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Online Nuclear Engineering Degrees

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Influential Nuclear Engineering Professors Who Teach Online

DR. MICHAEL A. COPLAN

Dr. Michael Coplan is an emeritus professor of online and campus-based nuclear engineering courses at the University of Maryland’s Institute for Physical Science and Technology, where he also conducts research in high-sensitivity neutron detection and high-resolution ion mass spectrometers. He has authored several publications, books, and book chapters. Dr. Coplan holds two U.S. patents for neutron-detection apparati.

DR. TIMOTHY KOETH

Dr. Timothy Koeth is an associate research professor at the University of Maryland. He also serves as as director of the UM’s Nuclear and Radiation Facilities. According to his official bio, Dr. Koeth is a leading researcher in the area of nonlinear charged particle beam optics, which he studies using intense electron and ion beam accelerators. Other research interests include cyclotrons, high power RF, pulsed power, and cathodes. Dr. Koeth holds a B.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from Rutgers University, where his work won the annual Professor Plano Thesis Award.

DR. KATHRYN A. HIGLEY

Dr. Kathryn Higley is the Mr. and Mrs. Edward N. Rickert Jr. Endowed Professor at Oregon State University, where she teaches a number of online nuclear engineering courses. She previously served as reactor supervisor for the Reed College TRIGA reactor and held reactor operator and senior reactor operator licenses. Her other employers have included Battelle, Pacific Northwest Laboratories, and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Dr. Higley’s research interests include environmental transport, neutron activation analysis, radioecology, nuclear emergency response, and environmental regulations. She holds a B.A in Chemistry and an M.S. in Radiological Health Sciences from Reed College, as well as a Ph.D. in Radiological Health Sciences from Colorado State University.

Admissions Requirements for Online Nuclear Engineering Programs

Online nuclear engineering programs’ admissions requirements vary by school and degree level. The following criteria are among the most common:

  • A high school diploma or equivalent
  • An accredited bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering or a relevant field (graduate programs)
  • A minimum high school or undergraduate GPA (e.g., >3.2)
  • Solid grades in prerequisite math and science courses
  • Standardized test scores on the SAT, ACT, GRE, or other exams
  • A personal essay or statement of intent
  • Academic and/or professional references (graduate programs)
  • A resume or CV
  • An interview (graduate or highly-competitive programs)

Program Accreditation

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 his or her 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.

Curriculum & Specialization

Online nuclear engineering courses prepare students for practical or research positions in the nuclear industry, but vary from one institution to another. The following are among the most common:

  • Fundamentals of nuclear engineering
  • Fission power engineering
  • Bionuclear engineering
  • Nuclear design
  • Nuclear reactions and radiation
  • Nuclear reactor theory
  • Nuclear security and proliferation
  • Radiation safety and shielding
  • Radiation sources, interaction, and detection
  • Thermodynamics
  • Computational methods
  • Materials in nuclear technology

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:

  • Fuel cycle and waste management
  • Modeling and simulation
  • Nuclear instrumentation and control
  • Nuclear materials
  • Nuclear medical instrumentation
  • Nuclear fusion and plasma sciences
  • Nuclear reactor core design
  • Radiation detection and measurement
  • Safety analysis
  • Thermal and fluid science

1North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University of Raleigh is home to the no. 5 graduate-level nuclear engineering program in the country (U.S. News & World Report, 2017), and its online master of nuclear engineering degree validates its reputation. This 30-credit program is fully online and it requires no thesis, final oral exam, or on-campus residency. Some courses require proctored exams at approved locations near the student’s home community. Tuition is $482.56 per credit-hour for North Carolina residents and $1,198.56 for out-of-state students.

