Core Course in Public Health

The core course in Public Health is a three month course that prepares health managers to use a public health approach to address health issues in their country, taking into account epidemiology, health system aspects and broader social determinants of health. The course will prepare you to solve complex public health problems systematically. 

Start date
3 months
KIT Amsterdam
Course dates 2023
from 18/09/2023 until 08/12/2024
Course fee 2023
EUR 6.360
KIT application deadline

The course can be taken as a stand-alone course or as part of a (part-time) Master of Public Health. This course is targeted at those who aspire to management positions in the public health.

The full-time Master of Public Health (MPH) (formerly known as International Course in Health Development) is an annual 12-month MPH programme organized by the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). Participants can choose from the following study tracks:

  • Health Systems Policy & Management track
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health track
  • KIT has launched the ‘Women Leaders in Global Health Development Initiative’  and as part of this initiative we strongly encourage women to apply.

    The MPH is accredited by the Netherlands-Flemish Accreditation Organization (NVAO).

    The logo of an NVAO accredited programme

    “Studying at KIT helped me to have a critical mind and to really think out of the box. I work now for the National Cancer Prevention Centre in Zambia. We have  screened close to 200,000 women in the cervical cancer programme which has never happened before in this country. Though the incidence and mortality rates are still high there has been massive awareness on the disease. We have also managed to have international recognition on the programme and have trained people from 11 other African countries. I could not have succeeded in all that without the training in public health at KIT.”

    Sharon Kapambwe from Zambia,  MPH, background medical doctor. Currently working as director of National Cancer Prevention Centre

    “The MPH study program was comprehensive and mixed of theories, practices, skills, tools to apply the knowledge, and real examples from developing countries. Program topics were all interesting and relevant to practical work in the field. With what I learned I can contribute to strengthening the policy and strategies relevant to health in Afghanistan.”

    Khalid Sharifi from Afghanistan, MPH/ICHD 2010, background medical doctor, now working as Managing Director of Afghan NGO, Social and Health Development Program (SHDP).

    “I work as a deputy manager in the Federal Ministry of Health within the department for emergency and humanitarian action. We cover natural disasters and conflict-affected areas, which, sadly, are numerous. By designing and implementing capacity building programmes, and working together with health partners and international donors, we try to improve our public health sector at regional levels. I came to KIT because I wanted to add more knowledge to my experience. I hope that my master’s degree from KIT will help me to influence decision-makers in Sudan.”

    Shaza Sidahmed from Sudan, MPH/ICHD 2012, background medical doctor. Working for Federal Ministry of Health.

    “The International Course in Health Development was a great opportunity for me to enhance my understanding of health systems, policy making, health planning, determinants of health and interventions particularly in low and middle-income countries. In the context of this programme, I took part in group works and discussion with other participants with different background, an experience that taught me to look at public health issues from different aspects.”

    Amirhoushang Omidvari from Iran, MPH/ICHD 2013, background Medical Doctor, now working as a Clinical Research Training Fellow in Global Health at School of Public Health, Imperial College London.

    “At KIT I was particularly impressed about the course content, the teaching staff composed of world class public health experts and leading academics and researchers, as well as the support staff whose teaching, guidance and administrative support combined to improve my academic orientation and shape my thoughts about public health and its practice.”

    Francis-Xavier Andoh-Adjei from Ghana, MPH/ICHD 2010, now working as Deputy Director for Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation and International Relations at the National Health Insurance Authority in Ghana. He is enrolled at Radboud University Medical Centre-Nijmegen as PHD Researcher in Health Systems and Policy.

    “I worked as a psychologist in public general hospitals and as a researcher in the human resources department of secretariat of São Paulo, southeast of Brazil. My experience there exposed me to the challenges faced by the population and health workers within the health sector.

    In professional and personal terms, I believe that the course provided me many opportunities to discuss and see public health issues in different ways. Today I can see my country from a new perspective: from micro to macro vision. My colleagues helped me view Brazil within an international context, which made me rediscover it. Now I can see beyond the difficulties and appreciate what we have achieved.

    It was a very intense year; I worked hard, I have matured since then and I think that many insights will come. I was able to build relationships with affection and respect within the group. I am satisfied with my performance. I have many challenges ahead, but I can recognize better my own value; I feel more confident and professionally prepared for future challenges.”

