Consumer Behavior and Family Economics

PhD in Consumer Behavior and Family Economics

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The Ph.D. program in Human Ecology: Consumer Behavior and Family Economics develops scholars able to apply social science theories to understanding household and consumer interactions within the marketplace and the public sector. Students undertake research on consumer decision-making affecting the social and economic well-being of individuals and families. This is a multi-disciplinary degree program. The goal of this program is to prepare students for the following types of job placements:

1. Tenure-track academic faculty positions, primarily in other schools of human ecology, consumer science or related units

2. Research administration positions in government, non-tenure academic units, nonprofit organizations, think tanks and related entities

3. Applied consumer research in the public and private sector, including market research, policy research and consulting.

Requirements: The Ph.D. degree is designed for completion in four semesters of full-time coursework plus dissertation work. A minimum of 51 credits of graduate work is required. Requirements include Consumer Science courses, advanced statistics and research methods, field courses in either Consumer Behavior or Family Economics and research and dissertation credits.

What Makes This Program Unique?

  • In-depth skills and training for professional researchers, including:
    • Empirical methods, experimental methods and causal inference
    • Analysis of major public datasets as well as administrative data
    • Understanding of consumer and household well-being theories and applications
    • Understanding of decision-making theories and models
  • An emphasis on applications and applied research for strategy and policymaking in the public and private sectors
  • Access to the extensive courses, faculty, resources and expertise of disciplinary departments and centers across the UW-Madison campus
  • The potential for an intensive, four-year time to degree
  • The ability to develop disciplinary or field sub-specialties, certificates and minor designations
  • A focus on teaching, teaching experiences, outreach and presenting findings for the public
  • An emphasis on publication and dissemination of research as a graduate student, including support to attend professional conferences
  • Access to facilities including a behavioral decision making lab, high quality statistics servers and unique datasets
  • Opportunities to conduct research with centers and institutes across campus
  • Multi-year funding available, including tuition and stipends
  • A small program with approximately 6 students admitted and 20 students total

Program Milestones

Working with the student, the advisor determines if and when the student is prepared to complete each of five program “milestones”:

1. Preliminary Exam
2. Field Paper
3. Dissertation Proposal
4. Teaching Fellowship (teaching as a Lecturer SA)
5. Dissertation Defense

Financial Aid

General UW-Madison graduate student funding information

Or, contact the Office of Student Financial Aid, 333 East Campus Mall, 608-262-3060.

Program Contact

Michael Collins

Fetzer Family Chair in Consumer and Personal Finance, Associate Professor
608-616-0369 |