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Best Master’s Programs in Nuclear Engineering

nuclear engineering graduate programs

With the growth of technology and the increasing global population, one thing is sure: We need to find new ways to create sustainable energy and engineering practices that ultimately increase efficiency and reduce overall global waste. Modern society relies heavily on oil – so much so that we’re on track to run out of this precious resource sooner, rather than later. That’s where nuclear engineers come in. This growing field is crucial for the growth and development of new, non-fossil-fuel energy sources. Nuclear engineers work hard to solve the world’s biggest energy problems. Not just experts in nuclear engineering, professionals in this industry may have a wide range of specializations. From radiation technology to nuclear medicine and diagnostic imaging – there are plenty of applications for nuclear engineering in this modern world. Nuclear engineers can be found working for the government, in power plants, at universities, and in many other environments. 

Both graduate students and faculty members are working hard at universities across the country and around the world to push the envelope to discover new applications for nuclear engineering. In fact, scientists and engineers at Purdue University (No. 4 on our list) recently transitioned the university’s Reactor Number One (PUR-1) to be all-digital. If you’re looking to join in on the research and innovation in this field, you’ll need to have to have a strong background in mathematics and science – especially physics. Graduate students should hold a bachelor’s degree or another master’s degree in a related field as well. Strong problem-solving skills are a must. Those more interested in the creative, research side of nuclear engineering may want to consider a program that requires a thesis. Many students who write a thesis eventually go on to earn a doctoral degree in nuclear engineering or a related field. If you’ve yet to earn your bachelor’s degree, many of the programs listed below offer accelerated 5-year degree plans for students interested in earning a BS/MS in Nuclear Engineering. 

See Also: 10 Best Master’s in Industrial Engineering

COMMON APPLICATION AND ADMISSION QUESTIONS

To be considered for admission into a graduate nuclear engineering program, students must be prepared with the materials necessary to complete the applications. All programs on this list require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study. In addition, many of the schools require GRE scores, along with at least three letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. Be sure to have all of these materials in place before applying – it’ll save you both time and energy! You should also have at least a 3.0 GPA in order to be considered for a nuclear engineering program. These graduate programs are extremely challenging and rigorous, so it’s essential to prove that you’re capable of handling a heavy workload. 

Be sure to pay attention to when new students are admitted to the program you’re interested in; some schools only offer admission during the fall semester, while others offer admission year-round. Deadlines may differ for international students, compared to domestic students, too. Some MS programs require students to apply for a Ph.D. simultaneously. If you’re not interested in further research and completing a thesis, be sure the program you’re applying to does not require one; many of the colleges in our list offer both thesis and non-thesis track. If you’re interested in a particular area of research or specialization, many schools will let you choose an area of focus once you’ve been admitted. Looking to apply for an online program? Nuclear engineering is a field that requires a lot of hands-on experience and experimentation, so you may not find an online program that offers all of the same benefits as those found below. Plus, on-campus programs offer tons of top facilities and research centers available for both student and faculty use. 

WHAT ABOUT FINANCIAL AID & SCHOLARSHIPS?

The average net price of the programs listed below ranges from $12,117 to $22,230 per year. While the return on investment is great for nuclear engineers, it can still be a lot of money to spend on a degree before landing a job. The good thing is that many colleges and universities offer financial aid departments to help students find scholarships, loans, and more to help pay for their advanced degrees. Graduate students can also apply for fellowships and teaching assistantships, to offset the price of tuition. Other programs encourage students to find paid co-ops and internships during their studies. Many graduate programs automatically consider students for merit-based scholarships. The higher your GPA, the better your chances of being awarded a scholarship right off the bat. Even if you’re not offered an initial scholarship or grant, many schools allow students to apply for other types of financial aid during their graduate studies. 

You can also apply for outside scholarships from various organizations across the country and around the world. The Department of Defense offers the SMART Scholarship (Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation), which awards students up to $38,000 to use toward tuition. ExxonMobil offers the Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarships, to encourage minority students to pursue STEM degrees. There are also plenty of scholarships geared specifically toward women in engineering. Even today, engineering programs tend to have more male applicants than females, so many companies and organizations are encouraging women to pursue STEM degrees by offering lucrative scholarships and grants. 

HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE WITH A MASTER’S DEGREE IN NUCLEAR ENGINEERING? 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nuclear engineers make an average of more than $107,000 per year. Not a bad payday – and that’s just entry-level! Nuclear engineers are not only responsible for the research and development of complex processes and tools, but also the systems used to procure benefits from nuclear energy and radiation. While all nuclear engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in the field, many go on to obtain master’s and doctoral degrees as well. These advanced degrees can significantly increase a person’s salary as they move forward in the field. Plus, many schools offer unique areas of specialization for nuclear engineers, and companies certainly value having industry experts on their teams. Students who have a specific interest in thermal hydraulics, reactor safety and design, radioactive waste management, or something else may find it is worth specializing in the area, to stand out from other job applicants. The job outlook for nuclear engineers remains steady moving forward. Most nuclear engineering jobs are found in Virginia, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Other popular states for nuclear engineers include New York, California, Texas, and New Mexico. According to the New Engineer website, the top companies hiring nuclear engineers include the Ontario Generation Company, Urenco, Siemens Healthineers, and Arizona Public Service Company. The U.S. Navy is also a large employer of nuclear engineers, as they work on and operate its nuclear-powered ships. 

In addition to the above, colleges both in the U.S. and around the world are continuing to receive grants to continue research in the nuclear engineering field. The University of Michigan recently received a federal grant of nearly $500,000 for nuclear engineering research. In fact, many college campuses are home to nuclear reactors that are used for experiments and research purposes. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there are 59 commercially operating nuclear power plants, with 97 nuclear reactors across 29 states. The largest is located in Arizona; the R. E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, in New York, is the smallest. Across the U.S., approximately 20% of all electricity generated comes from nuclear energy. Anyone looking to work in any one of these power plants, will need to have a strong command of both the nuclear fission and fusion processes. While nuclear energy is considered a “clean” resource and does not emit greenhouse gases, nuclear engineers must still consider the amount of radioactive waste that is generated as a byproduct. To solve these issues, nuclear engineers must be detail-oriented and have strong math, science, and problem-solving skills. Even though new nuclear power plants aren’t being built today, there are still plenty of careers available for nuclear engineers – especially in the medical technology field. Even at the nuclear power plants that are being closed, nuclear engineers are needed for decommissioning work. This is extremely important, to ensure that all safety procedures for the transport, storage, and disposal of radioactive material are being followed properly. 

Popular careers for nuclear engineering graduates include Project Engineer Analysts, Reactor Operators, Quality Engineers, and more. Despite many people thinking this career is particularly dangerous, many nuclear engineers work in office settings or strictly-controlled labs with state-of-the-art safety features. 

Check out our ranking of the 10 Best Master’s Programs in Nuclear Engineering! 

#1. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY 

Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering

The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university founded in the late 1860s. Berkeley serves as the flagship university of the 10 University of California campuses. Students at UC Berkeley wear their campus colors with pride – blue and gold to represent the sky and ocean of sunny California. From the Big ‘C’ to the Founder’s Rock and the Daffodil Festival, the university is home to many fun traditions. Looking for an excuse to join in? The university offers more than 350 degree programs across its 14 colleges and schools. In fact, UC Berkeley offers a Master of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering for interested students. Offered through the Department of Nuclear Engineering, the MS track is only available to those pursuing a doctoral degree. For students only interested in master’s degree, the university also has a Master of Engineering in Nuclear Engineering program. 

Students in the MS in Nuclear Engineering program may choose from one of two degree plans. The first requires the completion of a thesis, in addition to 20 credits of graduate courses. The second plan does not require a thesis, but it does include a comprehensive final exam, in addition to at least 24 graduate credits. Students may take a variety of nuclear engineering courses, including Irradiation Effects in Nuclear Materials, Corrosion in Nuclear Power Systems, Radiobiology, and Fully Ionized Plasmas. They also participate in group seminars and independent research, where they dive deep into topics like energy, safety and security, science and health, and more. 

Applicants seeking admission to UC Berkeley’s nuclear engineering program should have a strong background in mathematics and science. Undergraduate transcripts and letters of recommendation are required for admissions consideration for this rigorous program. The university also offers ample resources and financial aid packages. Students may apply for a variety of related scholarships, including the NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program, the Dr. Usha Rajagopal $1000 Scholarship, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) funding program. Admitted students will have the opportunity to work alongside faculty members who have extensive research experience within the field. Popular areas of research among faculty and instructors include nanomaterials, fusion technology, nuclear astrophysics, and radiation protection. 

