Morton Schapiro

Professor and President, Northwestern University


President of Northwestern University, economist Morton Schapiro is one of the nation's foremost experts on the economics of higher education, with a particular focus on college financing and affordability. He has published more than 100 articles in academic journals such as the American Economic Review, Science, and Demography. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Schapiro has also written five books and edited two others, including College Success: What It Means and How to Make it Happen (College Board, 2008). Co-edited with his longtime co-author and Spencer Foundation President Michael McPherson, this volume examines the issue of how to define and measure college success from various perspectives, including those of students, faculty, and the college itself.

Schapiro was president of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., one of the country’s leading liberal arts colleges, from 2000 until coming to Northwestern in fall 2009. At Williams, he also previously held positions as a professor of economics and assistant provost from 1980 to 1991. In 1991, he moved to the University of Southern California as a professor and later became dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. During his last two years there, he also served as USC’s vice president for planning.

Schapiro’s research has received support from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, World Bank, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Spencer Foundation, College Board, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and other organizations and foundations.

Selected Publications


Morson, G. S., and M. Schapiro, eds. Cents and Sensibility: What Economists Can Learn from the Humanities. Princeton University Press (2017).

Morson, G. S., and M. Schapiro, eds. The Fabulous Future?: America and the World in 2040. Northwestern University Press (2015).

McPherson, M., and M. Schapiro, eds. College Success: What It Means and How to Make It Happen. College Board (2008).

McPherson, M., and M. Schapiro, eds. College Access: Opportunity or Privilege? College Board (2006).

McPherson, M., and M. Schapiro. The Student Aid Game: Meeting Need and Rewarding Talent in American Higher Education. Princeton University Press (1998).

McPherson, M., M. Schapiro, and G. Winston. Paying the Piper: Productivity, Incentives, and Financing in U.S. Higher Education. University of Michigan Press (1993).

McPherson, M., and M. Schapiro. Keeping College Affordable: Government and Educational Opportunity. The Brookings Institution (1991).

McPherson, M., and M. Schapiro. Selective Admission and the Public Interest. College Board (1990).

Schapiro, M. Filling Up America: An Economic-Demographic Model of Population Growth and Distribution in the 19th-Century United States. JAI Press (1986).

Journal Articles and Chapters

Nurnberg, P., M. Schapiro, and D. Zimmerman. 2012. Students choosing colleges: Understanding the matriculation decision at a highly selective private institution. Economics of Education Review 31(1): 1–8.

Schapiro, M., with M. McPherson. 2007. Assessment and accountability in higher education. Forum Futures 2326.

Schapiro, M., with M. McPherson. 2003. Funding roller coaster for public higher education. Science 302(5648): 1157.

Schapiro, M., with M. McPherson. 2002. Changing patterns of institutional aid: Impact on access and educational policy. 2002. In Condition of Access: Higher Education for Lower Income Students, ed. D. Heller, 7394. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers.

Behrman, J. R.,  L. Kletzer, M. McPherson, and M. Schapiro. 1998. Microeconomics of college choice, careers, and wages. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 559:1223.