Master (MSc) in Public Health - International Health (MPH-IH)

The field of international health is getting ever more complex with expanding global threats posed by infectious and non-communicable diseases, combined with epidemiological and nutritional transitions.  The number of (international) actors and global health initiatives continues increasing, while neglected health problems and large inequalities in health and quality of health care persist.  Public health care systems keep struggling, but important translation gaps from evidence to policy and practice remain.
To deal with this increasingly challenging context, well trained professionals and researchers with a strong public health vision are needed to improve the quality and effectiveness of clinical care, manage health programmes and systems and to develop context specific policies and strategies.
The MPH-IH intends to be an answer to these challenges as it allows a broad and diverse outflow profile.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the programme participants should be able to:
  • Review, interpret and evaluate evidence.
  • Generate evidence on international health issues through own research, using primary or secondary data.
  • Formulate evidence-based strategies and policies to strengthen clinical care, disease prevention and control and/or health systems.
  • Relate strategies and policies to the broader national, international and global health systems environments.
  • Integrate a value-based approach.
  • Communicate and negotiate with diverse stakeholders.
Related to her or his basic training, the master (MPH) in international health will be able to work:
  • As a technical or policy advisor to national and international organisations including ministries of health.
  • As programme manager or (technical) expert in international NGOs.
  • As manager at different levels of a health care system.
  • As clinician, manager and researcher of quality of clinical care at reference hospitals or ministries.
As manager or researcher working in public health laboratories or researcher in (inter)national knowledge centres.

Programme structure

The MPH-IH is an international, modular and flexible master-after-master program of 60 ECTS credits, which can be programmed in combination with work and has to be completed within 5 years (2,5 years for DGD scholarship students).  The flexibility of this program has 3 dimensions: it refers to content, time and place.  Meaning: a core course at ITM and a number of advanced course components in several institutes/universities chosen by the student himself, finalized by a thesis defense at ITM.  (This master program can’t be done in 1 academic year.)
The MPH-IH programme consists of:
A core course of 20 credits
  • Either the first 4 course components (CC1-4) of the MPH. These course components only admit students with at least 2 years of relevant IH professional experience.
  • Or the Introduction to International Health (IIH) short course. This course admits students without or with less than 2 years of relevant international health professional experience.
Note: during the application process students choose one of the two options for the core course.
Advanced course components adding up to at least 25 credits
Advanced course components can be ITM short courses or accredited courses from the tropEd network ( or from NVAO ( or Belgian accredited master programmes.

