Master (MSc) in Public Health - Disease Control (MPH-DC)

The Master (MSc) in Public Health - Disease Control (MPH-DC) is a ten-month international course for health professionals or researchers involved in disease control or sexual and reproductive health programmes in resource-constrained settings such as low and middle-income countries.
The MPH aims to contribute to the improved  health of individual and populations through strengthened health systems and improved disease prevention and control. The MPH orientation “Disease Control” (MPH-DC) specifically prepares health professionals and researchers to formulate, implement and evaluate a prevention and control policy based on state –of –the art evidence taking health systems and the broader context into account.
The MPH-DC draws on ITM’s unique expertise in tropical diseases, sexual and reproductive health, epidemiology, social sciences and health systems strengthening, and benefits from the rich exchange of experience between students originating from different parts of the world.
The MPH-DC is one of three possible orientations within the MPH programme at ITM. Some course components are taught in conjunction with the MPH orientation Health Systems Management and Policy (HSMP). Students of the MPH orientation International Health (MPH-IH), can include course components of the MPH-DC or MPH-HSMP  in a tailor-made study path.
The course is organised in English and French, alternating each year.

Learning Objectives

The MPH at ITM is a subsequent Master programme aiming at the acquisition of both academic and professional competencies. At the end of the programme, students should be able to formulate evidence-based and context-specific health programmes and strategies for health systems strengthening. This implies the acquisition of sound analytical and problem-solving skills, research competencies, and the ability to deal with complexity. Insight in public health related disciplines is an obvious pre-requisite. In addition, students are trained to become autonomous and reflexive professionals and researchers able to communicate effectively and to take responsibility for their decisions.
The MPH programme learning objectives are divided into common learning objectives to be attained by all orientations and specific learning objectives for each orientation. The specific learning objectives of the MPH-DC programme stem from the analysis of the core competencies health professionals involved in the management of health programmes need.
MPH common learning objectives:
  • Perform a comprehensive analysis of a health system
  • Formulate evidence-based and context-specific health programmes
  • Master relevant quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Master relevant health system and policy research methods
  • Search, select, appraise, summarize and translate evidence
  • Clearly communicate orally and in writing to professional and scientific audiences
  • Effectively work in a team.
MPH-DC specific learning objectives:
  • Assess the importance of different aspects of a comprehensive range of tropical diseases / sexual and reproductive health problems and their main determinants at local and national level.
  • Critically appraise possible strategies in tropical disease control / sexual and reproductive health based on evidence and taking into account contextual elements.
  • Prioritise and formulate specific strategies related to tropical disease control / sexual and reproductive health within the framework of the existing health system and social context.
  • Plan implementation of those strategies considering the existing health system organization; the actors involved including the community, the available resources; equity, human rights and gender aspects.
  • Monitor and evaluate tropical disease control / sexual and reproductive health programmes. 

Programme structure

The MPH-DC programme consists of:

  • A core of 20 ECTS credits.
  • Advanced course components (25 ECTS Credits).
  • A master thesis (15 ECTS credits).


15 flexible credits: choice between Planning and Management of Tropical Disease Control Programmes (TD) and Planning and Management of Reproductive Health Programmes (RH)

Teaching and learning methods

The MPH course uses established methods for adult learning emphasizing a participatory approach to learning. Teaching consists of interactive lectures, small group sessions followed by plenary presentations and discussion, coached individual or group work, and presentations related to assignments. In addition to the contact hours, personal study time is required for preparatory and additional reading and for the assignments.
Didactic methods can be categorized as interactive lectures, part-tasks (be it exercises/practicals/critical reading sessions or case studies/role plays/debates) and whole-tasks (i.e. more complex group work, field visits, coached individual assignments or assessments).
All teaching material, including theme-specific readers, is available on an online learning platform.


In the MPH the learning process of the participant is assessed through three evaluation elements. The importance of each element is reflected in the weight (percentage) it receives in the final grade:
  1. the appraisal of specific competencies (subject matters) and generic competencies (oral & written communication skills, critical thinking, ...) for the core and advanced course components (70%)
  2. the appraisal of the thesis document (15%)
  3. the final oral examination including thesis defence (15%)
The Degree of Master of Science in Public Health is awarded to participants who have successfully performed in each of the three elements.
The first element (appraisal of specific and generic competencies for the core and advanced course components) consists of tests and assignments The attainment of the learning objectives for each course component is always assessed through a mix of methods (oral/written, individual/group, different formats). The relative weight of each test/assignment result is related to the credits of the corresponding course component/module. For all oral and written assignments 70% of the mark is based on the appraisal of specific (content related) competencies and 30% of the mark is based on the appraisal of generic competencies (communication, critical thinking, …).
Each MPH-DC participant writes a thesis on a relevant problem or issue in tropical disease or reproductive health programme management. The participant is encouraged to identify a problem s/he is familiar with and has encountered in his/her professional experience so far. Each thesis is read and assessed by two members of the examination board.
During the final oral examination participants present their thesis to an international jury of five members and thereafter answer questions that are mainly based on the thesis manuscript and oral presentation. However, the candidate is expected to be able to answer questions beyond the thesis content, on subjects or topics covered by the MPH programme. The examination committee for each MPH orientation is composed of three non-ITM and two ITM members. All members of the jury are experts in specific domains of public health and disease control.

Admission requirements

The MPH-DC is an international master-after-master programme intended for health professionals and reseachers involved in or responsible for disease control or sexual and reproductive health programmes in low and middle-income countries.
The admission criteria are:
A university degree in medicine or health sciences (min. 4 years) equivalent to 240 ECTS (referred to as a Master degree in the European Union)
At least 2 years of relevant experience in tropical disease control or sexual and reproductive health in low and middle-income countries
Proficiency in the course language: Candidates who are not native speakers of the course language or whose language of instruction is not the same as the course language, must prove their language proficiency with a certificate from a recognized institution.
Required level for English: TOEFL paper-based 580, computer-based 230, Internet-based 88 or IELTS 6.5. (ITM Toefl Code 7727)

Selection criteria

  • Number of years and relevance of the professional experience
  • Academic performance (based in the transcript of academic records)
  • Motivation
  • Quality of the draft thesis outline
  • References


Programme director: Bart Criel
Coordinator (s): Marianne Pirard, Marlon Garcia Lopez
Secretary: Marianne Hilgert
Tel: +32 (0)3 247 64 71


The course study load is equivalent to 60 ECTS credits (European Credit Transfer and accumulation System credits).