Famous UC Berkeley alumni include Steve Wozniak, George Takei, Joan Didion, and Alex Honnold. The University of California, Berkeley is ranked among the Top 25 National Universities by U.S. News & World Report. The same report ranks the university as a Top Public School, Most Innovative School, and among the Top 5 Best Graduate Engineering Schools. Apply today and cheer on UC Berkeley’s mascot, Oski the Bear, alongside more than 40,000 other students who call the university home. 

#2. TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY

Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering

Established in the late 1870s, Texas A&M is a public research university located in College Station, TX. Home to many unique traditions and facilities, the university houses the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which includes a replica Oval Office and a piece of the Berlin Wall. The university’s mascot, Reveille, is a mixed-breed dog and the “highest-ranking member of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets.” Texas A&M offers numerous degree programs across its 19 schools and colleges. Interested in nuclear science? Offered through the university’s College of Engineering, graduate students may pursue a Master of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering. Students enrolled in this program are required to complete a thesis, in addition to at least 32 credit hours, in order to earn a Master of Science degree. Unlike other master’s programs, Texas A&M doesn’t have a language requirement for graduate students. Students also have the option of choosing an area of specialization, such as Power Engineering, Nonproliferation, Nuclear Materials, Computational Methods, or Health Physics. Depending on a student’s declared path, required courses may include Radiation Interaction and Shielding, Nonproliferation and Arms Control, Inverse Problems in Nuclear Forensics, and The Role of Intelligence in Security Affairs. The courses in this program are guided by the department’s overall vision, which is to “support the nation’s alternative energy, national security, and healthcare missions.”

Graduate students at Texas A&M have access to the university’s many state-of-the-art research facilities. These include two research reactors, seven accelerators, and a “high-energy pulsed” plasma laboratory. The campus is also home to the Zachry Engineering Education Complex, which opened in 2018, as well as the Frederick E. Giesecke Engineering Research Building. There are plenty of opportunities for students to show off their research findings, too. From the Virtual Project Showcase to the Engineering Project Showcase, students, faculty, and leading industry members often come together to discuss new, innovative findings. Additionally, graduate students may apply for a variety of scholarships and fellowships, including the Craig Brown Outstanding Senior Engineer Award and the Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship. 

Texas A&M’s Department of Nuclear Engineering is the largest program in the nation and ranked No. 2 in both undergraduate and graduate studies among public universities by U.S. News & World Report. Applicants must be prepared to submit GRE scores, along with at least three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and undergraduate transcripts. Once admitted, students join the ranks of many famous alumni – from politician Rick Perry and baseball player Sammy Davis to astronaut Michael Edward Fossum. Graduates of the nuclear engineering program at Texas A&M have gone on to work with electrical power companies, national laboratories, the government, in the space industry, and more!

#3. GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering

Founded in the 1880s in Atlanta, the Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the top research universities in the nation. Home to six unique colleges and over 25 schools, Georgia Tech is consistently ranked among the top public universities in the nation. The school also operates satellite campuses in France and China. For those interested in science and technology, Georgia Tech offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering through its George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. Woodruff was an engineer, businessman, and philanthropist in Atlanta who attended Georgia Tech in the early 1900s. Since then, thousands of students have followed in his footsteps. 

For enrolled graduate students, while a thesis is not required, it may be encouraged depending on the specific course of study and career goals. All students must complete at least 30 course credits to earn a degree. Graduate students take courses including Nuclear Radiation Detection, Radiation Physics, Light Water Reactor Technology, Plasma Physics, and more. Georgia Tech also offers a concentration in Nuclear Enterprise Management, which requires additional courses offered through the School of Mathematics. Both full- and part-time enrollment is available. 

Popular research areas at Georgia Tech include nuclear and radiological engineering, and medical physics. Students may work alongside faculty members across a variety of labs across the campus. From the Fluid Mechanics Research Laboratory and Fusion Research Center to the Radiological Science and Engineering Laboratory, there are plenty of opportunities for research and growth at Georgia Tech. 

Applicants interested in the program should have a demonstrated understanding of subjects such as advanced mathematics and science, particularly physics. GRE scores are required for admission, as is a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study. Students have access to numerous resources at Georgia Tech, including the school’s Center for Career Discovery and the many student organizations, so there are plenty of ways to get involved and thrive. The school also offers students tutoring, workshops, a Women’s Resource Center, counseling, and more. 

