Nuclear Engineering Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Students have many criteria to consider when selecting a school for nuclear engineering, including areas of specializations, available research opportunities, types of degrees offered and a student's specific career ambitions. Graduate students may be more concerned with research opportunities and available degrees, while specializations and career ambitions concern students at all academic levels.

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Within the field of nuclear engineering, there are multiple specialization areas and applications of nuclear engineering, including nuclear fission, power generation, medical diagnosis and therapy and imaging. Many students of nuclear engineering go on to work for the government, universities, research institutions and engineering firms.

Top 10 Nuclear Engineering Schools

The following 4-year institutions offer undergraduate and/or graduate degree programs in nuclear engineering:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition
(2015-2016)*
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,856 (In-state) $43,476 (Out-of-state)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,704
Texas A&M University - College Station College Station, TX 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $10,176 (In-state) $28,768 (Out-of-state)
University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $10,415 (In-state) $29,665 (Out-of-state)
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,431 (In-state) $38,139 (Out-of-state)
North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $8,581 (In-state) $24,932 (Out-of-state)
University of Tennessee - Knoxville Knoxville, TN 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $12,436 (In-state) $30,856 (Out-of-state)
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $12,204 (In-state) $32,396 (Out-of-state)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $15,054 (In-state) $30,214 (Out-of-state)
Pennsylvania State University - University Park University Park, PA 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $17,514 (In-state) $31,346 (Out-of-state)

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

College Selection Criteria

The most important considerations will vary depending on the student. Keep the following in mind:

  • Students who know they'll be seeking advanced degrees should look for a school that offers joint bachelor's-master's degree programs.
  • Students who plan to pursue a career in industry may look for professional master's degree programs that do not require a research thesis.
  • Students interested in pursuing a particular specialty area should make sure it's emphasized in their chosen program.
  • Doctoral degree programs tend to concentrate on research and development within nuclear engineering, and therefore may be suited for students interested in research or a research-based career.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering programs provide basic coursework in the scientific and mathematical concepts that underpin nuclear engineering. Through laboratory-based courses, they gain experience with common engineering tools and techniques. Graduates are prepared for entry-level industry jobs or graduate-level studies. Some universities provide students with the opportunity to complete a five-year dual bachelor's/master's degree program.

Master's Degree Programs

At the master's degree level, students can pursue either a Master of Science (MS) in Nuclear Engineering or a professional Master of Engineering with a focus in nuclear engineering. MS programs are generally research-focused and require the completion of a thesis, and they can provide a basis for either doctoral degree programs or careers in industry. Professional programs are designed specifically for students who want to enter directly into industry, and they may not require a thesis. Some non-thesis programs are even available entirely online.

Doctoral Programs

Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering programs are primarily research-oriented; students begin with advanced coursework in the field but ultimately focus their efforts on scientific investigations leading to a final dissertation. Possible research areas include nuclear reactor systems design, nuclear reactor hydromechanics, fusion system analysis, radioactive waste management, nuclear reactor instrumentation and computational methods. In most cases, graduates pursue careers in academia, but they are also well-prepared for industry jobs.

Undergraduate and graduate degree programs in nuclear engineering are available at public and private institutions. Prospective students may want to consider areas of specialization when choosing a school to attend.

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