Nuclear Engineering

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Nuclear Engineering offers three graduate degree programs: the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), the Master of Engineering (MEng), and the Public Policy (MPP)/Nuclear Engineering (MS) Concurrent Degree Program.

Visit Department Website

Admissions

Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant comes from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants from countries or political entities in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
    • courses in English as a Second Language,
    • courses conducted in a language other than English,
    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
    • courses of a non-academic nature.

If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833. Official IELTS score reports must be mailed directly to our office from the British Council. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years.

Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

Admission to the graduate program in nuclear engineering is available to qualified individuals who have obtained a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution in one of the fields of engineering or the physical sciences. For all programs, required preparation in undergraduate coursework includes mathematics through partial differential equations and advanced analysis, nuclear reactions, and thermodynamics. Admission is granted on the basis of undergraduate and graduate records (if any), statement of purpose, record of work experience and professional activities, letters of recommendation, and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), if applicable.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

In order to receive the PhD in Nuclear Engineering, all students must successfully complete the following three milestones: 

  • Required coursework: major and minor requirements
  • Departmental exams: first year screening exams and the oral qualifying exam
  • Dissertation

Curriculum

Courses Required
Major Field (6 Graduate Level Nuclear Engineering Electives). A 3.5 GPA in the major is required.
One Technical Minor Field Outside Nuclear Engineering (2-3 courses; 1 course must be graduate level). A 3.0 GPA minimum is required for both minors.
One Technical Minor Field Outside or in Nuclear Engineering (2-3 courses; 1 course must be graduate level). All courses taken to fulfill the PhD course requirement must be letter-graded.

Departmental Exams

Screening Exam

Students must pass a written screening exam during the first year in graduate study. The exam is based on undergraduate thermodynamics, nuclear materials, heat transfer and fluid mechanics, nuclear physics, neutronics, radiaoactive waste management and fusion theory. Four of the seven areas must be passed in order the pass the exam. There are two chances to pass.

Oral Exam

After completion of the coursework for the PhD the student takes the oral exam. The content of the exam is usually a presentation of the student's research and questions relating the coursework in the outside minor. The exam committee is composed of four faculty members (normally three from the department and a non-departmental faculty member who represents an outside minor).

PhD Dissertation

A dissertation on a subject chosen by the candidate, bearing on the principal subject of the student's major study and demonstrating the candidate's ability to carry out independent investigation, must be completed and receive the approval of the dissertation committee and the dean of the Graduate Division. The committee consists of three members, including the instructor in charge of the dissertation and one member outside the candidate's department.

Master's Degree Requirements (MEng)

Master of Engineering (MEng)

In collaboration with other departments in the College of Engineering, Nuclear Engineering offers a one-year professional master's degree. The accelerated program is designed to develop professional engineering leaders who understand the technical, environmental, economic, and social issues involved in the design and operation of nuclear engineering devices, systems, and organizations. Prospective students will be engineers, typically with industrial experience, who aspire to substantially advance in their careers and ultimately to lead large, complex organizations, including governments.

The interdisciplinary degree will consist of three major components, comprising a technical specialization in NE (minimum 12 graduate units), a “breadth” curriculum of engineering leadership courses (8 units), and an integrative capstone project (5 units). See The Fung Institute for more details.

Technical concentrations in:

Nuclear reactors design, management and infrastructure

Applied nuclear science and radiation detection

Nuclear materials and manufacturing

Medical physics

The MEng degree requires a minimum of 25 units of coursework in three areas:

  • The Core Leadership curriculum (8 units)
  • Technical Specialization in NE (minimum 12 units)
  • Capstone project (5 units).

CORE LEADERSHIP Curriculum (8 units, letter grade, required for degree)

FALL ENGINEERING LEADERSHIP TOPICS (3 units)
  • ENGIN 270A, Organizational Behavior & Negotiations (1 unit)
  • ENGIN 270B, R&D Tech Management & Ethics (1 unit)
  • ENGIN 270C, Project Management and Teaming (1 unit)

Designed for Master of Engineering students, these courses explore key management and leadership concepts at the executive level that are relevant to technology-dependent enterprises.  During the courses, students undertake rigorous case study analysis of actual business situations.

SPRING ENGINEERING LEADERSHIP TOPICS (3 units)

Required:

  • ENGIN 270C, Project Management & Teaming (1 unit)

Students choose 2 of 5 to meet the core requirement:

  • ENGIN 270D, Entrepreneurship for Engineers (1 unit)
  • ENGIN 270E, Technology Strategy (1 unit)
  • ENGIN 270I, Industry Analytics (1 unit)
  • ENGIN 270G, Marketing & Product Management (1 unit)
  • ENGIN 270H, Accounting and Finance (1 unit)
Communications for Engineering Leaders (2 units)

1 unit fall, 1 unit spring.  A year-long course which supports your efforts to generate clear, engaging, and memorable content for your project’s reporting deliverables. 

