Nuclear Engineering Major Guide for 2012-2013

What is Nuclear Engineering?

Nuclear Engineering is the engineering discipline that focuses on the application of sub-atomic processes for the benefit of mankind. Some examples of such applications are listed below:

  •      Production of electric power with essentially no air pollution
  •      Processes for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer
  •      Activation analysis for identifying materials including environmental pollutants and contaminants
  •     Radiography inspection of welds in bridges and boilers
  •     Food preservation and sterilization of medical supplies
  •     Radioisotope gauges for use in manufacturing processes
  •    Nuclear measurement techniques for oil well logging and airport security
  •     Radioactive tracer elements for use in medical research
  •     Generation of radioisotope power for deep space exploration

High School Preparation

The College of Engineering has established admissions criteria for incoming freshmen based on several performance criteria, including completion of core academic subjects, GPA scores on these subjects and standardized test (SAT or ACT) scores. A Success Prediction Indicator (SPI) number of 60 and a math ACT of 25 or a math SAT of 620 are minimum standards used for admission to the College of Engineering. The admitted class may also be limited by space available in the College. The SPI is calculated by adding an individual’s ACT mathematics score to 10 times their core high school GPA (based on a 4.0 scale). For information on what constitutes core high school courses, please consult admission website

SPI EXAMPLE: A student with a high school core GPA of 3.5 and an ACT mathematics score of 28 would have an SPI of 63 using the formula (3.5 X 10) + 28 = 63. SAT scores are converted to an equivalent ACT score to perform this calculation.

Students who wish to pursue a degree in the College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, but do not meet the college admission criterion may enroll as University Undecided students and complete appropriate mathematics, science, and other courses before applying again for admission to the College of Engineering

How to Major in Nuclear Engineering

Students applying to the university should specify nuclear engineering as their chosen major when completing the admission form. Students transferring from other departments within UT or from other educational institutions should contact the department for more information regarding the appropriate entry level and any additional required courses.

Requirements for Nuclear Engineering

The Nuclear Engineering department currently does not have any special requirements for admission to the nuclear engineering program, other than the general admission requirements for the university and the college. College of Engineering students at the sophomore level and above are required to own personal computers for class work. For more information, please visit

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

All UT freshman engineering students are automatically enrolled in the innovative Engage Engineering Fundamentals Program, designed to help students learn basic engineering concepts and teamwork skills through a series of hands-on projects and activities:

The College of Engineering’s Office of Professional Practice (EPP) provides income-generating opportunities for engineering students to experience realworld engineering challenges through internship programs. Both programs offerstructured learning environments where students develop increasing responsibilities by holding full-time paid positions in a professional environment related to their academic and career goals:

In addition to financial and scholarship programs available to all students, the college also provides special scholarships and support programs to minority students, including:
• Diversity Engineering Scholarship Program (DESP)
• Engineering Diversity Programs Office (EDP)
• Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (TLSAMP)

The College of Engineering also participates in the University Honors Program, which is designed to give academically outstanding students a unique undergraduate experience consisting of special courses, seminars, mentoring and research projects.  All Engineering majors have Honors concentrations

The UT Center for International Education collaborates with the COE to create opportunities for engineering students to study in other countries:

Highlights of Nuclear Engineering

The Nuclear Engineering Department at The University of Tennessee offers exceptional opportunities to its students. Graduates contribute to an important technology needed by the United States to maintain its standard of living and its place in the world economy. This page provides information about UT’s Nuclear Engineering program and career opportunities for graduates. Some of the main points are:

  •     Excellent academic program. The department benefits from its association with nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the concentration of nuclear research and industry in the area.
  •     Reasonable cost. Tuition and fees are among the lowest of the top academic institutions in America. Nuclear Engineering students from Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia can qualify for the same instate tuition and fees paid by Tennessee residents. This major savings is made possible by an agreement among Southeastern states called the Academic Common Market.
  •     Scholarship opportunities. Nuclear Engineering students have excellent scholarship opportunities from UT, from national organizations which provide nuclear engineering scholarships, and from the UT Nuclear Engineering Department.
  •     Accelerated program to obtain Master of Science. The UT Nuclear Engineering Department has developed the Master Student Program in which top undergraduates begin their graduate course work and graduate research while still an undergraduate. This reduces the time required to obtain a M.S. degree after the B.S. by as much as one half.

