Advanced Tier- (2-year training)

Field Epidemiology Training Programmes (FETPs) have been established in many countries around the world to provide training and develop competencies that are essential for effective disease detection, investigation, control, and prevention, with the goal of enhancing the health security of communities. FETP trainees spend minimum time in the classroom (less than 25% of the training time) and maximum time in the field, where they develop practical skills to collect, analyze, and use data to address priority public health issues and inform policy decisions.

The South Africa FETP is hosted by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS), for the National Department of Health (NDoH). SAFETP offers a full-time two-year residency programme, which provides training and practical experience in applied epidemiology, and aims to develop specialist skills to evaluate and strengthen public health surveillance systems, investigate and control outbreaks, and conduct field studies to address public health priority issues.

Training is provided mainly through on-the-job service provision and learning activities. A trainee who successfully completes the programme is awarded a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Field Epidemiology from either the University of Pretoria or the University of the Witwatersrand.

This residency programme is a two-yearfull-time training, from which residents graduate with a Master of Science (MSc) in Field Epidemiology from either the University of Pretoria or the University of the Witwatersrand.

The next cohort of trainees will begin in January 2024 and end in December 2025. Qualified professionals who are interested in joining the cohort should submit their applications before 30 June 2023.

Master of Science (MSc) in Field Epidemiology from either the University of Pretoria or the University of the Witwatersrand.

The growing field of public health and epidemiology in South Africa and globally brings exciting opportunities for graduates and professionals from health related fields to become competent in applied epidemiology of diseases and conditions relevant to South Africa. It also develops their leadership and management skills relevant to public health system strengthening and management. The training focuses on investigations of public health outbreaks (an acute health event or other epidemiological activity) and using epidemiology and biostatistics to conduct descriptive and analytical studies. 

Work experience requirements

  • Professional experience in a health field or other fields relevant to health
  • Experience of working in a public health system is desirable
  • Experience in health-related research will be an advantage

Educational requirements

  • A medical, veterinary or dentistry degree; OR
  • A doctorate degree in a medical/health-related field; OR
  • A master’s degree in a medical or health-related field; OR
  • An honour’s/bachelor’s degree with prior research experience

Key requirements:

Applicants must:

  • Be registered with their respective professional bodies
  • Be fluent in spoken and written English
  • Be computer literate and proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook for use in communication, word processing, analysis, presentation and report generation. Knowledge of a statistical package will be an advantage
  • Have a valid driver’s license and be willing to drive a hired car
  • Provide proof of current physical residential address for future purposes of Domicilium citandi et executandi.

Please note the following additional information regarding educational requirements:

  • All degrees should be in a human/animal health, laboratory or public health related field from an accredited university
  • A Bachelor of Technology (B-Tech) degree without an additional postgraduate qualification does not fulfill the minimum educational requirements of the University of Pretoria, the University of the Witwatersrand and the SAFETP.
  • The University of Pretoria curriculum is designed to offer a BSc (Hons) Epidemiology and Biostatistics degree in Year 1 and an MSc Epidemiology and Biostatistics degree in Year 2. Applicants who have already completed an appropriate Honors or Masters degree that includes at least two full courses in epidemiology and two full courses in biostatistics qualify to enroll directly into the MSc programme.

Applying to SAFETP

If you meet the requirements you can complete an online application form using this link: Click here for the online application form

You will need the following documents to complete the online application process:

  1. Certified copies of qualification certificates
  2. Certified copies of transcripts from the universities
  3. A concise two-page CV
  4. Statement of Purpose: In 500 words or less describe your career goals and your interest in applying for SAFETP residency
  5. Two completed reference forms. You can download the template form on this link: Reference Form
  6. Proof of application to each of the universities
  7. Qualifications obtained outside South Africa must be accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) (Click to visit SAQA website)
  8. Non-South Africans from non-English speaking countries are expected to pass a Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) when accepted onto the programme

Applying to the University

In addition to completing the online application to SAFETP, you should also complete applications to BOTH, the University of Pretoria and the University of Witwatersrand, as follows:

University of Pretoria

Click here to access the University of Pretoria PG application page. Select to apply to study BSc (Hons) with specialization in Epidemiology and Biostatistics as your first choice and MSc Epidemiology and Biostatistics as your second choice. Applicants who already have BSc (Hons) with specialization in Epidemiology and Biostatistics should apply for the MSc Epidemiology and Biostatistics

University of the Witwatersrand

Click here to access the Wits online application page. Select to apply to study Master of Science in Epidemiology, and then select “Field Epidemiology” as the field of study.

You can also click here to visit the following page to get more details about the Master of Science in Epidemiology degree and the discipline-specific requirements

  • *It is your responsibility to ensure that you submit a fully completed online application before the deadline. Incomplete applications or those submitted after the closing date will not be considered.
  • SAFETP residency is highly competitive. Each applicant will go through a rigorous selection process. The outcome of an application is determined by the quality of the application, the performance of an in-person interview, and any other assessments that will be offered.
  • Correspondence will be made with shortlisted candidates only. If you have not heard from SAFETP within 8 weeks of the final closing date, please consider your application to be unsuccessful.

**Please note: While SAFETP works closely with both the University of Pretoria and the University of the Witwatersrand to coordinate candidate selection processes, acceptance into a degree programme offered by the university does not guarantee acceptance into SAFETP, and also does not guarantee that the applicant will register with that institution if accepted into SAFETP.

