What is the Main Focus of a Nuclear Engineering Degree?
Nuclear engineering is the most integrated of the engineering disciplines. The many components of nuclear systems (medical imaging, nuclear fission reactors, ultrasensitive contraband detectors, and fusion reactors) must all be understood as well as how they relate to one another. Nuclear engineers must be experts in their primary field, as well as knowledgeable in other fields such as electronics, thermodynamics, physics, and materials science. The fundamentals of one science are often the same tools used in solving problems in the other disciplines.
An undergraduate degree in nuclear science and engineering develops the fundamentals of nuclear processes—their production, interactions, and radiation measurements. These studies bring the student all the way to the design phase of nuclear-based systems, stressing social, health, and energy and security impacts.
Studies also incorporate computer methods, thermal-fluid engineering, and electronics—critical tools for a nuclear engineering career.
What Types of Nuclear Engineering Degrees Exist?
The Bachelor of Science degree in Nuclear Science and Engineering prepares students for careers in the application and engineering of low-energy nuclear physics. This includes design, analysis, and operation of radiation systems and their applications, such as fission reactors and accelerators, and biomedical uses. Students are also prepared for graduate study in a wide range of engineering and physical sciences.
A five-year program offers an opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Nuclear Science and Engineering simultaneously.
Beyond those studies, students can pursue a Ph.D. and work in research or as university professors.
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The Prerequisites for a Bachelor of Science
The basic Bachelor of Science degree in Nuclear Science and Engineering develops practical skills through hands-on education. Laboratory courses cover radiation physics, measurement, and protection. Laboratory exercises work with electronics, imaging and computation. This degree includes courses on nuclear systems and an undergraduate thesis based on any area of nuclear science and engineering.
Can I Get a Masters of Nuclear Engineering?
Absolutely. Students who have completed the bachelor's degree generally need 12-18 months to earn a Master of Science degree, assuming they carry a full load of courses each term.
Many students prefer to pursue a master's in a discipline other than that of their bachelor's degree. They focus on nuclear science and engineering as graduates.
Master's degree candidates usually specialize in fission nuclear technology, nuclear science and technology, or applied plasma physics.
What Kinds of Classes Do I Take?
Each discipline of nuclear engineering has a specially focused degree program. The main fields of study are applied plasma physics, nuclear science and technology, or fission nuclear technology.
Bachelors-degree students have heavy course loads in science, chemistry, physics, calculus, biology, technology, the humanities and communication. Their studies also include nuclear engineering basics, the fundamentals of nuclear energy and engineering, nuclear reactor systems, radiation safety, fuel cycles, nuclear materials and electromagnetism.
Can I Obtain a Nuclear Engineering Degree through
A number of colleges and universities offer online nuclear engineering studies toward master's and doctoral degrees. Some of these universities include, but are not limited to, Penn State, MIT, and Ohio State.
Online nuclear engineering degrees open a wide range of opportunities for students, at both graduate and postgraduate levels. A graduate degree in nuclear engineering opens doors to better job opportunities.
How Long Does it Take to Complete a Nuclear Engineering Program?
The Bachelor of Science degree in Nuclear Science and Engineering is a basic four-year course, but a specialized five-year course can incorporate a master's degree. The Ph.D. degree generally adds two years of study beyond the master's.
Jobs that Nuclear Engineers Perform
Because nuclear science and engineering has such a broad range, graduates can be prepared for a wide variety of careers. Today's graduates enjoy research and teaching jobs at universities; they work at power plants and in government and industrial laboratories. They have launched LED lighting companies. They manage hedge funds, create interactive science and art displays, design new reactors, improve aircraft components, attend medical school, and design domestic energy policies.
Average Salaries for Nuclear Engineers
Bureau of Labor statistics for 2011 show nuclear engineers earning a mean annual wage of $105,160, a bottom average wage of $67,100, and a top wage of $147,670. Rise in employment was estimated at 9.4 percent.
Associations for Nuclear Engineers
Some professional organizations for nuclear engineers are the American Nuclear Society, the American Physical Society, the Health Physics Society, the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management, and the International Radiation Physics Society. Membership offers opportunities to stay abreast in the field, to engage with other nuclear engineers, and to share experiences through conferences and publications.