20 Best Master’s Degrees in Nuclear Engineering 2020

| Staff

20 Best Master’s Degrees in Nuclear Engineering 2020
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Pursuing a Master’s in Nuclear Engineering

Nuclear energy is North America’s largest source of emission-free energy. The following 20 Best Master’s Programs in Nuclear Engineering work to transform students into active nuclear engineers and scientists. 

Nuclear engineering encompasses areas of applied science, nuclear power systems design, and radiation physics. An understanding of nuclear energy can be applied to problems in government, industry, and medicine. Grad School Hub‘s 20 Best Master’s Programs in Nuclear Engineering equip students to help develop nuclear technology and solve problems related to the field.

The following list includes Master of Science and Master of Engineering programs to prepare students for careers rooted in industry and research. Nuclear Engineering students can expect to study topics such as fusion, fission, radiation safety and technology, and beyond. Nuclear Engineering programs tend to also offer opportunities for exciting, hands-on research in laboratory environments.

Nuclear engineers and scientists may apply their research and development skills in a variety of areas, from power plants and medical research centers to the U.S. Navy and space exploration. Many nuclear engineering roles involve finding beneficial purposes for radioactive materials, such as in medical treatment. According to the most recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nuclear engineers earned a median salary of $107,600 in 2018. The field is growing at a rate of four percent, which is slower than average. The field of electric power generation is projected to decline, but engineering research and consulting services are expected to grow. For this reason, job prospects are likely to be better for those pursuing research-oriented degrees.

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Accredited Online College Programs

Best Master’s Degrees in Nuclear Engineering

Rank School Location
1 University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA
2 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA
3 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
4 Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
5 University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI
6 Texas A&M University College Station, TX
7 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
8 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
9 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
10 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR

Methodology

The staff of Grad School Hub has compiled the following 20 Best Masters’ Degrees in Nuclear Engineering for the 2019-20 academic school year based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Data contributed from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Department of Labor plays a significant role in how graduate degree programs are ranked because institutional transparency is essential for deciding which career path is right for you. Based on this data, GSH organizes information into five weighted categories, which are:

  • Alumni Feedback: 20% 
  • Continued Enrollment: 20% 
  • Degree Selectivity: 10%
  • Graduate Expenses: 25%
  • Projected Annual Salary: 25%

A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible through our Ranking Methodology page. 

Here are the 20 Best Masters’ Degrees in Nuclear Engineering for 2019 – 2020!

  1. University of California, Berkeley
    Location

    Berkeley, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of California, Berkeley offers both a Master of Engineering and a Master of Science degree option in Nuclear Engineering. The Master of Engineering program is a professional program that takes one year to complete. It focuses on the design and operation of nuclear engineering systems. The program is suitable for working engineers who wish to advance into leadership roles in their careers. The interdisciplinary curriculum includes a technical specialization in an area of Nuclear Engineering, a series of engineering leadership courses, and a capstone project. The MS program is only available to students pursuing the university's Nuclear Engineering Ph.D. It requires either a master's thesis or a research project with a written report and oral presentation.

    Berkeley conducts significant Nuclear Engineering research in areas such as energy, fission, fusion, materials, risk safety analysis, and waste management. The university's Nuclear Engineering department is home to a Nucleonics Lab, which houses a particle accelerator. Berkeley innovations include the invention of the cyclotron particle accelerator and the discovery of 16 chemical elements on the periodic table. The "Father of the Atomic Bomb," J.R. Oppenheimer, was a Berkeley physicist. Albert Einstein's son Hans was a leading global scholar in hydraulic engineering and a long-time faculty member at the university. The Academic Ranking of World Universities ranks Berkeley the fourth best university in the United States.

  2. Georgia Institute of Technology
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The Georgia Institute of Technology offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. The degree program is designed for students with bachelor's degrees in engineering. It focuses on research in areas including criticality safety, nuclear power economics, radiation transport, and radioactive materials management. Course offerings include Nuclear Criticality Safety Engineering, Radiation Shielding Principles and Analysis, and Radiological Assessment and Waste Management. Students may also engage in a radiation physics lab, in which they study radiation field measurements. The MS curriculum culminates in a written research thesis. Graduate students have the option to pursue teaching and research assistantships and practicum experiences.

