Skip to content
Yingyi Ma

Yingyi Ma

Contact Information:


426 Eggers Hall

Office Hours:

By Appointment

Staff Support:

Zia Jackson


Yingyi Ma

Professor, Sociology Department

Director, Asian/Asian American Studies

Senior Research Associate, Center for Policy Research

Advisory Board Member, East Asia Program

Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Program at Brookings


Fall 2023

Not Teaching

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 2007.


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. She received a Ph.D. 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 US, UK, Netherlands, Vietnam, and Japan.

Ma’s research and teaching has garnered recognition and awards from Syracuse University and beyond. For 2014-2017, she was among the four inaugural recipients of the O’Hanley Endowment for Faculty Excellence in Maxwell; For 2021-2022, she is 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.

Areas of Expertise

Education, migration, Asian/Asian American studies

Research Grant Awards and Projects

Member of the Pathway Through College Research Network. "The Timing of Entry to STEM." Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). 2018-2019.

Principal Investigator. Entry and Degree Attainment in STEM: The Intersection of Race/Ethnicity and Gender.” Funded by the Association for Institutional Research. 2013-2015.



"Ambitious and Anxious: How Chinese College Students Succeed and Struggle in American Higher Education." Yingyi Ma, Columbia University Press

"Learning and Living Globalization: Understanding International Students from Asia in American Universities." Yingyi Ma and Martha A. Garcia-Murrilo (Editors), Springer (2017). 

Research Articles and Chapters

 "Jumping on the STEM Train: Differences in Key Milestones in the STEM Pipeline between Children of Immigrants and Natives in the United States," in (ed.). Yingyi Ma, and Amy Lutz. Research in the Sociology of Education, Volume 20, (2018), pp.129 – 154.

 “Paradigm Shift: Learning is a Two-Way Street between American Universities and Asian International Students." Yingyi Ma and Martha A. Garcia-Murrilo (Editors), Learning and Living Globalization: Understanding International Students from Asia in American Universities (2017), pp. 1-11.

“Fairness in Admission: Voices from Rural   Female Students in Chinese Universities." Yingyi Ma and Lifang Wang, Frontiers of Education in China, Vol. 11, No. 1 (2016), pp. 44-73.

“Race in STEM Degree Attainment." Yingyi Ma and Yan Liu, Sociology Compass (2015), pp. 609-618.

“Is the Grass Greener on the Other Side of the Pacific?” Yingyi Ma, American Sociological Association, Vol. 14, No. 2 (2015), pp. 34-39. 

“Bamboo Ceiling." Yingyi Ma and Yue Zhang, Asian American Leadership: A Concise Reference Guide (2015).

“Asian Americans in Selective Colleges and Universities." Yingyi Ma and Adrienne Lee Atterberry, Asian American Leadership: A Concise Reference Guide (2015).

Which is More Consequential for Income Disparity: Fields of Study or Institutional Selectivity." Yingyi Ma and Gokhan Savas, Review of Higher Education, Vol. 37, No. 2 (2014), pp. 221-247.

Gender Inequality: Returns to Educational Investments." Yingyi Ma and Gokhan Savas, Sociology of Education: An A-to-Z Guide; SAGE Publications (2012).                     

Women in Math/Science." Yingyi Ma and Carrie Roseamelia, Sociology of Education: An A-to-Z Guide; SAGE Publications (2012).

Gender Differences in the Paths Leading to a STEM Baccalaureate." Yingyi Ma, Social Science Quarterly, Vol. 92, No. 5 (2011), pp. 1169-1190.

Math and Reading Achievement Gaps-New Insights to Old Problems." Yingyi Ma, Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Vol. 14 (2011), pp. 51-74.

Chinese Rural Women in Agriculture and Urban Work." Yingyi Ma, American Review of China Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1 (2011), pp. 1-12 (Lead Article).

Immigrant Youth in Postsecondary Education."  Lingxin Hao, and Yingyi Ma, Cynthia Garía Coll, and Amy Marks (Editors), The Immigrant Paradox in Children and Adolescents: Is Becoming American a Developmental Risk?, American Psychological Association Publishing (2011), pp. 275-296.

College Major Choice, Occupational Structure and Demographic Patterning by Gender, Race and Nativity." Yingyi Ma, The Social Science Journal, Vol. 48, No. 1 (2011), pp.112-129.

Model Minority, Model for Whom?--An Investigation of Asian American Students in Science/Engineering." Yingyi Ma,  AAPI Nexus Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Policy, Practice & Community, Vol. 8, No. 1 (2010), pp. 43-73.

Family Socioeconomic Status, Parental Involvement, and College Major Choices-Gender, Race/Ethnic, and Nativity Patterns." Yingyi Ma, Sociological Perspectives, Vol. 52, No. 2 (2009), pp. 210-234.

Other publications 

Learning to be more like each other." Yingyi Ma, Op-ed;, arguing that the education systems in China and the U.S go to extremes in distinct ways, and they should aim for balance by learning from each other and converging towards each other (2012). 

“Gaokao a rite of passage, not an end point." Yingyi Ma, Op-ed;, discussing the values and problems of Gaokao, the Chinese college education admission exam, and the role that Gaokao plays in contributing to the disconnect between Chinese secondary education and tertiary education (2012).

“Preparing for study abroad: not just test scores." Yingyi Ma, Op-ed;, arguing that social and psychological preparations are keys to a successful life studying abroad, and offering suggestions for Chinese students planning to study in American Universities (2012).

Media Coverage of my Research

Media Coverage of my research has appeared in NPRUSA TodayInsider Higher EdEducation Week, etc.