Christensen was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1952. He graduated with highest honors in economics, later receiving an M.Phil. from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He received an MBA with High Distinction from the Harvard Business School, and from 1982 to 1983 he was a White House fellow. He is currently the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He lives in Belmont, MA with his wife Christine.