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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The University of New Mexico offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. Students can choose to pursue a generalist degree in the field, which offers thesis and non-thesis options. Alternatively, they can pursue a concentration in Medical Physics or Radiation Protection Engineering, which both follow a non-thesis plan. The core MS curriculum consists of three courses, including Nuclear Reactor Theory. The thesis option requires 24 hours of coursework, a written research thesis, and an oral thesis defense. Key non-thesis coursework includes a supervised master's project with an oral presentation and an oral exam.
UNM has a vast main campus in the heart of Albuquerque near Route 66, and five additional branch campuses in the state. The public research university's facilities include the Centennial Science and Engineering Library, the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, and the University of New Mexico Arboretum. The Princeton Review ranks the UNM School of Engineering No. 14 for graduate programs nationally. Research centers within the School of Engineering include the Center for Emerging Energy Technologies, the Center for Space and Nuclear Power Studies, and the UNM Resilience Institute.
The University of Tennessee offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. The degree program is designed for students with undergraduate degrees in chemistry, engineering, math, or physics. It requires 24 credit hours of study, plus a culminating experience. Students can choose to culminate their program of study through a thesis project or an engineering practice project. The final step toward the degree is a comprehensive oral exam. Students can choose from several research topics to focus on, such as nuclear fusion technology or radiation detection and measurement. Students also have the option to add a concentration in Radiological Engineering. Graduate students may choose to work as teaching and research assistants.
Founded in 1794, UT Knoxville is the flagship university of Tennessee. The public research university is also the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System. Its research centers include the Institute for Nuclear Security, the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials, and the Joint Institute for Neutron Sciences. It also operates the nearby University of Tennessee Space Institute, which specializes in graduate studies and research in aerospace engineering. The university has the largest Nuclear Engineering Ph.D. enrollment in the nation. The Carnegie Foundation classifies UTK as a "community-engaged" university, and the Princeton Review recognized the university for its "Green Campus" in 2019.
Pennsylvania State University offers both a Master of Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering. The M.Eng. degree program is a professionally-oriented program, and it can be completed online through Penn State World Campus. M.Eng. students culminate their program of study with a research paper. The MS program is more research-oriented and is designed to be completed on campus. MS students culminate their program with a written thesis. Each program requires 30 credit hours of study. Research areas within the Department of Nuclear Engineering include nuclear security, radiation detection and imaging, and radioisotopes and radiochemistry.
Penn State was founded in 1855 as the Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania. Today, it is a multi-campus university with land, sea, space, and sun grants. It operates campuses across Pennsylvania, with a flagship campus in University Park. The university is home to the Radiation Science and Engineering Center, which houses the oldest university research reactor in operation. The Annual Ranking of World Universities ranks Penn State No. 37 in the nation.
Missouri University of Science & Technology offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. The degree program is designed to build students' understanding of the design and operation of nuclear energy systems. It requires 30 credit hours of study, and students may choose a thesis or non-thesis option. Students can specialize in a research area such as probabilistic risk assessment, reactor safety, or space nuclear power. Graduate Nuclear Engineering courses include Applied Health Physics, Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Radioactive Waste Management and Remediation, and Reactor Kinetics. Students can learn in hands-on environments by making use of the university's Nuclear Materials and Radiation Measurements labs.
Missouri S&T was one of the first technological institutions west of the Mississippi River. Today, the public technological university is committed to innovation and research. It has four signature research areas: advanced manufacturing, advanced materials for sustainable infrastructure, enabling materials for extreme environments, and smart living. Most Missouri S&T students study within the fields of business, engineering, science, and math. The university is particularly noted for its College of Engineering and Computing. Students can participate in engineering design and research teams and projects through the university's Student Design & Experiential Learning Center. In 2018, Forbes included Missouri S&T in its list of the nation's "top 25 STEM-centric schools."
The University of Massachusetts Lowell offers a Master of Science in Energy Engineering with a Nuclear Option. Qualified applicants will have a Bachelor of Science degree in nuclear engineering or a related field. The degree requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of study. Nuclear core courses include Advanced Transport Phenomena, an Energy Engineering Workshop, and System Dynamics. Elective offerings include Alternative Energy Systems, Nanodevices and Electronic Materials, and Principles of Cell and Microbe Cultivation. Students can choose to culminate their program of study with a written thesis and oral defense or with a research project.
UMass Lowell began in 1894 as a teacher training school and has since grown into the second-largest public university in Massachusetts. Located in Lowell, it is a member institution of the University of Massachusetts system. The research university's Francis College of Engineering is named after hydraulic engineer and past UMass professional James B. Francis. U.S. News & World Report ranks UMass Lowell No. 157 in National Universities and No. 80 in Top Public Schools. The Francis College of Engineering ranks No. 118 in the nation for graduate-level engineering studies.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University offer a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. The program's core curriculum consists of five courses: Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Nuclear Reactor Analysis, Radiation Detection and Shielding, and Reactor Thermal Hydraulics. All students must also fulfill a mathematics course requirement, write and orally defend a research thesis, and participate in a seminar series. The seminar series consists of presentations on policy and technical issues in nuclear engineering. Each student is expected to give one seminar on their research topic prior to graduation. Elective course offerings include Monte Carlo Methods for Particle Transport and Nuclear Reactor Safety. The degree requires a total of 30 credit hours of study.
