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Master in Epidemiology

The Master's program Epidemiology at the Berlin School of Public Health provides in-depth research methods, knowledge and skills in epidemiology. Our graduates are able to work in a responsible position in

  • Research facilities,
  • Companies or
  • Public health facilities

and to plan, carry out, evaluate and present epidemiological or clinical studies.

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The Master's Program in Epidemiology

  • The Master's program Epidemiology is aimed at graduates with a first university degree qualifying for a profession and qualified professional experience.
  • The following contents are taught: Characteristics of common study types; theory and application security in bias, confounding and interaction; scientific writing; basics in the planning and application of databases; basics of probability logic and epistemology; theoretical understanding for distributions, test statistics, significance tests, regression models and stratified analyses that are epidemiologically significant; theoretical understanding and application security in a program language (e.g. SAS, SPSS, STATA, etc.).
  • The course is offered in modular form and comprises 60 credit points (ECTS) according to the European Credit Transfer System and is methodologically and scientifically oriented. 20 ECTS for the four advanced modules of the basic study course, 20 ECTS for the four elective modules of the core study course, and 20 ECTS for the independent scientific work, which consists of a project thesis, a written master's thesis and its oral defence. A total of 10 modules must be completed.
  • The course of studies is completed part-time over four semesters. The course of studies can be arranged flexibly according to your needs. The program begins annually in mid-October and is subject to a fee (€10,200).
  • The academic degree "Master of Science Epidemiology" is awarded.
  • Applications must be received by 15 May 15 of the respective year. There are 20 places available.

What is Epidemiology?

Epidemiology is a core discipline of public health. It deals with the distribution of health and disease in populations and with the factors influencing this distribution. Clinical and social risk factors play a decisive role in the health situation of a population. Clinical factors come from medicine. Social factors include the health system, health care structures, political and social framework conditions and the individual health behavior of groups of people.

In epidemiological research, data is collected and evaluated using statistical methods in order to find connections between exposure or risk factors and a disease or state of health. Epidemiology brings together methods and findings from medicine, statistics, social and natural sciences and deals with the planning, implementation and evaluation of research studies.  Epidemiological research results form the scientific evidence for the planning of public health interventions.

Epidemiology is application-oriented. Epidemiologists investigate practical aspects of health and disease that allow us to identify the spread of diseases in populations and risk groups beyond the individual.

Structure of the Program

The course of studies consists of a basic and a core study, a project and a master thesis. Within the framework of the specialization there are options. For example, a 2.5 ECTS Summer school, a seminar from module 8 or a seminar from the Master of Science Epidemiology can replace a seminar from modules 5, 6, 7 or 8. Detailed information can also be found in the brochure (in German) "Studien- und Modulbeschreibung".

Students complete the 10 modules of the study sections over a period of 2 years and spend an average of 20 hours a week on the study program through a combination of attendance times and preparation and follow-up times (Student Investment Time, SIT). Attendance times take place during the week in the winter semester from 2.30 p.m., so that half-day professional employment can be pursued parallel to the course of studies. In the summer semester it is also possible to take individual optional modules from 9:00-13:00 or 9:00-17:00.

Some elective courses also take place in blocks or on weekends. The days of the week with compulsory attendance vary every semester, depending on the module attended. The two academic years each have 900 hours of SIT and do not include semester breaks in the conventional sense. If required, the standard study period of four semesters can be extended further. 

All courses have a seminar character and, in addition to imparting knowledge, are designed to promote interaction between students from different disciplines of origin. The course of studies has a methodical-scientific orientation.

The BSPH courses of study are university courses and are approved by the Faculty Council of the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Medical Senate and the Senate Administration Berlin.

Basic Modules

The Master of Science in Epidemiology contains four basic modules of 5 ECTS each. The contents of the basic modules impart methodical core competences. Modules 2, 3 and 4 are taught in English.

