Malcolm Getz
Associate Professor of Economics

Department of Economics
Box 1819 Station B
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee 37235-1819


  • born in Somerville, New Jersey, 1945
  • BA in economics at Williams College, 1967
  • PhD in economics at Yale University, 1973
    • at Vanderbilt since 1973

    Office: 615/322-3425
    FAX: 615/343-8495


Here is a short biographical statement in text form.

Mr. Getz has been a faculty member in economics at Vanderbilt since 1973. He was Director of the Jean and Alexander Heard Library (1984-94) and Associate Provost for Information Services and Technology (1985-94). An award winning teacher, he has authored four monographs, two textbooks, and many essays. He earned his BA in economics from Williams College in 1967, and his Ph.D. in economics from Yale University in 1973.

Mr. Getz’s writing addresses a range of public policy issues from fire departments and libraries to higher education and health care. Investing in College, A Guide for the Perplexed (Harvard University Press, 2007) describes the issues in choosing a college from a parent’s point of view.


"Highlights of Past Publications"

Investing in College, A Guide for the Perplexed 

(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007)

College education is one of the most important investments a family will make. But between the viewbooks, websites, insider gossip, and magazine rankings, students and their worried parents face a dizzying array of options. What do the rankings really mean? Is it wise to choose the most prestigious school a student can get into? What are the payoffs of higher education and, by the way, how do we pay for them?

In a unique approach to these conundrums, an economist and award-winning teacher walks readers through the opportunities, risks, and rewards of heading off to college. Warning against the pitfalls of numerical rankings, Malcolm Getz poses questions to guide a student toward not necessarily the best college but the right one. Famous professors suggest quality—but do they teach undergraduates? Are smaller classes always better? When is a state university the best deal around?

In a concise overview of decades of research, Getz reviews findings on the long-term returns of college education in different careers, from law to engineering, from nursing to financial management. Sorting through personal, professional, and institutional variables, he helps families determine when paying $40,000 a year might make sense, and when it merely buys an expensive rear window decal. He breaks down the formidable admissions game into strategies to improve the odds of acceptance, and he offers tips on tax breaks, subsidized loans, federal grants, 529 accounts, merit scholarships, and much more.

Shrewd and sensible, Investing in College is an invaluable resource and a beacon of sanity for college-bound students and the families who support them.

Research Interests

I have a continuing interest in a range of public policy issues.



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