Students entering our doctoral program participate in one of three research tracks: consumer behavior, service strategy, or quantitative marketing models. These tracks allow students to specialize within a research domain within the marketing field.

Consumer Behavior Track

Consumer behavior is the study of the psychological processes involved when people choose, purchase, use, or dispose of products, services, ideas, or experiences. Consumer behavior is one of the fastest growing scholarly disciplines in the business field, and it is currently the most popular area of specialization for marketing academics and job seekers (Wang et al., 2015).  It is an interdisciplinary field, which builds on and integrates theories from psychology, economics, sociology, information science, and other related fields. 

A career as a consumer researcher offers the potential for scholars to contribute to existing theoretical knowledge, as well as to offer meaningful recommendations to marketing managers, public policy makers, and consumers themselves.  The faculty members of the W. P. Carey consumer behavior track are widely recognized thought leaders on topics such as identity, social influence, emotions, food and health decision-making, and compensatory consumption.  The goal of this track is to provide students with a strong background on a variety of behavioral topics, which they may then build on in order to develop new knowledge in their area of interest.

Key courses: Consumer Behavior; Experimental Design & Analysis; Current Topics in Consumer Behavior; Social Psychology with Business Applications

Representative Faculty: Kirk Kristofferson, Monika Lisjak, Naomi Mandel (Track Leader), Andrea Morales, Adriana Samper

Service Strategy Track

Service has emerged as a key driver of competitive advantage for companies in all industry sectors and across the globe.  Indeed, services are some of the most dynamic and transformative forces shaping individuals, business practice, and society. Organizational performance is influenced by a broad spectrum of participants, including customers, employees, and technologies. Research on service strategy topics is particularly challenging due to its cross-functional and cross-disciplinary perspective.  It offers a host of interesting and pertinent research questions on topics such as service branding, service firm-customer relationships, service innovation, business models, social media strategies, multi and omni-channel services, and service outcomes (including quality of life issues).

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of services in business practice, there is a critical need for the next generation of service scholars to contribute to—and guide— the development of service strategy. For students interested in this domain, ASU possesses renowned services marketing thought leaders, as well as The Center for Services Leadership, a strong academic research center—with over 40 member firms—and a globally recognized authority on the study of services. We are open to applicants with prior industry experience because they may bring unique insight into current firm challenges. However, applicants must meet all of our standard criteria to ensure they will have the capability to develop new, compelling research that can transform firm practice.

Key courses: Service Science - Marketing, Management, and Technology; Transformative Service Research using Qualitative Methods; Marketing Models; Experimental Design & Analysis

Representative Faculty: Laurel Anderson, Mary Jo Bitner (Track Leader), Ruth Bolton, Amy Ostrom, Wolfgang Ulaga, Michael Wiles

Quantitative Marketing Models Track

Quantitative modeling is a fast-moving field of study that provides new perspectives to managers, policy makers, and academic researchers. Quantitative marketing models help to explain marketing phenomena, connect marketing actions to organizational outcomes, and support marketing decisions. Researchers in this field actively develop new methods to solve various marketing problems (e.g., resource allocation, understanding market structure) and/or also accommodate new methods from other interdisciplinary fields such as economics, statistics, computer science, etc. Quantitative modeling is an especially exciting area for scholarly research due to emerging technologies, the availability of big data, the proliferation of new media and marketing channels, and the evolution of business models.

This track will expose students to a variety of quantitative models, including models of consumer behavior, firm behavior, strategic marketing models, models focused on new products and new media, forecasting models and decision support systems. Also, students will gain a theoretical and practical knowledge of quantitative models in marketing, such as econometric models, statistical models and machine learning/data mining. The courses in this track are designed to help students develop and apply quantitative modeling expertise to various marketing topics of interest.

Key courses: Marketing Models; Applied Marketing Models 

Representative Faculty: Jonathan Ketcham, Sunghoon Kim, Sungho Park (Track Leader)

Summer Research

Upon completion of the first year of coursework, students turn in a research paper to the Doctoral Committee for evaluation. Students work on their research over the summer – under the supervision of a faculty advisor -- and present it to the Marketing Department early in the fall semester. In subsequent summers, students continue to advance their research so that it can be submitted to a journal for review and/or work to revise manuscripts that are progressing in the review process. Students work with the faculty members associated with their research track to develop these manuscripts.

Comprehensive Examinations

Upon completion of the first two years, students must complete a written comprehensive exam in their research domain of interest. The first part of the exam is typically a critique and extension of a recent journal article in their area of interest. The second part typically involves the development of an original research idea. To continue in the program, students must successfully complete the exam as well as demonstrate sufficient progress on research advancement as determined by the Doctoral Committee. 


The dissertation centers on the development and defense of independent research contributing to the advancement of marketing knowledge. Students should begin working to develop a dissertation topic as they engage with faculty on research during their first two years in the program. Students will develop a dissertation project under the direction of their Dissertation Advisor and Committee. After passing the comprehensive exam, students are eligible to undertake a formal defense of their dissertation proposal, which is evaluated by their Dissertation Committee. Once the dissertation is completed, students engage in a dissertation defense (oral examination) that follows the guidelines of ASU Graduate Education.  

Performance Evaluation

All doctoral students must complete a performance evaluation in January of every year. Students are evaluated based on their academic performance in doctoral seminars, research productivity, research assistantship performance, quality of teaching (if applicable) and academic professionalism. Faculty working with students on research-related activities and teaching will provide input into the performance evaluation process.