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The PhD Program Medical Research - International Health combines health related research in the widest sense and development cooperation. Special focus lies in educating researchers to become in their turn multipliers within low and middle income countries and thus the next generation of health professionals. Not only acquisition of knowledge for their personal interest, but to import knowledge to areas in need and multiply it there should be one leading work ethic while being a PhD candidate at CIHLMU . This motive is complying with global development strategies that have recognized the human resource crisis as a key factor in the deterioration of health systems in low and middle income countries.

From this stance arises a certain focus on candidates from low and middle income countries, in order to supply their home countries with competent and responsible researchers and health professionals. However, the PhD program is open to anyone sharing the interest in health-related issues in the field of development cooperation. Therefore we encourage all professionals of any nationality to become part of the PhD program, people working in the field of health or in health related areas that are willing to improve local research and health situations both through manpower and knowledge.

Programme Structure

The PhD curriculum is covering a minimum of three years, with two module blocks of three months each held at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich and in between research periods of 12 to 18 months abroad. The last and final stay in Munich will be a brief period of about two weeks, when the defense and the graduation ceremony will take place. The following paragraphs give an overview of the general outline of the curriculum.

Core Course (Module Block I)

Accepted candidates will start in Munich at the beginning of October with the first module block (MB I) of three months duration. In this block, all candidates are supposed to pass the same curriculum, independent of their research subject, to ensure a common basis of knowledge of candidates with different backgrounds and different scientific interests. The different subjects will cover general health issues, research methodology, health systems research, but also subjects on social competence (soft skills). The main focus of MB I lies in medical topics, epidemiology and quantitative methods, with additional sessions in public health. Some modules will be subject to tests or assignments. At the same time, candidates will work with their supervisors on the design of their research project, including obligatory presentations of their projects to other candidates and selected audience. Full time commitment will be expected for this densely scheduled period. MB I ends towards the end of December.

Research Period I

Subsequently, candidates will return to their research locations for their now starting research period of one year, from January to December (RP I). Close contact between the candidates, the local supervisor and the LMU supervisors will be maintained as candidates are required to submit research reports bimonthly, evaluating progress and problems of the project, commented on by all supervisors. A visit of one LMU supervisor to the location of research abroad is envisaged for the RP I in order to evaluate research related issues together with the candidate and the local supervisor on site. Optional is the attendance at a regional workshop, where all candidates together with their supervisors, will be invited for an interim get together, to provide a personal stage for scientific and private exchange, along with seminars held for the entire group.

Advanced Modules (Module Block II)

In the months January to March of the following year, candidates will enter the second Module Block (MB II) back again in Munich. MB II comprises advanced subjects on research methodology, personal development and health systems research. Again, candidates will be required to present their projects to colleagues and selected audience. A CIHLMU Symposium is projected, where candidates will be presenting their projects through posters and presentations.

Research Period II

The second research period (RP II) will begin in April with the return of the candidates to their research locations or countries of residence. Contact between the candidate and the two supervisors will again be upheld through mandatory commented and graded reports every two months. This period will last at least 12 months. Towards the end of RP II, candidates will enter the final stage of research. This time will still be spent at the location of research, but with an intensified communication between candidate and supervisors, marking the finalization of research activity and the writing of the PhD thesis. At the end of this period, candidates are required to submit their PhD thesis. Equally, every candidate will have to submit a manuscript to a peer reviewed journal. This submission is a precondition for admission to the defense in front of the Promotional Commission at LMU Munich.

Defense Period

After successful admission, the PhD candidate will be required to come to Munich for a short final term of 10 to 14 days for the oral defense of the PhD thesis and final submission of the approved thesis to the LMU University Library. The PhD curriculum will end with the successful defense of the thesis. Finally, the PhD certificate in Medical Research - International Health is awarded.

Research Periods III and IV

Candidates who will not manage to finalize their research project in time and to be admitted to defend their work in front of the Promotional Commission after RP II will be allowed an additional time period to finalize their project. This includes submission of a manuscript to a peer reviewed journal, which is a precondition for admission to defense. The first extension is valid for 12 months (Research Period III; May third year to April fourth year). The final extension is again valid for 12 months (Research Period IV; May fourth year to April fifth year). If a PhD candidate does not manage to successfully finalize all required curricular elements comprising the PhD project, submission of the PhD thesis, submission of a manuscript to a peer reviewed journal and the successful defense in front of the Promotional Commission at LMU within 60 months after initiation of the respective PhD studies (begin of Module Block I), the candidate will be dismissed from the PhD program with the result failed.


Every PhD candidate has to participate in a workshop of relevance to the research topic at some time during the curriculum, most conveniently during the research periods. Minimum total duration of the workshop (one or more) is four full days. A workshop report has to be submitted.


Each candidate is expected to participate at one conference of personal choice actively, presenting his/her own work through an oral presentation or a poster. The conference should be at least of national importance. A conference report has to be submitted.


Every PhD candidate is expected to submit at least one publication to an international scientific and peer reviewed journal of relevance, with all official supervisors appearing in the author list. The publication process should be commenced prior to the finalization of the program curriculum.

Entry Requirement 

  • Successfully completed university bachelor and master degree in a health related discipline, medical school degree, or adequate equivalent education at the time of application which admits enrollment within a doctoral study program in Germany
  • Minimum total of 3 years university education
  • A research topic with a formulated and consistent study proposal
  • A local scientific supervisor ready to support the research project in the field throughout the entire curriculum of at least three years
  • Sufficient funding for the research project - CIHLMU does not offer any research funding!
  • Two scientific referees willing to submit letters of reference for the candidate
  • Proficient knowledge of English language
  • Basic knowledge in statistics and the application of statistical software (R and SPSS) is highly recommended. The freeware R will be used in some courses during the PhD program
  • Competent knowledge of mathematics is expected and is a prerequisite in order to be able to follow the epidemiology and statistics sessions

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