The Robert Ferber and Seymour Sudman Dissertation Awards


17th Annual Dissertation Awards

The Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) is pleased to announce the annual Robert Ferber Dissertation Award and the Seymour Sudman Dissertation Award, both for excellence in survey research as part of a doctoral dissertation. “Excellence in survey research” is construed broadly and many areas and topics will be eligible. Eligible dissertations will involve either methodological research related to surveys (including broader areas such as psychology, political science, geography, statistics that can be applied to survey research) or will be based on primary survey data collection on any topic. Previous winners have come from many UIUC departments and colleges, showcasing the breadth of work that relates to surveys.

An award of up to $2,000 will be given to the winner of each of these two awards. All doctoral candidates whose dissertations meet the above criteria are eligible provided, (1) they are currently enrolled on, or recently graduated from, the UIUC campus, and (2) they successfully defended their dissertation proposal between May 27, 2017, and May 27, 2018. This refers to defense of the proposal, not the final dissertation.

Proposals will be judged on their overall quality and on their contribution to the field of survey research. Receiving or being considered for other awards does not preclude a student from applying for these awards. When you submit your application, you will automatically be considered for both the Robert Ferber and the Seymour Sudman Dissertation Awards. Awards will be made in fall 2018. Funds have been endowed for these awards so that they will continue annually in perpetuity.

DEADLINE: Applications are due no later than Tuesday, May 29, 2018.

Application materials include a letter of interest, a letter from your dissertation advisor/chair recommending your work for the award, a research description of no more than five (5) double-spaced pages, and your current vita; all materials MUST be submitted online.

Click here for further guidance and/or to submit your application documents.

Past award winners and dissertation abstracts.

Questions about the Ferber-Sudman Awards may be directed to Sharon Shavitt at

Robert Ferber (1922–1981) and Seymour Sudman (1928–2000) were eminent scholars in the field of survey research. It is in memory of their contributions both to the field and to their students that these awards have been endowed.

Robert Ferber

  • Robert FerberRobert Ferber spent his entire academic career at the University of Illinois (1948–1981). He received a B.S. in mathematics from the City College of New York in 1942, and an M.A. (1945) and Ph.D. (1951) in economics and statistics from the University of Chicago. Dr. Ferber was professor of marketing, research professor of economics and of business administration, and the founding director of the Survey Research Laboratory from 1964 until 1981.

    In addition to authoring numerous monographs, articles, and chapters in books, Ferber was the author or co-author of 17 books, including Social Experimentation and Economic Policy (1982). Always active in his field, Ferber was the associate editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association (1959–1963), editor of the Journal of Marketing Research (1964–1969), president of the American Marketing Association (1969–1970), and editor of the Journal of Consumer Research (1977–1981).

    Ferber used to joke that one of his greatest achievements was recruiting Seymour Sudman to the faculty of the University of Illinois in 1968.

Seymour Sudman

  • Seymour SudmanSeymour Sudman received his B.S. in mathematics from Roosevelt University in 1949 and a Ph.D. in business from the University of Chicago in 1962. From 1962 to 1968, he was a lecturer at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and also the director of sampling and a senior study director at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC).

    In 1968, Sudman joined the faculty of the University of Illinois and the staff of the Survey Research Laboratory. He was professor of business administration and of sociology and research professor and deputy director at SRL. In 1985, he was named the Walter H. Stellner Distinguished Professor of Marketing in the Department of Business Administration.

    Sudman was a fellow of the American Statistical Association and past president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). In 1987, he was awarded the AAPOR Award for lifetime achievement, along with his longtime collaborator Norman Bradburn.

    The author of 19 books and hundreds of articles and presentations, Sudman is remembered for several major works, including Thinking About Answers: The Application of Cognitive Processes to Survey Methodology (1996) with N. M. Bradburn and N. Schwarz.