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Morton Schapiro

President Emeritus and Professor, Northwestern University
Morton Schapiro

IPR Fellow

Research Areas:
Education Policy

PhD, Economics, University of Pennsylvania, 1979 

Morton Schapiro was Northwestern University’s president from 2009 to 2022. An economist, he is among the nation’s leading authorities on the economics of higher education, with particular expertise in the area of college financing and affordability and on trends in educational costs and student aid. He has testified before U.S. Senate and House committees on economic and educational issues and is widely quoted in the national media on those topics.

He has published more than 100 articles and written or edited 10 books including Minds Wide Shut: How the New Fundamentalisms Divide Us (Princeton University Press, 2021), co-authored with Northwestern professor and eminent literary critic Gary Saul Morson. 

He has received research grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, World Bank, Spencer Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, College Board, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and other groups to study the economics of higher education and related topics. In 2010 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2017 he was elected a member of the National Academy of Education.

Schapiro is a professor of economics in Northwestern’s Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and also holds appointments in the J. L. Kellogg School of Management and the School of Education and Social Policy.

Previously, Schapiro was president of Williams College from 2000–09. Earlier he served as a member of the Williams College faculty from 1980–91 as professor of economics and assistant provost. In 1991, he went to the University of Southern California, where he served as chair of its Department of Economics until 1994 and then as dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences until 2000. During his last two years as dean, he also served as the university’s vice president for planning.

He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Hofstra University and his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.

Selected Publications


Morson, G. S., and M. Schapiro. Minds Wide Shut: How the New Fundamentalisms Divide Us. Princeton University Press (2021).

Morson, G. S., and M. Schapiro. 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, eds. 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

Figlio, D., and M. Schapiro. 2021. Staffing the higher education classroom. Journal of Economic Perspectives 35(1): 143–62.

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.