NSE - Nuclear Science & Engineering at MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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GRADUATE : Nuclear Engineer Degree Requirements

The object of the Nuclear Engineer's degree program is to provide a broader knowledge of nuclear engineering than required for the Master's degree and to develop competence in engineering application or design but with less emphasis on research than that characterizing a doctoral program. The program includes completion of both an extensive and individually arranged academic course program and a special project of significant engineering value.

General Institute requirements for the Nuclear Engineer's degree are given in Part 2 of the General Catalogue (Bulletin) and in the ODGE Graduate Policies and Procedures Manual. Candidates are required to complete an acceptable thesis and at least 162 credit units in subjects more advanced than the required undergraduate preparation for nuclear engineering. Of the 162 units, at least 120 must be "H" level subjects. Not more than 24 units of graduate "H" special problem (22.901) may be counted toward the degree requirement. Undergraduate subjects may not be used to satisfy these requirements, nor may 8.04 or 18.075. Remedial courses used to satisfy the English Requirement may not be used to satisfy the 162 credit units. However, a student may petition to have up to 66 equivalent units of graduate credit obtained at other institutions transferred to satisfy partially the 162 credit unit requirement. A student who satisfies the requirement for the Engineer's degree shall be simultaneously approved for the SM degree by the Department.

A student with full undergraduate preparation normally needs two years to obtain the Nuclear Engineer's degree. A student registered for an SM degree may petition the Department Committee on Graduate Students to change registration to a Nuclear Engineer's degree, provided the requirements of these instructions are satisfied. A student must have a cumulative rating of at least 3.5 exclusive of any thesis credit to qualify for the Engineer's degree, and the average of course work plus thesis must also be at least 3.5. (5.0 is an A average for MIT GPA scale.)

Diagnostic Tests in Physics and Math

All incoming students in the graduate programs of NSE (doctoral, masters, engineering, and the five-year) are required to take diagnostic exams in both math and physics. The latest approach to conducting these exams was reformulated and adopted by the NSE graduate committee as of fall 2010. The new procedure places more emphasis in the diagnostics on areas needed for NSE graduate study, and more of the responsibility to identify the need for remedial actions on the students.

During the summer prior to entrance as a graduate student, final exams (or a compilation of relevant questions) from five MIT UG subjects: 22.01 (mid-term and final); 22.05; 22.06; 22.070; and 22.071 will be sent electronically to each incoming graduate student. The student should then review these exams and determine whether her/his preparation is sufficient to solve the exams from the first two subjects (22.02 and 22.05), and two of the last three subjects (22.06, 22.070, and 22.071).

When the student meets with her/his registration officer on the fall term registration day, she/he should identify any weaknesses to their registration officer, and also any self-study effort undertaken over the summer, to determine the need for remedial study. No specific grade is required for the remedial subjects. However, these grades will become part of your GPA, for which there is already existing guidelines as to what is deemed acceptable for any graduate student (GPA no less than 3.5 (based on 5.0 scale)).

Nuclear Engineer's Degree Program

Each Nuclear Engineer's degree program is individually arranged. The principal fields of study are fission nuclear technology, applied plasma physics, or nuclear science and technology. Suitable thesis topics may be either analytical or experimental but should be "application oriented" with respect to the particular area in which the research is conducted.

Students should plan a program of study with their Registration Officers. Since a Nuclear Engineer's program is to be more comprehensive than a Master's program, the curriculum recommendations and requirements given in "Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Nuclear Science and Engineering" should be consulted.

