She is a member of several editorial boards of international professional journals and was one of the senior editors for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. In 2002-2008 she served on the jury of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the next-largest international award in literature after the Nobel Prize.
Before coming to the University of Cambridge to become Professor and Chair, Maria Nikolajeva taught children's literature and literary theory at Stockholm university, Sweden, for twenty five years. She has also been a guest professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, Åbo Akademi University, Finland, and San Diego State University, USA. She is an Honorary Professor at the University of Worcester. She has lectured extensively on the five continents and given papers at over sixty conferences, including many keynote addresses. Her academic honours include a Fulbright Grant and a research fellowship at the International Youth Library, Munich. She is the author and editor of many books and contributor to numerous professional journals and essay collections.
She has led several major research projects and was the coordinator of a five-year Nordic postgraduate training program funded by the Nordic Academy for Advanced Studies.
In Cambridge, Maria joined a vibrant community of children's literature scholars and students to which she contributes with her experience and enthusiasm. In 2010 she became the Director of the Cambridge-Homerton Research and Teaching Centre for Children's Literature which has gained substantial international reputation. She organised, in collaboration with Mary Hilton, the well-attended international conference “The Emergent Adult: Adolescent Literature and Culture”.