Wasserstein was a Research Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford (1973-5).
He taught at the University of Sheffield (1976-9) and Brandeis University in Massachusetts (1980-96), where he was Professor of History and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He was President of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (1996-2000) and Fellow by Special Election of St Cross College, Oxford. He was Professor of History at the University of Glasgow (2000-2003). From 2003 to 2014 he was Ulrich and Harriet Meyer Professor of Modern European Jewish History at the University of Chicago. He was a visiting fellow of the Institutes of Advanced Studies in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the National Humanities Center in North Carolina, the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies in Uppsala, All Souls College, Oxford, and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007-8 and has also held fellowships of the American Philosophical Society, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for Humanities. In 2015-16 he was Allianz Visiting Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Ludwig Maximilians Universität, Munich. He is a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He was a member of the London executive of the Leo Baeck Institute (1997-2003), President of the Jewish Historical Society of England (2000-2002), and is currently a board member of the Menasseh ben Israel Institute, Amsterdam. In the spring of 2019 he was a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Urban History of East Central Europe, Lviv. His books have been translated into French, German, Romanian, Portuguese, Spanish, Hebrew, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hungarian, and Dutch. Now an emeritus professor of the University of Chicago, Wasserstein is retired from teaching but continues to engage in historical research and writing.