The cost to attend Georgia Tech is less for those who reside in-state, compared to students from out of state; however, the school offers plenty of scholarships and financial aid packages for all eligible students. Georgia Tech’s School of Mechanical Engineering is highly respected. Famous Georgia Tech alumni include 39th President Jimmy Carter, astronaut Timothy Kopra, and actress Lorenza Izzo. Georgia Tech has been ranked among the nation’s Top 5 Most Innovative Schools, as well as Best Value Schools and Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report

#4. PURDUE UNIVERSITY 

Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering

Purdue is a public research university founded in the late 1860s in West Lafayette, IN. The university offers many degree programs across its 13 colleges and schools, all of which are highly ranked nationally. Of these, the university’s College of Engineering is the largest. Purdue also has a unique college mascot. Known as “The Boilermaker Special,” it is actually an old railroad car. The university itself is named after John Purdue, a businessman who donated both money and land. Today, Purdue is known as a college of science, technology, and agriculture. A land-, sea-, and space-grant university, Purdue offers more than 270 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs. 

Purdue alumni join the ranks of more than 25 astronauts, and more than 10 Nobel Laureates. Purdue University’s School of Nuclear Engineering offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. Graduate students may choose to pursue either a thesis or coursework-only option. For those interested in doing research, a thesis is encouraged. Depending on a student’s career goals, classes taken will include Mass, Momentum, and Energy Transfer in Energy Systems; Radiation Effects and Reactor Materials; Nuclear Reactor Theory; and Nuclear Engineering Principles. Interested applicants should have a strong background in various fields of mathematics and science. While GRE scores are not required, they are strongly recommended. Additionally, prospective students should be prepared to submit undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Purdue accepts new students into the program each fall. The university will also consider applicants during the spring term on a case-by-case basis. 

For admitted graduate students, Purdue offers internships, scholarships, and fellowships to eligible students. In fact, Purdue often connects graduate students with internships and careers in the U.S. Department of Energy. Purdue is also home to many nuclear engineering research facilities, which graduate students may use in conjunction with their studies. These include the Applied Intelligent Systems Laboratory, Center for Materials Under Extreme Environment, Radiation Surface and Interface Science Laboratory, and the Thermal Hydraulics and Reactor Safety Laboratory. The university also houses the state’s only nuclear reactor.

At Purdue, there’s an activity for everyone to get involved in. With more than 70 engineering organizations, including the Women in Engineering Program (WIEP) and Minority Engineering Program (MEP), graduate students at Purdue have a great community to jump into. Every state in the nation and more than 120 countries are represented in the university’s College of Engineering alone! The average annual salary for Purdue graduates is over $65,000, and U.S. News & World Report has ranked Purdue among the nation’s Best Colleges for Veterans, Most Innovative Schools, and Top Public Schools. 

#5. NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY

Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering

The North Carolina State University is a land-, sea-, and space-grant school dedicated to research. Admitted students will join NC State’s “Wolfpack” and find themselves in what is called the “Research Triangle.” Located in North Carolina, the triangle is anchored by North Carolina State University, in Raleigh; Duke University, in Durham; and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in CHapel Hill. This makes it an ideal location for those interested in mathematics and science. In fact, NC State offers a comprehensive Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering through its Department of Nuclear Engineering, which is a part of the College of Engineering. 

All graduate students complete at least 30 credit hours and a thesis, which includes an additional 3-6 hours of research, to earn a master’s degree. Required courses may include Nuclear Reactor Operations Training, Radiation Safety and Shielding, Nuclear Fuel Cycles, and Nuclear Waste Management. For students interested in the degree who don’t live in the area, NC State offers an online non-thesis Master of Nuclear Engineering (MNE) degree. Distance applicants are not required to submit GRE scores, unlike those who apply for on-campus admission. All prospective students must submit undergraduate transcripts, a personal statement of purpose, a resume, and at least three letters of recommendation. Applications are accepted for the fall and spring semesters. Summer admission is available only for distance learners. 

NC State offers many research facilities and labs for students to take advantage of and to gain hands-on experience prior to graduating. These include the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors, the Nuclear Reactor Program Center, and the Center for Nuclear Energy Facilities and Structures (CNEFS). Graduate students may also join one of many research groups, including the Plasma for Life Sciences Group and the MultiPhase Research Group. Graduate students work closely with faculty members in their various research endeavors. The Department of Nuclear Energy at NC State specializes in the following areas of study: nuclear materials and fission power, computational science, industrial applications of plasma, radiation applications, and radiological engineering. 

