In 1995, Menounos began to compete in beauty pageants.The following year, she won the title of Miss Massachusetts Teen USA, and she competed at Miss Teen USA where she placed in the top 15, receiving an honorary mention, during the preliminary competition. Maria competed for the title of Miss Massachusetts USA 2000. Later Menounos attended Boston's Emerson College where she participated in the now award-winning organization, Emerson Independent Video. During her senior year, she was hired as a reporter for Channel One News.
From December 17 to December 20, 2007, Menounos hosted the reality game show miniseries Clash of the Choirs.
On August 4, 2011, it was announced that she is joining Warner Bros.'s Extra, where she will co-host the show with Mario Lopez. Drew's Lifechangers, and will develop new projects.
She was a contestant on the 14th season of Dancing with the Stars partnering with Derek Hough.
In 2008, she became the host of Hollywood Green on the Planet Green network.
In 2008, she had a role in the movie Tropic Thunder, and in the same year she became the first (and to date, the only) journalist to interview the entire Obama family as a whole. In May 2008, she played in the AVP Cuervo Gold Crown Huntington Beach Open, but was eliminated in the qualifying round.