An online nuclear engineering degree can be beneficial to anyone interested in furthering their studies, whether at the undergraduate or graduate degree level. Some or maybe all of the coursework in an online nuclear engineering degree, whether for a bachelor's, master’s, or doctoral degree, may be available through distance-based learning and Internet connectivity. Students generally need only a laptop or a personal computer to complete an online program.
Online programs allow you to save time on commuting and finish your coursework and homework assignments on a schedule that fits your needs.
However, like with any other campus-based program, you'll still have assignments to be completed by a specific date. At the same time, the actual learning component, whether it's participating in group discussions and assignments or reading material online, may provide more flexibility.
You'll also need a certain degree of discipline and commitment to keep pace with your online program. Plus, the students that perform best in such programs also dedicate a considerable amount to interacting with their peers online and participating in class discussions.
Keep these considerations in mind as you evaluate different online programs and schools for nuclear engineering.
Online nuclear engineering programs’ admissions requirements vary by school and degree level. The following criteria are among the most common:
Accreditation gives prospective students a sense of an online nuclear engineering program’s quality and reliability. When a school says it is accredited, it means a third-party organization has reviewed its curriculum, practices, and policies and verified they meet certain quality standards.
One should be especially conscious of whether a program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as financial aid, graduate program admission, and career prospects may depend upon it.
Online nuclear engineering degrees should also be accredited by whatever regional organization oversees such licenses. Regional accreditors include:
Students can visit the U.S. Department of Education online to learn more about approved accreditation bodies.
Online nuclear engineering courses prepare students for practice or research positions in the nuclear industry but vary from one institution to another. The following are among the most common:
Nuclear engineering curricula include a mix of general education, core, and elective courses. Additionally, program specializations provide a more targeted education in students’ areas of interest. Online nuclear engineering degree specializations include:
The North Carolina State University of Raleigh offers an online master of nuclear engineering degree that is available entirely online and it requires no thesis, final oral exam, or on-campus residency. Online courses are the same as on-campus courses in terms of requirements, academic rigor, and content.
The major admission requirements for the program include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in an engineering discipline, an overall GPA of 3.0, three letters of recommendation, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for all international applicants. GRE scores are not required for admission.
The program comprises 30 credits, out of which 15 to 18 must be in nuclear engineering, nine credits must be from outside of nuclear engineering for developing interdisciplinary breadth, and the remaining three must be from a nuclear engineering project. Some courses in the curriculum include reactor engineering; radiation safety and shielding; nuclear materials; nuclear fuel cycles; and radiation and reactor fundamentals.
On successful completion of the program, graduates can take up roles such as nuclear engineers, isotopes and radiation engineers, nuclear licensing engineers, nuclear project engineers, nuclear safety engineers, and nuclear repair engineers, to name a few.
Penn State World Campus of University Park offers an online non-thesis master of engineering in a nuclear engineering program providing students with a flexible and relevant curriculum, the coursework developed by experts in the field. Consistently ranked as one of the best in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report, this online program is identical to the on-campus program and is taught by the same faculty members.
Admission requirements for the program include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or its equivalent, a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher, an official transcript from each institution attended, three recommendation letters, a current resume, a statement of purpose, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants. If submitted, GRE test scores are not required for admission but will be considered.
Made up of 30 credits, the program includes courses such as nuclear and radiochemistry; introduction to statistical thermodynamics; nuclear materials; radiological safety; radioactive waste control; power plant simulation; and reactor engineering, among others.
At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities at electrical utility companies, development laboratories, universities and colleges, engineering design firms, nuclear power plants, and factories that make nuclear equipment.
Virginia Tech offers two graduate certificates in nuclear engineering: a graduate certificate in nuclear engineering and a graduate certificate in nuclear science technology and policy (NSTP). These certificates provide students with a solid foundation in nuclear reactor physics. The programs involve additional specialization options in the nuclear fuel cycle, reactor physics, reactor thermal hydraulics, radiation measurements, nuclear power plant operations, or nuclear materials.
The nuclear engineering certificate requires students to have a bachelor of science degree in science or engineering. In contrast, the NSTP graduate certificate requires a bachelor of science degree in a technical or policy discipline. Additional application requirements include college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and TOEFL scores for international students.
The nuclear engineering certificate comprises nine credits, while the NSTP graduate certificate consists of 12 credits. The curriculum includes courses such as nuclear engineering fundamentals; nuclear nonproliferation, safeguards & security; nuclear reactor analysis; nuclear plant systems & operations; and nuclear fuel cycle; among others.
Apart from these certificates, Virginia Tech also offers an online master of engineering (MENG) in nuclear engineering program, which consists of 30 to 33 credits.
The University of Texas launched its online master’s in nuclear and radiation engineering program in 1999, well before most schools. Students can complete courses and laboratory modules online, though they must report to campus twice throughout the program. A separate two-week campus-based intensive is recommended for students considering doctorates, but not required.
Applicants to the program must have a bachelor of science degree in physical sciences or an engineering discipline from an accredited institution, a minimum grade point average of 3.0, letters of recommendation, and TOEFL scores for international students. GRE scores are not optional.
Digitally delivering educational content to online students, the program includes courses such as nuclear power engineering; computational methods in radiation transport; nuclear radiation shielding; nuclear safety and security; mathematical methods for nuclear and radiation engineers; and design of nuclear systems, among others.
Educating the next generation of leaders in nuclear science and engineering, this program prepares students to conduct leading research at the forefront of the nuclear community and apply nuclear technology for solving multidisciplinary problems.
Purdue University has an online master of nuclear engineering degree created with working professionals in mind. Purdue's School of Nuclear Engineering has been consistently ranked among the top nuclear engineering graduate programs by the U.S. News & World Report. Offering a wide variety of flexible course options, this 30-credit program is taught by the same renowned faculty members who teach on campus.
