Carl R Rogers 1902 - 1987

Carl Ransom Rogers was born on January 8, 1902 in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. His father Walter A. Rogers, was a civil engineer and his mother, Julia M. Cushing was a devout Christian. Carl was the fourth of their six children. Rogers was intelligent and could read well before kindergarten.
When Carl was 12, his family moved to a farm about 30 miles west of Chicago, and it was here that he was to spend his adolescence. With a strict upbringing and many chores, Carl was to become rather isolated, independent, and self-disciplined. (Carducci, 2009, p.206)

Student life

Rogers went on to the University of Wisconsin as an agriculture major. Later, he switched to religion in order to study for the ministry. He received his B.A. in 1924. During this time, he was selected as one of ten students to go to Beijing for the “World Student Christian Federation Conference” for six months. He recounts that his new experiences so broadened his thinking that he began to doubt some of his basic religious views.
After graduation, he married Helen Elliot, with the reluctant approval of his parents. He moved to New York City, and attended the Union Theological Seminary, a famous liberal religious institution. While there, he took a student organized seminar called “Why am I entering the ministry?” 'I might as well tell you that, unless you want to change your career, never take a class with such a title!' He said that most of the participants “thought their way right out of religious work.”
Religion’s loss was, of course, psychology’s gain: Rogers switched to the clinical psychology program of Columbia University, where he received his M.A. in 1928, and his Ph.D. in psychotherapy in 1931. He had already begun his clinical work at the Rochester Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. At this clinic, he learned about Otto Ranks theory and therapy techniques, which started him on the road to developing his own approach. (Rogers, 2004, p.3)
Return to top


In 1940 Rogers became professor of psychology at Ohio State University where he stayed until 1945. In 1942, he wrote his first book, Counselling and Psychotherapy. Then, in 1945, he was invited to set up a counselling centre at the University of Chicago. It was while working there that in 1951 he published his major work, Client-Centered Therapy, wherein he outlines his basic theory.

In 1957, he returned to teach at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin. Unfortunately, it was a time of conflict within their psychology department, and Rogers became very disillusioned with higher education. In 1964, he was happy to accept a research position in La Jolla, California. He provided therapy, gave speeches, and wrote, until his death in 1987. (Ewen, 2003, p. 197)
Rogers authored over a hundred publications explaining his theory of personality development. He received various awards and recognitions for his contributions to the world of psychology. He was given the Nicholas Murray Butler Silver Medal from Columbia University in 1955. A special contribution award from the American Psychological Association in 1956 for his research in psychotherapy. A distinguished professional contribution award in 1972 from the American Psychological Association and a distinguished professional psychologist award from the Division of Psychotherapy. Throughout the rest of his career, he received numerous amounts of other prestigious awards. Sadly, in 1987 Carl Rogers died of a heart attack in San Diego, California.
Return to top

Important Dates

  • 1902 Born in Oak Park, Ill.
  • 1924 Completed B.A., University of Wisconsin
  • 1928 M.A., Columbia University
  • 1931 Ph.D., Columbia University, Psychotherapy
  • 1940 Ohio State University, Columbus, professor of psychology
  • 1944 President of the American Association for Applied Psychology
  • 1945 University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill., Professor of Psychology and executive secretary , Counseling Center.
  • 1946 President of the American Psychological Association
  • 1955 Nicholas Murray Butler Silver Medal
  • 1956 First President of American Academy of Psychotherapist and special contribution award, American Psychological Association
  • 1957 professor in departments of psychology and psychiatry; University of Wisconsin
  • 1960 member of executive committee, University of Wisconsin
  • 1962 Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences
  • 1964 selected as humanist of the year, American Humanist Association
  • 1968 honorary doctorate, Gonzaga University
  • 1971 D.H.L. , University of Santa Clara
  • 1972 distinguished professional psychologist award, Division of Psychotherapy
  • 1974 D.Sc. university of Cincinnati
  • 1975 D.Ph. University of Hamburg and DS.Sc. University of Leiden
  • 1978 D.Sc. Northwestern University
  • 1984 Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities, Cincinnati
  • 1987 Died of heart attack, San Diego, California
Return to top