Yingyi Ma

Yingyi Ma

Nonresident Senior Fellow – Foreign Policy, John L. Thornton China Center

Yingyi Ma is a professor of sociology, director of graduate studies in the Department of Sociology, and director of the Asian/Asian American studies program in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is also a nonresident senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. She received a doctorate in sociology from Johns Hopkins University in 2007.

Ma’s research addresses education and migration in the U.S. and China and she has published three books and numerous articles. Several projects use quantitative methods and examine fields of study often neglected in the context of education stratification, particularly how those fields provide a mobility strategy for racial minorities, the children of immigrants, and their families in the U.S. This line of research has received grants from the National Science Foundation, Alfred Sloan Foundation, and the Association of Institutional Research.

Ma’s research on international education uses mixed methods including surveys and in-depth interviews. Her monograph, “Ambitious and Anxious: How Chinese College Students Succeed and Struggle in American Higher Education,” was published by Columbia University Press in February 2020. This book won best book awards from multiple sections of the Comparative and International Education Association and the Bourdieu Best Book Award Honorable Mention from the American Sociological Association. It has been featured in national and international news media, such as The Washington Post and Times Higher Education.

She is the lead editor of “Understanding International Students from Asia in American Universities: Learning and Living Globalization” (2017), which has won the honorable mention of the best book award from the Comparative and International Education Association’s Study Abroad and International Students Section. She is also the co-editor of a new volume, “International Student Experiences and Graduate Employability: Perspectives and Issues” (2022), which provides a holistic understanding of international student employability on a global scale, incorporating various higher education contexts, including the U.S., U.K., Netherlands, Vietnam, and Japan.

Ma’s research and teaching has garnered recognition and awards from Syracuse University and beyond. For 2014-17, she was among the four inaugural recipients of the O’Hanley Endowment for Faculty Excellence in Maxwell; for 2021-22, she was the inaugural recipient of the Yang Ni and Xiaoqing Li Endowment Fund for U.S.-China/Asia Relations in Maxwell. In 2019, she was selected as a Public Intellectual Fellow at the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and she has published many essays and been a frequent commentator for national and international media outlets.


  • Center for Policy Research, senior research associate
  • East Asia Program, member, advisory board
  • Areas of Expertise

    • Asian/Asian American studies
    • Migration
  • Current Positions

    • Professor of Sociology, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University
  • Past Positions

    • Provost Faculty Fellow of Internationalization, Syracuse University
    • Posse Mentor, Syracuse University
  • Education

    • Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University
    • M.S.E., Johns Hopkins University
    • M.A., Johns Hopkins University
    • B.A., Nanjing University, China
Filter by