Reporting deliverables include:  presentations, pitches, press releases, promotional materials, project proposals, and research papers.

TECHNICAL ELECTIVES in Area of Concentration (minimum 12 units)

All Technical Electives must be NE graduate level courses (200) and taken for a letter grade.  Units for 298 (seminar) courses do not count for the degree.

CAPSTONE PROJECT (5 units)

5 semester units of ENGIN 296MA-B (letter graded end of spring, required)

  • 1–2 semester units ENGIN 296MA – Fall
  • 3–4 semester units ENGIN 296MB - Spring
CAPSTONE PROJECT SUMMARY

The 9-month capstone experience will challenge you to integrate your technical and leadership skills to innovate in a dynamic, results-driven environment.  Working on a team of 3 to 6 students over the course of the fall and spring semesters (5 units) you will engineer solutions using cutting edge technology and methods to address crucial industry, market or societal needs.

Berkeley faculty or industry partners propose capstone projects and serve as technical advisors for the project teams.  While details of the selection process vary by department, incoming students apply to their preferred projects, and the faculty or industry mentors make the final team assignments.

CAPSTONE CURRICULUM INTEGRATION

Capstone projects form the core of highly integrated curriculum. Engineering Leadership (E270 series) courses provide skills necessary to engage specific industry, social, and/or economic contexts and formulate R & D, finance, and/or marketing strategy. Communications (E295) workshops support students as they reach out to a variety of stakeholders crucial to their project’s success.  Teaming and Project Management faculty support teams as they learn about project scoping, assessment, and improvement; stakeholder management; conflict resolution, etc.

CAPSTONE DELIVERABLES

Students must submit a team capstone project report.  In addition, each team is expected to provide the project advisor with a final project deliverable, the form of which is to be defined in collaboration with the project advisor.  Examples of project deliverables include product prototypes, algorithms, conceptual designs, software code, and proof-of-concept.

 All students are required to have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 or higher.

COMPREHENSIVE FINAL EXAM

The Comprehensive Exam will be divided into two components, one devoted to leadership topics (to be administered by the Fung Institute), and the other to technical topics (to be administered by individual departments within COE).  The exam may be written, oral, or a combination of the two.

NE students that participate in a capstone project outside of the NE department are required to highlight the NE component of their project, or will be tested on NE related topics based on coursework taken.

Visit the program website for more detailed information.

Master's Degree Requirements (MS)

The Master's of Science Track is only accessible to students enrolled in our PhD program.  Applicants interested in the Master's degree are encouraged to apply to the Nuclear Engineering Master of Engineering program.  

Master's students must choose between two degree plan options: Plan I or Plan II. Plan I requires at least 20 semester units of upper division and graduate courses, plus a thesis. At least 8 of these units must be in 200 series courses in the student's major subject. Plan II requires at least 24 semester units of upper division and graduate courses, followed by a comprehensive final examination administered by the department. At least 12 units must be in graduate courses in the student's major subject. In Nuclear Engineering, the examination takes the form of a project and presentation. An overall GPA of 3.0 is required at the time of graduation.

Curriculum

Courses Required
Thesis: Approved study list of Nuclear Engineering Electives (8 graduate courses minimum) 20
Project Plan: Approved study list of Nuclear Engineering Electives (12 graduate courses minimum)24

Both MS Plan I and Plan II are subject to the following:

i) Units for 298 (seminar) courses are not counted towards the degree.

ii) A study plan approved by the major field adviser is required each semester.

iii) A maximum of 4 units of coursework from approved non-academic institutions or 4 units from another academic institution can be used, provided course was taken while in graduate standing and meets departmental approval.

iv) Units for graduate courses taken as an undergraduate are allowed if the units were in excess of units required to satisfy the BS degree requirements.

Other Requirements

Plan I: Thesis (Requires thesis committee composed of three faculty.)

Plan II: Completion of a project culminating in a written report and an oral presentation before a committee of three faculty members or two faculty members and one approved non-university person. Approval by the professor in charge of the research project and the chair of the graduate advisers is required.

All students must take at least two letter-grade NE courses during the first year as a graduate student.

Master's Degree Requirements (MPP/MS)

Public Policy (MPP) and Nuclear Engineering (MS) Concurrent Degree Program

Government and technology interact more, and with greater consequences, every year.  Whether the issue area is nuclear security, environmental protection, intellectual property (copyright and the internet), health care, water supply, or any of myriad other contexts, government agencies at all levels, non-profit organizations and private industry need people who understand technology on its own terms and also the ways government supports, controls, or directs it.  Because this program is small, each student’s program tends to be customized with the agreement of advisors in both programs.