Module 1: Public Health Research

  • Quantitative and qualitative research methods in the social sciences and public health
  • Phases of the research process
  • Development of quantitative and qualitative questions
  • Conceptualization and operationalization
  • quantitative and qualitative survey instruments and study design
  • Sampling and field phase
  • Ethics and data protection,
  • Data management in quantitative and qualitative studies
  • Data quality Display and exploitation of results
  • SAS Software Applications

 Module 2: Epidemiology I

  • Principles of epidemiological research
  • epidemiological working methods (descriptive, analytical, experimental)
  • Criteria of causality, measures, epidemiological study types
  • Introduction to sources of error and strategies for controlling confounding in epidemiological studies

Module 3: Biostatistics I

  • Descriptive statistics, estimators, confidence intervals, probability calculus, discrete and continuous distributions, statistical testing and test theory
  • Fundamentals of context analysis: correlation and regression analysis, variance analysis, sampling, case number estimation
  • Methods and techniques of data presentation
  • Introduction to data processing with suitable software

Module 4: Epidemiology II

  • Advanced knowledge of epidemiological research concepts and methods
  • in-depth treatment of epidemiological study types (cohort studies, case-control studies, intervention studies)
  • Error control methods (matching, misclassification, selection bias, confounding and effect measure modification)
  • Techniques of implementation and quality assurance

Advanced Modules

The Master of Science in Epidemiology consists of four focus modules of 5 ECTS each. The contents of the focus modules impart further methodological competences and knowledge in specialized epidemiological fields of application. The courses on epidemiological fields of application amounting to 15 ECTS are designed as elective courses and can be completed - in consultation with the course coordinator - by other courses, at other universities or abroad.

Module 5: Biostatistics II

In-depth theoretical and practical knowledge of biostatistics. Students will be able to critically question epidemiological studies and their reports. Consolidation of:

  • Regression models (linear and logistic survival analysis; log-rank-test; Cox and Poisson regression)
  • Further multivariate models (discriminant analysis, cluster analysis, factor analysis)
  • Measurement errors and missing values
  • Application of statistical methods to specific study designs
  • Clinical epidemiology
  • Meta-analysis
  • Advanced data analysis with suitable software packages

Module 6: Applied Methods of Epidemiology

Methodological knowledge will be intensified in order to be able to apply it specifically in epidemiological fields of application and to assess its significance for health care.

Every year, the BSPH offers a changing range of elective lectures/seminars, others can be attended at the network partners.

  • Evidence based Medicine (EbM)
  • Biometrics and epidemiology in drug research

Module 7: Monitoring of diseases

The module teaches methods of systemic recording and health monitoring of chronic and non-chronic diseases and their application in prevention and care.

  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Infection Epidemiology

Module 8: Application fields of epidemiology

In the module "Fields of Application", specific methodological competencies for the analysis and evaluation of selected clinical pictures as well as fields of work and research in epidemiology are to be familiarized with and intensified:

  • Cardiovascular Epidemiology
  • Work epidemiology
  • Diabetes epidemiology
  • Cancer epidemiology
  • Social epidemiology

In addition, students can also choose from the Intensive Short Courses and the courses in the Master Program Public Health.

Project and Master thesis

The Master thesis is an essential part of the Master of Science in Epidemiology and takes the form of an independent scientific thesis. It is divided into a project thesis, which takes place after the basic modules and the master thesis. Following the advanced modules, the research project is registered with the Admissions and Examination Committee and prepared as a written Master thesis. The oral defense of the Master thesis is the final stage of the program. During the project and master thesis, students are supervised by experts from the project institution and the study program. Students receive 20 ECTS for the completion of the two modules.

Module 9: Project thesis

The project work deepens the theoretical knowledge gained in the previous modules by applying it to a practical research project. It enables students to get to know their future professional fields through cooperation with scientific and practical institutions in the Berlin and Brandenburg health sectors. As an introduction to the project work a "Jour Fixe" takes place, in which project providers offer their facilities and potential research topics for selection. The project work offers space and time to fathom the research project for the master thesis.

Module 10: Master Thesis

In the written master thesis, the practical research projects of the project work are to be further implemented and elaborated. Using epidemiological methods, a research question is to be worked on independently. The topic of the Master thesis will be defended orally at the end of the course.


There is an Admissions Committee and an Examination Committee for each program, which is responsible for selecting the applicants admitted to the program and for organizing and carrying out the tasks assigned to them by the examination regulations.
At the beginning of the semester, students elect student representatives who attend all committee meetings (e.g. admissions and examination board) as guests.
Information on the current composition of the committees and other bodies of the BSPH can be found here.