Fauset was born in Snow Hill, New Jersey in Camden County as the daughter of Anna Seamon and Redmon Fauset, a Presbyterian minister. Her mother, Annie, died when she was still a little girl.
Fauset graduated from Cornell University in 1905, possibly the first black woman in Phi Beta Kappa, and came to the NAACP's journal, The Crisis, in 1912 when it was only 16 years old. From 1919 to 1926 she served as the literary editor of The Crisis under W. E. B. Du Bois. Eventually 58 of her 77 published works first appeared in the journal's pages.
She is the author of four novels, including Plum Bun (1928) and The Chinaberry Tree: A Novel of American Life (1931).
Fauset worked a schoolteacher for many years and retired from teaching in 1944. She died in 1961 from heart failure.