After completing undergraduate coursework at the Bengal Engineering College, University of Calcutta, Fazlur R. Khan received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Dacca in 1951 while placing first in his class. A Fulbright Scholarship and a Pakistani Government Scholarship subsequently enabled him to travel to the United States in 1952 where he pursued advanced studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana. In three short years Khan earned two masters’ degrees — one in structural engineering and one in theoretical and applied mechanics — and a PhD in structural engineering.
In 1973 he was honored with the top accolade for an engineer in the United States, election to the National Academy of Engineering.
He was cited five times among "Men Who Served the Best Interests of the Construction Industry" by Engineering News-Record (for 1965, 1968, 1970, 1971, and 1979); and in 1972 he was named "Construction's Man of the Year." He was posthumously honored with the International Award of Merit in Structural Engineering from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering and a Distinguished Service Award from the AIA Chicago Chapter (both in 1982). In 1983 the American Institute of Architects recognized Fazlur Khan's contributions with an AIA Institute Honor for Distinguished Achievement.
That same year he was honored with the Aga Khan Award for Architecture "for the Structure of the Hajj Terminal, An Outstanding Contribution to Architecture for Muslims," which was completed over the last years of his life.
The Structural Engineers Association of Illinois recognized his achievements with the John Parmer Award in 1987. The SEAOI also commissioned a sculpture in Fazlur Khan’s honor by the Spanish artist Carlos Marinas. The sculpture is located in the lobby of the Sears Tower.In 1998 the city of Chicago named the intersection of Jackson and Franklin Streets (located at the foot of the Sears Tower) "Fazlur R. Khan Way."
Dr. Fazlur Khan realized that the rigid steel frame structure that had "dominated tall building design and construction so long was not the only system fitting for tall buildings", marking "the beginning of a new era of skyscraper revolution in terms of multiple structural systems. Dr. F R Khan's design innovations significantly improved the construction of high-rise buildings, enabling them to withstand enormous forces generated on these super structures. These new designs opened an economic door for contractors, engineers, architects, and investors, providing vast amounts of real estate space on minimal plots of land.