Teaching and learning methods

This modular and flexible degree programme for part-time study is a 60 credit programme, equivalent to one-year full-time study. The didactic approach depends on the chosen course components.
For the choice of advanced course components the following rules apply:
  • A balanced combination of thematic and methodological course components, allowing you to develop research-oriented and transferable skills related to your field of expertise, to your MPH-IH thesis and to your future projects.
  • 25 credits minimum in total
  • only tropEd or NVAO accredited courses (or nationally accredited courses by Belgian French-speaking universities).
  • Minimum 5 credits devoted to methodological skills
  • Minimum 5 credits of thematic course components
  • Minimum 5 credits taken outside of Belgium
  • Maximum 5 credits outside of study track (other interests)
  • Maximum 10 credits of e-learning
  • A maximum of 10 credits of course components taken before MPH-IH application can be recognized.
* tropEd ( is a global network for training in international health, offering more than 150 accredited courses.
* NVAO ( is the Dutch-Flemish accreditation organization and accredits higher education programmes, including international master programmes of Dutch and Flemish universities and university colleges (see also
Changes in the plan during the course of study are possible but have to be discussed with and approved by the personal tutor.
During the application process the provisional plan will be assessed by the coordination team based on the following quality aspects:
  • Its relevance according to the definition of Public Health
  • Its coherence with the current or aimed at professional profile
  • Its focus on the health of low- or middle-income societies
  • Covering of different skill domains such as epidemiology, biostatistics, social and political sciences, biomedical and clinical sciences, management and communication sciences
  • Providing both thematic and methodological deepening
  • As good as no overlap between planned courses
  • A relationship between advanced course components and thesis project (content and/or methods)
  • Its feasibility; operational and financial
  • Its scope; falling within the expertise domains of ITM.
From the date of admission to the MPH-IH, the student has to complete the programme within 5 years (2,5 years for DGD scholarship students) counting from the first of September following the academic year in which the first MPH-IH credits were obtained (whether from the core course or an advanced course component).
The provisional plan also includes a brief description and justification of a thesis topic.  
  • This thesis outline will not be longer than 4 A4 pages, and should contain:
  • The title of the dissertation.
  • A short description of what the research/study is about.
  • A rationale: the scientific relevance and within the given context, the potential impact.
  • The research question – the major study objectives.
  • A summary of prior research in the area: 3 - 4 paragraphs summarizing the most important findings to date (key readings).
  • A methodology and sources of information.
  • Ethical issues, including confidentiality and data protection.
  • The motivation of the student to work on this topic.
Note: after admission to the MPH-IH programme the thesis topic can be fine-tuned in close consultation with the assigned MPH-IH personal tutor. When the thesis topic has been fine-tuned, a thesis supervisor is sought based on the expertise that is needed. The thesis supervisor will by default be an ITM expert. External thesis supervision is possible if approved by the MPH-IH coordination team.
The thesis supervisor must approve of the suitability of the thesis project and of its feasibility. He/she can equally advice on advanced course components to take in function of the thesis project. The thesis supervisor will advise the student on whether formal ethical approval is required and from which bodies it must be obtained. A thesis contract, including a thesis outline, is then signed and then the student can start working on his/her thesis.
If the thesis includes a scientific manuscript, for submission to a journal with peer-review, the student will be the first author and the thesis supervisor the last author. If a manuscript is introduced – generally the result of teamwork – a detailed description of the role of the MPH-IH student, a broad introduction of the subject  and a more extensive analysis on the public health implications of the findings should be added.  
In case inclusion of a scientific manuscript is not possible or advisable the student will submit a thesis in the form of a monograph.


This modular and flexible degree programme for part-time study is a 60 credit programme. The assessment procedures depend on the chosen course components and includes a thesis and its defence. To obtain the degree pass marks for all course components and the thesis are required.
At the moment of graduation, the MPH-IH participant must be able to prove two (2) years professional experience in a field related to International Health of which at least one year in a low or middle income country. This is to be taken into account by participants who enrolled in the MPH-IH programme based on the Introduction to International Health (IIH) core course.

Admission requirements

  • Applicants must be holder of a first university degree (minimum 240 ECTS credits) in health (medicine, nursing, midwifery) or in a health-related domain such as pharmacy, biomedical sciences, health economics, medical sociology, medical anthropology, health promotion, etc.
  • Applicants must be enrolled in or have successfully completed the core course of 20 credits.
  • Upon MPH-IH application, applicants must have acquired a minimum of 6 months of professional experience in International Health. Note: Admission to some of the advanced course components may require two years (and sometimes specific) professional experience.
Note: documents required at application: copies of academic degrees, copies of  transcripts of academic records (scores), curriculum vitae, proof of English language proficiency, passport size photograph, motivation letter, provisional thesis outline, personal study plan, contact details of 2 referees, if applicable DGD-scholarship application with letter from employer (forms are presented online during application procedure).

Selection criteria

  • Selection and admission takes place three times a year. Application deadlines are 15 January, 15 April and 15 October; selection will then take place within a month.
  • The number of admitted MPH-IH candidates is limited to 10 per year. Non-selected candidates are free to re-apply.
The MPH-IH coordination team will only take into account complete applications, which comply with the above-described conditions (see Didactic Approach). The coordination team will furthermore evaluate the motivation and the provisional study-plan. Upon admission students will sign a diploma contract.


This programme is accredited by :


Programme director: Bart Criel
Secretary: Marianne Hilgert
Tel: +32 (0)3 247 66 66


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