ORISE reports uptick in nuclear engineering master’s degrees

March 2, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News

An increase in the number of master’s degrees awarded in the United States in 2019 pushed the total number of nuclear engineering degrees to its highest level since 2016, according to a study conducted by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) that surveyed 34 U.S. universities with nuclear engineering programs. The report, Nuclear Engineering Enrollments and Degrees Survey, 2019 Data, includes degrees granted between September 1, 2018, and August 31, 2019, as well as enrollments for fall 2019. It was released by ORISE in February.

Details: The 316 nuclear engineering master’s degrees awarded in 2019 represented a 21 percent increase over the 2018 total, and a 12 percent increase over the number awarded in 2017. The 194 doctoral degrees awarded in 2019 represented the second-highest level recorded since 1966.

According to the report, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded by nuclear engineering programs in 2019 was essentially the same as in 2018, but higher than levels reported in 2016 and 2017. The data follow a trend that began in 2012, with more than 600 bachelor’s degrees being awarded annually, significantly higher than the levels reported in the previous decade.

Texas A&M leads the pack: Texas A&M University awarded the largest number of nuclear engineering degrees in 2019, with 80 bachelor’s degrees, 16 master’s degrees, and 17 doctoral degrees, followed by the University of Tennessee, Oregon State University, and Penn State University.

Other stats: The study captured enrollment trends, including an increase in junior and senior undergraduate enrollments of about 3 percent in 2019 compared to 2018, and graduate enrollments in 2019 that were 5 percent lower than graduate enrollments reported in 2018.

ORISE also surveys graduating students about their employment status and plans. Of those students graduating with bachelor’s degrees in 2019, the largest number of responding graduates reported employment in the U.S. military (active duty), followed by employment at nuclear utilities. Among those who earned a master’s or doctoral degree in 2019, the largest number of responding graduates took jobs with Department of Energy contractors.


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