Nuclear Engineering

2022 Nuclear Engineering Degree Guide

Environmental concerns and the need to find new forms of energy are important issues for most people. With a degree in nuclear engineering, you could make discoveries with the potential to change the world.

Nuclear Engineering students take classes in applied mathematics, physics, nuclear thermal-hydraulics, radiation, reactor materials, thermonuclear fusion, and energy conversion among others to learn how to harness nuclear energy for power and use radiation to make medical advances. Since the nuclear engineering field is fairly new and quickly advancing, there are endless possibilities to where this degree may lead.

Nuclear Engineering Degrees Decreasing

#253 Most Popular Major
864 Degrees Awarded
-9.7% Increase in Graduates

In 2020-2021, nuclear engineering was the 253rd most popular major nationwide with 864 degrees awarded. This represents a 9.7% reduction in nuclear engineering degrees awarded over the prior year's total of 948.

Our 2023 Best Nuclear Engineering Schools ranking analyzes 22 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for nuclear engineering students. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of nuclear engineering programs later in this article.

Best Nuclear Engineering Schools by Degree

Nuclear Engineering Degree Requirements

Nuclear Engineering is a field that is grounded in mathematics and science. A strong background in these fields will aid students as they take more advanced classes while earning their degree. It is also necessary that students have strong critical thinking and problem solving skills. When working with nuclear power, small errors may be dangerous, so you must be able to foresee any issues and pay close attention to detail.

Many nuclear engineers work full time at nuclear power plants, medical research labs, scientific and technical consulting services, or for the federal government. Most of these occupations allow engineers to work in a typical office setting. According to current professionals, overtime is common in the Nuclear Engineering profession.

When looking for a job after graduation, many employers value relevant experience. Internships or schools with cooperative-education engineering programs will allow students to learn Nuclear Engineering skills both in the classroom and in a hands-on environment.

Although a bachelor's degree will allow graduates to work within the field, you will need to obtain your master's if you wish to go into research and development.

Prior Education for a Nuclear Engineering Program

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. Specific nuclear engineering careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Nuclear Engineering Degree Types

There are various different levels of nuclear engineering degrees. You can spend many years getting as high as a in nuclear engineering to something that takes less time like a . Different nuclear engineering degrees vary in how long they take.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to nuclear engineering, with approximately 47.7% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to nuclear engineering tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 55.8%
Master’s Degree 19.2%
Doctoral Degree 11.1%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 5.9%
Post-Doctoral Training 3.3%

98.2% of nuclear engineering workers have at least a bachelor's. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in nuclear engineering careers have.


The education level required is different depending on the nuclear engineering career you are seeking.

Nuclear Engineering Careers

Average Number of Jobs
$59.4k Average Starting Salary
7% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

The Nuclear Engineering field is growing at an average rate meaning graduates should not have a problem finding a job after graduation. Those will previous experience through internships or cooperative-education engineering programs will be more attractive to employers and may have an easier time being hired.

Growth Projected for Nuclear Engineering Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your nuclear engineering degree? Nuclear Engineering careers are expected to grow 7.2% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to nuclear engineering.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Architectural and Engineering Managers 190,000 5.5%
Engineering Professors 54,600 14.7%
Nuclear Engineers 18,400 4.0%

Nuclear Engineering Degree Salary Potential

Nuclear Engineering graduates between 2017-2019 reported earning an average of $59,356 in the 2019-2020 timeframe. Earnings can range from as low as $41,147 to as high as $73,557. As you might expect, salaries for nuclear engineering graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for Nuclear Engineering Majors

Salaries for nuclear engineering graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top highest paying careers nuclear engineering grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Architectural and Engineering Managers $148,970
Engineering Professors $113,680
Nuclear Engineers $110,790

Getting Your Nuclear Engineering Degree

With over 101 different nuclear engineering degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased nuclear engineering school rankings to help you with this.

One of 40 majors within the Engineering area of study, Nuclear Engineering has other similar majors worth exploring.

Majors Similar to Nuclear Engineering

Related Major Annual Graduates
Mechanical Engineering 46,178
Electrical Engineering 28,844
Civil Engineering 21,388
Computer Engineering 17,987
Chemical Engineering 12,917

View All Nuclear Engineering Related Majors >


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