California MFT program rankings: The best research producer

California Family Therapy Program Rankings coverSo far, I’ve revealed the best bargain among major California MFT programs and told you which California MFT program best prepares you for license exams. Today, I’ll tell you which program is the best in MFT research productivity.

All of these rankings come from my new book, California Family Therapy Program Rankings, a guide to 34 of the state’s biggest and best MFT programs. The book includes top-10 rankings based on cost, graduates’ success on license exams, and today’s topic, research productivity.

For this set of rankings, I looked at six major English-language family therapy journals over a two-year span (July 2011 to June 2013). In those journals, I counted up the number of research articles authored or co-authored by faculty of each university. I only looked six authors deep on each article, and if a program had two coauthors on the same article, that counted as just one credit, not two.

Some cautions, of course. You could debate my journal selections; I went with what I perceive to be the six most influential journals specific to family therapy. NCFR’s Journal of Marriage and Family is a great example of a journal that is highly influential but was left out here because it is a family sociology journal, and not specifically a family therapy journal. If faculty were publishing books, magazine articles, blogs, or other avenues, those didn’t count, and perhaps they should. And I didn’t make any effort to weight the results by program size, which arguably gives a big advantage to larger programs with lots of faculty.

Perhaps most importantly, and I address this at some length in the book, how involved a program is with producing research may not matter to you. Understanding research is certainly important to being a good therapist, but it is debatable how important a program’s production of research is to your education.

Got all that? Okay, enough suspense. Who’s number one in research productivity among major California MFT programs?

Alliant International University had 10 different articles published in the six selected journals over that two-year span. To be fair, Alliant has about 20 full-time faculty around its system, so it does benefit from exactly the size advantage I described above. But its faculty undoubtedly is actively influencing the future of family therapy on a wide variety of specific topics.

The other big finding from this set of rankings is how few California MFT programs appear to actually be producing research. Of the 34 programs reviewed in my book, only seven had any research publication credits at all in the journals and timeframe I reviewed. California is home to about half the MFTs in the country by licensure, but we sure are not home to half of the research in the field. Far, far less. I wonder what to make of that.