Bearenson was born in Salt Lake City, living her adult life in the home where she was raised as an only child of two teachers. She did undergraduate work at the University of Virginia from 1941-42 and at the University of Utah where she earned her B.A. in 1943, and her M.A. in 1945. During the summers of 1947, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1958, 1961, and 1964 she studied with renowned ceramicist Marguerite Wildenhain at her Pond Farm summer workshops in Guerneville, California (see Wildenhain’s work in 1950s). She was also a student of Shoji Hamada at San Jose State College during the summer of 1963. Though initially hired to teach drawing and design at the University of Utah, under Dorothy's guidance, a fully equipped ceramics studio was finally established in 1971. Dorothy organized the first pottery seminars and glass blowing workshops at the University of Utah. During her tenure at the University of Utah, Dorothy invited world-renowned artists. She taught ceramics at the University of Utah from 1962-1999.