Helen Phtiaka was graduated in 1982 from the School of Philosophy, University of Athens, Greece. Supported by the National Scholarships Foundation, she earned an M.Sc. in Psychology from the University of Stirling, Scotland and a Doctorate in Sociology of Education from the University of Cambridge, England. Her thesis concerned a comparison between deviance patterns within and without mainstream educational settings, which was a new approach for the UK, bridging for the first time Special and Mainstream Educational settings and combining traditional psychological and sociological research methodology.
In 2003 she became an Associate Professor in Inclusive Education and in April 2008 was elected Associate Dean for the School of Social and Educational Sciences, a post she still holds today.