Nuclear Engineering Program

Qualifying Examination Policy


Effective August 1, 2015


a) To test prospective PhD students’ knowledge of fundamentals in key areas of Nuclear Engineering to evaluate their suitability for the PhD program

b) To test prospective PhD students’ ability to apply knowledge of mathematics and physics fundamentals in the solution of problems relevant to Nuclear Engineering

c) To ensure that PhD students entering the program maintain an acceptable level of competency


The Qualifying Examination is usually scheduled in the second week of both Spring and Fall semesters. Students entering the PhD program should take the Qualifying Examination by the end of the second semester of the PhD program. Each student will be allowed two (2) attempts to pass the Qualifying Exam. Only those sections of the exam which were not passed during the first attempt must be completed on the second attempt.


The Qualifying Examination will be administered by the Qualifying Examination Committee, consisting of three Nuclear Engineering faculty members appointed by the Program Chair.

  •  One member will be appointed chair of the Committee
  •  The committee chair may request input from faculty who are not members of the committee


The examination will consist of three written parts:

I. Reactor physics (NUC ENG 5203, NUC ENG 6203)

II. Fluid Mechanics, Heat Transfer, and Power Plant Systems (NUC ENG 6207)

III. Nuclear Materials, Radiation Measurements, and Fuel Cycle (NUC ENG 5207, NUC ENG 5241, NUC ENG 5312)

The examination is a closed-book examination. Any supplementary materials (charts, tables, etc.) needed for the examination will be approved and provided by the Committee.


The passing requirement for each Qualifying Examination will be determined by the Committee after the exam results have been tabulated. Typically a score of 70% or higher is considered passing, however lower thresholds may be determined by the Committee. This is to control for variations in exam difficulty from year to year. Students must successfully complete all sections of the Qualifying Exam; a grade of A in any course will not be considered a substitute for completion of the Qualifying Exam.

Students who do not pass all sections of the Qualifying Exam will, at the discretion of the Committee, either

a) be required to complete additional coursework in their weak area(s), or

b) fail.

Students who have not passed a section of the Qualifying Examination after two attempts will be required to leave the program.