Master of Public Health (MPH): Health Systems Policy and Management track
The Master of Science in Public Health (MPH), formerly known as ‘International Course in Health Development’ is an annual 12-month MPH programme organized by KIT Royal Tropical Institute and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). This track is designed specifically for those who wish to work at the interface of policy and management, within different health systems contexts.
This MPH programme is targeted to those who aspire to management positions in the public health. This track in Health Systems Policy and Management is designed specifically for those who wish to work at the interface of policy and management, within different health systems contexts.
Participants can choose from the following two study tracks:
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 organised by the KIT Royal Tropical Institute and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) and is accredited by the Netherlands-Flemish Accreditation Organisation (NVAO).
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
Public health in a changing environment
Health systems in low- and middle-income countries face a wide range of complex challenges. These challenges include: the inequalities in health and healthcare; the double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases; the unfolding demographic transition; and the health needs in fragile environments.
The worlds of international and national health governance and financing are increasingly complex and interconnected. The COVID-19 epidemic highlighted the threats of this interconnectedness. Globally, there is more emphasis on the importance of working in partnerships to provide evidence-based public health solutions for continuously improving the quality and responsiveness of health services. Addressing these issues requires well-trained professionals, capable of solving complex public health problems systematically, using a partnership approach.
The MPH is designed to develop the capacity of senior health managers to use an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to address health problems in their country. In all programme components, participants are encouraged to interact with participants from other countries who face similar issues but with alternative solutions.
After the programme you will be able to:
MPH participants have the option choosing between two tracks:
Course start date
Academic year 2023-2024:
from 11 September 2023 until 31 August 2024
First trimester: Core modules for all tracks
The introduction to the MPH starts with the learning and communication skills that will be needed throughout the course. These skills include internet searches for health-related information and literature, and presentation and writing skills.
In the first trimester, 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.
Participants are introduced to the basic concepts and tools for the analysis and discussion of health problems through modules in health planning and management. These include health economics and financing, epidemiology and statistics. The basic knowledge and skills acquired or reinforced in the first part of the course will be applied to a practical strategic planning exercise carried out in small groups. Towards the end of the first trimester, students begin to clarify the topic of their thesis and investigate the literature related to that topic.
Second trimester: Specialisation courses for both tracks
Advanced specialisation courses for the MPH track in Health Systems Policy and Management:
In the second trimester the course examines in more depth; human resources development, health policy and financing, and health sector reforms. The module on health systems research includes participatory, qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. It prepares students to assess other’s research proposals and to develop their own. The trimester concludes with modules on sexual and reproductive health including HIV/AIDS and strategies to address communicable and non-communicable diseases, including public health emergencies as well as nutrition. Students write most of their thesis at this stage, and make a class presentation leading to a debate.
The thesis is focused on a topic relevant to the track that you chose as well as to your (previous or envisaged) work. Guided by an advisor, you write a thesis on an important health problem you identified in your country. The aim is to systematically analyse the core problem and make suggestions for its solution based on qualitative and quantitative data, literature review or both.
During the programme, a study tour will be organized to expose students to international organizations and/ or organizations working on public health issues.
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 including a thesis.
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.
A total of 60 EC credit points must be accumulated for successful completion of the MPH programme. The European Credit Transfer System (EC) 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.
Each module is assessed by means of either a written examination or a take-home assignment. At the end of the programme an independent external examination committee will assess the thesis and the candidate’s oral examination.
If the overall assessment is satisfactory the degree of Master of Public Health is awarded. Candidates who do not fulfill the requirements for the degree may be eligible for a certificate of attendance.
Part-time programme Master of Public Health
For part-time options click here:
Part-time Master of Public Health
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.
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.
For students who wish to apply for the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP), the entire application package to KIT for academic year 2023-2024 is due at the latest by 28 February 2023.
OKP application deadline in DELTA: 8 February- 30 March 2023, 16:00 CET.
The OKP regulations may change. See our OKP page for latest updates.
For other applicants the application package is due two months before the start of the course (unless you need a visa, then it is due 3 months before start of the course).
Please upload your application online
The following documents should be uploaded:
What we expect from your motivation letter:
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.
Exceptions English proficiency test
Applicants who are excempted from the proof of English language proficiency:
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.
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 1st of July of the starting year of their studies to apply to the MPH. 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.
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:
Classes are held at KIT’s 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.
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. There are opportunities from Worldbank and KIT Scholarship Fund. For more information on these and other possibilities, go to the KIT scholarship web page.
Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP)
One possibility for obtaining a scholarship is through the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP).
The OKP application will have to be done through the online application system of Nuffic (DELTA).
OKP application period for academic year 2023-2024:
8 February – 30 March 2023, 16:00 hrs CET
Please note that the course application to KIT Royal Tropical Institute has to be received at the latest 28 February 2023. You are advised however to apply to KIT as early as possible.
See the detailed instructions and eligible countries on OKP information.
The Netherlands Government does not grant a fellowship unless it is assured that the candidate’s government and employer agree to his or her participation and that the candidate will be admitted to the course. For this reason, it is essential to first gain admission to the MPH before applying for a fellowship.
Talented health professionals from the list of OKP countries are especially encouraged to apply.
KIT will secure accommodation for participants with an OKP fellowship and assist others in their search for housing if the request is received before 1 May. After this date we cannot guarantee accommodation. Note that when accommodation is arranged by KIT it is for the duration of the course. A shorter lease period is not allowed. There is a severe shortage of student accommodation in Amsterdam and participants are advised to contact KIT for information.
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 in the Netherlands will need a visa and residence permit. This visa should be applied for 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.
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 assist with arranging insurance for participants.
The Master of Public Health (MPH) is organised by the Royal Tropical Institute and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) and is accredited under VU by the Netherlands-Flemish Accreditation Organisation (NVAO) under CROHO code 70047. For the full report follow the link.
A number of advanced MPH modules are also accredited for the Master’s in International Health programme organised by tropEd, a network of European institutions for higher education in international health.
There is a possibility that accreditation credits for Dutch (medical) specialisations can be arranged, please contact the course secretariat (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information at least 3 months before start of the course.
The European Credit Transfer System (EC) 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.
Code of Conduct
KIT Royal Tropical Institute follows the Code of Conduct International Student in Dutch Higher Education. By signing the Code of Conduct, the institutions of higher education oblige themselves to offer international students education of good quality. Follow the link to the website with the following information:
In addition KIT has a formal complaint procedure in place that is fully in line with the Code of Conduct and guidelines of VU. Students receive these complaints procedures in the Course Handbook and exam regulations before the start of the academic year.
Why study at KIT?
Up-to-date approach to complex public health issues
Exchange between disciplines
Development of personal and professional competencies
Participants from diverse backgrounds and countries
Teaching by highly qualified specialists
Positively reviewed by tropEd
KIT: international centre of excellence in international health and development
Accredited by NVAO
Coordinators & Support
Senior Advisor & Head of International Public Health ProgramsRead more
Senior AdvisorRead more
Course Administration OfficerRead more