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Graduate Program Overview

The Nuclear Engineering Department strives to develop and maintain a nationally and internationally recognized program that promotes a passion for understanding and applying the knowledge of nuclear science and engineering and to help develop the next generation of technical leaders of the global nuclear enterprise. Our faculty consists of diverse research expertise, many have worked in national labs and the industry, and are considered to be national and global leaders in their respective fields. Students gain expertise as scientists and engineers who advance the application of radiation in detection, nuclear security, fuel cycles, fusion technology, reliability and safety, health physics, and basic research. Visit the Graduate Admissions website and the Graduate Catalog for more information on applying to the Nuclear Engineering Department’s graduate program.

Student Life

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is nestled at the base of the beautiful Smoky Mountains in a growing and vibrant city. With easy access to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Y-12 National Security Complex, and 100+ nuclear-related companies, making UT-Knoxville an excellent location to learn and thrive. Nuclear Engineering students work side by side with faculty on projects for research sponsors such as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NASA, DOE national laboratories, industrial organizations and nuclear utilities. Our graduates are in demand and work for a variety of employers including but not limited to electric utilities, nuclear power plants, research laboratories, academic institutions, design organizations, medical facilities, regulatory agencies, and providers of equipment and services for the nuclear industry in the U.S. and abroad.

Financial Support Opportunities

The Nuclear Engineering Department has Graduate Teaching Assistant and Graduate Research Assistant openings with extremely competitive stipends, especially considering the low cost of living in Knoxville. The Nuclear Engineering Department has the largest Nuclear Engineering PhD enrollment in the country and 98% of those students are fully funded through the university and other external entities.

Graduate Degrees

The Department of Nuclear Engineering offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The Nuclear Engineering graduate program is designed for graduates of accredited undergraduate programs in engineering, physics, chemistry, or mathematics. Students may select from a broad array of research topics ranging from fission and fusion energy to nuclear security.  Students may also elect a radiological engineering concentration, which prepares students for careers in the radiation safety field (health physics).

The department also offers an accelerated Five-Year BS/MS program in which top undergraduates can begin graduate course work and graduate research while still completing their undergraduate studies. This reduces the time required to obtain a MS degree after your BS degree. The primary component of the program is that qualified students may take up to 6 hours of approved graduate courses for their senior undergraduate electives and have them count toward both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Tennessee. This program is designed for students attending the University of Tennessee for their Master of Science degree because other universities may not accept these courses for graduate credit since they were used to satisfy requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree.

All entering students must have, as a minimum, competency in mathematics through ordinary differential equations, competency in atomic and nuclear physics, and competency consistent with an introductory course in nuclear engineering. If such competencies do not exist, the student must take appropriate courses for undergraduate credit. In addition, students without a BS degree in nuclear engineering, or the equivalent, must take NE 433 and NE470 both of which may be taken for graduate credit. However, students in the radiological engineering concentration will take NE 551 in place of NE 433. Students electing the radiological engineering concentration must take NE 401, NE 551, NE 552 and NE 490 in their course of study. The Nuclear Engineering Department Head is the contact for all interested students, both those with nuclear engineering degrees and those from other disciplines.

Nuclear Engineering Graduate Handbook