What degrees can I earn in nuclear engineering?
Colleges and universities offering a campus-based or online engineering degree program in nuclear engineering will likely offer bachelors, masters and doctoral programs. The top nuclear engineering degrees in this discipline are bachelors and nuclear engineering graduate programs, of which the bachelors is most commonly required for employment.
Nuclear engineering certificate
A nuclear engineering certificate is available to candidates with a bachelors or masters degree, and can be useful to professional engineers already working in the field and looking for further expertise in a specific area. Some programs allow undergraduate students to simultaneously work toward a certificate degree, however most certificates are earned in an average of 15 credit hours over 1 year.
Nuclear engineering associates degree
A bachelors degree in engineering is the entry-level credential for most employment opportunities in nuclear engineering. As a result, few colleges and universities offer campus-based or online engineering associates in this field. Students who are not ready to commit to a 4-year degree program might consider nuclear engineering technology, the profession that works alongside nuclear engineers, which requires an associate degree as the required credential for entry into the field.
Nuclear engineering bachelors degree
A Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering, or Bachelor of Engineering with a nuclear engineering concentration, is the most common degree program for students seeking entry into the field.
Prerequisites for admission commonly include a grade C or higher in core math and science courses, and may require a passing score in placement tests for physics, chemistry or calculus. A campus-based bachelors program typically takes 4 years to complete 120 to 140 credit hours, although it may be possible to earn an online engineering bachelors degree or accelerated bachelors in less time.
Nuclear engineering masters degree
The campus-based or online engineering masters degree program in nuclear engineering is approximately 30 to 40 credit hours, requiring 2 to 3 years to complete. Nuclear engineering masters degrees are offered either as a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering or a Master of Engineering with a nuclear engineering concentration.
Prerequisites for programs in this field may include a bachelors degree earned from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, as well as a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Nuclear engineering PhD
The PhD in engineering and ScD, or Doctor of Science, are the highest academic degrees that can be earned by students of engineering. The length of time for a nuclear engineering PhD program varies widely due to the high level of scientific research that will be necessary to complete the program. Credit hours can range from 50 to 120 hours beyond a bachelors degree, and can take 2 to 5 years or more to complete, depending upon the research and dissertation timeline.
Are there any nuclear engineering degree programs online?
There are many opportunities to pursue nuclear engineering degree programs online. While some programs are only partially online and require completion of some onsite courses, the number of top brick-and-mortar universities and private institutions offering full online programs continues to rise.
Online degrees in nuclear engineering
As you consider a nuclear engineering associates degree online, be aware that most accredited nuclear engineering online colleges also offer a bachelors degree, which is considered the entry-level credential for the field. It may be useful to know if you will have the opportunity to transition into a bachelors degree program upon completion of your associates if desired.
While not all graduates of a nuclear engineering bachelors degree online will pursue professional engineering licensure, you may want to research the benefits of graduating from a program that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to most masters programs requiring graduation from an ABET-accredited undergraduate program for admission into graduate school, the licensure board for engineering also requires graduation from an accredited program in order to be eligible to take the licensure exam.
Earning a nuclear engineering online masters degree has the potential to feel isolating for some students, who will not have the face-to-face interactions with faculty and peers that their onsite peers have. It may be useful for you to seek out professional associations, conferences, internships and other networking opportunities that will help you to make connections that will be helpful to you in your career.
Earning a PhD in nuclear engineering will likely require a great deal of research, and 1 of the challenges of attending nuclear engineering schools online is the potential lack of laboratory resources that will be available to you. The best nuclear engineering online program will accommodate your research needs and will work with you to ensure that you have access to the facilities needed to complete your research.
What kinds of nuclear engineering classes will I take in my program?
Whether you choose to take onsite or online engineering courses, most programs will require completion of mathematics and physics courses to be taken your first year. By the junior and senior years of your undergraduate program you will be taking introductory engineering courses, as well as classes in nuclear radiation, neutron science and reactor physics.
As a graduate student in nuclear engineering, you will take courses specific to your major. The most common required campus-based and nuclear engineering online courses will include energy conversion technologies, nuclear reactor theory and analysis and plasma processing.
If you choose to earn your PhD in nuclear engineering, your work will focus upon independent research on a topic related to your specialization. While you will likely take courses in advanced mathematics and engineering analysis, much of your earned credit hours will focus on completion of a qualifying examination in nuclear engineering, as well as your dissertation defense.
What nuclear engineering careers can I choose from?
Nuclear engineering jobs are some of the most popular and well paid in the field of engineering. While the majority of engineers in this field work in power generation, some of the best careers in nuclear engineering may involve working in local and federal government settings investigating accidents and researching enhanced safety measures for use of nuclear power.
Nuclear engineering jobs typically require a minimum of a bachelors degree, but many employers will require a masters degree or higher, particularly if the position is based in research. Average pay for someone in this field will range from $54,000 to $124,000, depending upon education and experience.
Is there anything else I should know about getting a degree in nuclear engineering?
While not all engineers choose to pursue licensure, some report that earning a Professional Engineering license through a nuclear engineering certification program makes them more competitive in their field. If interested, the first step toward this type of engineering certification is to take the Fundamentals in Engineering exam in order to be considered an engineer in training until you become eligible to sit for your licensure exam.
In addition, the American Nuclear Society offers multiple opportunities for continuing education and networking opportunities for nuclear engineering training if you want to expand your knowledge in a specific area. Annual conferences and 3 peer-reviewed journals contribute to the knowledge base on nuclear engineering and serve to keep members well connected and informed.