Spencer Hayden graduated cum laude from Yale University in 2009, with a distinction in the East Asian Studies major. He focused primarily on 20th Century Chinese literature, and wrote his thesis on the impact of Nietzschean thought on Chinese writers. In 2007, he was awarded the Richard U. Light fellowship to study Mandarin at the Harvard Beijing Academy. He spent the 2009-2010 academic year continuing his studies at the Inter-University Program of Tsinghua University.