Master (MSc) in Public Health orientation Tropical Medicine and International Health (MPH-TMIH)

The Master of Science in Public Health orientation Tropical Medicine and International Health (MPH-TM&IH) is an orientation for early or mid-career health professionals and researchers, holders of an academic (university) degree in health (medicine, pharmacy, nursing, midwifery), biomedical sciences, or other health-related domain (such as clinical biologists). Applicants have at least 6 months of relevant professional experience.
The focus of this orientation is on health in resource-constrained settings and vulnerable populations. The programme provides a broad introduction to international public health and subsequently looks at specific problems of public health importance primarily from a clinical or biomedical research or laboratory perspective. Examples are drug resistant tuberculosis, HIV/TB co-infection, antibiotic resistance, neglected tropical diseases and tropical diseases outbreaks. The programme pays considerable attention to clinical decision-making, treatment guidelines and diagnostic challenges.
MPH-TM&IH is a part-time study track. Students can spread their studies over maximum five years and thus alternate studies and work. At the level of advanced course components the programme allows credit mobility from accredited partner institutions such as the tropEd network  (see

Learning Objectives

The specific learning objectives of the MPH-TM&IH build further on the common MPH learning objectives (see the general information on the MPH).
At the end of the MPH-TM&IH, students will be able to:
  • Explain the epidemiological, pathogenetic and clinical features, diagnosis, management and control of tropical diseases, including (re-)emerging tropical diseases
  • Make sound differential diagnosis and clinical management plans, adapted to hospitals in resource-constrained settings
  • Analyse the performances and pitfalls of laboratory tests in a tropical setting and correctly interpret their results
  • Explain and apply principles of epidemiological studies
  • Select the appropriate diagnostic methods in the context of clinical and epidemiological field studies on tropical diseases
  • Design, plan and execute a research project in the field of aetiology of health problems, effectiveness and efficiency of diagnostics and/or clinical management of tropical diseases in resource-constrained settings
  • Formulate evidence-based guidelines to strengthen clinical care


The structure of the MPH-TM&IH allows students to build a coherent tailor-made study plan. A provisional study plan is part of an application file. The MPH-TM&IH is a part-time programme. Students can alternate study (face-to-face or on-line) with professional activities but have to complete the programme within 5 years. Students can include advanced course components from other acredited higher education institutions in their study plan (credit transfer).
The MPH-TM&IH programme consists of three main building blocks:
  • A core course (introduction of 20 ECTS credits)
  • Advanced course components (at least 25 ECTS credits)
  • A master thesis (15 ECTS credits)
Note: Detailed course component descriptions are available via links under the heading programme structure.
A core course
Students follow the Introduction to International Health (IIH) core course. At least 6 months of work experience in Public/International Health are required.
Note: students who have two or more years of work experience in Public/International Health, can also choose to follow the core (3 course  components) of the MPH-HS&DC orientation and afterwards proceed with advanced course components of the TM&IH orientation.
Advanced course components
For the advanced course components students are expected to choose a coherent combination of methodological and thematic subjects in function of their learning needs and thesis topic. The resulting study plan should fit within the scope of tropical medicine and international public health and reflect a clinical and/or biomedical research or laboratory sciences perspective.
For the selection of course components the following rules need to be taken into account:
  • Students are advised to balance their study plans with thematic and methodological content
  • Students can include a maximum of 10 credits via e-learning
  • A maximum of 10 previously earned credits (before registration in the MPH-TM&IH) from advanced course components can be accepted in the study-plan if relevant for the TM&IH orientation. These courses have often been followed as short courses for continuous professional development
During the MPH application applicants are invited to explain and justify their provisional study plan. Once admitted, students can however reconsider their choice after discussion with the course coordinators and thesis coach. A final study plan is agreed upon before the end of the core course.
Advanced course components can be chosen from:
  • Advanced course components offered by ITM (see list under programme structure)
  • MPH-HS&DC course components if they fit in the logic of the study plan and the objectives of the TM&IH orientation (see MPH-HS&DC description)
  • Accredited courses offered in the international tropEd network ( )
  • Relevant NVAO accredited courses organised by Belgian/Dutch universities ( )
A master thesis
On application the MPH candidates will submit a draft thesis outline. Admitted students will revise their thesis outline during the core course. Each student will work closely with a thesis coach who will support his/her thesis project and writing process.
The master thesis project gives the student the opportunity to integrate knowledge, methods and skills. It allows them to collect, analyse and use primary and/or secondary, quantitative and/or qualitative data, as well as carry out a review of the literature. They will also critically appraise their personal experiences and contextual issues and use this in developing their argument and conclusions. The students will select a thesis topic in line with the TM&IH orientation, personal interests and experience.
The thesis document and oral defence will be assessed by an international examination board.