    Stella Parreira from Brazil, MPH, worked as psychologist in public general hospitals and as researcher in HR department in Sao Paulo.

    “I have learnt a lot at KIT, MPH/ICHD program was comprehensive and well organised. As a medical doctor I know ‘Prevention is better than cure and very important to have a healthy community’. MPH/ICHD being an international course provided me with great opportunity to learn more about health systems of different countries which has helped bringing positive changes in my organisation. Further, the KIT staffs are very interactive and supportive which made it easy for me to make it during my study period.”

    Emma Basimaki from Tanzania, MPH/ICHD 2013, background medical doctor, working with Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

    “The Masters of Public Health (MPH) course at the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) equipped me with not only theories in public health but also provided hands on learning through simulation of assignments and real-life scenarios. The course modules are designed as such with the existing and emerging global health priorities and to provide useful training to get in-depth insights of the topics. I was also amazed with the wide internationalization of the course participants and learning multi-cultural perspectives. In my public health research career the MPH course is playing an immense role with improved knowledge on public health theories and, more importantly, with critical thinking and wider analyses of the public health issues.”

    Mohammad Radwanur Rahman Talukder from Bangladesh, MPH/ICHD 2010/11. Currently working as

    Project Research Manager in Centre for Child and Adolescent Health International Centre, Bangladesh (ICDDR) & PhD Candidate Centre for Environment and Population, Health School of Environment Griffith University, Australia

    Programme structure

    Course start date 2023:
    18 September 2023

    The course consists of three parts:

  • Epidemiology and statistics
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Health Systems and Policy Making
  • During the core course of the Master of Public Health students are introduced to the broad categories of factors that influence health: culture, lifestyle, socio-economic, political and natural environments and the impact of the health care delivery system. Throughout the course we emphasise the gendered nature of these factors.

    Learning methods

    The content of the course is practice-based and oriented as much as possible to the working situation of participants. Staff/student contact is intensive throughout the course. Students learn through lectures, discussion, group work, individual presentations, case studies, exercises, study visits, an internet-based virtual learning environments and ‘serious gaming’, self-reflection, self-study and written assignments.

    They receive study material before each module. During the lessons they share information about health issues of countries in which they have worked in and compare experiences. Online repositories are used for learning material; laptops and/or tablets are required.

    Study load

    The study load of the core course in Public Health is 17 EC. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) facilitates transfer of course credits between institutions at the same academic level. 1 EC requires 28 hours of student time, which includes class time and independent study.

    Graduation requirements

    Each module is assessed by means of either a written examination or a take-home assignment.

    Part-time programme Master of Public Health

    The course can be taken as a stand alone course or as part of a (part-time) Master in Public Health. For more information click here: Part-time Master of Public Health


    The Core Course in Public Health consists of three parts:

    Epidemiology and Statistics

    Epidemiology is the discipline concerned with describing how disease and ill-health is distributed in populations – in person, place and time – and also tries to answer the question as to why this distribution occurs and how interventions may influence this distribution. Statistics deals with collecting, summarizing, presenting and interpreting data, and using them to develop and test hypotheses. Outbreak investigation is discussed and practiced during this module. You will learn how diseases are measured, the principles of their spread, their causes and natural history and will enable you to from hypothesis based on disease measurements.

    This module will teach you how to recognize different study designs, identifying risk factors. Different designs for quantitative and experimental studies are discussed and the way these study designs may influence the results through, either, systematic (bias) and random errors (chance).

    Epidemiology is one of the basic knowledge systems to interpreting literature, and at the end of the module a short series of sessions is devoted to systematic reviews to assist the assessment of effective interventions.

    Social Determinants of Health

    The factors that have an important influence on health are known as determinants of health. Most of these determinants lie outside the direct influence of the health system, such as gender, education, culture, employment and environment. Understanding these factors is important to effectively design and manage interventions in the public health sector. It is also essential in mitigating the effects of global threats like pandemics.

    In this module we will introduce the concepts of health and public health and give an historical overview of public health through to the latest ideas around health sector reform. The module also introduces the participants to core values such as equity, rights, pro-poor approaches and good governance.