A good career resource is the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career and to consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

In recent years engineering students have studied abroad through the Global Engineering Education Exchange (GE3), participated in short-term programs led by UTK engineering faculty, and completed summer research internships in Germany. For more information about opportunities for majors in the College of Engineering, please see the section of the Engineering Outreach Office website which highlights study abroad programs for engineering students.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.


Sample Curriculum


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

Freshman Year Credit Hours
CHEM 120 * or CHEM 128 *, CHEM 130 * or CHEM 138 * 8
ENGL 101 * or ENGL 118 *, ENGL 102 * 6
EF 105 , EF 151  or EF 157 , EF 152  or EF 158 9
MATH 141 * or MATH 147 *, MATH 142 * or MATH 148 * 8
 Milestones: Math 130 or higher; EF 151/157 or Physics 135/137 or higher
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Arts and Humanities Elective* 3
ECON 201 * or ECON 207 * 4
ECE 301 3
ME 202 2
EF 230 2
MATH 231 , MATH 241  or MATH 247 7
ME 331 3
PHYS 231 *, PHYS 232 * 7
NE 200 1
 Milestones: EF 152/158 or Physics 136/138 or higher; ME 202 or CS 102 or MSE 201 or CBE 201
Junior Year Credit Hours
Cultures and Civilizations Elective* 3
NE 342 or 347 , NE 351 or 357 , NE 360 , NE 362 or 367, NE 401 , NE 433 , NE 470 21
PHYS 341 3
Social Sciences Elective* 3
Senior Year Credit Hours
Cultures and Civilizations Elective* 3
EF 402 1
MSE 201 3
ME 321 3
NE 400 (OC) *, NE 402 or 427(WC) *, NE 406 or 467 , NE 472 11
Arts & Humanities Elective * 3
1Technical Electives 6
* Meets University General Education Requirement.
1 Technical electives are selected from upper-division mathematics, chemistry, physics, and engineering courses and must be pre-approved by the department.


Honors Program in Nuclear Engineering

In addition to satisfying the requirements for the nuclear engineering major, candidates for the honors program in nuclear engineering must also complete the following requirements.

  • First-year courses for honors concentrations in the engineering majors. (Note: Most of the honors requirements are course substitutions for the nuclear engineering major.)
  • Two upper-division honors courses in nuclear engineering via Honors-by-Contract or Honors Independent Study. If participating in only the Chancellor’s Honors Program, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork goes to the Chancellor’s Honors Office on campus during the first 10 days of the semester. If participating in Engineering Honors and not Chancellor’s Honors, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork is submitted the first 10 days of the semester to the engineering major department. If participating in both Chancellor’s and Engineering Honors, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork is submitted to both areas.
  • A minimum of 3-credit hours of an honors senior design course. This requirement is normally satisfied as part of the senior capstone design course (NE 472 )


Five-Year BS/MS Program

The department offers a 5-year BS-MS program with a BS (major in nuclear engineering) and an MS (major in nuclear engineering) for qualified students. The primary component of the program is that qualified students may take up to 6 hours of approved graduate courses for their senior undergraduate electives and have them count toward both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Tennessee. This program is designed for students attending the University of Tennessee for their Master of Science degree because other universities may not accept these courses for graduate credit since they were used to satisfy requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree. Significant components of the program are:

  • Students must have an overall GPA of 3.4 in required course work. Conditional admission to the 5-year program may be granted after completion of 63 hours of required course work, while full admission may be granted after the completion of 93 hours of required course work with a minimum overall GPA of 3.4.
  • Students must at least be conditionally admitted to the program prior to taking graduate courses for both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. All courses taken for graduate credit must be approved by the director of graduate studies. Students admitted to the program must request permission from the Graduate School to take approved courses for graduate credit.
  • Students admitted to the program must also follow the normal procedure for admission to the Graduate School. Admission of students into this program must be approved by the department and the Graduate School. Students will not be eligible for assistantships until they are enrolled as graduate-level students in the Graduate School.