Yingyi Ma is an associate professor of sociology and the director of Asian/Asian American studies at Syracuse University. She is also a senior research associate at the Center for Policy Research in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Dr. Ma has been a faculty member at Syracuse University since 2006. From 2014 to 2017, she was appointed as the inaugural O’Hanley Faculty Scholar in the Maxwell School. Dr. Ma received her bachelor’s degree in English language and literature at Nanjing University in 2000, and went on to obtain her Ph.D. in sociology at Johns Hopkins University in 2007.
Dr. Ma is a sociologist of education and migration. Her co-edited book, Learning and Living Globalization: Understanding International Students from Asia in American Universities (Springer, 2017), won honorable mention from the Comparative and International Education Association’s Study Abroad and International Students section. Her forthcoming monograph, “Ambitious and Anxious: How Chinese Undergraduates Succeed and Struggle in American Higher Education,” is scheduled to be released by Columbia University Press in October 2019. Based on research in Chinese high schools and American higher education institutions, this book examines Chinese students’ experiences spanning three key stages: before their arrival in the United States, their lived experiences during their study in America, to their looking ahead and thinking about their futures. This book contextualizes Chinese students’ ambitions and anxieties in relation to their social, cultural, and educational backgrounds in China. The multi-faceted analysis explicates the contradictions and complexities, and sheds light on the class-based experiences of this relatively privileged population. This book shifts the focus from expecting international students to adapt to the United States to bringing China, and in particular, the transformative context of social change in China, into the picture. In the end, it offers some policy implications in terms of what American higher education needs to know about Chinese students ranging from recruitment to student experiences to career services.
Dr. Ma’s earlier research centers on education stratification and inequality, focusing on understanding in what ways education is inequality-reducing and/or inequality-enhancing. Her research examines who study what and why, and the labor market consequences of educational choices. This line of research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Alfred Sloan Foundation, and the Association of Institutional Research. It results in peer-reviewed journal articles published in The Review of Higher Education, Social Science Quarterly, Frontiers of Education in China, Research in Sociology of Education, the Social Science Journal, and Sociological Perspectives, among others. While she has spent most of her life so far in academia, she always strives to venture outside of academia to engage with the public. She has written several op-ed pieces in China Daily and on China.org. Dr. Ma’s research findings have been covered by CNN, NPR, USA Today, Inside Higher Ed, Education Week, and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.