    Analysing the broad environmental factors that influence health it becomes clear that each of these factors is not only separately related to health, but that they mutually influence each other. Poverty has a clear influence on the health of women and men but ill health also affects poverty of individuals and families. Socio-economic changes and changes in nutrition at population level influence demographic trends. Population shifts in age and fertility and power relations between men and women have an impact on the health of individuals and families. Changes in the physical environment may influence the economy of the country; but they may also have political consequences, and cause changes in (health) policy and budget allocations, and therefore affect the functioning of the health services.

    Culture and subcultures of different groups influence health behavior practices and health seeking behavior and are not static over time. Individual lifestyle factors are often influenced by peers, the community and society someone lives in. In each country the effect of the particular influences may differ. Globalisation plays an increasingly important role as a determining factor i.e through newly emerging diseases, and also through international policy developments.

    Health Systems and policy making

    You will look into the health needs of people, the consequent demand for services and the organisation of health service delivery. What are the factors that influence utilisation of health services and peoples’ health (care) seeking behaviour, especially by the poor and other disadvantaged groups? How do health systems remain functioning in unexpected situations like pandemics? This module discusses health systems: their boundaries, actors, functions and goals.

    The ultimate goal of health status improvement has different dimensions: equity, efficiency and quality of care, and these dimensions can be influenced by different ways of organising and financing services.

    Health financing deals with the way health systems are financed, how providers are paid and health economics provides some basic tools for priority setting and economic evaluation in health care.

    Health Management Information Systems are crucial in evaluating and monitoring performance of health systems and link to Quality Assurance and Improvement systems.

    Health promotion theories and practices are introduced in this module. Health promotion aims at enabling individuals and groups in a society to improve their health.

    Health policy and health policies will also be framed in the broader concept of ‘development’.



    If you are a health professional working or preparing to work, in a managerial capacity in health services at national, regional or decentralised district level, this course is designed for you.

    Admission criteria

  • Admission to the Master’s programme is possible for an applicant who has obtained a Bachelor’s degree obtained at an institution of academic higher education [in] medicine, public health or another related field to health care, such as health sciences, economics, social science or nursing. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree obtained at an institution outside the Netherlands may be asked for additional methods to prove that they meet the admission requirements.
  • Three years of relevant public health work experience, including work managerial responsibilities and experience relevant for low- and middle-income settings
  • Proven proficiency in spoken and written English academic TOEFL or IELTS test. A minimum written TOEFL score of 550, iBT TOEFL score of 80, computer based TOEFL score of 213, or an IELTS academic score of 6.0 is required. (See below for exceptions)
  • Good motivation
  • In addition:

  • Computer literacy is essential as we use a virtual learning platform in our education programme.
  • The number of places in this programme is limited. Because there are always more applicants than places in the course, a selection must be made of those meeting the above mentioned criteria. The selection committee takes into account country of origin, experience and professional background in order to compose a group with a mixture of professional and geographical backgrounds.

    As part of the ‘Women Leaders in Global Health Development Initiative’ we strongly encourage women with appropriate background to apply.

    Application procedure

    Please upload your application online.

    The following documents should be uploaded:

  • A one-page letter of motivation
  • Copies of your diplomas and grade reports
  • An up-to-date curriculum vitae and a list of publications if applicable
  • Proof of English proficiency (if applicable)
  • What we expect from your motivation letter:

    Exceptions English proficiency test
    Applicants who are excempted from the proof of English language proficiency:

  • completed an English-taught secondary or higher education degree in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, Philippines, India, Tanzania, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Liberia, or
  • have earned a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in an English-taught programme accredited by NVAO in the Netherlands, or have earned a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in an accredited English-taught programme in another member state of the European Union
  • Note: For Dutch participants academic training is sufficient.

  • TOEFL-ibt Special Home Edition test
    Due to the global Covid-19 situation KIT will accept the TOEFL-ibt Special Home Edition test as it is the same research-based, valid and reliable TOEFL iBT test of academic English from ETS.

    TOEFL-ibt Special Home Edition is now available in almost all countries, with the exception of Iran.

    Please indicate in your motivation letter why you want to follow this specific course, why you want to follow the course at KIT Amsterdam, what do you expect to learn and how you will apply your newly gained competencies from the course in your work, what kind of benefits will it bring to your future career, etc. Describe a relevant problem you have experienced in the last two years that you would like to discuss during this specific course. Your motivation should be about ½-1 page. Please do not repeat your CV again.

