Nuclear Engineering Program

Qualifying Examination Policy


Effective November 8th, 2017


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 must take the Qualifying Examination within two years of his/her joining the PhD program. A PhD student who has a MS degree in nuclear engineering must take the first Qualifying Exam since joining the PhD program. Each student will be allowed a total of 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. Each student should take all three sections in the first attempt. Any section not taken in the first attempt will be treated as a failure of that section, leaving the student with only one more opportunity to pass that section.


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 5257)

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 any sections of the Qualifying Exam in their first attempt will be required to take Qualifying Exam on the same section in the immediate following semester. Students who have not passed a section of the Qualifying Examination after a total of two attempts will be required to leave the program.