course credits transferred toward a master’s degree at Mills. Up to 6 semester course credits of course work done at another college or university toward a master’s degree may be used toward the doctoral degree at Mills. An official transcript of such credits must be submitted at the time of admission. Transcripts are reviewed by the student’s department, which then authorizes the M Center to place the credits on the student’s record.

Credit earned at other institutions through the cross-registration program is treated as transfer credit.

Transfer Credit Equivalents

Mills College follows the Carnegie semester credit system. As such, transfer credit from institutions not on the semester credit system must be converted upon transfer to Mills.

Cross-Registration

Graduate students must be enrolled at least part time at Mills to cross-register at another campus. One cross-registration course may be taken per semester. Information regarding cross-registration is available online and in the M Center.

Transfer Credit and Cross-Registration for Graduate Programs

Departmental approval of all graduate transfer credit and graduate cross-registration credit is required.

Refer to the individual program's webpage for transfer and cross-registration credit limits.

Extension Credit

Mills College extension courses are non-degree applicable courses that are sponsored by an academic department and are transcribed by the Office of the Registrar. Extension credit may be useful in maintaining certification or licensure. They may also document a student’s continuing professional education for an employer, association, or credentialing agency. Under no circumstances will extension credit be applied to a Mills degree.

Student Status

Full-time Status

Graduate students must be enrolled in 9 semester course credits for full time status.

In Progress Status

Graduate students who are not enrolled in courses but who are working on their thesis, dissertation or comprehensive exam must file for "In Progress" status. 

Students must submit a Petition for Candidacy to the M Center the semester before their anticipated semester of graduation.

Master's Degree Students

A one time fee for "In Progress" status for master's degree students is charged to the student's account. 

Students who are “In-Progress” may not register for courses nor take a leave of absence.

Students have a maximum of three years to complete the thesis or the comprehensive exam. Students who do not complete the thesis or comprehensive exam within the required time will become “Candidacy Lapsed” and must apply for readmission through Graduate Admission. An IP reinstatement fee is charged to the student's account.

Master's degree students with In-Progress status are not considered enrolled students at Mills and are reported as such to the National Student Clearinghouse.

International MEET students

  • are allowed up to five years (10 semesters) of IP status; and,
  • are registered in a “Continued Practical Training” course (0 credit, “P/NP”) each semester. This course, used by the advisor to track the student’s progress, requires a “Pass” (“P”) each semester to remain in the program.

Doctoral Degree Students

A fee for "In Progress" status for doctoral students is charged to the student's account each semester in "In Progress" status. 

Doctoral candidates are required to complete 80 semester course credits toward the EdD as well as the dissertation. Upon completing 80 semester course credits, students who need additional time to complete the dissertation must petition for "Dissertation In Progress" status.

Dissertation in-progress status (dissertation only) for doctoral students signifies that you have completed the required 80 semester course credits toward the doctoral degree and that you have successfully completed the proposal hearing for the dissertation. Students are permitted a maximum of six semesters of dissertation in-progress status. Students will remain on in-progress status every semester after completion of coursework until completion of the dissertation. The maximum time allowable to complete the EdD, including the time for "In Progress" status is eight years.

Students who do not complete the dissertation within the required time will become “Candidacy Lapsed” and must apply for readmission through Graduate Admission. An IP reinstatement fee is charged to the student's account.

Students must submit a Petition for Candidacy to the M Center the semester before their anticipated semester of graduation.

Doctoral students that are “In-Progress” are considered enrolled half-time and reported as such to the National Student Clearinghouse.

Special Non-Degree Student Status

Students taking courses for credit can be considered non-matriculated for up to two terms; at that time, students must apply for formal admission to a specific program.  Contact the Office of Graduate Admission for additional information. 

Leave of Absence

Students in good standing may take a leave of absence from the College for a period not exceeding two consecutive semesters or a total of four semesters. A student wishing to take a leave of absence should contact the Division of Student Life by emailing leaves@mills.edu The leave of absence date is the date the student provides notification to the Division of Student Life of their intent to take a leave of absence from the College. An enrolled student who wishes to apply for a leave of absence or a withdrawal effective for the term in which the student is currently enrolled must file paperwork by the last day of instruction.

Students should contact the M Center to learn the financial ramifications of taking a leave of absence. (See Tuition and Fees Adjustment Policy and Return of Federal, State, and Institutional Financial Aid.)

Students who wish to take college work elsewhere while on leave from Mills are advised to discuss this with their department, as limited transfer credit is available to graduate students. Upon completion of the courses, the student should request official transcripts to be mailed to Academic Records. These transcripts must be received by the end of the student's first semester of return to Mills.

Students who wish to extend a leave of absence or return early from a leave of absence must contact the M Center.

If, after two years, the student does not return to Mills, a formal withdrawal must be filed with the M Center or the student will be considered as withdrawn without notifying the College (see Withdrawal).

International Students are not permitted to take a leave of absence and must consult with the International Student Advisor in the Division of Student Life regarding any breaks in attendance. 

Leaves of absence are generally not granted in the Studio Art Program. In addition, students who have filed for “In Progress” status are not permitted to take a leave of absence.

Withdrawal

A student wishing to withdraw from the College should contact the Division of Student Life by emailing withdraw@mills.edu and are also encouraged to speak with an academic advisor. Students should contact the M Center to explore the financial ramifications of withdrawing from the College. (See Tuition and Fees Adjustment Policy and Return of Federal, State, and Institutional Financial Aid.)

Administrative Withdrawal

Students not registered for courses by the Add Deadline, and who have not initiated a leave of absence or withdrawal with the Division of Student Life will be administratively withdrawn from the College. Those that have been administratively withdrawn are no longer considered students of the College. For two weeks after being administratively withdrawn, they will be allowed access to the Mills Portal (including myMills Resources), G Suite (including Mills email and drive), the Mills wireless network, and will be able to use Mills computers in the library. Access to Mills G Suite will continue for 45 days beyond that. Those that have been administratively withdrawn should contact Housing Management and Dining Services to learn how access to on-campus housing and meals are impacted.

They may petition the Academic Standing Committee to be reinstated as a student of the College. A $150.00 ASC processing fee will be charged to all students who are reinstated.

Candidacy Lapsed

Students who have not completed their thesis, comprehensive exam or dissertation at the end of their eligibilty for “In Progress” status, will be considered as "Candidacy Lapsed" and will have a student status of "Candidacy Lapsed" ("CL") recorded. A grade of “NC” ("No Credit") will be entered for the thesis. If the student wishes to be reinstated in the program and finish the thesis, a readmission application and current readmission fee must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admission. If readmitted, the student must then submit a Request for In Progress Status form to the M Center along with any related fees for the reinstatement of the "In Progress" status. The student will have an additional three semesters to complete the thesis.

Readmission

A student who has withdrawn, with or without notifying Mills, has been disqualified, or whose candidacy has lapsed and who wishes to return must contact the Office of Graduate Admission to request an application for readmission. A $50 readmission application fee must accompany the application. Students must contact the department in which they wish to re-enroll.

Students who initially enrolled in the master's in education with an emphasis in teaching (MEET) may leave the College for up to five years after completing their credential and then return to the College to complete the master's portion of their program in one additional year. MEET students must contact the Education Department about their plans to return and complete an Education-Returning MEET Application. There is no fee for students returning within five years. MEET students who do not return within five years and who then wish to complete the master's portion of the program must apply for readmission through the Office of Graduate Admission, pay the $50 readmission fee, and will be required to complete the full two years for the master’s degree.