Penn State Nuclear Engineering - Graduate Level Distance Education
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Nuclear Engineering - Graduate Level Distance Education

What is it?
Distance education involves the linking of teacher(s) and student(s), through technology rather than face-to-face interaction. Distance education serves the educational needs of people who cannot come to a Penn State campus due to job, family, time, distance, economic, or other constraints.

Penn State’s first distance education courses, developed over one hundred years ago, used the U.S. mail to link students and teachers. Today, we employ various technologies, including: the Internet, CDs, DVDs, interactive video conferencing, live or on-demand streaming media, videotapes, fax, and e-mail to deliver and facilitate the interaction between learners and teachers. The tremendous technological advances in recent years in computing power, storage technology, and communication links have set the stage for marvelous advances in the quantity and quality of distance education. Penn State faculty and staff are working to bring you new and exciting learning opportunities through distance education.

Program Information

Quality Programs Available On-Line

The Penn State College of Engineering's graduate programs in industrial engineering and nuclear engineering were ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, by a national survey released March 15 by U.S. News & World Report. The college's graduate program was ranked 25th overall. The information will appear in U.S. News & World Report's publication, "Best Graduate Schools 2012," which will go on sale April 5, 2011.

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This quality instruction is available on-line from the Office of Continuing & Distance Education in Engineering and the Department of Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering. The Program has developed a series of courses, that are delivered live and/or on-demand video over the Internet, and will lead to a Master’s of Engineering in Nuclear Engineering degree.


The Master of Engineering degree requires 27 credits of course work plus 3 credits of research/paper writing (NucE 596) to complete the degree. Eighteen (18) credits must be 500 level courses (including the paper credits – NucE 596). At least six (6) credits of the 500 level courses must be NucE courses. The remaining 12 credits may be 400 level courses. At least 12 credits must be NucE courses (400 or 500 level courses). You may begin the program as a non-degree graduate student. However, you can only complete 12 credits as a non-degree graduate student. You will need to apply as a degree seeking student to continue in the program beyond 12 credits.

If you have not had a Radiation Detection Measurement Lab or training, you must complete the NucE 497D Radiation Detection Measurement Lab or an equivalent course as part of the program requirements.

SARI - Scholarship and Research Integrity is a relatively new program at Penn State. This program was designed to provide an opportunity to engage graduate students broadly in a dialog surrounding issues pertinent to research ethics. The SARI program also offers graduate students comprehensive, multilevel training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR), through a two-part program.

We realize you are in a Master of Engineering program which won't require much research. However, all Penn State University graduate students in the College of Engineering must complete the SARI program at Penn State prior to graduation. Click here for details.

Special Note Regarding Nuce 596 Professional Topics Paper

You should be thinking of a paper topic early on in this program. You are required to get a paper topic and advisor approved before you register for the paper credits (NucE 596). There is a submission form for this information under the Forms and Program Resources tab. You should start this process early, before you register for the paper credits. You can be working on your paper for months before actually registering for the paper credits. The process goes like this:

  1. Submit the Professional Topic and Advisor Selection Form, after you have chosen a topic and researched which faculty member is in your chosen area. (See the form for directions).
  2. Receive approval on your paper topic and acceptance by your chosen advisor. Please see the Program Requirements for more details on completing the Scholarly Paper.
  3. Submit an outline of your paper to your advisor and get feedback. Correspond with your advisor and get their comments.
  4. It takes time for your advisor to review your paper and make comments. It is important that you allow enough time for several reviews and revisions to be made throughout the paper approval process.
  5. If you feel you will graduate this semester, you must go to eLion and file your intent to graduate form. See Forms and Resources for dates and links.

The minimum level of MATH needed to register for a graduate level nuclear engineering course is:

  • Calculus With Analytic Geometry I:  Functions, limits; analytic geometry; derivatives, differentials, applications; integrals, applications
  • Calculus with Analytic Geometry II:  Derivatives, integrals, applications; sequences and series; analytic geometry; polar coordinates
  • Matrices :  Systems of linear equations; matrix algebra; eigenvalues and eigenvectors; linear systems of differential equations
  • Calculus and Vector Analysis:  Three-dimensional analytic geometry; vectors in space; partial differentiation; double and triple integrals; integral vector calculus
  • Calculus of Several Variables:  Analytic geometry in space; partial differentiation and applications
  • Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations:   First- and second-order equations; special functions; Laplace transform solutions; higher order equations; Fourier series; partial differential equations
  • Ordinary Differential Equations:  First- and second-order equations; special functions; Laplace transform solutions; higher order equations