Basic Requirements

Year 1
Completion of the MPP first year core curriculum.
Summer Internship.
Year 2
Complete required units in nuclear engineering, plus six elective agreeable to both schools.
Complete a paper that satisfies the MS Plan I or Plan II requirement, and the MPP APA (Advanced Policy Analysis) requirement.

For more information about this program, contact Michael Nacht (Professor of Public Policy, 510-643-4038) or Karl van Bibber (Chair of the Nuclear Engineering Department, 510-642-3477). 

Courses

Nuclear Engineering

Faculty and Instructors

Faculty

Rebecca Abergel, Assistant Professor. Effects of heavy element exposure and contamination on different biological systems.
Research Profile

Lee A. Bernstein, Adjunct Professor.

Massimiliano Fratoni, Assistant Professor. Nuclear reactor design, fuel cycle analysis, fusion reactors.
Research Profile

Ehud Greenspan, Professor. Professor of the Graduate School.

Peter Hosemann, Associate Professor. Microscopy, nanomaterials, Nuclear materials, material science, radiation damage, corrosion in liquid metals, materials development, materials under extremes, nuclear applications, ion beam microscopy, nanoscale mechanical testing.
Research Profile

Daniel M. Kammen, Professor. Public policy, nuclear engineering, energy, resources, risk analysis as applied to global warming, methodological studies of forecasting, hazard assessment, renewable energy technologies, environmental resource management.
Research Profile

Ka-Ngo Leung, Professor. Professor of the Graduate School, Plasma and Ion Beam technology in microfabrication processes.

Edward C. Morse, Professor. Applied plasma physics: fusion technology: microwaves, experimental investigation of RF plasma heating, experimental studies of compact toroids spectral method for magnetohydrodynamic stability.
Research Profile

Eric B. Norman, Professor. Professor of the Graduate School, nuclear astrophysics, experimental nuclear physics, homeland security, neutrinos.
Research Profile

Per F. Peterson, Professor. Nuclear engineering, heat and mass transfer, reactor thermal hydraulics, nuclear reactor design, radioactive waste, nuclear materials management.
Research Profile

Raluca O. Scarlat, Assistant Professor. Chemical and termophysical characterization of high-temperature molten salts and other inorganic fluids, and heat and mass transport pertaining to energy systems Electrochemistry, corrosion, thermodynamics Nuclear reactor safety analysis, licensing and design, and engineering ethics .
Research Profile

Rachel Slaybaugh, Assistant Professor. Computational methods, high performance computing, neutron transport.
Research Profile

Karl A. Van Bibber, Professor. Experimental nuclear physics, Particle Astrophysics, Accelerator Technology and Neutron Sources.
Research Profile

Kai Vetter, Professor.

Jasmina L. Vujic, Professor. Nuclear engineering, numerical methods in reactor physics, neutron and photon transport, reactor core design and analysis, shielding, radiation protection, biomedical application of radiation, optimization techniques for vector, parallel computers.
Research Profile

Lecturers

Ralph E. Berger, Lecturer.

Alan Michael Bolind, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

T. Kenneth Fowler, Professor Emeritus. Plasma physics, nuclear engineering, magnetic fusion, confinement and stability of plasmas for thermonuclear fusion, fusion reactor design, spehromak compact toroid plasma confinement configuration.
Research Profile

Lawrence M. Grossman, Professor Emeritus. Nuclear engineering, reactor physics, numerical approximation methods in neutron diffusion, transport theory, control and optimization theory in nuclear reactor engineering.
Research Profile

Selig N. Kaplan, Professor Emeritus. Radiation reactions, interaction of radiation of matter, detection and measurement of ionizing radiation.
Research Profile

William E. Kastenberg, Professor Emeritus. Risk management, risk assessment, nuclear reactor safety, ethical issues in emerging technologies.
Research Profile

Donald R. Olander, Professor Emeritus. Nuclear engineering, nuclear materials: reactor fuel behavior, hydriding of zirconium and uranium, high-temperature kinetic and thermodynamic behavior of nuclear reactor fuels, performance of degraded nuclear fuels.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Department of Nuclear Engineering

4153 Etcheverry Hall

Phone: 510-642-5010

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Peter Hosemann, PhD

4153 Etcheverry Hall

Phone: 510-642-3477

peterh@berkeley.edu

Student Services Adviser

Kirsten Wimple Hall

4149 Etcheverry Hall

Phone: 510-642-5760

admissions@berkeley.edu

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