Vanaja Nethi grew up in Malaysia. She completed her B.Sc. (Hons) with Education degree at Universiti Sains Malaysia (Science University Malaysia), majoring in Chemistry and Biology. Her M.A. in Science Education (Distinction) is from the Institute of Education, University of London in the UK. Her masters thesis was on the effects of cognitive structure and cognitive content on formal science learning at the secondary level. She was awarded a full scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in Education at Cornell University where she focused on research methods and program evaluation. Her dissertation examined claims made for performance assessments in a high school science context, utilizing mixed-methods.
She taught at the pre-university level and worked as a teaching assistant at the undergraduate level in Malaysia prior to pursuing her graduate education. She also worked in the Ministry of Education Malaysia in their Educational Planning and Research Division before moving to Saudi Arabia to work in K-12 international education. She also has experience in private higher education in Malaysia. Her most recent position was as head of the American Degree Program (2-year credit transfer program to American universities) at HELP University (2000-2006).
She joined NSU in 2006 as the Regional Liaison for Asia/ Program Professor and was responsible for starting NSU’S first blended Ed.D. program in Asia (in Malaysia) in 2007. Since then, she has spearheaded the program’s growth to S. Korea, China and Singapore, resulting in more than 15 doctoral cohorts in Asia.
She teaches at the graduate level in research methods and evaluation, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering Mathematics) education. She also supervises doctoral dissertations and her current research projects include exploring the impact of transnational education on graduate employability, and investigating the potential for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in developing-country contexts.
With an international education and work experience, she is also fluent in two Asian languages - Malay and Tamil.