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Can I get a master's in nuclear engineering without doing nuclear engineering?

  1. Dec 7, 2011 #1

    Next year I am enrolled in an engineering course in my country, Australia. I want to be able to do nuclear engineering in future, but it is not offered here. What is offered however is mechanical engineering (among others of course).

    My issue is that I don't want to go abroad for a 4 year period, as I would be spending at least $120,000 at absolute minimum. I only recently became interested in nuclear engineering and while this does seem fine with me, for a career I want to take, I want more time to think about it, and think about engineering as a whole before I blow all of it.

    Would it be possible, for example, to complete a mechanical engineering degree, and then go to graduate school in the U.S to do a masters in nuclear engineering? Am I qualified to take a course in this since I won't do nuclear engineering beforehand? Also, if this is possible, will it limit me in any way?

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 7, 2011 #2
    The cool thing with Australian and American universities is you get more freedom with your course choices. So, if you're enrolled in a Mechanical Engineering program, you can still take courses from the Physics department; more specifically, any course pertinent to nuclear physics, which should probably be available, even if there isn't a nuke engineering program offered.

    Check with the universities you've applied to (or the one you're going to - when do AUS unis give offers anyway?) if that's doable.
  4. Dec 7, 2011 #3
    I went from a physics undergrad to a nuclear masters program, so it's certainly possible.
  5. Dec 7, 2011 #4

    I applied a few months ago, and we get offered next week. I think I'm pretty certain that I will get into UQ, unless they substantially raise their intake level.

    I know they have physics, and as you said, I've heard that you can take pretty much any electives you want, however I don't believe they subjects involving nuclear.
  6. Dec 8, 2011 #5
    UQ have a fairly detailed courselist available on their website. So, look into that. You could also e-mail them and ask what courses they have to offer in the way of nuclear engineering?
  7. Dec 8, 2011 #6


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    I don't see why not.

    If you can, I'd encourage you to try to take as much physics as you can. Nuclear courses are generally in the later years (I did mine in my third year) so getting the prerequisites might be problematic, unless you do double physics and engineering majors.

    However! You can do some nuclear physics in Australia - the ANU has summer scholarships available (basically, you spend the summer doing research) for all Australians + NZ'ers and they have a really good nuclear department (I have some bias here). I know of at least one engineer who has done summer research in nuclear engineering.

    Also! ANSTO offers undergraduate internships! You could do something there as well.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2011
  8. Dec 8, 2011 #7
    That sounds pretty good. Is this an alternative to getting a masters to get into nuclear engineering? Or is this, to cover the prerequisites for the masters course?

    EDIT: I'll keep an eye on that, as they offers nanotechnology summer scholarships also, that's what I would do if I decided against nuclear.
  9. Dec 8, 2011 #8


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    You'll still need to get a masters in nuclear engineering.

    But it's good experience, you'll learn heaps, and having done undergrad research always looks good on your CV/applications.

    Also, ANU & ANSTO summer research pays reasonably well.

    EDIT in reply to your edit: They offer summer scholarships in *everything*. Well, everything they do.
  10. Dec 8, 2011 #9
    I'll probably have to wait until I get into uni first, and ask a counselor of something about the direction in regards to subjects. I was under the impression that some of the master in nuclear engineering degrees only required an engineering degree.

    Also, e.bar.goum, did your friend study engineering in Australia and still manage to get a nuclear engineering degree?
  11. Dec 8, 2011 #10


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    Yes, you only require an engineering degree, sorry to confuse. However, extra experience is always good, and grad school, especially in the US is competitive. And lets face it, research is fun. Internships generally happen in your second & third year, but since you're thinking about grad studies, I thought that wasn't too far in the future to consider.

    Well, the friend I mentioned is still doing undergrad, so I'm not sure what his plans are. Another friend did a double degree in Physics & Engineering (electrical, I think), and worked at ANSTO straight after graduation (actually, during his Honours year as well). Another friend got a scholarship to MIT and is doing nuclear engineering there.

    EDIT: Also, whilst talking to university counselors is a good idea, generally they only know specific information about their own university, rather than other options. I think it would be beneficial for you to talk to an Australian nuclear engineer - email someone at ANSTO! You'll find that on the whole, physicists and engineers really like to talk to undergrads/prospective students, so give it a go!
  12. Dec 8, 2011 #11
    Ok, I'll have a look, thanks again.
  13. Dec 8, 2011 #12
    at my uni, the nuclear program was a specialization that was taught by 3 different mechanical engineering professors. 99% of the students (occupy engineering) who took those courses were MechE or ChE, so get a degree in either one of those disciplines and you will be all good.
  14. Dec 8, 2011 #13
    Sweet as, I'm going the mechanical (dual with aero) path anyway, as it covers pretty much all the areas of interest to me.
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