Wyland was born in Jewell County, Kansas. He moved to Ringwood, Oklahoma, in 1902. In 1908 and 1909 he attended the high school in Greenville, Texas, later moving to Danville, Illinois, where he graduated from high school in 1911. Four years later he graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a degree of A.B. and honors in psychology. He then attended the Garrett Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and received his B.D. degree in 1918. Taking postgraduate courses, he received his M.A. degree in 1929 and his Ph.D. in 1934 from Columbia University.
His family included his wife, the former Miss Ruby Arnold, and their son, Ray O. Wyland Jr.
Serving as managing director of the United American in Illinois from 1919 to 1922, Wyland conducted a training school in Americanization work which resulted in the naturalization of 20,000 aliens. He helped 'Americanize' several hundred thousand foreign-born.
Wyland became affiliated with the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America on August 1, 1922 and was connected with the National Council throughout the intervening years. He started as national director of relationships for what was first called the "Bureau of Church Relations" then later the "Relationships Division". He would also become acting director of education in 1925, then director of education in 1930. He would hold these positions until 1952.
As director of relationships, Wyland coordinated the work of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Latter-day Saint, and other religious groups in their Scouting participation, also educational institutions, civic groups, service clubs, fraternal bodies and parent institutions which sponsored Scout Troops and Cub Packs.
As director of education, he edited Principles of Scoutmastership (first training material for Scoutmasters in the early 1930s) and other publications.
His doctoral dissertation was Scouting in the Schools: A Study of the Relationships Between the Schools and the Boy Scouts of America. His dissertation advisor was Dr. Elbert K. Fretwell, who would become the BSA's second Chief Scout Executive. It was first published in book form in 1934 by Teacher College Press, part of Columbia University.