Best Nuclear Engineering Degrees

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Are you ready to find your fit?

Welcome to the year 2125.

Look around you. What do you see? What don’t you see?

One thing you might not see, particularly if things remain the way they are right now, is oil. That’s right—oil. And that means a whole lot of other things too, specifically inexpensive gasoline to fuel, well, pretty much anything that moves!

According to recent estimates, at current production and consumption rates, the world has approximately 50 years of oil left. What happens when it’s all gone?

One response to this question comes from the field of nuclear engineering, a field that entered the scene relatively recently (1950s) and has grown exponentially in the last fifty years. One of the most important problems nuclear engineers are currently working on solving is how to produce sustainable, renewable energy from non-fossil-fuel sources.

That might not work its way down to fueling your Prius, but it’s hard to overestimate the importance of this work!

But that’s not all nuclear engineers do. They are also experts in radiation technology, which has a wide variety of uses and application in the medical field, for instance, in nuclear medicine, advanced diagnostic imaging, and cancer treatment.

It’s hard to determine exactly what the future of nuclear engineering will look like in the years ahead, primarily because it is a relatively new field and our energy future is highly uncertain.

One thing we do know, however, is that nuclear engineers are paid handsomely for their expertise; the median income in 2015 was $102,950, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

If you want to be at the forefront of this fascinating and complex industry, you’re going to need a lot of training in some highly specialized areas of engineering science, and not just any old school will do.

That’s where we come in. We’ve compiled a list of the top 25 nuclear engineering schools with your needs in mind. The first thing we want to know, like you, is the bottom line: how much is this going to set me back?

So we’ve included the annual tuition for each school right up front for you. We’ve also included our College Choice Score, which is computed based on each school’s reputation in the field and its return on investment.

The end result is a list of schools that balance cost, reputation, and, ultimately, what they can do for you and your unique goals. You can’t go wrong with any of them, of course, but these schools are leading the way. And if you happen to be searching for the best colleges around, we’ve got you covered here to.

The rankings you’re about to read are based on a few important sources. The first source is actual college freshman polled during a nationwide survey published by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA.

These students rated academic reputation, financial aid offerings, overall cost of school, and the survey also took into account graduate success rates ono the post-college job market. These factors were weighed equally alongside data from other publicly available sources, including U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.com.

2125 is right around the corner. Are you ready to get your Nuclear Engineering Degree?

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Nuclear engineering at MIT dates back to the 1940s and an intentionally collaborative effort among members of several different fields to create a new, cutting-edge field that combined the best of theoretical scientific research and practical solutions to real-world problems. That spirit continues today at MIT, where the nuclear engineering program focuses on the generation, control, and application of nuclear reactions and radiation in order to solve some of the most pressing social and environmental problems of our day.

    Nuclear engineering students at MIT are encouraged to think not only about the present, however, but also to think ahead to what needs future generations might have also. MIT does this through both undergraduate and graduate programs that train students both in the fundamentals of nuclear energy and its major applications in the areas of energy generation, security, and health care. Students benefit from a number of unique resources of this department, such as a new communication lab, a floating nuclear power plant, and an ARC fusion reactor, as well as new faculty hires in fission and fusion, increased enrollment, and the innumerable resources of one of the world’s most reputable engineering institutions.

  2. Georgia Institute of Technology
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Nuclear engineering students at the Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, will pursue their program in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, which merged with the School of Nuclear Engineering in 1984. The School of Engineering dates to 1962 and has maintained a track record of excellence. The Woodruff School offers training in Nuclear and Radiological Engineering (NRE) and Medical Physics (MP) through one undergraduate degree (BSNRE), two master’s degrees (MSNE and MSMP), and one doctoral degree (PhD NRE). It is consistently recognized for excellence nationally.

    Nuclear engineering students at Georgia Tech can expect to be challenged to demonstrate proficiency in a vast range of areas, such as the application of mathematical, scientific, and engineering principles; design of systems, components, processes, and experiments to meet a variety of economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, and medical needs; analysis and interpretation of data; teamwork, problem-solving, and professional responsibility; and communication skills, business principles, and social responsibility.

  3. University of California Berkeley
    Location

    Berkeley, CA

    The University of California Berkeley’s nuclear engineering program, established in 1958, boasts both an undergraduate and a graduate program in nuclear engineering. The department encourages an interdisciplinary approach even to this highly specialized field of study, so students can be found working on anything from advanced energy systems and medical applications to waste management and energy production. Many Berkeley nuclear engineering students actually pursue double majors in related fields, such as electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, and chemical engineering. Undergraduate students have a number of supplementary resources at their disposal, such as campus research laboratories, national laboratories, internships, and research opportunities.

    Recent graduates of the department of nuclear engineering have found work in laboratories, government agencies of all levels, various occupations in the industry, and in academics. Berkeley’s particular strengths include nuclear waste disposal, materials engineering, fission and fusion, nuclear transfer, and advanced medical applications. Students also benefit from the department’s strong relationships with well-known research centers, such as the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

  4. United States Military Academy
    Location

    West Point, NY

    The nuclear engineering program at the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, seeks to fulfill the following mandate: “To educate and inspire cadets through physics and nuclear engineering course work, research, and support to the West Point Leader Development System so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country; and prepared for a career of professional excellence.”

    Toward this end, West point expects its students to develop expertise in the areas of basic mathematics, science, and engineering principles; experiment design and implementation; and data analysis and interpretation. They must also demonstrate a capacity to use their knowledge creatively and constructively through applied problem-solving and real-world scenarios. West Point also emphasizes the importance of teamwork, professional conduct, leadership, and communication. Students are also expected to be able to implement their training in the service of the Army in addition to responding to the ever-evolving needs of the civilian context.

