Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Glaser received his B.Sc degree in physics and mathematics from the Case Institute of Technology in 1946. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1950. Glaser accepted a position as an instructor at the University of Michigan and was promoted to professor in 1957. He joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley in 1959 as a Professor of Physics. In 1964, he was given the additional title of Professor of Molecular Biology. His current position (since 1989) is Professor of Physics and Neurobiology in the Graduate School.