University of Tennessee

Nuclear Engineering by Distance Education

The Nuclear Engineering Department at the University of Tennessee offers three graduate programs that are available to distance students: the MS degree in nuclear engineering and two new Certificate Programs, one in Nuclear Criticality Safety and the other in reliability and maintainability engineering. Since the M.S. Program requirements also satisfy of the PhD program requirements, a significant portion of the PhD program in also available online.

Most of the courses in the three graduate programs are delivered synchronously (i.e., live and interactive) to the student's desktop computer via the World Wide Web using BlackBoard Collaborate (see The Collaborate program permits oral communication between instructor and students as well as oral communication between students. This interactive oral communication is usually accompanied by video streaming of visual aids such as PowerPoint slides and HTML documents. The synchronous classes are also available asynchronously (i.e., saved on a server) for a few days after synchronous delivery to accommodate students who must occasionally miss class.

Even Academic Years
Fall Semester (2011, 2013)
NE 551 Radiation Protection
NE 583 Radiation Transport Methods

Spring Semester (2012, 2014)
NE 552 Radiological Assessment and Dosimetry
NE 582 Monte Carlo Analysis

Odd Academic Years
Fall Semester (2012, 2014)
NE 571 Reactor Theory and Design
NE 421 Introduction to Nuclear Criticality Safety

Spring Semester (2013, 2015)
NE 572 Nuclear System Design
NE 543 Selected Topics in Nuclear Criticality Safety

Each Year by CD
NE 433 Principles of Health Physics
NE 470 Nuclear Reactor Theory I

The MS program for distance students is the same as our traditional MS program for local students, but with fewer courses offered. The MS program requires eight 3-hour graduate courses: four Nuclear Engineering (NE) courses, two courses in a related technical discipline (or two more NE courses), and two courses in mathematics, statistics or computer science. In addition, at least six hours of research or engineering practice are required for a total MS requirement of at least 30 hours. Up to one-third of the credit hours for the MS degree can be transfer credit from another accredited institution.

MS distance students must also register for at least three hours of research or engineering practice during any semester in which research or engineering practice is conducted to satisfy degree requirements. Proposed projects, either thesis research or engineering practice projects, may (or may not) be related to the student's current job, but must be approved a priori by the student's major professor and graduate committee. To obtain approval, a brief proposal written by the student must be submitted to and approved by the student's major professor and graduate committee at the beginning of the proposed project. The student must also write brief monthly progress reports, which are submitted to and approved by the student's major professor. The student may also have an on-site advisor or mentor to help direct the student's work along with the overall supervision provided by the major professor. However, acceptance of the student's work in satisfying degree requirements is solely the responsibility of the student's major professor and graduate committee. Good research and engineering practice projects frequently lead to external publications that are co-authored by the student, the on-site advisor, and the major professor. At the conclusion of the MS program, students come to the UT main campus to defend their work, both coursework and thesis or engineering practice project report(s), in a comprehensive oral exam in front of their major professor and graduate committee.

Each Certificate Program consists of four 3-hour graduate courses and does not include a requirement for research or engineering practice. The four courses required for the Nuclear Criticality Safety Certificate are Introduction to Nuclear Criticality Safety, Selected Topics in Nuclear Criticality Safety, Monte Carlo Analysis, and one of the following three elective courses: Reactor Theory I, Reactor Theory and Design, or Reactor Shielding. The four courses required for the Certificate in reliability and maintainability engineering are Introduction to Maintenance Engineering, Introduction to Reliability Engineering, and two elective courses selected from the following list: Advanced Monitoring and Diagnostics, Process System Reliability and Safety, Mechanical Vibrations, Reliability Centered Maintenance, and Statistical Methods in Industrial Engineering. The Maintenance and Reliability Certificate program is actually a college-wide program, which currently includes elective courses in mechanical engineering and industrial engineering as well as nuclear engineering. Any of the courses in the two Certificate programs may also be used to satisfy MS degree requirements.

Admission requirements are the same for all three graduate programs; namely, a BS in any engineering discipline, physics, chemistry, or mathematics from an accredited institution with at least a 3.0/4.0 GPA. In addition, all entering nuclear engineering students must have, as a minimum, competency in mathematics through ordinary differential equations and competency consistent with an introductory course in nuclear engineering. If these competencies do not exist, the student must take appropriate courses to develop the competencies prior to beginning the graduate program. The recommended course of study for each individual student is determined by an advising conference with the student and depends on the student's professional interests, academic background, and work experience. The cost for either of the three programs is the standard fee schedule for the Graduate School at the University of Tennessee and is described in detail in the current Graduate Catalog, which is available online at

Finally, students who successfully complete any of the three programs will gain state-of-the-art knowledge in their chosen field, be better qualified to work as professionals, and increase their value to their current employer and to perspective new employers. More importantly, students will have the personal satisfaction and enjoyment of learning new concepts and developing new skills in an exciting field of national and international importance.