Maxine received her doctorate in education from New York University in 1955 and went on to teach at New York University, Montclair State College and Brooklyn College. In 1965, she joined the faculty at Teachers College, Columbia University, establishing herself as a lone female voice among her male philosophy of education colleagues who found her "too literary." She is currently the William F. Russell Professor in the Foundations of Education (emerita) at Teachers College. In 2004, the Teachers College Trustees created the Maxine Greene Chair for Distinguished Contributions to Education.
As Philosopher-in-Residence of the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education (LCI) from 1976 to 2012, Maxine conducted workshops, especially in Literature as Art, and lectured at LCI's Summer Sessions. She inspired the creation of a small high school, the High School of Arts, Imagination and Inquiry (HSAII) in association with LCI and New Visions for Public Schools. She is currently Philosopher Emeritus at Lincoln Center Education (LCE).
She founded the Maxine Greene Foundation for Social Imagination, the Arts, and Education at Teachers College in 2003.
She was past President of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Philosophy of Education Society, American Educational Studies Association (AESA), and the Middle Atlantic States Philosophy of Education Society.
Maxine was the recipient of Honorary Degrees in the Humanities from Lehigh University, Hofstra University, the University of Colorado at Denver, the University of Indiana, Goddard College, Bank Street College, Nazareth College, McGill University, College Misericordia and Binghamton University.
She was awarded the Medal of Honor from Teachers College and Barnard College; Educator of the Year Award from Phi Delta Kappa; the Scholarly Achievement Award from Barnard College; AERA's Lifetime Achievement Award; and received a Fulbright fellowship, which took her to New Zealand.