Sylvia Nasar was born to a German mother and Uzbek father. Her family immigrated to the United States in 1951, then moved to Ankara, Turkey in 1960. She graduated from Antioch College in 1970, and earned a masters' degree in economics at New York University in 1976. For four years, she did research with Nobel Laureate Wassily Leontief. She is currently the Knight Chair in Business Journalism at Columbia University. Her husband is economist Darryl McLeod. They have three children and live in Tarrytown, New York.