Consumer Behavior Students

During the first two years of the program, behavioral doctoral students take a total of 24 classes (4 per quarter), including eight courses taught in the marketing department. This rigorous commitment to coursework gives students an opportunity to build their expertise in key social-science approaches and theories and allows students to take advantage of the instruction available via the many excellent Northwestern doctoral programs beyond marketing (for example, psychology, organizational behavior, and sociology). In addition to introducing students to theoretical areas of research, these courses provide students with training in research philosophy, experimental techniques, and statistical analysis.

Students in their third year and beyond can take additional courses as needed.

Marketing Department Courses: Behavioral

The marketing department offers four doctoral-level behavioral courses each year. First-year and second-year students take all four courses each year. More senior doctoral students are welcome to enroll.

Three courses serve as the core foundation for the behavioral doctoral curriculum. We offer a course on Theory Building in the fall quarter, Methods & Data in the winter quarter, and Relevance & Applicability in the spring. Each of these courses is typically co-taught by two marketing faculty members, and each course has a primary emphasis (or “lens”). However, because the skills (and thus the courses) are inter-related, the courses will touch on more than one core skill.

The general emphasis of the three core courses is described below. The primary purpose of these courses is to teach skills. In many cases, learning skills will involve reading and reviewing published research that reflects the different theoretical models, methodological perspectives, and research philosophies that are applied in marketing as well as in related fields. Thus, these courses also have a secondary but important learning objective to acquaint students with some of these paradigms.

Below is a sample of the kinds of questions that are addressed by each of the courses. (Individual courses may or may not address these particular questions—they are meant merely to help clarify the type of inquiry encouraged by each of the courses.)

Theory Building (fall quarter): The foundations of how theories are built.
  • E.g., “What counts as ‘theory’ and how is it developed?”
  • E.g., “How to build a nomological net?”
  • E.g., “What influence does different kinds of evidence have on theory building?”

Methods and Data (winter quarter): Statistical methods for conducting research.
  • E.g., “How is regression different from logistic regression or ANOVA?”
  • E.g., “When should one use a within-participant versus between-participant design?”
  • E.g., “How to graphically plot regression results?”

Relevance and Applicability (spring quarter): How to make theory tests relevant and applicable to current marketing issues and/or to public policy.
  • E.g., “How does one bridge from theory to something practitioners or policy makers care about?”
  • E.g., “How to run a field experiment?”
  • E.g., “How to increase realism of laboratory experiments?”

The marketing department offers a fourth course each year, which varies from year to year. The objective is to provide flexibility in the set of skills taught in the standard three-course offering.

Marketing Department Courses: Quantitative

At Kellogg, we believe that behavioral students who graduate with a doctorate in marketing should have some familiarity with the kind of research done by the more “quantitative” side of marketing research. Therefore, in addition to taking the four behavioral courses described above during each of their first and second years, behavioral students are required to take one doctoral seminar offered by the quantitative marketing faculty at some point during their Kellogg graduate studies. Students often do this during their second year.

Additional Doctoral Courses at Northwestern

Beyond the required marketing courses, behavioral doctoral students fulfill their course requirements by taking courses in departments outside of marketing. These courses are typically those offered by the psychology and the organizational behavior (or “MORS”) department at Northwestern. Students also find useful and relevant courses in departments such as sociology, statistics, anthropology, education, philosophy, communication studies, and economics.

Independent Study

In rare cases, students in their first and second years may sign up for an independent study with a faculty member as one of the four courses. A marketing Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) must approve independent studies and no more than one independent study may be taken in a quarter. Independent studies are approved only to the extent that the proposed course reflects a level of rigor and expectations similar to a typical doctoral seminar, and only to the extent that the work is not explicitly focused on the development of a first-year or second-year paper. Students should work closely with the faculty member to develop a syllabus for the independent study that clearly documents the course’s aims and expectations. Students should take care that registering for an independent study does not preclude them from taking a course that is critical for their doctoral studies.