In the Classroom

Nuclear engineering graduation rates stable

Number of graduate degrees expected to remain consistent 

The number of college students graduating with a major or equivalent option in nuclear engineering shows signs of stabilizing, according to a report by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, which surveyed 35 U.S. universities with nuclear engineering programs. The report, titled Nuclear Engineering Enrollments and Degrees Survey, 2016 Data, includes degrees granted between September 1, 2015 and August 31, 2016.

Graduate, undergraduate nuclear engineering degrees increased from 2006 

According to the report, 621 students received bachelor’s degrees with majors in nuclear engineering in 2016–a 180 percent increase over 2006. A total of 355 students received master’s degrees in 2016. The number of Ph.D.s awarded is also stablizing. One hundred sixty-one Ph.D.’s were awarded in 2016; one hundred sixty-nine were awarded in 2014.

Five schools account for more than one third of graduates

Pennsylvania State University led the way in the number of nuclear engineering degrees awarded with 90 bachelor’s degrees, 30 master’s degrees and 4 doctoral degrees. The University of Michigan, University of Tennessee, Texas A&M University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison round out the top five universities in number of degrees conferred, accounting for 35% of all nuclear engineering degrees granted in 2016.

Employment opportunities

The ORISE report also looked at post-graduation plans reported for 2016 graduates and found that most students plan to continue their studies as their next step after completing their current degree program. For those students who don’t plan to continue their studies, the next step choices are industry, military, Department of Energy contractor, and the U. S. government, in that order.

ORISE has collected and/or monitored data on enrollments and degrees in science and energy-related fields of study for DOE and other federal agencies since the mid-1970s. View the full report on 2013 data here.

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