Doctoral (Ph.D.) Program

Doctoral (Ph.D.) Program

In order to receive the Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering, all students must successfully complete the following three milestones:

  • Required coursework: major and minor requirements
  • Departmental Exams: first year screening exams and the oral qualifying exam
  • Dissertation


Major Field Requirement

The major field is always defined as “Nuclear Engineering”, not the student’s specific research area.  All six courses required for this field must be NE courses in the department.  Occasionally students may petition to include courses taught by NE faculty in other departments.

Major Field Requirements
●     6 NE courses, of which 4 must be graduate level (200) NE courses taken at UCB.

●      Major courses must be taken for a letter grade.

●      A minimum 3.0 GPA is required for all major courses.

Minor Requirements (two minors required)

In addition to a major field, each student must select two minor fields that serve to broaden the base of the studies and lend support to the major field. Each minor program field should have an orientation different from the major program.  Typically, at least one minor field consists of regular courses taken outside the department (i.e., no 298 or 299 independent studies or non-graded courses).  Each field must contain at least 6 units of course credit.

Outside Minor Requirements
●     Should be in a distinct technical area and named (e.g., “Numeric Analysis”, “Heat Transfer”, “Plasma Physics”).

●     3 upper division courses; or one graduate level course, and 1 upper division

●     Consist primarily of courses from outside of the department.

●     All outside minor courses must be taken for a letter grade.

●     6 unit minimum.

●     Minimum 3.0 GPA required.

Second Minor Requirements
●     Can be in Nuclear Engineering.

●     2 courses, one of which must be a graduate level course.

●     Minor courses must be taken for a letter grade.

●     6 unit minimum.

●     Minimum 3.0 GPA required

Department Exams

Screening Exam

During the first year in graduate study, students must pass the screening exams, consisting of four written exams in four different subject areas. Choose four subjects from the following eight subject areas: (1) radiation detection, (2) heat transfer and fluid mechanics, (3) nuclear physics,(4) neutronics, (5) fusion theory, (6) nuclear materials, (7) radioactive waste management, and (8) Radio Biophysics. All graduate students, whether MS or PhD students, must pass four screening exams during the first year of study if they wish to be admitted to, or continue into the PhD program.

Qualifying Exam (QE)

After completing the required coursework for the PhD the student takes the oral Qualifying Exam (QE).  Students must apply to the Graduate Division to take the QE no later than three weeks before the exam date, and they they are required to list at least three subject areas to be covered during the examination, as well as the members of their QE exam committee.

Advancement to PhD candidacy 

After passing the QE, the student submits an application for advancement to PhD candidacy to the Graduate Division.  The application should be submitted no later than the end of the semester following the one in which the student passed the QE.

Non-resident students who have been advanced to PhD candidacy are eligible for a waiver of the non-resident tuition fee for a maximum calendar period of three years.

Candidacy for the doctorate is only valid for a limited time.  The Graduate Division informs the student of the number of semesters they are eligible to be a PhD candidate. Students who do not complete the dissertation within that time, plus a two-year grace period, will have their candidacy lapsed.

In order to receive a degree in any given term, all work for the degree must be completed by the last day of the term.  Students must meet the Graduate Division eligibility requirements to file a dissertation.


A dissertation on a subject chosen by the candidate, bearing on the principal subject of the student's major study and demonstrating the candidate's ability to carry out independent investigation, must be completed and receive the approval of the dissertation committee and the dean of the Graduate Division.   Students should consult "Dissertation Writing and Filing" on the Graduate Division's website.

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