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DR. YOUSRY AZMY

Dr. Yousry Azmy is the director of NC State’s Consortium for Nonproliferation Enabling Capabilities; editor of the international journal Progress of Nuclear Energy; and a professor in the nuclear engineering program. His research contributions to the field are expansive, as are his scientific publications. Dr. Azmy has won at least ten grants and in 2016, was awarded the title of Distinguished Professor. He holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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DR. JOHN MATTINGLY

Dr. John Mattingly an associate 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. Prior to teaching, he worked at two national laboratories over the course of 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 holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering, all from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

2Penn State World Campus

Penn State World Campus of University Park’s online engineering programs ranked no. 4 in the nation in 2017. According to its website, its nuclear engineering programs follow suit. Students can complete its 30-credit master of nuclear engineering totally online and do not have to do a thesis. As of 2017, tuition was $1,100 per credit.

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DR. KENAN UNLU

Dr. Kenan Unlu is an online nuclear engineering professor at Pennsylvania State University and director of its Radiation Science and Engineering Center. His research areas include nuclear science and security with a special interest in using neutron beams to analyze and characterize condensed materials. Dr. Unlu holds a B.S. and M.S. combined degree in engineering physics from Hacettepe University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan.

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DR. FAN-BILL CHEUNG

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 holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

3Virginia Tech University

Virginia Tech University of Blacksburg’s graduate-level online engineering programs are varied and nationally ranked. Future nuclear engineers can complete its 9-credit nuclear engineering graduate certificate online, in one semester or longer—important considerations for engineers already in the field. Tuition, as of winter 2017, was $795.75 per credit for residents and $1,550.50 for non-residents.

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DR. MARK PIERSON

Dr. Mark Pierson is an associate professor and a Certified Master Online Instructor at Virginia Tech University. He previously served in the U.S. Navy and as a project manager for the University’s Deep Underground Science & Engineering Lab’s research division. Among Dr. Pierson’s research foci: radioisotope betavoltaic batteries, fusion demonstration reactors, radiation transport, and nuclear security. He holds a B.A. from the University of California Davis, as well as an M.S. and Ph.D. in Mathematics from Virginia Tech.

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DR. ALIREZA HAGHIGHAT

Dr. Alireza Haghighat is a professor of nuclear engineering and science at Virginia Tech where he also advises online nuclear engineering students’ independent study efforts. He has served as chairman of the board of the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium; interim-director of the Florida Institute of Nuclear Detection and Security; and president and CEO of H&S Advanced Com. Technologies. Dr. Haghighat has a B.S. in Physics from Pahlavi (Shiraz) University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Washington.

4University of Texas at Austin

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 over the course of the program. A separate two-week, campus-based intensive is recommended for students considering doctorates, but not required. Tuition is $1,374 per credit for Texas residents and $1,955 for non-residents.

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DR. ERICH SCHNEIDER

Dr. Erich Schneider is a professor and Chevron Centennial Fellow in Engineering at the University of Texas where he teaches online courses such as the nuclear fuel cycle. Previously, he served as a technical staff member in the Decision Applications Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Schneider is an active primary and co-investigator of grants through the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He holds a Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Cornell University.

5Kansas State University

Kansas State University of Manhattan, KS has an online master’s of science in nuclear engineering, which was created with working students in mind. Students need only attend campus once at the end of the 30-credit program for an oral exam. At $835 per credit-hour for all students globally, regardless of residency, K-State’s tuition is competitive.

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DR. WILLIAM L. DUNN

Dr. William L. Dunn is a professor and department head for Kansas State University’s Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Department where he also serves as the Steven M. and Kay L. Theede Chair in Engineering and director of the University’s Radiation Measurement Applications Laboratory. His previously worked for Applied Research Associates, Quantum Research Services, and the Research Triangle Institute, among others. Dr. Dunn is particularly interested in nondestructive evaluation and radiation physics, shielding, and applications. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in nuclear engineering from North Carolina State University.

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DR. AMIR BAHADORI

Dr. Amir Bahadori is a professor of online and on-campus mechanical and nuclear engineering courses 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. Dr. Bahadori continues to work with NASA on space radiation detection and protection issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a nuclear engineering option from K-State and a master’s and Ph.D. in medical physics from the University of Florida.

Campus Visitation & State Authorization for Online Nuclear Engineering Programs

Online nuclear engineering programs make degrees and certificates more accessible, but do not necessarily spare students from 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 which 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 which don’t have the information, prospective students should contact admissions offices to ensure eligibility.

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