Ph.D. Program

The Anderson Ph.D. in Behavioral Decision Research is a flexible doctoral program that provides students fundamental skills for investigating human decision-making that can be applied across a range of specific topics, depending on the students’ research interests. The faculty span a broad range of areas, including behavioral economics, cognitive and social psychology, marketing, organizational behavior, behavioral finance, behavioral strategy and public policy. Opportunities exist to work with scholars from neighboring disciplines such as law, medicine and public health. The program emphasizes collaboration and requires students to work on projects with multiple faculty across subject areas, and provides flexibility for students regarding the job markets for which they prepare.

During the first two years of the program, students take coursework in basic methodology/statistics, as well as behavioral economics, choice architecture and judgment and decision-making. Students also take courses in an area of professional focus in preparation for the job market of their choice, such as marketing, organizational behavior, finance or strategy. Students will also attend the Behavioral Decision Making Speakers series, which brings in top decision scholars from around the world to discuss their research. Students are expected to present their research every year to the rest of the area and give feedback on other presentations at the weekly behavioral lab meetings. Through active intellectual interchange, students become adept at developing and evaluating behavioral research and become exposed to a wide array of methods, behavioral insights and research applications. Students are expected to maintain an active research program throughout the course of their graduate studies.

At the end of each of their first two years of study, students are required to submit a paper, either writing up a completed research project or providing a detailed proposal of a research project that they are interested in conducting. Each of these two papers must be written in collaboration with a different area faculty member, ensuring that students are exposed to multiple perspectives, paradigms and approaches to research, and that each student has multiple mentors. At the end of their second year, students will take a qualifying exam, which will require them to demonstrate, through the criteria below, that they have mastered the essential skills for behavioral science research:

  • (a) Read a research paper by another scholar and provide a critical review of the strengths and weaknesses of that paper.
  • (b) Design a study to test a novel hypothesis.
  • (c) Analyze a novel data set and write up a results section.

By the end of their fourth year, students must advance to candidacy for a Ph.D. by successfully proposing a dissertation project that details a plan of important, novel, independent research to a committee of faculty, and having that proposal formally approved. Finally, to receive a Ph.D. students must complete a dissertation according to university requirements.

Behavioral Decision Making