Chan emigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong at age 3. She graduated from Yale University in 2002, where she majored in history. She received her Master's degree at London School of Economics and Political Science in 2005.
Chan worked for ABC NEWS in New York during 2002–2004, and ABC NEWS in London during her stay at the London School of Economics. She worked in Hong Kong as a freelancer and was recruited by Al-Jazeera English in 2007.
Chan worked for the Al-Jazeera English network in China as a correspondent for five years, during which time she filed 400 reports. In 2012, her visa and press credentials were not extended, leading Al Jazeera to close its English-language bureau in Beijing, although it maintained several accredited journalists for its Arabic language service. Officials gave no explanation for the decision, the first such expulsion since 1998, although press reports speculated that it may have been punishment for a report by Al Jazeera English on China's prison labor system.
- Melissa Chan's profile on Sina blog.
- Melissa Chan returned to Doha for New Challenge worldjournal.com (Chinese) May 17, 2012.
- "China's 'memory holes' swallow up Melissa Chan". BBC. Retrieved May 09, 2012.
- Goodbye to China, country of contradictions Al Jazeera English 13-May-2012.
- Al-Jazeera TV reporter Melissa Chan is expelled from China in media crackdown The Independent 09-MAY-2012.
- Richburg, Keith (8 May 2012). "China expels al-Jazeera reporter as media relations sour". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 December 2012.