Tharanikkarasu obtained B.Sc. (1987), M.Sc. (1989) and Ph.D. (1996) from the University of Madras. Recipient of Korea Research Foundation (1996 to 1997), Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and JSPS (1998 to 2000) Post Doc Fellowship. From 2000 to 2003, he worked as a Project Officer in the Department of Chemistry, IIT Madras.
From 2003 to 2010, he worked as a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry, University of Delhi. In September 2010, he moved to Department of Chemistry, Pondicherry University as a Full Professor. He was HoD of the Department from 2015 to 2018. During this period, he also served as Registrar (i/c) and Controller of Examination (i/c) for about 9 months and 1 year 8 months respectively at Pondicherry University.