An authority on contemporary Islam and Arab politics, Kramer earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University. During a twenty-five-year academic career at Tel Aviv University, he directed the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. Kramer has taught as a visiting professor at Brandeis University, the University of Chicago, Cornell University, Georgetown University, and The Johns Hopkins University (SAIS). He has served as a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Harvard University's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies.
His authored and edited books include Islam Assembled; Shi'ism, Resistance and Revolution; Middle Eastern Lives; Arab Awakening and Islamic Revival; The Islamism Debate; The Jewish Discovery of Islam; and Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America.