For those who have yet to earn a bachelor’s degree, the university offers an accelerated BS/MS degree program. NC State University has been ranked among the nation’s Best Value Schools, Most Innovative Schools, Top Public Schools, and Best Colleges for Veterans, by U.S. News & World Report. Many famous folks once called NC State their home, including Zach Galifianakis, Scotty McCreery, and Christina Koch. NC State students and alumni are continuously raising the bar to drive the university’s mission and vision forward. In 2019, three students were presented with the Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Award, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Technology R&D. 

#6. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN – MADISON

Master of Science and Ph.D., Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics

Founded in 1848, the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a variety of degree programs across its 13 schools and colleges. Students at the university proudly don their campus colors of red and white as they cheer on their beloved mascot, Bucky Badger. In addition to its abundance of school pride, UW-Madison has seen many firsts since its founding. From the discoveries of both Vitamin A and B to the first university dance program, it’s no surprise that UW-Madison is one of the Most Innovative Schools in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. Looking to be a part of the next big thing? Check out the university’s Master of Science and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics. Offered through the Department of Engineering Physics, students enrolled in this program have several options to pursue. For one, the MS can be pursued as a stand-alone terminal degree. This is ideal for students interested not only in areas of engineering physics, but in fission as well. However, those whose interests lie in the fusion area should consider pursuing a Ph.D. Many students accepted into the program hold undergraduate degrees in nuclear engineering, physics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and other related fields of study. Group research and teamwork is a big part of graduate learning at UW-Madison. 

Admitted students can expect to take many challenging and exciting courses rooted in engineering, science, and mathematics. Required courses may include Nuclear Reactor Theory, Ionizing Radiation, Principles of Corrosion, Monte Carlo Radiation Transport, and Plasma Processing and Technology. The university also encourages students to get involved with the many research organizations on campus, including the Wisconsin Institute of Nuclear Systems, the Pegasus Toroidal Experiment Program, the Fusion Technology Institute, and the Center for Plasma Theory and Computation. 

Prospective students hoping to join this program must submit GRE scores to be considered for admission. All students are paired with a faculty advisor, who then serves as a point of contact for guidance and support throughout their graduate studies. Graduate students are expected to attend a weekly Engineering Physics Colloquium, in addition to their classes. Eligible students may wish to apply for scholarships and/or fellowships to offset the cost of tuition. These include the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship, Nuclear Forensics Graduate Fellowship Program, Rickover Fellowship Program in Nuclear Engineering, and more. UW-Madison also offers plenty of resources to help its graduate students to maintain a positive work – life balance, from the University Health Services Wellness Center to the Veteran Services and Military Assistance Center, there is a place for everyone at UW-Madison to find support. 

#7. UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN

Master of Science in Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering

A land-grant public research university founded in the late 1860s, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers more than 100 graduate programs across its 16 schools and colleges. Folks come from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study at UIUC. Not only does the campus offer beautiful facilities and a convenient location, the faculty members are the best of the best. Professors here are Pulitzer Prize winners, Nobel Laureates, and members of prestigious academies and organizations around the globe. 

UIUC’s Master of Science in Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering is offered through the College of Engineering. This degree can typically be completed in just three traditional semesters, plus one summer session. All admitted students must choose an area of concentration. Some popular areas include plasma engineering and processing, neutron scattering, biomedical imaging, and reactor safety. Depending on a student’s focus area and career goals, required courses may include Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering, Nuclear Power Engineering, Plasma and Fusion Science, Radiological Imaging, and Plasma Waves. Additionally, all students must choose an area for their thesis research. The program requires all students to complete at least 32 credit hours while maintaining a minimum GPA of 2.75. 

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is home to the world’s second-largest academic library, and both students and faculty members can take advantage of it. The university also houses a research park, which operates as a tech hub for both start-ups and corporate R&D operations. The university continues to expand and grow, thanks to the many grants awarded to the school. Recently, the university was awarded $25 million for photosynthesis research and nearly $20 million for research to improve power density in electro-thermal systems. Given these awards and facilities, there is no shortage of resources for graduate students to experiment and get plenty of hands-on experience. While the university has plenty of research centers, there are some that are geared specifically toward engineering students. These include the Laboratory for Optical Physics and Engineering, the Neuroengineering IGERT, and the Healthcare Engineering Systems Center. 

