Nye is currently University Distinguished Service Professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and previously served as dean there. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Princeton University and, after studying PPE as a Rhodes Scholar at Exeter College at Oxford University, obtained his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard. He attended Morristown Prep (now the Morristown-Beard School) in Morristown, NJ and graduated in 1954.
Nye originally joined the Harvard faculty in 1964, serving as Director of the Center for International Affairs and as Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences. From 1977-1979, Nye was Deputy to the Undersecretary of State for Security Assistance, Science, and Technology and chaired the National Security Council Group on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Nye has published many works in recent years, the most recent of which being Understanding International Conflicts, 6th ed (2006), The Power Game: A Washington Novel (2004), Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (2004), and The Paradox of American Power (2002). Nye coined the term soft power in the late 1980s and it first came into widespread usage following a piece he wrote in Foreign Policy in the early 1990s.
Nye also served as Deputy to the Undersecretary of State in the Carter Administration, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in the Clinton Administration, and was considered by many to be the preferred choice for National Security Advisor in the 2004 presidential campaign of John Kerry. He is widely recognized as one of the foremost liberal thinkers on foreign policy, and is seen by some as the counter to renowned Harvard conservative Samuel P. Huntington.
Dr. Nye is the North American chairman of highly controversial Trilateral Commission as well as an active member of the Bilderberg Group. He is on the Advisory board of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy as well as on the International Editorial Board of the Cambridge Review of International Affairs, the editorial board of Foreign Policy, the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has been awarded the Woodrow Wilson Prize by Princeton University and the Humphrey Prize by the American Political Science Association. In 2005 he was awarded the Honorary Patronage of the University Philosophical Society of Trinity College Dublin and in 2007 he was awarded an honorary degree by King's College London.
Son, Dan Nye was appointed CEO of social networking site LinkedIn in February 5, 2007.