He received his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Psychology, and Spanish, from Western Washington University in 1974, and in 1977 he received a Master of Arts in Sociology from Princeton University. Massey continued at Princeton University and received his PhD in 1978. He was a Guggenheim fellow in 1990–1991. He is married to psychologist Susan Fiske.
Douglas S. Massey is the founder and co-director of the Mexican Migration Project and the Latin American Migration Project, with his long-time collaborator Jorge Durand.
He is Board Member of the
Institut für interdisziplinäre Konflikt- und Gewaltforschung (Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence) at Bielefeld University and a past editor of the International Journal of Conflict and Violence.
Massey was president of the Population Association of America in 1996. He served as the 92nd president of the American Sociological Association, 2000–2001, and has won several awards for his books. From 2006 to 2015, he was the president of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. In 2008, he received a special recognition from the World Cultural Council.
Massey's research areas include:
- Urban Sociology
- Race and Ethnicity
- International Migration
- Latin American Society, particularly Mexico