Master (MSc) in Public Health - Health Systems Management and Policy (MPH-HSMP)

Master (MSc) in Public Health - Health Systems Management and Policy (MPH - HSMP) is a ten-month international course for health professionals and researchers involved in health systems management and policy-making 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 “Health Systems Management and Policy” (MPH-HSMP) specifically prepares health professionals for management and research of health systems including health care delivery, and the design and implementation of health policies at local, national and international level.
The MPH-HSMP draws on ITM’s unique expertise in health service organisation, health financing, health  policy and health systems strengthening, and benefits from the rich exchange of experiences between students originating from different parts of the world.
The MPH-HSMP is one of three possible orientations within the MPH programme at ITM. Some course components are taught in conjunction with the MPH orientation “Disease Control” (MPH-DC). Students of the MPH orientation “International Health” (MPH-IH), can include course components of the MPH-HSMP or MPH-DC in a tailor-made study path.
The course is organised in English and French, alternating years.

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.
MPH common learning objectives:
  • Perform a comprehensive analysis of a health system
  • Formulate an evidence-based and context-specific health programme
  • Master relevant quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Master relevant health system and policy research methods
  • Search, select, appraise, summarise and translate evidence
  • Clearly communicate orally and in writing to professional and scientific audiences
  • Effectively work in a team
The specific learning objectives of the MPH-HSMP programme stem from an analysis of the core competencies professionals involved in management of health systems and/or health policy need:
  • Assess the performance of local and national health organisations, systems and policies
  • Formulate evidence-based and context-specific strategies for health systems strengthening

Programme structure

The MPH-HSMP programme consists of:

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


10 flexible credits: choice between Strategic Management of Health Systems (MAN) and Health Policy (POL)

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:
  • The appraisal of specific competencies (subject matters) and generic competencies (oral & written communication skills, critical thinking, ...) for the core and advanced course components (70%)
  • The appraisal of the thesis document (15%)
  • 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-HSMP participant writes a thesis on a relevant problem or issue in in strategic management of health systems or health policy. 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-HSMP is an international master-after-master programme intended for health professionals and reseachers involved in health systems management and policy-making 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 health systems management or policy-making 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: Nadine Nuyts
Tel: +32 (0)3 247 63 09


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