Dr. Hornberger is internationally known for her work in bilingualism and biliteracy, ethnography and language policy, and Indigenous language revitalization. She researches, lectures, teaches, and consults regularly on multilingual education policy and practice in the United States and the Andes (Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador) and has also worked in Brazil, China, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden and other parts of the world. Dr. Hornberger received her Ph.D. in educational policy studies in 1985 and joined the faculty at Penn's Graduate School of Education the same year, later also joining Penn’s Anthropology Graduate Group. She served as acting and interim dean of Penn GSE from 1993–1995, held the Goldie Anna chair from 1993–1998, and directed/chaired Educational Linguistics for more than 20 years. From 2000–2015, she served as convener of Penn GSE's annual international Ethnography in Education Research Forum, now in its fourth decade.
After graduating with her master’s degree from New York University, Dr. Hornberger lived and worked in Quechua-speaking areas of the Andes for over a decade, where she later also carried out her doctoral dissertation research on bilingual education and Indigenous language revitalization. Dr. Hornberger is a former editor of the international journal Anthropology and Education Quarterly and of the ten-volume Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 2nd edition (Springer, 2008). Since 1995, she has served as co-editor of the ongoing international book series on Bilingual Education and Bilingualism (Multilingual Matters), which recently surpassed 100 published books. She serves on the editorial boards of numerous other book series and scholarly journals. She is a three-time recipient of the Fulbright Senior Specialist Award, which took her to Paraguay (2001), New Zealand (2002), and South Africa (2008). Other awards and recognitions include the Distinguished Scholarship and Service Award from the American Association for Applied Linguistics (2008), the University of Pennsylvania Provost’s Award for Distinguished Ph.D. Teaching and Mentoring (2008), Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (2010), and the George and Louise Spindler Award for Distinguished, Exemplary, and Inspirational Contribution to Educational Anthropology (2014).