Undergraduate Program & Curriculum

The Field

Nuclear engineering is an exciting, rapidly-evolving field that requires engineers with an understanding of the physical processes of nuclear energy and an ability to apply concepts in new and creative ways. Nuclear engineers are primarily concerned with the control, monitoring, and use of energy released in nuclear processes. Some nuclear engineers work on the design and safety aspects of environmentally sound, passively safe nuclear fission reactors. Others are looking to future energy solutions through the development and implementation of nuclear fusion systems. Others are helping in the exploration and utilization of outer space by developing long-term, reliable nuclear energy sources. With the renewed concern in environmental science, nuclear engineers are working on safe disposal concepts for radioactive waste and on methods for the reduction of radiation releases from industrial facilities. They also work in developing a wide variety of applications for radioisotopes such as the treatment and diagnosis of diseases, food preservation, manufacturing development, processing and quality control, and biological and mechanical process tracers. For each of these fields, there are numerous opportunities for nuclear engineers in basic research, applications, operations, and training.

The Major

The goal of nuclear engineering education is to give the student an excellent understanding of nuclear processes and fundamentals and to provide the physical and engineering principles which lead to applications of the basic processes. The course of study in nuclear engineering gives the student broad training in the fundamentals of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering, followed by professional specialty courses in radiation detection and protection, nuclear reactor theory and safety, thermal hydraulics, and nuclear systems design. Students also select three technical electives which allow them to explore in-depth areas of interest in nuclear engineering. The graduate nuclear engineer will find a wide variety of career opportunities or will be well prepared to pursue advanced graduate studies.

The Curriculum

The Bachelor of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering requires 120 semester hours of course work in Nuclear Engineering in addition to related math, physics, computer science and chemistry courses. As a public Carnegie university, the curriculum includes general educational courses to enhance our students’ communication, critical thinking, information analysis, quantitative skills, and responsibility towards local and global communities. See Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering (B.S.N.E.) Curriculum for complete requirements.

The BS degree in Nuclear Engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. For complete details visit the accreditation section of our website.

Educational Objectives

Graduates of the undergraduate program in Nuclear Engineering will be successfully progressing in their careers by:

  1. demonstrating technical competence in their nuclear engineering-related professional or post-baccalaureate educational endeavors,
  2. solving problems efficiently in diverse areas of nuclear engineering and other related professions, and
  3. communicating effectively in both written and oral media.

Student Outcomes

The program outcomes, listed below, summarize the key skills and capabilities that we expect of our graduates at or before the time of graduation. By the time our graduates complete our program they will have successfully demonstrated:

  1. an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, nuclear physics, and engineering.
  2. an ability to design, conduct, and analyze experiments involving nuclear* and non-nuclear processes, interpret data, and report the results.
  3. an ability to design a nuclear system, reactor, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
  4. an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams.
  5. (e) an ability to identify, formulate, and solve nuclear* and related engineering problems.
  6. an understanding of the professional and ethical responsibilities of nuclear engineers.
  7. an ability to communicate effectively.
  8. the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.
  9. a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning.
  10. a knowledge of contemporary issues involving nuclear power and engineering activities.
  11. an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools (such as neutronics codes) necessary for nuclear or radiological engineering practice.

* Nuclear engineering problems include nuclear processes (fission, fusion, decay, etc.), radiation interaction with matter, radiation transport, thermal hydraulics, and radiation detection and measurement.