U.S. News & World Report has ranked UIUC among the Most Innovative Schools, Best Value Schools, and Top Public Schools. The average net cost of attendance is just over $16,000; however, eligible students may apply for a variety of scholarships and financial aid packages to offset tuition costs.

#8. MISSOURI UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 

Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering

Missouri University of Science and Technology was founded in 1870 and is a land- and space-grant university based in the small town of Rolla. Home to mascot Joe Miner, the school places a strong emphasis on STEM programs. In fact, the school’s only two colleges are the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business, and the College of Engineering and Computing. Within these two colleges, students may choose from 99 degree programs across 40 areas of study. 

The College of Engineering and Computing offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering. Students interested in the program should already hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study – ideally in physics and/or engineering. Graduate students may choose from either a thesis or a non-thesis track to complete their studies. All students must complete at least 30 credit hours to graduate. Looking to specialize in a specific research area? Missouri University of Science and Technology offers tons of specializations! From radiation protection and thermal hydraulics to reactor safety, reactor design, radioactive waste management, and more – students will get plenty of hands-on experience prior to starting careers in nuclear engineering. 

Students and faculty alike appreciate the various state-of-the-art facilities the university offers. Since 1961, it has had a 200 kW pool-type nuclear reactor, which can be used for experiments. The university also houses a radiation measurements lab, nuclear materials lab, an internet-accessible hot cell facility, and computer lab with a variety of workstations equipped with different software and programs geared toward engineering. Students also have access to an advanced radiography and tomography lab and a two-phase flow and thermal-hydraulics laboratory. 

Graduate students may also want to join one of the university’s engineering professional and honor societies. From the National Honor Society for Nuclear Science and Engineering, Alpha Nu Sigma, to the American Nuclear Society and Women in Nuclear (WiN), there’s something for everyone to get involved in. Interested in applying but not sure about the cost of tuition? Luckily, the university offers plenty of departmental scholarships and fellowships. 

The university not only prepares students with the skills they need to succeed in the nuclear engineering field, the Office of Career Opportunities and Employer Relations ensures they land an internship and/or job as well. Graduate students attend on-campus career fairs twice each year, where more than 300 companies are typically in attendance. Further, the university has a “suit closet” where students can grab the professional attire they need to impress recruiters. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a Top Public School and Best College for Veterans, the Missouri University of Science and Technology is consistently named a Top Engineering School in the country with good reason. 

#9. OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY 

Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering

Oregon State University was founded in the late 1860s in the city of Corvallis and has grown to become the leading public research institution in the Beaver State. The university boasts more than 10 colleges across its two campuses, as well as 14 experiment stations for students to gain plenty of hands-on experience prior to graduation. OSU is one of only two public universities in the nation with the sea-, space-, sun-, and land-grant designation. Popular degree programs at OSU include Forestry, Marine Biology, Robotics, and Mycology. Of course, the university also has a huge population of engineering students. In fact, the university’s School of Nuclear Science and Engineering offers a comprehensive Master of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering. 

Prospective students should be prepared to submit a statement of purpose, three reference letters, GRE scores, and relevant college transcripts. New students are admitted into the program each fall semester. Graduate engineering students at OSU typically focus on research in one of six main areas, which range from radiation transport and reactor physics to materials for nuclear engineering applications. Depending on the area of specialization, required courses may include Nuclear Reactor Safety, Radiation Shielding and External Dosimetry, and Nuclear Reactor Thermal Hydraulics. All students in the MS program are required to complete a thesis, and many go on to pursue a doctoral degree. For students not interested in pursuing a Ph.D. or doing further research, the university also offers an MEng degree option. This degree doesn’t require a thesis; students complete a comprehensive oral exam instead. 

