Trygve Haugeland graduated from the Agricultural College of Norway in 1937. From 1946 up to 1953 he was headmaster of Lyngdal jordbruksskole, an agricultural school.
In 1963-1966 Haugeland was hired by the Norwegian Lutheran Mission Society to establish an agricultural school in Ethiopia. He later worked for the Methodist Church and Norwegian Church Aid in Liberia and Sudan, and was a member of the board of NORAD (The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) in 1968-1972.
Haugeland was a member of the Storting in 1957-1961 and was Minister of Environmental Affairs in a coalition government in 1972-1973. He was a member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in 1974-1984.