Both MFT doctoral programs have a capstone experience. Students complete a basic research dissertation in the PhD program. They find a gap in the literature that matters, meaning there are implications for communities, families, individuals, and/or professions if that gap isn’t filled, and design a theoretically informed study to fill that gap. Thus, the PhD dissertation is not an applied study (like conducting a treatment outcome study or collecting and analyzing post-services satisfaction surveys for a community agency).
In contrast, students in the DMFT complete a doctoral project. The project is intellectually equivalent to the dissertation, but has an applied, real-world element to it. Students identify a need, whether local, regional, or national, and design a project to begin addressing that need. For example, students might design or evaluate a program, develop a strategic plan for an organization, or evaluate the initiatives of a state MFT organization. Many DMFT students often select a project in their current workplace that can demonstrate their administrative and doctoral level systemic training to improve or advance needs of their current organization.