Nuclear Engineering

The Nuclear Engineering Program, part of Ohio State’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is designed to prepare students for successful careers in many different specialty areas associated with the application of radiation, radioactive materials and nuclear fission, such as nuclear power, nuclear medicine, radiation safety and environmental management. An important research facility accessible to students is the Ohio State University Research Reactor. The Nuclear Engineering Program offers paths for both MS and PhD degrees. Our graduates are in demand and work for a variety of employers including electric utilities, nuclear power plants, research laboratories, academic institutions, design organizations, medical facilities, regulatory agencies and providers of equipment and services for the nuclear industry.

Student Life

Students work side by side with faculty on projects for research sponsors such as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NASA, DOE national laboratories, industrial organizations and nuclear utilities. The excellent record of publications and patents by faculty and students illustrates the broad scope of the program. The MS degree in Nuclear Engineering can be completed in three semesters, allowing students to move quickly into their careers. For outstanding engineering undergraduates, the combined BS/MS program offers a way to apply undergraduate optional courses to earn graduate credits and complete the MS degree even more quickly.

Financial Support Opportunities

Almost all students are supported by DOE and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission fellowships or by Graduate Research Associate (GRA) and Graduate Teaching Associate (GTA) positions funded by the university or the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. GRAs are assigned to research projects under the supervision of graduate professors. It is typical to carry out thesis and/or dissertation research on such projects. GTAs teach courses, provide laboratory assistance and/or perform other related activities. The strongest applicants to our program are nominated for University Fellowships, which are awarded by the Ohio State Graduate School following a rigorous university-wide competition. University Fellowships can be for one, two or three years, and recipients have no duties other than pursuing a graduate degree and conducting thesis research. GRAs, GTAs and Fellowship students have their tuition and fees paid by the department and/or university and include competitive stipends.


The Ohio State University Nuclear Engineering Program has established and developed nine broad areas of technical specialization:

  • Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Management
  • Nuclear Instrumentation and Control
  • Nuclear Medical Instrumentation
  • Nuclear Power Plant Engineering and Operations
  • Nuclear Reactor Core Design Computational Methods
  • Radiation Protection
  • Risk and Reliability
  • Safety Analysis
  • Thermal and Fluids Science
  • Reactor Instrumentation, Control and Operations

Current research opportunities include fiber optic detectors and data transmission in nuclear power plants, nuclear waste management, nuclear power reactor digital instrumentation and control system modeling and analysis, fiber optics based instrument channel performance in radiation environment, in-core measurements, reliability and risk analysis, radiation protection, heat transfer and thermal hydraulics, boron neutron capture cancer therapy (BNCT), neutron dosimetry and accelerator based neutron source design for BNCT. The Ohio State University is a partner in the consortium that operates the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the DOE’s lead laboratory for the development of new reactor designs. Within the consortium, Ohio State operates the Academic Center of Excellence for Instrumentation, Control and Safety and the Center of Research and Education in Reactor Safety and Licensing. Externally sponsored research expenditures for the Nuclear Engineering Program totaled nearly $2 million per year over the past three years.

The Ohio State Nuclear Reactor Laboratory

Our research reactor, in operation since 1961, is a pool-type reactor that is used for a variety of instructional, research and service activities. It is licensed to operate at continuously variable thermal power up to a maximum of 500 kilowatts, and at maximum steady state power, the average thermal neutron flux in the core is approximately 5x1012 n/cm2/s. The reactor is immersed in a pool of light water that provides moderation and cooling by natural convective flow. In addition to the reactor, the Ohio State University Nuclear Reactor Laboratory houses a state-of-the-art gamma-ray spectroscopy system and two gamma irradiators. This facility is used for a wide range of research endeavors, including neutron activation analysis (NAA), radiation-damage evaluation for electronic components and other materials, evaluation of neutron and radiation sensitive detectors, isotope production and biomedical experiments. The Ohio State Nuclear Reactor Laboratory provides a variety of instructional services ranging from general tours to individual and group laboratory sessions and research projects structured to student and faculty interests.

Learn more about the Nuclear Reactor Laboratory