Teaching and learning methods

The MPH-TM&IH explicitly uses methods for adult learning, emphasising a participatory approach to learning: we believe that learning and teaching are co-created by students and staff. The programme consists of interactive lectures, exercises, critical reading, small group sessions, followed by plenary presentations, debates, and coached individual or group assignments.
In addition to the contact hours, personal study time is required for preparatory and additional reading and for the assignments. All teaching materials, including theme-specific readers, will be available via an online learning platform.


The assessment procedures depend on the chosen course components and include the thesis and its defence. The Degree of Master of Science in Public Health is awarded to participants who have successfully completed each of the course components, the thesis and the defence.
Important: before graduation, the MPH-TM&IH participant must have at least two (2) years professional experience in a field related to International Health, in resource-constrained settings and/or vulnerable populations.

Admission requirements

Academic degree
Applicants must be holder of a university degree of minimum 4 years equivalent to 240 ECTS (referred to as a Master’s degree in the European Union) in health (medicine, nursing, midwifery), biomedical sciences, or other health-related domain.
Note: health professionals with a non-university degree and/or a degree of less than 240 ECTS (e.g. some nursing degrees) and other professionals holders of a “non-health sciences university degree of min 240 ECTS” (e.g. biologists) can ask for a special admission procedure. This procedure will require additional information.
Applicants need at least six (6) months of work experience in public/international health at enrolment. Applicants should be aware that specific advanced course components may have additional admission criteria related to lengths and nature of professional experience.
Language proficiency
Required level for English: TOEFL 580 (paper-based), 230 (computer-based) or 88 (internet-based), IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. (ITM TOEFL Code 7727)
Note: native English speakers are exempt from these language requirements. Applicants whose first language is not English are equally exempt if they have obtained 60 credits from a higher education programme taught in English. Non-native English speakers are also exempt from the English language requirement if they have a higher education diploma from a Flemish Community higher education institution.
Documents required at application
  • Copies of academic and professional degrees
  • Copies of transcripts of academic records (scores)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Passport-size photograph
  • Passport copy
  • If relevant, proof of English language proficiency (e.g. TOEFL)
  • Motivation letter
  • Provisional thesis-outline
  • Provisional study-plan MPH-TM&IH
  • Contact details of 2 referees
  • Funding plan
  • If relevant, a DGD-scholarship application with letter from employer
Instructions on each of the required documents are provided during the application process.
Only complete applications can be taken into account.

Selection criteria

  • Relevance of professional/research experience
  • Academic performance (based on transcript of academic records)
  • Motivation
  • Quality of the provisional thesis outline
  • Quality of the provisional study plan
  • References
Yearly, a maximum of 15 students can be accepted in the programme.


Note: depending on the choice of advanced course components, especially if course components from other institutions are included in the study plan, the total cost for tuition will vary.


Programme director: Lut Lynen
Coordinator (s): Maria Zolfo, Mieke Stevens
Secretary: Nadia Ehlinger
Tel: +32 (0)3 247 63 52


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