Sushant Singh Rajput was born in Patna, Bihar, India. His ancestral village is Maldiha in Bihar's Purnia district. He regularly returns to Maldiha to celebrate Chhath puja. One of his sisters, Mitu Singh, is a state-level cricketer. His mother's death in 2002 left Sushant devastated and it was in the same year that the family moved from Patna to Delhi.
Sushant attended St. Karens High School in Patna and Kulachi Hansraj Model School in New Delhi. He secured 7th rank in the All India Engineering Entrance Exam and secured admission in the Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical engineering) class in the Delhi College Of Engineering (DCE) (now known as the Delhi Technological University). He was also a National Olympiad Winner in Physics. In all, he cleared as many as eleven engineering entrance exams, including that for the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad. However, he completed only three years in college in the four-year course before dropping out to pursue an acting career.
While he was still a student at Delhi College of Engineering, now known as Delhi Technological University, Sushant enrolled in Shiamak Davar's dance classes. It was only later that the idea of making a career in acting came to him as some of his fellow students in the dance classes happened to be interested in acting, and were attending Barry John's drama classes. Thus, influenced by them, Sushant also joined the acting classes. Here, he found his passion for acting, as he once said: "I found the experience liberating. I realised that I could communicate with the audience. I knew I wanted to do this forever."
Within a few months of joining the dance class, Sushant was selected to be a member of Davar's standard dance troupe. In 2005, he was chosen to be one of the group of background dancers at the 51st Filmfare Awards. In 2006, he was part of the troupe that went to Australia to perform in the cultural program at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. By this time, he was sick and tired of engineering, where he was failing papers and had no real interest in the subject. He was very happy and successful in the dance and drama classes and felt unhappy and "claustrophobic" in the engineering classroom. He therefore decided to do only what he was good at doing. He dropped out of engineering and devoted himself full-time to dancing and acting.
In order to make a break into films, Sushant moved to Mumbai, joined Nadira Babbar's Ekjute theatre group and remained a part of it for two and a half years. During this time, he was featured in the TV advertisement of Nestle Munch, which became famous throughout India.
In 2008, Sushant was spotted by the casting team of Balaji Telefilms. His personality and acting talent had been observed by them while he was on stage for one of Ekjute's plays. They invited him to audition for them, and Rajput landed the role of Preet Juneja in Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil. His character was killed quite early in the show, but he was such a popular character with the viewers that he was brought back for the series finale in the form of a spirit, looking on as his family celebrated after going through difficult times.
In June 2009, Sushant began starring in Pavitra Rishta as Manav Deshmukh, a very serious and mature character working as a mechanic to help support his family. His work in this serial received wide appreciation and Sushant received three major television awards for best male actor and most popular actor. This performance was his breakthrough and gave him the stepping stone into films.
In May 2010, Sushant joined the dance reality show Zara Nachke Dikha 2. He had already proven his acting talents by getting awards for his performance in Pavitra Rishta, now he wanted to establish that he had good dancing skills and could be trained further. In Zara Nachke Dikha, Sushant was a part of the Mast Kalandar Boys Team. He did the shooting for both Pavitra Rishta and Zara Nachke Dikha 2 at the same time. On the Mother's Day Special episode, his team dedicated a performance to his mother, who had died in 2003.
In December 2010, Sushant participated in another dance-based reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 4, where he was paired with choreographer Shampa Sonthalia. In October 2011, Rajput decided to quit Pavitra Rishta to pursue a film-making course abroad.
Sushant auditioned for Abhishek Kapoor's Kai Po Che! and was selected to play one of the three leads, along with Rajkumar Rao and Amit Sadh. Based on the Chetan Bhagat novel The 3 Mistakes of My Life, the film proved to be a critical and commercial success and Sushant's portrayal of Ishaan Bhatt, an ex-district level cricketer who is a victim of politics in the cricketing selection fraternity, was praised. Critic Rajeev Masand wrote: "But it's Sushant Singh Rajput, making his film debut as Ishaan, who it's hard to take your eyes off. The actor has an indescribable presence and it's clear from his confidence and distinct likability that a star is born."
Rajput's second movie was Shuddh Desi Romance, alongside Parineeti Chopra and Vaani Kapoor. Directed by Maneesh Sharma and produced by Yash Raj Films, the film deals with the subject of live-in relationships and was completely filmed in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Taran Adarsh from Bollywood Hungama praised Rajput's performance, saying: "After leaving a tremendous impression in his first Hindi outing, Sushant Singh Rajput... brings a lot of freshness with his unpretentious and spontaneous act." Sukanya Verma from Rediff stated: "After a dynamic debut in Kai Po Che!, Rajput channelises his abundant energy to convey the childlike ineptitude of a man who wears his heart on a sleeve." Sushant's next role was in Rajkumar Hirani's 2014 film PK. Although his role was of a relatively minor character, the film gave him the opportunity to work with Aamir Khan and Anushka Sharma. Upon its release, the film proved to be the one of highest-grossing Indian films.
In 2015, Rajput's sole release was Dibakar Banerjee's mystery thriller Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015), where he portrayed detective Byomkesh Bakshi, created by the Bengali writer Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. The film was produced jointly by Yash Raj Films and Banerjee's own film production company Dibakar Banerjee Productions. Set in Kolkata of the 1940s, the film was released on 3 April 2015 and met with mixed to positive reviews from critics.
In 2016, Rajput appeared in Neeraj Pandey's biographical sports drama M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, in which he essayed the lead role of Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The film was a critical and commercial success, becoming one of the highest-grossing Bollywood films of 2016. Rajput's performance was widely praised by the critics and his portrayal of the cricketer was applauded even before the film's release. For his performance in the film, Rajput got his first nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actor.
In June 2017, Rajput appeared in Dinesh Vijan's Raabta, co-starring Kriti Sanon.
As of July 2017, Rajput is filming for Tarun Mansukhani's action comedy Drive opposite Jacqueline Fernandez. Rajput will appear in a science-fiction space film Chanda Mama Door Ke along with Shraddha Kapoor, R. Madhavan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Later in 2018, Rajput will appear in Abhishek Kapoor's Kedarnath, opposite newcomer Sara Ali Khan, slated to release in June 2018.