He attended Phillips Academy. He then studied at Harvard College for both his undergraduate and graduate education, completing his PhD in 1979.
He has been a visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Texas at Austin, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and the American University of Paris. He is the Academic Director of the Center for Creativity Economics, which was inaugurated in 2010 at the Universidad del CEMA, Buenos Aires. F. Galenson's distinction between conceptual and experimental is based upon evidence from the age in which artists were most productive creatively.
However, other studies have challenged that the underlying cause is not age, but are due to artistic movements which occur in certain periods. Artists in artistic movements tend to be creative regardless of their age. Thus, Galenson's theory has been criticized for overemphasizing the individual and overlooking the collective aspects in supporting creativity.