Dolphin received a Bachelor of Science degree from West Chester University in 1962. Six years later he was given a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Ohio State University.
Dolphin began his career as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maine in 1968. Two years later he held the position of an assistant professor and professor of biology at Iowa State University. In 1990, he was appointed a professor of genetics, development and cell biology at the same university and held the position until 2007, when he became a professor emeritus.
Dolphin is a member of Iowa Science Foundation, Iowa Academy of Sciences and Sigma Xi.
On August 31, 1963 Warren Dolphin married Judith A. Allen. They have 2 children.