    Georgia Tech was established in 1885 with the aim to help build an industrial economy in the American South. Originally offering only one sole degree program in mechanical engineering, the school then added additional engineering fields before expanding into a technical institute and research university. In 1934, engineering professor W. Harry Vaughan founded the Engineering Experiment Station, now known as the Georgia Tech Research Institute. U.S. News & World Report ranks Purdue third in the nation for graduate programs in Nuclear Engineering. Washington Monthly ranks the university No. 31 overall in the nation.

  3. North Carolina State University
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    North Carolina State University offers both a Master of Nuclear Engineering and a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. Each program requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of study. Course offerings include Computational Transport Theory, Nuclear Waste Management, Radiation Safety and Shielding, and Reactor Systems. The MS program culminates in a written research thesis and oral exam. The degree is typically completed in 21 months. Master of Nuclear Engineering students complete their program with a nuclear research project in an area of interest. The MNE degree can be completed in 15 months on campus or online.

    NC State was established in 1887 as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. It has since grown into one of the largest universities in the nation. Located in Raleigh, NC state marks one corner of the region's Research Triangle. In its 2019 rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked NC State No. 80 nationally, No. 55 for best value, No. 37 in innovation, and No. 32 among public schools. At the graduate level, the site ranked the university No. 24 in engineering programs and third nationally in Nuclear Engineering.

  4. Purdue University
    Location

    West Lafayette, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Purdue University offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. The degree program offers thesis and coursework-based options. The coursework option is suitable for students seeking industry careers, not for those interested in research. Both options require 30 credit hours of study. Required courses include Mass, Momentum and Energy Transfer in Energy Systems; Nuclear Reactor Theory; and Radiation Effects and Reactor Materials. All students must also take six credit hours of computational courses and a technical writing course. Research areas within the School of Nuclear Engineering include applied intelligent systems, fusion, materials and waste management, and nuclear medicine. The MS program can typically be completed in two to four semesters.

    Purdue was founded in 1869 on a donation from businessman John Purdue. The school was established with a focus on agriculture and engineering. Its early engineering labs included locomotive and steam engine testing facilities. The public research university has since grown into the largest university in Indiana for student enrollment. Its central quad is known as both the Purdue Mall and the Engineering Mall, due to its proximity to campus engineering buildings. A striking feature of the quad is its 38-foot Engineering Fountain. U.S. News & World Report ranks Purdue No. 8 in the nation for its graduate engineering programs.

  5. University of Wisconsin - Madison
    Location

    Madison, WI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Wisconsin - Madison offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics. The degree program includes elements of applied science, engineering physics, and nuclear engineering. It offers focus areas such as computing, fusion engineering, plasma physics, and radiation damage. The program places an emphasis on research alongside faculty and in groups. Research areas include fuel cycle analysis, neutron transport, plasma diagnostics, and more. Course offerings include Ionizing Radiation, Nuclear Reactor Theory, and Principles of Corrosion. Laboratory courses are offered in nuclear instrumentation, nuclear materials, and nuclear reactors. Students may also choose to engage in practical, cooperative education experiences.

    Founded in 1848, UW - Madison is the oldest and largest public university in Wisconsin. It is the state's official university and the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin System. The university's scientific advances include the discovery of vitamins A and B, the first chemical gene synthesis, and the single-grain experiment in nutrition science. The university's Nuclear Engineering department is associated with research organizations including the Center for Plasma Theory and Computation, the Fusion Technology Institute, and the Wisconsin Institute of Nuclear Systems. Academic Ranking of World Universities ranks UW No. 21 in the nation, and Washington Monthly ranks it No. 22.

  6. Texas A&M University
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Texas A&M University offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. The degree program covers the fundamentals of engineering, math, and science, and the more specific areas of fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. It requires a minimum of 32 semester credit hours of study. Course offerings include Nuclear Fuel Performance, Nuclear Reactor Theory, Reactor Analysis and Experimentation, and Radiological Safety and Hazards. Students can choose from five specialization options: Computational Methods, Health Physics, Nuclear Materials, Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Power Engineering. The program culminates in the completion and oral defense of a written master's thesis.

    Texas A&M was established in 1871 as The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, though it originally taught no agricultural classes. The university has since grown into the largest university in Texas and the second-largest in the United States, with one of the largest financial endowments in the nation. Located in College Station, the public research university is the founding institution of the Texas A&M University System. The university also operates an international campus in Qatar, which awards degrees from the Dwight Look College of Engineering. Washington Monthly ranked Texas A&M No. 11 nationally in 2018.