    Candidates fulfilling the MPH entry requirements will receive a letter of admission, admitting them to the course provided that financing can be arranged. Once you have secured financial support and provided evidence of proficiency in English, you will receive a definitive letter of admission.

    Note: Participants with a source of guaranteed financing have until 1of July to apply to the core course of Public Health. However, the course is often already full. Also visa applications can take several months to process. Therefore candidates are therefore advised to apply as early as possible.


    The total price of the core course in Public Health (2022) will be EUR 6.170.


    For cancellation within seven days no fee is required and 100 per cent of the fee will be reimbursed if already paid. For cancellation by candidate see cancellation fees.

    FAQ Online Application System

    Do you have a question about our Online Application System? Then you can find the answer in our FAQ Online Application System:

    Go to our FAQ Online Application System-page 

    Practical information


    Classes are held at KIT’s training facilities in Amsterdam. KIT is located in the heart of Amsterdam on beautiful historical premises.


    The arrangement of financial support to cover all study costs is the responsibility of the applicant.

    Unfortunately there are no OKP (Orange Knowledge Programme, former NFP) scholarships available for the core course in Public Health.

    Some candidates are sponsored by their own governments, universities or employers while others apply for fellowships offered through the United Nations and its specialised agencies such as UNICEF, WHO, WB, UNDP or through other international programmes, such as those of OECD, EU or OAS. For more information on these and other possibilities,  go to the our scholarship information webpage.


    Please note: housing for 3 months may be harder to arrange than housing for 1 year! You are responsible yourself to find housing for the periods when you are in Amsterdam. There is a severe shortage of student accommodation in Amsterdam and participants are advised to contact KIT for information.

    Visa requirements

    Citizens of most EU or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries do not need a visa to enter the Netherlands. Visit the Nuffic website for the latest information on visa requirements.

    Participants from other countries who will stay for longer than three months (90 days) in The Netherlands will need an ‘Authorization for Temporary Stay’ (MVV) to enter the country. This visa should be applied for through KIT. Upon their arrival in the Netherlands a residency permit has to be requested for them through KIT.

    Participants admitted to the course will receive detailed information as well as a list of documents KIT requires to secure their visa. Applicants should take into account that in some countries this procedure may take several months.

    It is not possible to get a student MVV visa for the core course in Public Health!

    You are responsible yourself to see if you need a visa. You need to arrange the short stay (tourist) visa yourself for the period(s) you are going to be in The Netherlands.

    For further information about short stay visa, please check the website of the IND (Dutch immigration service) and for up-to-date information:

  • IND short stay visa
  • IND short stay visa brochure
  • Visa application
  • Insurance requirements

    The Netherlands has no national health insurance. According to Dutch law, all participants of international courses and any accompanying dependents are required to have health, accident and third party insurance.

    Unless their current insurance policy covers their stay in the Netherlands, participants must insure themselves and their dependents in the Netherlands. Dutch insurance companies offer reasonable rates to foreign students.  KIT can offer students health insurance.


    As part of the MPH this core course is accredited by the Netherlands-Flemish Accreditation Organization (NVAO).

    A number of advanced MPH modules are also accredited for the Master in International Health (MIH) programme organised by tropEd, a network of European institutions for higher education in international health. KIT and the MPH were positively assessed during a review by tropEd.

    European Credits

    The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) facilitates the transfer of course credits between different institutions of the same academic level. A module comprising 28 hours of formal teaching and private study is equivalent to one EC credit point.

    Apply online

    Apply online

    You can find all information about our online application system on this page 

    Apply online now

    Coordinators & Support

    Photo of Lisanne Gerstel

    Lisanne Gerstel

    Senior Advisor & Head of International Public Health Programs

    Read more
    Photo of Rinia Sahebdin

    Rinia Sahebdin

    Course Administration Officer

    Read more

    Why study at KIT?

    • Up-to-date approach to complex public health issues

    • Practice-oriented

    • Exchange between disciplines

    • Interactive Education

    • Development of personal and professional competencies

    • Network building

    • Participants from diverse backgrounds and countries

    • Personal tutoring

    • Teaching by highly qualified specialists

    • Positively reviewed by tropEd

    • KIT: international centre of excellence in international health and development

    • Accredited by NVAO