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College Concerns: What Should I Expect?

  1. Jan 3, 2011 #1
    I am currently in the eleventh grade while attending a British Curriculum school. In a few weeks, we will have to decide on 3 to 5 subjects we would like to continue to study for grades twelve and thirteen. I am very interested in Quantum and Nuclear physics and would like to study them in college. However, I am not a fan of anything in the field of electrical engineering. My question is; is it possible to study Quantum and/or Nuclear physics without ever having to learn about electrical engineering in an American college? I can only handle it for a few more years! Also, any advice from people studying or working in these fields would be appreciated. *I understand that I am still young, and I am not closing out opportunities, merely focusing on the ones I consider most important.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2011 #2


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    Yes, they are separate fields. Physics majors don't need to ever take an EE class. However, electrical engineers might take some interest in quantum mechanics... but that's not your case. No worries.
  4. Jan 3, 2011 #3

    Although Quantum and Nuclear physicists are not required to take EE type courses I would highly recommend taking at least a basic course in electronics covered by your physics department. This is more important if you plan to pursue Nuclear because you might need to develop instrumentation, or talk to EE about instrumentation. I am currently pursuing a degree in Nuclear Physics and I have found my electronics class invaluable. I would recommend taking just the most basic class if not just for the terminology.

  5. Jan 3, 2011 #4


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    If you pursue an engineering major at an American university, you will most likely have to take a first level basic EE course. It's generally a good idea for an engineer to be well-rounded in the various fields, especially for a diverse field as nuclear which includes physics, mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and thermodynamic components.
  6. Jan 5, 2011 #5
    Thanks, all of your advice has really helped. Would it be possible to inform me of the top Nuclear Engineering courses in universities across America? Does anyone know what University of California: Berkeley's program is like?
  7. Jan 5, 2011 #6


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    It's damn good.
  8. Jan 5, 2011 #7
    University of Chicago in Illinois, and University of Colorado in Boulder are top notch. I would recommend getting in some graduate courses before applying to either of these schools because your GRE score has to be around 85 percentile to get into either. However, if you show that you can handle Nuclear Physics classes at the Masters level at whatever institution you are currently at, there is a good chance that they will accept you if you get scores lower than 85.

  9. Jan 5, 2011 #8

    Also both University of Chicago and University of Colorado do not have Nuclear Engineering programs.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  10. Jan 14, 2011 #9
    Urbana-Champaign does.
  11. Jan 21, 2011 #10
    The last list was given for graduate schools. Keep in mind that those rankings may or may not apply for the respective schools' undergraduate curriculum. There are other things to consider that are not purely academic. For instance, at Mass. Inst. of Tech., students in Nuclear Engineering (and other fields!) may become employed and trained as nuclear reactor operators starting their freshmen year while many other schools might shy away from training undergraduates.

    Rankings like at US News shouldn't be considered very accurate. While touring graduates schools, numerous times I was told that academically, there's not much of a difference between the top 10 to 20 schools. There are often, however, subtle differences in the experiences of each program (such as above) that put a school above or below another that are certainly not considered by those polls. With that said, I can guarantee you of the quality of the academics at the top three schools on that list with respect to their undergraduates but I have very little experience with the others. I'm sure they are of high quality as well.

    Good luck!
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