Schwartz was born on March 23, 1927 in the United States. He received a BS degree at the University of Nebraska in 1948 and his MA and then PhD in 1953 from Ohio State University.
He was a professor at Georgia State University, Atlanta, and was considered a leading American authority on motivation. He became well known through his motivational publications and self-help books, especially for The Magic of Thinking Big, published in 1959.Later, he began his own work as a self-help coach and life strategist and founded his own consultancy firm focusing on leadership development called Creative Educational Services Inc.
Georgia State University awards a scholarship in his honour.