The minimum level of PHYSICS needed to register for a graduate level nuclear engineering course is:

  • Mechanics:  Calculus-based study of the basic concepts of mechanics: motion, force, Newton's laws, energy, collisions, and rotation
  • Electricity and Magnetism:   Calculus-based study of the basic concepts of electricity and magnetism
  • Wave Motion and Quantum Physics:  Calculus-based study of the basic concepts of wave motion, geometrical optics, interference phenomena, photons, wave mechanics, and the structure of matter
  • Introduction to Modern Physics:  Relativity and quantum theory applied to selected topics in atomic, molecular, solid state, and nuclear physics

The following courses are listed in the Nuclear Engineering Undergraduate Program Guide as required core courses.  This list is not complete for the BS degree in Nuclear Engineering.  For additional information on the courses listed, go to

E MCH 211 Statics (3 cr)
Equilibrium of coplanar force systems; analysis of frames and trusses; noncoplanar force systems; friction; centroids and moments of inertia

E MCH 212 Dynamics (3 cr)
Motion of a particle; relative motion; kinetics of translation, rotation, and plane motion; work-energy; impulse-momentum

E MCH 213 Strength of Materials (3 cr)
Axial stress and strain; torsion; stresses in beams; elastic curves and deflection of beams; combined stress; columns

E MCH 315 Mechanical Response of Engineering Materials (2 cr)
Mechanical response measures and design theories for engineering materials; elastic and plastic response as affected by stress, strain, time, temperature

E MCH 316 Experimental Determination of Mechanical Response of Materials (1 cr)
Experimental techniques for mechanical property measurement and structural testing

EE 212 Introduction to Electronic Measuring Systems (3 cr)
Electronic devices and characteristics, amplifiers and feedback, electronic instruments and recording systems.  Designed for non-electrical engineering students

ME 300 Engineering Thermodynamics I (3 cr)
Basic thermodynamics concepts, properties of pure substances, first and second law analysis of systems and control volumes

NUC E 301 Fundamentals of Reactor Physics (4 cr)
Nuclear reactions and interactions relevant to nuclear engineering including fission, cross-sections, reaction rate calculations, energy depositions rates, and radioactive decay

NUCE 302 Introduction to Reactor Design (4 cr)
Static and dynamic reactor theory applied to basic reactor design problems

NUCE 309 Analytical Techniques for Nuclear Concept (3 cr)
This course is an introduction to many of the analytical techniques used in the nuclear engineering discipline

NUCE 310W  Issues in Nuclear Engineering (2 cr)
Societal and technical issues facing nuclear engineers, including safety, operations, waste, regulation, public acceptance, economics, ethics, and radiation

NUCE 403 Advanced Reactor Design (3 cr)
Physical properties and computational methods for reactor analysis and design.  Multigroup diffusion theory; determination of fast and thermal group constants; cell calculations for heterogeneous core lattices

NUC E 430 Design Principles of Reactor Systems (3 cr)
Nuclear power cycles; heat removal problems; kinetic behavior of nuclear systems; material and structural design problems

NUCE 431W Nuclear Reactor Core Design Synthesis (4 cr)
Technical and economic optimization of nuclear systems

NUC E 450 Radiation Detection and Measurement (3 cr)
Theory and laboratory applications of radiation detectors, including proton, neutron, charged particle detectors, NIM devices, and pulse-height analysis

NUC E 451 Experiments in Reactor Physics (3 cr)
Acquisition and processing of nuclear and atomic data; application to nucleonic phenomena of importance in nuclear engineering

ME 300 Engineering Thermodynamics I (3 cr)
Basic thermodynamics concepts, properties of pure substances, first and second law analysis of systems and control volumes

ME 320 Fluid Flow (3 cr)
Thermodynamic and dynamic principles applied to fluid behavior; ideal, viscous, and compressible fluids under internal and external flow conditions

ME 410 Heat Transfer (3 cr)
Thermal energy transfer mechanisms; conduction (steady, transient), convection (internal, external), radiation; lumped parameter method; heat exchangers; introduction to numerical methods

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The Pennsylvania State University - Office of Continuing & Distance Education - College of Engineering
301-A Engineering Unit C | University Park, PA | 16802
Phone: 814-865-7643 | Fax: 814-865-3969 | Email: