Nuclear, Plasma & Radiological Engineering, PhD

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Nuclear, Plasma & Radiological Engineering

department head: Rizwan Uddin

overview of admissions & requirements:

overview of grad college admissions & requirements:

department website:

program website:

department faculty:

college website:

contact: Becky Meline

address: 216 Talbot Laboratory, 104 S Wright St, Urbana, IL 61801

phone: (217) 333-3598


Opportunity exists for specializing in computational science and engineering via the Computational Science & Engineering optional graduate concentration.

Admission Requirements

Application for admissions to the master's and doctoral degree programs is open to all graduates in engineering, mathematics, and the physical sciences with a grade point average of at least 3.00 (A = 4.00) for the last two years of undergraduate work and any graduate work completed. Prerequisites for admission include a course in ordinary differential equations plus one other mathematics course beyond calculus; an intermediate course in atomic and nuclear physics or interaction of radiation with matter; a course in electrical circuit theory; a course in thermodynamics; a course in fluid mechanics or continuum mechanics; and a course introducing nuclear engineering. A student may be admitted before completion of these prerequisites, but he or she must allow additional time to make up for these deficiencies; courses taken to make up such deficiencies will not count toward the number of units required for the graduate degree. Transcripts and letters of recommendation are required. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required. Information such as undergraduate class rank is recommended.

For full consideration of fall admission with financial aid, application receipt deadline is January 1st. Students who wish to enter in the spring term should contact the Department before applying.

All applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit TOEFL or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores as evidence of English proficiency. Minimum admission requirements are set by the Graduate College.

Financial Aid

Most graduate students receive some form of financial aid. Fellowships are available to support the best applicants. Other students are supported as graduate research, teaching, or general assistants. Starting in Fall 2020, Grainger Engineering PhD students in their first five years of enrollment who meet the minimum eligibility requirements are guaranteed a funded appointment for fall and spring that includes a full tuition waiver, a partial fee waiver, and a stipend. Financial aid includes federally sponsored traineeships and fellowships and University and industry fellowships. The University is approved for several fellowships including those from the Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the National Science Foundation, and Hertz.

All applicants, regardless of US citizenship, whose native language is not English and who wish to be considered for teaching assistantships must demonstrate spoken English language proficiency by achieving a minimum score of 24 on the speaking subsection of the TOEFL iBT or 8 on the speaking subsection of the IELTS. For students who are unable to take the iBT or IELTS, a minimum score of 4CP is required on the EPI test, offered on campus. All new teaching assistants are required to participate in the Graduate Academy for College Teaching conducted prior to the start of the semester.

Department Research

The Faculty of the Department are internationally recognized experts in the areas of: nuclear science and engineering, radiation processes and transport, materials science, thermal sciences, systems engineering, energy conversion processes and systems, plasma sciences and processing, fusion energy, radiation-based medical imaging and therapy, dosimetry and radiation protection, radiation detection analysis, reliability and risk analysis, energy systems, and international security. Graduate students in the Department are active participants and contributors to these areas of education and research and typically pursue careers in one of these areas. Graduate students in the Department are also encouraged to take part in course work and research activities in other engineering and science departments to complement their professional development in the nuclear engineering field. Faculty in other related fields are available to supervise research for students through formal "affiliate faculty" appointments.  For a detailed list of current research interests of the faculty, visit the department's Research web site.

A wide range of major research resources are available for nuclear engineering research. These are described at the department's Research Facilities website.

Other Graduate Programs in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma & Radiological Engineering


Nuclear, Plasma, & Radiological Engineering, MS

optional concentrations:

Computational Science & Engineering


Energy Systems

available for:

Engineering, MENG

Plasma Engineering

available for:

Engineering, MENG

The Department of Nuclear, Plasma & Radiological Engineering (NPRE) offers programs leading to degrees of Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Nuclear, Plasma & Radiological Engineering, as well as Master of Engineering in Engineering with a Concentration in Energy Systems or a Concentration in Plasma Engineering. The Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs are centered around three theme areas:

  • nuclear power engineering
  • fusion and plasma science and engineering
  • radiological engineering and medical physics

Advanced course work and active research programs are offered in all of these areas.

Opportunity also exists for specializing in energy and sustainability engineering via the

Energy and Sustainability Engineering (EaSE) Graduate Certificate Option

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Nuclear, Plasma & Radiological Engineering

Course requirements for the Ph.D. degree include at least 24 graduate hours of course credit beyond that required for the M.S. degree. In addition, 40 graduate hours of doctoral thesis credit are required and typically take two or more additional years to complete. Students desiring to work toward the Ph.D. degree must pass the departmental qualifying examination to be admitted to doctoral study. The doctoral candidate must complete course work, pass a preliminary doctoral examination, write a doctoral thesis, and successfully defend the thesis at a final examination before a doctoral faculty committee. A doctoral student typically takes several courses in nuclear engineering plus additional courses that support a specialized research area and provide background in mathematics and science. Under exceptional circumstances and by approved petition, doctoral research may be undertaken off campus.

For additional details and requirements refer to the department’s printed handbook and the Graduate College Handbook.  Learn more on the Qualifying Exam.


NPRE 599Thesis Research (min-max applied toward degree)40
NPRE 501
NPRE 521
Fundamentals of Nuclear Engrg
and Interact of Radiation w/Matter (if not taken while completing the M.S. degree)
NPRE 596Seminar in Nuclear Sci & Engrg (registration for 1 hour every semester while in residence; credit does not apply toward the degree. )0
Elective Courses (subject to Other Requirements and Conditions below)16
8 hours of 500-level courses
4-8 hours of NPRE graduate level courses, not counting 402, 446, 501, 521, 596, or 599
Total Hours64

Other Requirements and Conditions

Other Requirements and Conditions may overlap
Consult department for details of minimum hours required within the unit.
Credit in NPRE 402 or NPRE 446 does not count toward the degree.
A Master's degree or equivalent is required for admission to the Ph.D. program.
Ph.D. exam and dissertation requirements:
Qualifying exam:
Preliminary exam
Final exam or dissertation defense
Dissertation deposit
Minimum GPA: 2.75