Oregon State University houses plenty of high-end research facilities for both students’ and faculty members’ research. These include the Advanced Nuclear Systems Engineering Laboratory, High Temperature Test Facility, NuScale Integrated Systems Test facility, Oregon State TRIGA Reactor, and the Multi-Application Light Water Reactor. OSU has been ranked among the nation’s Best Value Schools, Top Public Schools, and Most Innovative Schools by U.S. News & World Report. The same publication included OSU on its list of Top 75 Best Engineering Schools for Graduate Students. In addition, Forbes ranked Corvallis among the nation’s Top 5 Best College Towns. Many famous folks have graduated from Oregon State University, including Douglas Engelbart, creator of the computer mouse, and NASA astronauts Donald Pettit and William Oefelein. The artificial heart valve and the maraschino cherry were also developed by alumni of OSU. Many companies have been founded by those who’ve passed through OSU, including Panda Express, U-Haul, and E-TRADE. Looking to join OSU but need some tuition assistance? The university offers both assistantships and fellowships for graduate students. Graduate TAs may receive tuition remission and a monthly stipend of more than $1,500. Approximately four to six fellowships are also awarded each year. 

#10. MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Master of Science in Nuclear Science and Engineering

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, known as MIT to most, was founded as a private research university in 1861 in Cambridge, MA. Home to mascot Tim the Beaver, MIT is a land-, sea-, and space-grant university with plenty of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs to which prospective students may wish to apply. The Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, a part of the School of Engineering, offers a Master of Science in Nuclear Science and Engineering. Of its five schools, MIT’s School of Engineering has the greatest number of students. 

Applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, or engineering. Interested applicants also should have a strong background in mathematics and science subject areas. To apply, GRE scores are required, however subject exams are not. Once admitted, required courses in this MS program may include Materials in Nuclear Engineering, Essential Numerical Methods, Radiation Interactions, Control, and Measurement, and Nuclear Technology and Society. Popular research areas for graduate students in the program include nuclear security, applied plasma physics, nuclear fission technology, and other related subject areas. MIT also has a number of research centers and experimental facilities, including the Research Reactor in MIT’s Nuclear Reactor Laboratory. There’s also a Plasma Science and Fusion Center, a thermal hydraulics laboratory, and the H. H. Uhlig Corrosion Laboratory. The school even has a Communications Lab specifically geared toward engineers. While it’s great to come up with innovations, it’s also necessary to be able to communicate your findings with others. The lab offers extensive writing, speaking, and visual design support services for students in the program. Specific courses this lab supports include Social Problems of Nuclear Energy, and Radiation Damage and Effects in Nuclear Materials. 

To gain even more hands-on experience, graduate students can pursue internships and study abroad opportunities. Some of these include a Nuclear Bootcamp, the Alden Research Laboratory Internship Program, and Summer Research International Research Opportunities Program (IROP) at the Moscow Institute of Physics. When it comes to STEM education, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a leading school – not just in the United States, but around the world. In fact, MIT has admitted students from over 45 countries. MIT ranks among the Top 5 Best National Universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. The same report also ranks MIT among the Top 5 Best Value Schools, Most Innovative Schools, and Best Engineering Programs in the country. MIT has many famous alumni, including Buzz Aldrin, David Koch, Kofi Annan, and Katie Bouman. For undergraduate students who may eventually want to pursue an MS in Nuclear Engineering, MIT offers an accelerated 5-year program. There are also a number of fellowships offered through MIT for eligible students. From the Link Foundation Energy Fellowship to the Nuclear Nonproliferation International Safeguards Graduate Fellowship Program, there’s a program for everyone!

OTHER NOTABLE PROGRAMS

#11. University of New Mexico

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Degree: MS in Nuclear Engineering

Net Price: $11,283

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#12. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

Degree: MS in Nuclear Engineering

Net Price: $20,995

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#13. University of Massachusetts Lowell

Location: Lowell, Massachusetts

Degree: MS in Nuclear Engineering

Net Price: $18,375

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#14. The Ohio State University

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Degree: MS in Nuclear Engineering

Net Price: $18,042

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#15. Pennsylvania State University

Location: Centre County, Pennsylvania

Degree: MS in Nuclear Engineering

Net Price: $25,346

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#16. University of Missouri

Location: Columbia, Missouri

Degree: MS in Nuclear Engineering

Net Price: $17,762

Website    

#17. Virginia Tech

Location: Blacksburg, Virginia

Degree: MS in Nuclear Engineering

Net Price: $18,700

Website

#18. University of Idaho

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Degree: MS in Nuclear Engineering

Net Price: $14,997

Website  

#19. University of Florida

Location: Gainesville, Florida

Degree: MEng in Nuclear Engineering

Net Price: $15,283

Website  

#20. University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Degree: MS in Materials and Nuclear Engineering

Net Price: $11,582

Website

Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor