Shoven has been at Stanford since 1973, serving as chairman of the economics department from 1986 to 1989, director of the Center for Economic Policy Research from 1989 to 1993, and dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences from 1993 to 1998. Shoven served as a consultant for the U.S. Treasury Department from 1975 to 1988. The author of more than one hundred professional articles and eighteen books, notably The Real Deal: The History and Future of Social Security and Putting Our House in Order: A Guide to Social Security and Health Care Reform, he has been a visiting professor at Harvard University, the London School of Economics, Kyoto University, and Monash University. In 1995 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Shoven is a University of California, San Diego Alumnus earning a B.A. in Physics from University of California, San Diego and a Ph.D in Economics from Yale University.
Famously referred to as "Professor Shloven" by Congressman Bill Thomas, Shoven is known to his friends as "The Sherpa."