Usha Menon grew up in India, receiving a BA (Hons.) degree in Economics in 1972 from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi. In 1987, she completed her Masters in Anthropology from Utkal University, in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, and in 1995, she earned a PhD with Honors in Human Development from the University of Chicago. From 1995 through 1997, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Pitzer College, in Claremont, California. She has taught at Drexel University since September 1997.