  7. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a Master of Science in Nuclear, Plasma, & Radiological Engineering. Students may choose to add a concentration in Computational Science & Engineering. The MS degree program requires 32 credits of study, including a research thesis. The core curriculum covers the fundamentals of nuclear engineering and radiation-matter interaction. Students can choose from a vast range of focus areas of study, including biomedical imaging, fusion engineering, neutron scattering, and plasma engineering. The degree program is typically completed in three semesters of study plus a summer session.

    U of I was founded in 1867 as an industrial land-grant university. It is now a public land-, sea-, and space-grant institution and a top-tier research university. Its campus spreads across the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana, Illinois. The campus is home to the nation's second-largest library system and fastest university campus supercomputer. The U of I National Center for Supercomputing Applications was also the site for the development of Mosaic, the world's first successful consumer web browser. The university's College of Engineering is its most selective college. U.S. News & World Report list U of I No. 10 in graduate engineering programs and seventh in Nuclear Engineering.

  8. Ohio State University
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The Ohio State University offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. The degree program is designed to prepare students for professional success in areas related to nuclear fission, radiation, and radioactive materials. The degree requires 30 credits of study and offers both thesis and non-thesis options. The non-thesis program is coursework-based and culminates in a research project. Graduate course offerings include Dynamic Probabilistic Risk Assessment, Nuclear Power Plant Operations, and Reactor Dynamics Laboratory. Students can work with faculty on sponsored research for agencies such as the Department of Energy and NASA. Research areas include environmental management, nuclear medicine, nuclear power, and radiation safety.

    OSU was founded in 1870 as an agricultural and mechanical school. It has since evolved into a public research university with the third-largest on-campus enrollment in the United States. It is categorized in the Carnegie Foundation's top tier of research universities and is considered one of the nation's "Public Ivies." The university's Nuclear Engineering graduate students make use of facilities such as the Nuclear Analysis and Radiation Sensor Lab and the Nuclear Reactor Lab. U.S. News & World Report ranks OSU No. 27 in graduate engineering programs. The site also ranks the university No. 56 overall nationally, No. 18 for innovation, and No. 17 among public universities.

  9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology awards a Master of Science in Nuclear Science and Engineering. All MS degree candidates are required to take courses in Applied Nuclear Physics and Radiation Interactions, Control, and Measurement. Students may choose from five specialization areas: applied plasma physics, nuclear fission technology, nuclear materials, nuclear science and technology, and nuclear security. The degree requires 66 units of graduate study, 48 of which must be taken within the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. The curriculum culminates in a supervised research thesis. The program is typically completed in one to two years.

    MIT was founded in 1861 due to the United States' increasing industrialization. Originally a polytechnic university, it emphasized science and engineering studies in laboratory environments. Today, the university maintains its focus on STEM fields and is highly regarded for its innovations in these areas. The public research university has a main campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near Harvard University. The MIT Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering uses research facilities including the Laboratory for Electrochemical Interfaces, the Nuclear Reactor Laboratory, and the Plasma Science and Fusion Center. MIT is currently ranked as the third best university in the nation, according to Academic Ranking of World Universities, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly.

  10. Oregon State University
    Location

    Corvallis, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Oregon State University offers both a Master of Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering. Each degree program requires 45 credits of study. Core courses for both programs include Nuclear Reactor Safety and Radiation Shielding and External Dosimetry. The MS program also requires a master's thesis. Students can choose from several areas of concentration, such as arms control technology, nuclear medicine, and thermal hydraulics. The department is also home to numerous research groups in areas including but not limited to computational methods, nuclear security, and radiation detection technologies. Students may also seek fellowships and research and teaching assistantships.

    OSU was founded in 1868, in part due to the efforts of local Freemasons and the Methodist Episcopal Church. It is now a public university with land, sea, space, and sun grants. The Carnegie Foundation classifies OSU in the top tier of research universities and recognizes the university for its community engagement. Nuclear Engineering graduate students work on research in areas such as advanced reactor design and medical isotope production with partners such as the Idaho National Laboratory and the Department of Energy. U.S. News & World Report ranks OSU No. 70 nationally among public institutions and No. 37 in innovation.

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