A liberal arts and sciences college in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mills began as a seminary school known as the Young Ladies' Seminary. Founded in 1852 and located in Benicia, California, the college moved to its current Oakland location in 1871, and became the first women's college west of the Rockies. Mills is an undergraduate women's college, with graduate programs for women and men. The college offers more than 40 undergraduate majors 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.