A native of Philadelphia, Rubin earned a Ph.D. in history from Yale University in 1999. His dissertation, The Making of Modern Iran, 1858–1909: Communications, Telegraph and Society won Yale's John Addison Porter Prize.
Between 2004 and 2009, he was editor of the Middle East Quarterly. He has received fellowships from the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.
Rubin has lectured in history at Yale University, Hebrew University, Johns Hopkins University, and worked as visiting lecturer at Universities of Sulaymaniyah, Salahuddin, and Duhok, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Between 2002 and 2004, Rubin worked as a country director for Iran and Iraq in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, from which he was seconded to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Rubin currently teaches senior U.S. Army, U.S. Marine, and U.S. Navy leadership prior to their deployment to Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and Afghanistan.
In December 2017, Turkish national offered a reward of 3-million Turkish lira (almost $800,000) for help in delivering Rubin to Turkey to answer Turkish terrorism allegations in connection with the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt. Unnamed U.S. officials were cited in a news report as terming the allegations absurd.
- Into the Shadows: Radical Vigilantes in Khatami's Iran (2001),
- Eternal Iran (co-author, Palgrave, 2005)
- Dissent and Reform in the Arab World (editor, AEI Press, 2008)
- Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes (Encounter, 2014)
- The Shi'ites of the Middle East (co-author, AEI Press, 2014)
- Kurdistan Rising (AEI Press, 2016)
- "AEI – Scholars – Michael Rubin". American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- Yale University, "Democracy, Security, and Justice" lecture series, .
- Council on Foreign Relations Annual Report (2002), http://www.cfr.org/content/about/annual_report/ar_2002/032-39.pdf.
- Press Release, "Michael Rubin Appointed Middle East Quarterly Editor", http://www.meforum.org/press/613.
- Michael Rubin professional c.v.
- ISBN 0-944029-45-0
- American Enterprise Institute scholar biography,.