He attended Princeton University for a short time, but left without graduating. Then he studied at General Theological Seminary, where he received Bachelor of Sacred Theology in 1936 and Master of Sacred Theology in 1939.
William firstly wanted to try a career as a newspaper reporter in New York City. Not able to find satisfaction, he went to The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church of the USA, on Manhattan Island in New York. He was ordained an Episcopal deacon in 1936 and was made a priest in 1937. From 1935 until 1966 he served at the General Theological Seminary in New York City, first as a tutor and later as a professor. Upon his retirement in 1966, Pittenger relocated to England and accepted a post as a lecturer in the theology department at Cambridge University. He also was a senior resident at King’s College at Cambridge.
During his career Pittenger also taught at Columbia University for seven years, served as chaplain with the Episcopal Guild of Scholars for two decades, and was chair of the World Council of Churches’ North American Theological Commission on Faith and Order.
Norman Pittenger was one of the first process theologians without connections with the University of Chicago Divinity School, and produced the first genuine works on process theological christology. Pittenger wrote ninety books and many articles throughout his life. In addition to his writing on explicitly Christian themes, he wrote on sexuality in general and penned a Christian defense of homosexuality in particular.
W. Norman Pittenger was open about his homosexuality.
It is known that William had long-term relationship with Carlo, a gentleman he had met in Europe.