Closing date for applications: 30 June 2023

Applicants who are funded by their employers must ensure that this funding covers their salaries/stipends, as well as university registration and tuition fees for the two-year training period.

Applicants currently working within the South African government at various levels, who plan to take study leave to participate in the programme and afterwards return to their workplace, must have written approval from their departments. A limited number of bursaries/scholarships may be available for select applicants fulfilling predefined criteria.

Limited places may be offered to applicants from selected Southern African countries who meet the entry requirements, and are supported by their governments. Such applicants must be eligible for the required visa/permit to study in South Africa.

The applicant must also ensure that their employer/government has agreed to fully cover the costs related to their participation in SAFETP for the 2 years of training – including salaries/stipends, university registration and tuition fees, living expenses while studying in South Africa, etc.

For enquiries, or more information, please contact:

Eudie Hlabioa

Tel: +27 11 386 6542

University of Pretoria
Mrs. René de Waal
Email: or Mr Reuben Semenya at

University of the Witwatersrand
Lerato Podile
Tel: +27 11 717 2605

Intermediate Tier (9-months training)

FETP Intermediate level is a 9-month in-service training that addresses the skills needed by health officials in the health system to improve epidemiologic capacity to evaluate and strengthen public health surveillance systems, investigate and control outbreaks, and conduct field studies to address public health priority issues. The classroom curriculum covers: Surveillance system management and evaluation, outbreak investigation and response, epidemiology study designs, data management and analysis, scientific communication (oral, written), training, mentoring, field work and other relevant topics.

The course is targeted at public health staff, primarily at district, provincial or national level with responsibility for (or play roles in) the following areas:

  • Surveillance data compilation, analysis and interpretation
  • Management, evaluation of surveillance system
  • Outbreak investigation and response
  • Conduct of planned epidemiologic research studies
  • Communication of health information to stakeholders

This is a 9-month in-service training programme. The schedule consists of five classroom workshops and field intervals for on-the-job field projects to reinforce principles taught during workshops. 

  • Completion of FETP-Frontline training
  • At least one year’s experience working with public health surveillance
  • Basic computer and software application skills (e.g., producing documents and spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations)

Successful participants will be selected based on employer’s recommendation. Interested Provincial and District Departments of Health should contact SAFETP for more information.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) accredited certificate with following expected impact of the FETP–Intermediate:

  • Increase in DoH staff with epidemiologic skills
  • Improved oversight of surveillance reporting
  • Improved oversight of other public health programs
  • Improved response to public health threats at district/provincial level
  • More frequent and better field investigations
  • Improved oral and written communication
  • Better use of data for public health decision-making
  • Graduates will count toward World Health Organization (WHO) / Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) goal of 1 epidemiologist per 200,000 population

For enquiries, or more information, please contact:

SAFETP Secretariat Office
Eudie Hlabioa
Tel: +27 11 386 6542

University of Pretoria
Lesiba Mpati
Telephone: +27 12 356 3292

University of the Witwatersrand
Lerato Podile

Frontline Tier (3-months training)

The Field Epidemiology Training Programme (FETP) Frontline course is an in-service programme focused on detecting and responding to diseases and events of public health importance and that of international concern. Participants learn and practice the fundamental skills used in frontline surveillance, including the use of case definitions, disease detection and reporting. In addition, participants are taught how to summarise data using simple tables and graphs, conduct case investigation, outbreak investigation and response, data analysis and interpreting data for decision-making.


The course is targeted at public health professionals working in the area of surveillance at national, provincial, district and local level, with the aim of strengthening the country’s capacity to rapidly detect, respond to, and contain public health emergencies at their source. Moreover, to prevent the spread of diseases and thereby enhance global health security. The target audience includes medical officers, nurses, infection control officers, surveillance officers, and environmental health officers.

The programme schedule consists of an initial 5-day training workshop, introduction to basic epidemiology principles and the importance of disease surveillance. Participants hereafter return to their regular work sites for a duration of 10 weeks and then return for a second 5-day training workshop to present their work and receive feedback from members of staff and peers, which will enable them to receive course completion certificates.


Week 2-11


Workshop 1 (5 Days)

On-the-job Projects

Workshop 2 (5 Days)

Workshop 1 topics

  • PH surveillance
  • Descriptive epidemiology
  • Outbreak investigation
  • MS Exel

On-the-job projects

  • Site visits/data quality audits
  • Surveillance data analysis,
    brief surveillance summary report
  • Outbreak report

Workshop 2 topics

  • Oral presentation skills
  • Problem analysis
  • Present results
  • Completion ceremony

The course is normally conducted at the request of the Provincial and District Departments of Health. Interested institutions should contact FETP for more information about the entry requirements.

Benefits to the National Department of Health

  • Increased capacity among staff to recognise public health priority problems that are important to the population.
  • Increased completion and accuracy of surveillance data reporting and analysis at district and provincial levels.
  • Increased capacity among staff to provide descriptive analysis of a public health problem.
  • A stronger culture of data-based decision-making process.
  • A network of well-trained and skilled surveillance officers in the country to respond to diseases.

For more information and enquiries contact:

Eudie Hlabioa
Tel: +27 11 386 6542


Project Coordinator 
Eudie Hlabioa
Tel: +27 11 386 6542


Field Epidemiologist
Khuliso Ravhuhali
Tel: +27 11 555 0540