After graduated valedictorian of his high school class, Anderson went on to attend Lincoln University where he obtained a bachelor of science degree in Chemistry and graduated third of his class in 1941.
After college, Anderson went enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. He was assigned to the meteorology division, however, Anderson revealed that he was only chosen because of a process of elimination.
Along with over 100 servicemen, Anderson was sent to the University of Chicago to study meteorology. After completing the certification program, he was stationed in Tuskegee, Alabama where he served as a weather officer for the 332nd Fighter Group, now known as the Tuskegee Airmen.
After his serving at Tuskegee, Anderson became a squadron weather officer and trained fighter pilots across the country. After the war, Anderson pursued an opportunity in high polymer chemistry at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1946. He received his Master’s Degree and became a research and development officer for Watson Laboratories, where he supervised notable German scientists. In 1960, Anderson became the first black man to earn a Ph.D. in Meteorology.