To get accepted into the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program or one with equivalent standards.
The program includes coursework in nuclear engineering principles; nuclear reactor theory; mass, momentum, and energy transfer in energy systems; nuclear engineering systems; fuzzy approaches in engineering; neural computers in engineering; and big data and machine learning in engineering.
Graduates will be ready for positions such as nuclear engineers, isotopes and radiation engineers, nuclear licensing engineers, nuclear project engineers, nuclear operations and power engineers, nuclear repair engineers, nuclear systems engineers, and nuclear safety engineers.
Texas A&M University’s nuclear engineering department offers an online master of engineering in nuclear engineering that has the same quality and outcomes and is taught by the same faculty members as the on-campus program.
Applicants holding a bachelor of science degree in engineering or qualified seniors who are in the last semester of their program are eligible candidates for this non-thesis master of engineering program in nuclear engineering. GRE scores are not required for admission.
The curriculum includes courses such as nuclear reactor theory; radiation interactions and shielding; radiation detection and nuclear materials measurement; reactor analysis and experimentation; fast spectrum systems and applications; nuclear reactor safety; design of nuclear reactors; and radiological safety and hazards evaluation.
The University of South Carolina offers an online master of engineering non-thesis program in nuclear engineering as well as a master of science program in nuclear engineering which requires a 6-credit thesis. The ME program will prepare students to tackle difficult projects, develop designs, solve problems, and make impactful decisions, while graduates of the MS degree will have the necessary skills required for professional development and life-long learning. Both programs require the completion of 30 credits.
The curriculum includes courses such as introduction to nuclear engineering; nuclear fuel cycles; radiation shielding; nuclear reactor systems; instrumentation for nuclear engineering; introduction to nuclear safeguards; introduction to nuclear materials; thermal-hydraulic design of nuclear reactors; advanced nuclear engineering; and safety analysis for energy systems.
Online nuclear engineering programs make degrees and certificates more accessible but do not necessarily spare students from all campus visits. Online schools may require students to attend on-site intensives, exams, presentations, and other tasks. These visits are usually short and sparse, amounting to no more than two per year. Students researching online nuclear engineering degrees should prepare for any on-site requirements before applying to programs.
Lastly, distance-based students may only attend programs that admit students from their state of residence. An online program’s “state authorization” status is typically listed on a school’s website (e.g., Penn State World Campus), and for those who don’t have the information, prospective students should contact admissions offices to ensure eligibility.
Amir A. Bahadori, PhD Kansas State University
Dr. Amir Bahadori is an associate professor in the department of mechanical and nuclear engineering at Kansas State University. He is a former NASA Graduate Research Program fellow and worked at the NASA Johnson Space Center for five years before joining K-State. His research efforts are focused on radiation imaging, characterization of radiation environments, and understanding the response of humans and electronics to radiation exposure.
Dr. Bahadori teaches nuclear engineering courses such as radiation protection and shielding, and radiation and human health. His research has been published in journals such as the American Journal of Roentgenology, Journal of Radiation Research, and Physics in Medicine and Biology. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a nuclear engineering option from K-State and a master’s and PhD in medical physics from the University of Florida.
William Charlton, PhD University of Texas at Austin
Dr. William Charlton is the John J. McKetta Energy Professor in the nuclear and radiation engineering program within the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He teaches or has taught courses on the design and analysis of nuclear security systems, nuclear deterrence and nonproliferation, nuclear detection, and nuclear forensics.
Dr. Charlton has over fifteen years of expertise in the designing, development, evaluation, and testing of technological solutions for nuclear threats. He has received many awards such as the Special Service Award from the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management and the Distinguished Research Award from NSRI. He completed his BS, MS, and PhD in nuclear engineering, all at Texas A&M University.
Fan-Bill Cheung, PhD Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Fan-Bill Cheung is the George L. Guillet Professor at Pennsylvania State University, where he teaches online nuclear engineering courses to graduate students. His primary research and interest areas include energy systems, thermal processing of materials, nuclear power, and reactor thermal hydraulics.
Dr. Cheung has also contributed to several research papers and books. Notably, he conducted energy research at the Argonne National Laboratory. He has published in journals such as the International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, Applied Thermal Engineering, and the International Journal of Multiphase Flow. He holds a PhD in nuclear engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
Alireza Haghighat, PhD Virginia Tech
Dr. Alireza Haghighat is the Robert E. Hord Jr. Professor of nuclear engineering and science at Virginia Tech where he also advises online nuclear engineering students’ independent study efforts.
Dr. Haghighat teaches or has taught courses such as nuclear reactor analysis, Monte Carlo methods for particle transport, particle transport methods and application, and advanced reactor physics. His research has been published in prominent journals such as Progress in Nuclear Energy, and Annals of Nuclear Energy. Dr. Haghighat has a BS in Physics from Pahlavi (Shiraz) University and an MS and PhD in nuclear engineering from the University of Washington.
John Mattingly, PhD North Carolina State University
Dr. John Mattingly is a professor for NC State’s online nuclear engineering program and the technical director of its Consortium for Nonproliferation Enabling Capabilities where he leads the RADIANS research team. Before teaching, he worked at two national laboratories for 15 years.
Dr. Mattingly’s primary research focus is radiation measurement and analysis techniques for nuclear security applications, including counter-terrorism and arms control. He has published his research in prominent journals such as International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, and Measurement Science and Technology. He holds a BS, MS, and PhD in nuclear eengineering, all from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
From radiological medicine and power generation to national defense and hydrogen cell creation, it is difficult to overstate the impact nuclear engineers can have on our world and lives. Meet these exceptional professors of nuclear engineering.