  5. United States Naval Academy
    Location

    Annapolis, MD

    The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, features an intentionally broad curriculum that prepares students for a variety of challenges in the practice of nuclear engineering. It trains students both in the general engineering principles of solids and fluids, materials science, thermodynamics, and heat transfer, as well as in a variety of medical applications, radiology, nuclear proliferation, physics, mathematical applications, energy generation, and nuclear physics.

    Like the program at West Point, graduates are expected to be able to be able to use their training in the service of the Navy or the Marine Corps and the systems they require to operate according to their respective mandates, including but not limited to sea vessels and aircraft. Students capable of meeting this standard of preparation can expect to excel in the civilian context as well.

    Students can expect a curriculum that revolves around problem solving and the use of practical skills in both the classroom and laboratory. The program instills a wide variety of skills necessary to the success of a nuclear engineer, such as communication principles, data analysis and reporting, computer programming and simulation, mathematics, and physics.

  6. Purdue University
    Location

    West Lafayette, IN

    Purdue University’s tradition of excellence in nuclear engineering began in the 1950s when Alexander Sesonske, a professor of chemical engineering, made an introduction to nuclear engineering for chemical engineers available in an interdisciplinary graduate seminar for students in other engineering disciplines. Nuclear Reaction Engineering, a text that grew out of Sesonske’s work and co-written with Samuel Glasstone, remains a standard introductory textbook in the field. Since then, Purdue has remained a leader in nuclear engineering and particularly in the solutions the discipline can offer to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

    Research is a hallmark of a Purdue education, and students have opportunities at the undergraduate level that they might only have at the graduate level at other schools. Indeed, some students have won international awards for their research activity. Purdue also boasts external research funding in excess of $10 million, which has underwritten exploration in fields as diverse as plasma interactions, biomedical applications, and applied intelligent systems to radiation shielding, fission reactor physics, and thermal hydraulics.

  7. Missori University of Science and Technology
    Location

    Rolla, MO

    Nuclear engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology is in a unique position: it is the only accredited B.S. degree in nuclear engineering in the state of Missouri. Furthermore, it is one of the first accredited nuclear engineering programs in the entire country, and it has built a strong reputation in field as one of the discipline’s leading institutions. It provides training at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and graduates can be found in positions of leadership in the engineering industry, national-level laboratories, medical institutions, government agencies, and various academic institutions.

    The Bachelor of Science degree is the cornerstone of the program, and it provides both basic knowledge of the nuclear engineering discipline as well as general professional skills such as problem solving, communication, ethics, leadership, and research strategies. Beyond these skills, students will pursue advanced engineering topics, including reactor fluid mechanics, heat transfer, reactor physics, nuclear radiation, nuclear waste management, laboratory operation, nuclear materials, and nuclear systems design. Students can avail themselves of numerous on-campus resources, such as various laboratories, a nuclear reactor, and state-of-the-art computer facilities, including mainframes and a supercomputer.

  8. Texas A&M University
    Location

    College Station, TX

    The origins of nuclear engineering at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, can be traced back to 1958, when A&M established a program designed to serve the security needs of the state, the country, and the international community. A&M’s program is consistently ranked as one of the country’s leading nuclear engineering institutions, and it is also the country’s largest, with nearly 230 undergraduate students and more than 150 graduate students in its programs.

    Even with the program’s size, however, A&M is still able to boast small classes as well as mentor groups, and offers concentrations in radiological health engineering and health physics in addition to nuclear engineering. A&M’s advanced facilities include two research reactors, seven accelerators, and a plasma laboratory. The program also boasts extensive financial assistance through scholarships and assistantships, a large faculty, and an excellent reputation on campus.

  9. University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign offers training in nuclear engineering through its College of Engineering, which was founded in 1868 and continues to be a major hub of research, education, and problem-solving in a number of engineering subfields. The College houses the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering, which received its current name in 1999. Prior to 1999, it operated as the Department of Nuclear Engineering (1986) after functioning as an interdisciplinary program since 1958.

    The Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering boasts particular expertise in radiation and its production, transport, and interactions, and in nuclear process applications. Examples of applications would include the use of fission in generating electrical power and the exploration of advanced nuclear reactions for energy systems. Fusion is another area of development Illinois students explore, particularly its unique uses in the energy industry. The department also trains students in the areas of plasma science, radiological science, medical physics, and global energy and security.

  10. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainsville, FL

    Nuclear engineering students at the University of Florida will pursue their course of study in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, where they can expect training in a variety of applications, problems, theories, and methods in the field, such as power generation, homeland security, radiation transport methods, and advanced nuclear materials. Students will also have the opportunity to explore areas such as nondestructive imaging and detection, nuclear reactor thermal hydraulics, and nuclear nonproliferation and other safeguards.

    Graduates of the University of Florida’s nuclear engineering program can be found in a wide variety of careers both directly and tangentially related to nuclear engineering, for instance, electricity production, medical diagnostic imaging, non-destructive testing, and radiation detection and measurement. Florida’s curriculum is broad by design and includes training in radiation interactions, particle diffusion, thermal hydraulics, reactor physics, fuel cycle and waste management, and radiation protection. Florida’s faculty is actively involved in research and development in many of these important areas of the discipline and can offer some of the country’s best knowledge and experience to aspiring nuclear engineers.

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