Virginia Tech began in 1872 as a state-supported military school named Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. It has since evolved into a polytechnic institute and land-grant research university. It is designated as one of six senior military colleges in the United States. In addition to its main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, VT operates learning locations statewide and a study-abroad location in Switzerland. The university manages the largest research budget of any university in Virginia. It is also the state's second-largest public university by enrollment. U.S. News & World Report ranks VT No. 76 nationally and No. 30 among public universities.
The University of Florida offers a Master of Science in Materials Science & Engineering. The degree program offers both thesis and non-thesis options. Both options require 30 credit hours of study. The non-thesis program requires students to write a paper in lieu of a thesis. While the MS program is designed to be completed on campus, students who are unable to attend on-campus classes can complete the program through distance learning. The distance program has the same requirements as the on-campus programs, but with courses recorded for download and streaming. MSE course offerings include Biomimetic Synthesis, Materials Microstructures, Organic Electronics, and Solid State Ionics. All necessary coursework must be completed within seven years of beginning the program.
UF began in 1853 as a seminary in Ocala, Florida. Another precursor to the university was Florida Agricultural College, which had a focus on agricultural and engineering studies. The public state university as it exists now has operated continuously since 1906. Now located in Gainesville, UF is a senior member of the State University System of Florida. The university is a designated land-, sea-, and space-grant institution and a member of the Association of American Universities. UF is a leading institution in the University Research, Engineering, and Technology Institute for Future Space Transport project for NASA. U.S. News & World Report ranks UF No. 45 in Best Engineering Schools at the graduate level. The site also ranks the university No. 55 in innovation, No. 35 nationally, and No. 8 among public institutions.
The University of Missouri offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. The degree program is designed for students entering with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry, engineering, or physics. Students can choose from five emphasis areas: Environmental and Regulatory Compliance, Health Physics, Materials, Medical Physics, and Thermal Hydraulics. The program requires 31 credit hours of study. The curriculum covers areas of nuclear engineering such as aerosol mechanics, energy conversion, neutron spectrometry, and nuclear waste management. The program culminates in a research project or thesis. The degree program is generally completed in 18 months.
Founded in 1839, Mizzou is the oldest and largest institution of higher education in the state of Missouri. Located in Columbia, it is the flagship campus of the University of Missouri System. The university is a member of the Association of American Universities, an organization of the top research universities in North America. It is a designated land- and space-grant institution. Notably, the University of Missouri Research Reactor Center houses the most powerful university research reactor in the world. U.S. News & World Report ranks Mizzou No. 129 nationally, No. 78 in best value, and No. 61 among public institutions. The university also ranks No. 95 in Best Engineering Schools at the graduate level.
The United States Naval Academy offers a Master of Engineering in Nuclear Engineering. The degree program prepares students for a variety of technical naval and civilian careers. The curriculum covers areas such as nuclear energy conversion, radiation engineering, reactor design, and reactor physics. Required courses include Fluid Mechanics, Heat Transfer, and Nuclear Plant Design. Elective offerings include Failure Analysis, Naval Applications of Lasers, and Waste-to-Energy Conversion. The program offers students opportunities for internships in naval and national laboratories. The curriculum culminates with a capstone technical design experience and a team project.
Established in 1845, USNA is the second-oldest service academy in the United States. The school's primary focus is to educate officers to commission into the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The academy's campus is located adjacent to Annapolis, Maryland, near Chesapeake Bay. Known as "the Yard," the entire campus is a National Historic Landmark. U.S. News & World Report ranks USNA No. 22 in National Liberal Arts Colleges and No. 2 in Top Public Schools.
The University of Idaho offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering degree program. The program is offered on the university's Idaho Falls campus. It trains students to become qualified nuclear engineers through advanced technical education and research experiences. Students can choose from specialization options in applications of nuclear process heat, materials, nuclear fuel processing, nuclear systems design and modeling, and radioactive waste treatment. The degree requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of study. It culminates in a master's research thesis. During the program, students are offered opportunities to work with researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory, to seek Idaho Space Grant Consortium Fellowships, and beyond. The degree is typically completed in three to four semesters.
Established in 1889, U of I was the only university in Idaho for 71 years. Located in Moscow, it is Idaho's land-grant and primary research university. It has been counted among the nation's "Public Ivy" universities, meaning it offers a quality of education comparable to those offered by the private Ivy League. In 1976, the university's Kibbie Dome stadium roof won an Outstanding Structural Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers. U.S. News & World Report ranks U of I No. 16 5 in National Universities and No. 87 in Top Public Schools.
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