He pursued his first degree at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima. After graduating, he obtained his Master’s degree at Cornell University and his Ph.D. degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He started his studies by researching the Quechuan variety spoken in his homeland: the Mantaro Valley region. Engaged by the Peruvian Ministry of Education, he wrote the first grammar and dictionary of Wanka Quechua, both published in 1976. He has fought strongly for preservation and development of Quechua in all of its varieties. In 1994 he published a dictionary of Southern Quechua, proposing a unified orthographic standard for all Quechua of southern Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. This standard has been accepted by many institutions in Peru and is used officially for Quechua in Bolivia, as well as on the Wikipedia Quechua pages. Cerrón-Palomino is currently a Professor in linguistics at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima.