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1. How is the UCT Masters in Public Health programme affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Around the world and in South Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the critical role of public health training to promote population health, and the School of Public Health – including many MPH students and graduates – have been at the frontline of the national response to the pandemic.

We have continued the academic programme of the MPH degree throughout the COVID-19-related “lockdown” in South Africa. During 2020, this meant shifting to remote learning activities using our online teaching platform VULA.  This continued during both semesters of 2021. Over the course of 2022, we are anticipating returning to regular, face-to-face teaching for some or all learning activities. In turn residence in Cape Town remains a requirement to complete the degree. Please note that the UCT MPH is not a distance learning programme.


2. Can I apply to the General Public Health track?

Admission to the General Public Health track is limited from 2019 onwards. In turn we strongly encourage applicants to apply to one of the other six tracks (Health Economics, Social & Behavioural Sciences, Environmental Health, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Health Systems or Global Surgery) to maximize their chances of admission to the MPH degree.


3. Can I change tracks within the programme after I start the MPH?

Yes. While we admit students to specific tracks within the programme, we do allow students to change tracks at any stage. Generally these changes are made only after the first semester of coursework is completed. Any change of track is subject to completion of the necessary coursework as well as approval from the track and programme convenors.

4. How can I calculate the fees required to complete the degree?

Fees are calculated each semester based on the coursework modules for which student has registered, with additional fees related to the submission of the MPH mini-dissertation. In additional fee for international students is payable for individuals from outside the Southern African Development Community (SADC). For more information on the specific costs of the MPH for SADC and non-SADC students, please see the latest UCT Fees Handbook.

5. Does the UCT MPH allow credits from previous courses, taken outside UCT, to be used towards the degree?

Yes, we do accept credits for public health coursework completed at other institutions, provided that: (a) the coursework is appropriate for Masters-level training, (b) the content is deemed appropriate in light of the student's planned curriculum at UCT, and (c) the credits have not been used towards any other degree or diploma. Any used of credits from other institutions towards the UCT MPH degree is subject to approval from the track and programme convenors.

In instances when a credit is not deemed appropriate, it may still be possible for a student to receive exemption from a particular course based on prior learning. Requests for exemption will be reviewed by the course convenor in question along with the track and programme convenors.

6. Does the UCT MPH allow a student to take classes at other Universities as electives?

Yes, we do allow 'outside elective' courses from other Universities or other UCT degree programmes to be credited towards the UCT MPH coursework requirements. Approval is required from the track and programme convenors before the 'outside elective' is commenced. See the notes on “credits” above for guidance on some of the criteria for outside electives.

7. Does the UCT MPH offer distance learning?

No, we do not offer distance learning programmes. The UCT MPH requires residence in Cape Town for face-to-face teaching and learning activities. 

8. Does the MPH programme offer students opportunities to work while they are studying?

We do not provide formal work-study opportunities to students in the programme. However there are a wide range of opportunities relevant to public health available to our students around the University and Cape Town more generally; most students who would like to gain experience through part-time work (either on a paid or volunteer basis) while they study go on to find appropriate engagements. The exact nature of the work varies with individuals' experience, background and skill set. Often these opportunities will be arranged via the track convenors. In the most common situations, a student may works as a research assistant, either on an existing research project in the School or elsewhere in the University, or with provincial Department of Health or a local NGO.

9. How long will it take me to complete the programme?

The time taken by students to complete the programme varies with individual circumstances and the track in question.

  • We have had some students complete their coursework in two semesters (over 12 months) resident in Cape Town, and then complete the mini-dissertation immediately thereafter, and graduate in 18 months. In these instances, the students were studying full-time.
  • Another common scenario sees students completing their coursework in three or four semesters (over 18-24 months) and working on their mini-dissertation during their second year in the programme, and graduating after 24-30 months in total. Such a timeline allows students to work or volunteer on a part-time basis while studying in order to generate experience (and income).
  • Some students who are working full-time take 24-48 months to complete their coursework, averaging 1-2 classes per semester, and graduate after 48-60 months in total.

10. Who provides supervision to students in the MPH programme?

Generally, academic supervision is the responsibility of the track convenors. For first-year students, your track convenor will provide academic guidance, including on course selection, selecting a mini-dissertation, and other issues. Once you have selected a mini-dissertation topic, the supervisor of the mini-dissertation will also play an academic support role. In addition, there is a student mentorship programme in the MPH programme, to provide peer support to new students. Details of this are announced at registration. 

11. Is there any form of scholarship or other funding available to help support my MPH studies?

The UCT Postgraduate Funding Office provides information on various funding opportunities for Masters and Doctoral students. For more information, see Postgraduate Degree Funding.