Professor Qian was born in Beijing and graduated from Tsinghua University in Mathematics in 1981. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University after earning an M.Phil. in Management Science/Operations Research from Yale University and an M.A. in Statistics from Columbia University. He was on the faculty at Stanford University, the University of Maryland, and the University of California, Berkeley. He was appointed as the Dean of the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University in September 2006.
He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society and a recipient of the 2009 Sun Yefang Prize in Economic Sciences. His main research areas include comparative economics, institutional economics, economics of transition, and the Chinese economy. He has published in international journals such as American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics, and Review of Economic Studies.