At the time of registration for the Nuclear Engineer's degree, each student should submit for the Registration Officer's written approval a list of the subjects to be used to satisfy the 162 credit units required for this degree. Also, the general subject by title of the intended thesis or special problem research should be given. Upon registering for thesis credit, a student is required to prepare and submit one copy of an approved thesis prospectus to the Department Academic Office by the end of the eighth week of the first term of Engineer's thesis registration. The prospectus should be a clear and well-organized preliminary report. It should contain (1) an introduction to the subject, giving a brief general statement of the field of interest and a concrete statement of the limited area of work which it is intended to undertake; (2) a review of relevant background information; (3) the proposed method of solution; (4) a tentative time schedule for completion of the work; (5) the name of the faculty member who will act as thesis advisor, and a reader to be selected by the student with the concurrence of the advisor; (6) the signatures of the thesis advisor and reader to indicate approval of the proposed research project. A thesis supervisor (advisor) may be selected from one of three categories (the list can be found at the end of this document). Either the advisor or the reader must be a faculty member of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department.

Once initiated, an Engineer's thesis-related project must be completed before a student will be allowed to start doctoral research. A student admitted for the Engineer's degree must apply to the NSE Department Admission Committee for admission to the doctoral degree program. Note that all pre-qualifying exam requirements for the doctoral degree program must be met before taking the qualifying exam, and the student must have a minimum 4.0 GPA (based on the 5.0 scale).

Thesis and Special Problem Research

A thesis involving creative work in some applications of engineering must be presented in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Nuclear Engineer. The thesis required for the Engineer's degree represents a more extensive project than the normal Master's thesis. A substantial Master's thesis may be accepted partly or wholly in place of the Engineer's thesis. If the student's SM thesis is judged too limited to satisfy the departmental requirements for the Engineer's degree, the student may extend its scope by registering for a special problem, units of which simultaneously apply to the 162 hour total and thesis credit. The written special problem report in this case would serve as the Engineer's written thesis and therefore should be a comprehensive report of the subject investigation. It should summarize the previous work on the topic presented in the Master's thesis and conform in all editorial and administrative respects to the requirements for the SM thesis.

Thesis Examination for the Engineer's Degree

The candidate will be examined on the content of the thesis and on topics immediately related to it. This oral examination may be scheduled at any time after seven days have elapsed following completion of Institute and Department requirements for thesis presentation, but before the date grades are due for that term. Each candidate is expected to arrange a time for the examination to meet the convenience of the supervisor, reader, and at least one other member of the faculty of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department. A notice of thesis examination time and place should be sent via e-mail to NSE faculty, staff, and students eight days prior to the oral examination. Oral thesis examinations are open to the public.

Special regulations and directions on graduate theses are to be found in the Graduate Policies and Procedure Manual. Each graduate student preparing a thesis is responsible for compliance with Institute and Department instructions regarding thesis preparation. Two copies of the thesis in final printed form and one electronic copy, in PDF form, on CD are to be submitted to the Department Academic Office. Original signatures of the thesis supervisor and reader must appear on the thesis cover page. In addition, a copy of the thesis should be furnished the thesis supervisor, the reader if requested, and to satisfy any other obligations incurred (e.g., sometimes copies are required for non-government fellowship sponsors).


Any exceptions to these requirements require special permission of the Department Committee on Graduate Students. Students should file written petitions with this committee to initiate consideration of any desired exceptions to these requirements.

Department Regulations for NE Thesis Supervision

The following was adopted by the NSE Graduate Committee.

A thesis supervisor may be selected from one of the following three categories:

  1. NSE FACULTY (NSE faculty; NSE faculty emeritus; NSE professor of the practice; faculty having dual and joint appointment with other departments).
  2. Non-NSE MIT Faculty and NSE (and affiliated labs – PSFC and MITR) Senior and Principal Research Scientists/Engineers.. A selection from category 2 requires an NSE faculty member as a thesis reader.
  3. Visiting Professors, NSE (and affiliated labs – PSFC and MITR) Research Scientists/Engineers, and MIT Senior and Principal Scientists/Engineers (including MIT-Harvard programs). A selection from category 3 requires an NSE faculty member as a thesis reader.


Revised July 2011

Department of Nuclear Science & Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, 24-107, Cambridge, MA 02139

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