Gross received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, in 1962. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1966 then spent three years as Junior Fellow at Harvard University. In 1973 he was promoted to Professor at Princeton University and named Iugene Higgins Professor of Physics in 1986. He assumed the title Director and holder of the Frederick W. Gluck Chair in Theoretical Physics at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1997. Gross also was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Montpellier, France.
In 1973, Gross, working with Frank Wilczek at Princeton University, discovered asymptotic freedom, which holds that the closer quarks are to each other, the less the strong interaction (or color charge) between them; when quarks are in extreme proximity, the nuclear force between them is so weak that they behave almost as free particles. In 2004, Gross was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of asymptotic freedom, along with Frank Wilczek and David Politzer.