Background and Aim: We investigated which metrics represent valid correlates of the academic productivity of cardiothoracic (CT) surgical centers. Methods: We collected data from 57 US academic CT surgical groups (663 surgeons), including H index and institutional role of each surgeon, ranking by US News & World Report (USNWR) and NIH funding, and designation as department versus division. Results: Academic productivity (median H-index of each group) was significantly different across institutions (p < 0.001). Several USNWR hospital categories (“Honor Roll”, “Adult Cardiology and Heart Surgery”, “Adult Pulmonology”, “Adult Cancer”) and medical school ranking for research were associated with differences in academic productivity, while ranking by NIH funding or designation as department versus division was not. Groups with chairperson's individual H-index ≥50 were overall more productive than those with chairperson's H-index <50 (median H-index: 18 vs. 14; p = 0.005). Conclusions: USNWR rankings provide a good representation of academic productivity, while NIH funding ranking or designation as department versus division does not. The individual productivity of the chairperson is correlated with that of the whole group. doi: 10.1111/jocs.12773 (J Card Surg 2016;31:423–428).