Mary Petrie earned a BA in East Asian Studies with a minor in Chinese at Hamline University; she earned both an MA and PhD in English with minors in Feminist Studies at the University of Minnesota, where she also held a number of positions as an Administrative Fellow, including with the University of Minnesota's Commission on Women.

In addition to serving as a full-time faculty member in the English Department, Mary founded and teaches in the Gender and Women's Studies Department which offers an accelerated online Emphasis in Gender and Women's Studies. Mary is a certified peer reviewer for Quality Matters (QM), a nonprofit setting standards in online education; many of Mary's own courses are offered online and have earned certification as courses which meet QM standards.

Her teaching interests are in women writers, feminist theory, creative writing, and contemporary fiction. She is the recipient of a number of writing awards, including a Loft McKnight Creative Nonfiction Award, Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, and Creative Nonfiction Mentor Series; her writing has most recently appeared in the Rake MagazineThe Women's Colony (now defunct online magazine), and the New York Times, and her first play will be staged for Youth Performance Company's 2013-14 season. Prior to joining the IHCC faculty, Mary was the Executive Director of Farm in the City (an arts and environmental nonprofit) and she continues to dabble in a myriad of volunteer and community-service endeavors, largely related to environmental issues.