He received his Ph.D. from the Catholic University of America in European intellectual history with a thesis on Giambattista Vico. Widely read in Western history, he also spent many years studying and teaching the cultures and religions of Asia. He lived in China in 1948 where he met the Confucian scholar, Wm. Theodore de Bary. Their collaboration led to the founding of the Asian Thought and Religion Seminar at Columbia University. Thomas authored two books on Asian religions, Buddhism and Religions of India.
For more than twenty years, Thomas directed the Riverdale Center of Religious Research along the Hudson River. During this period from 1966-1979 he taught at Fordham University where he chaired the history of religions program. He directed more than twenty doctoral theses.
With the mathematician, Brian Swimme, he wrote The Universe Story, which arose from a decade of collaboration. This work was deeply inspired by the thought of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. From 1975-1987 he was President of the American Teilhard Association.
His major contributions to the discussions on the environment are in his books The Dream of the Earth (1988), The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future (1992), and Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community (2006). His final two books focusing on world religions were: The Sacred Universe: Earth, Spirituality, and Religion in the Twenty-first Century and The Christian Future and the Fate of Earth both published in 2009. Thomas Berry: A Biography was released in 2019 by Columbia University Press.
Berry is buried at Green Mountain Monastery in Greensboro, Vermont.