NSE - Nuclear Science & Engineering at MIT


GRADUATE : Five-Year Program

The five-year program is the equivalent of a four-year program of undergraduate degree work (with the usual omission of a senior thesis research project) plus one year of graduate-level work to satisfy Master of Science degree requirements. In addition to requiring a single thesis, the program has the following advantages:

  1. It is an attractive alternative to dual SB degree programs, and requires fewer subject credit hours; also, many employers appear to place a higher value on the SM than on an additional SB degree.
  2. The student is given earlier assurance of admission to graduate school (typically in the junior rather than the senior year), and is consequently better equipped to plan for the senior and graduate years.
  3. Contacts can be established to cultivate a better selection of financial aid opportunities during the graduate year.
  4. An earlier and more informed start on the SM thesis project can be arranged, leading to a less hectic pace during the graduate year.
  5. The five-year student can often, by an informed choice of electives and advance planning, proceed further in his or her area of specialization than the normal SM candidate, and thus be better prepared for either immediate employment or accelerated pursuit of the ScD/PhD.

The paragraphs which follow provide additional information on this option as it applies to students who choose to pursue the fifth (SM) year in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.


The Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering offers, jointly with a number of other MIT departments, a five-year program leading to a simultaneous Bachelor of Science in the appropriate undergraduate department and a Master of Science in Nuclear Science and Engineering. Departments currently participating are Chemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Science and Engineering, and Physics.

Although the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department at MIT also offers a bachelor's degree program, it is recognized that many students will prefer to pursue an SB program in some other discipline. In fact, only about half of the graduate students in Course 22 have majored in nuclear science and engineering as undergraduates. Thus, the five-year program, which predates the SB program, continues to be an important part of our educational effort.

General Requirements

The student must satisfy the SB curriculum in an undergraduate department plus the SM requirements in Nuclear Science and Engineering. NSE SM degree requirements: View Requirements PDF

However, in most instances, , and Course 22 subjects can often be counted toward the SB requirements, thereby freeing the student to pursue more advanced subjects at the SM level in Course 22.  No subjects can count toward both the SB and SM degrees, with the exception that a single master’s thesis may be submitted to satisfy the thesis requirements for both degrees, should the undergraduate department allow that. (NSE does.)

The five-year combined bachelor and masters program is designed for students who decide relatively early in their undergraduate career that they wish to pursue a graduate degree in nuclear engineering. Students must submit their application for this program during the second term of their junior year and be judged to satisfy the graduate admission requirements of the Department. The normal expectations of MIT undergraduates for admission to the five-year program are an overall MIT grade point average of at least 4.3, and strong mathematics, science, and engineering background with a GPA of at least 4.0.

Students must apply for the five-year program during second term of their junior year. Merely apply for graduate school admission as if you were a senior, using the special 5-year graduate application. In addition, you must submit a form outlining your proposed course plan with your application (View Planning PDF). The proposed program should be approved by both your undergraduate advisor and the Course 22 Undergraduate Officer (Professor Ben Forget, bforget@mit.edu).

Applications are due June 1, with decisions sent in June or July.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You are welcome to discuss the Five-Year Program with its Course 22 director, Professor Ben Forget, bforget@mit.edu. The most common questions are answered below.

How long will it take to graduate?

It is the satisfactory completion of degree requirements that is expected, not the specific time of five years. This means that you can finish in less or more than five years, with appropriate funding.

When should accelerated or transfer students apply?

If you are a transfer student or will complete the SB program in less than four years, apply when you have completed enough credits to be equivalent to a second semester junior at MIT.

Is financial aid given for the five-year program?

Normally it is not, students in the five-year SB/SM program are typically self-funded.

Are Course 22 undergraduates eligible to apply?

Undergraduates in Nuclear Science and Engineering are also eligible for the Five-Year Program; in this case, the program is equivalent in all respects to those described under "Simultaneous Bachelor and Master of Science Degrees" in the MIT Bulletin and the Graduate School Policy and Procedures Manual.

May I change my original course plan?

You may change the program proposed in your letter subject to the approval of your undergraduate advisor and your graduate registration officer. You may withdraw from the program at any time and obtain the SB by completing the appropriate requirements, including a SB thesis; if the SM is pursued subsequently, a separate SM thesis will be required.

Do thesis units (22.ThG) count towards the 66 unit requirement for the Five-Year program?

No, neither thesis (22.ThG) nor research (22.94) units count toward the 66 unit degree requirement. The requirement is to complete 66 units of coursework in addition to a research project leading to a thesis.

Can I continue with an advanced degree in NSE after the Five-Year program?

You may, if you should become interested in pursuing a further degree in NSE, apply to the NSE Department Admissions Committee to continue work towards the Nuclear Engineer, PhD, or ScD degrees after completion of the SM program. At that time, your request will be considered on the same basis as all other applicants.

Can advanced courses taken in the Five-Year program satisfy Ph.D. level requirements?

Yes, passing courses required for the Ph.D. program with a satisfactory grade meets the requirements. For example, if you receive an 'A' on the final exam for one of the core graduate modules (22.11 - 22.16), that counts towards your Ph.D. qualifying exam requirements. However, you must still meet the unit requirements of both degrees.


Revised May 2022

Department of Nuclear Science & Engineering

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