Graduate Study in Consumer Psychology
Consumer Psychology, or Consumer Behavior, is an interdisciplinary area that incorporates ideas from, among other disciplines, psychology, marketing, communications, economics, anthropology, sociology, and geography. Most university faculty who study consumer issues are in marketing departments and business schools.
Master's Level Programs
- In psychology departments, students will usually will usually pursue a more general degree, such as social or industrial psychology, with a specialization in consumer psychology.
- In business schools, there are few programs at the master's level that specifically focus on consumer behavior. Mostly, students will take an M.B.A., where they may be able to specialize in marketing or advertising. Occasionally, electives can be taken in other departments such as psychology. Peterson's Guides offers a directory of M.B.A. Programs.
- Programs in advertising or communications may be of interest.
Please note that Ph.D. programs emphasize research and are intended to prepare graduates to work in universities doing theoretical research and teaching. A strong commitment to research is required, and most programs require very rigorous course work in statistics and research methods.
- There are few doctoral programs in psychology departments in the U.S. specifically emphasizing consumer psychology (most of the faculty doing research in these areas are in the business schools). However, one can take a general program in social psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, or other areas and one can focus research on consumer issues. The American Psychological Association offers a directory of Graduate Study in Psychology that lists most of the doctoral programs offered in the U.S., along with degree requirements, accreditation status, admissions information, and specializations offered. See http://www.apa.org/careers/index.aspx for additional career information.
- In business schools, a Ph.D. program in marketing will generally require course work on general marketing theory, economics, and research methods. At many institutions, students can elect to specialize in the area of consumer behavior.
The USC Marshall School of Business Ph.D. program in Marketing is directed by Dr. Anthony Dukes.