PhD Programs in Nuclear Engineering

Aug 07, 2019

If you're fascinated by nuclear engineering and want to turn it into a career, you can discover what goes into a PhD program in this field. Read about common course topics and the requirements for gaining admission into a program.

PhD programs in nuclear engineering require dedicated classes in graduate study and research to prepare for a dissertation. You'll probably begin with core courses if you haven't had as much exposure to nuclear engineering courses or don't yet have a master's degree. You can expect your dissertation to take several years to write before you defend it in front of your committee.

PhD Courses in Nuclear Engineering

Nuclear engineering deals with radiation and nuclear energy, and graduates in this field might be found performing research as it applies to radioactive medicine or to the use of fission in a reactor. Listed below are some possible courses you could explore as part of a doctoral program in nuclear engineering.

Nuclear Reactor Analysis

This type of course might look at the process of a nuclear reaction, and how fission works to keep a reactor functional. You can study concepts that include neutro diffusion, and the one-speed diffusion model inside a reactor. You might also cover different topics throughout the course that include physics design, kinetics, and neutron slowing.

Nuclear Reactor Safety

Risk assessment and the reliability of a nuclear reactor might be some of the main topics in this kind of class. You may study emergency system effectiveness, accident prevention through case studies, and previous assessments of incidents with nuclear reactors. You'll could also cover the environmental fallout that comes with reactor failure.

Advanced Reactor Physics

You might look at various high-level concepts directly related to nuclear physics in this type of class, beginning with neutro spectra and resonance treatment. Throughout your studies, you may also encounter fuel expenditure, the limitations of a SCALE6 code system and its underlying theories, and the issues surrounding fuel cell homogenization. Other concepts in advanced reactor physics can include parallel computing and perturbation theory.

Monte Carlo Methods for Particle Transport

In this kind of course, you might look at the concepts of particle transport, including Monte Carlo formulation and techniques for random number generation. The basic ideas behind probability and statistics could appear, along with variance reduction and methods for tallying results. You might practice using the Monte Carlo method to apply in real world situations.

Radiation Detection

For this sort of course, you'll possibly cover the mechanisms you'll use to detect radiation and how to measure a given amount of radiation. You can study how to operate instruments within a nuclear lab setting; semiconductors of gamma, beta, and alpha radiation; and how to use Bonner spheres to profile neutron energy. You might get to experiment with radiation's interaction with matter, as well.

Admissions Requirements for PhD Programs

To gain admission into a PhD program for nuclear engineering, you'll commonly need a solid GPA in your undergraduate courses. Some schools require a minimum of a 3.0, so check each school's requirements. Your transcripts from previous schools and programs should all come directly from each college or university. When sending your letters of recommendation, some universities prefer that the online system be used for submission. On your statement of purpose, you can discuss your research intentions and also express any professors whose specialization areas match your own. When required, after taking the GRE General exam, you can submit your official scores from ETS to each school's admissions department.

In summary, PhD programs in nuclear engineering are typically available for those with at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA who wish to study this field at the graduate level. Programs vary, but often include courses in nuclear reactor topics, such as safety, analysis and physics.

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