Master's Degree Guidelines

A complete description on the guidelines can be seen in

Integrated BSME/MSE Program

The integrated degree program results in simultaneously awarding a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) and a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) degree. The objective of the Integrated BSME/MSE Program is to enable prepared undergraduates in Mechanical Engineering to earn two degrees in a shortened time period. By applying AP and Credit by Exam courses, having students take recommended summer courses, and allowing seniors to enroll in graduate-level engineering courses reserved for graduate credit, the program enables graduates to complete both degree requirements in five years. This program is only open to Mechanical Engineering students -

Doctoral Program Guidelines

A complete description on the guidelines can be seen in

Ph.D. Qualifying Exam

The Nuclear and Radiation Engineering Ph.D. Qualifying Exam format will consist of three separate exams from a list of five available topics: Reactor Theory, Health Physics, Radiation Detection, Radiation Interactions, and Robotics.  There will be a written and oral component for each of the three exams that a student elects to take.

Written exams will be conducted in one day with two-hour time blocks for each exam. Exams may be taken at the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab or remotely (remote exams require advance coordination with a proctor). No notes, books, or electronic devices other than calculators are allowed to be used in the written exam.  Written exams will be conducted prior to the oral exams and the results of the written exam will indicate whether an oral exam is required (see table below).

If required, oral exams will be scheduled for one hour.  Two to five examiners will constitute each oral exam committee.  Students are expected to demonstrate knowledge of the topic.  The subject matter will be determined by the committee and will generally correlate to student’s performance on written exams.  Oral exams are to be scheduled two to seven days after the written exam.

A general guide to the exam content is provided below.

Topic I - Reactor Theory

The Reactor Theory exam is primarily based on material taught in Reactor Theory, and material from Advanced Nuclear Engineering, Introduction to Nuclear Power Systems, Reactor Engineering, Design of Nuclear Systems, Nuclear Fuel Cycles, and Computational Methods in Radiation Transport may also be valuable to students preparing to take this exam. Topics include:

  • Neutron Spatial Distributions
  • Neutron Energy Distributions
  • Nuclear Kinetics
  • Nuclear Reactor Design

Topic II - Health Physics

The Health Physics exam is primarily based on material taught in Nuclear Environmental Protection. Topics include:

  • Dose
  • Exposure
  • Biological Effects

Topic III – Radiation Interactions

The Radiation Physics exam is primarily based on material taught in Radiation Shielding, material from Concepts in Nuclear and Radiation Engineering may also be valuable to students preparing for this exam. Topics include:

  • Nuclear Physics
  • Neutron Interactions
  • Photon Interactions
  • Charged Particle Interactions

Topic IV – Radiation Detection

The Radiation Detection exam is primarily based on material taught in Health Physics Laboratory. Material from Concepts in Nuclear and Radiation Engineering, Neutron Activation Analysis, Gamma Spectroscopy, Radiochemistry, Nuclear Analytical Techniques may also be valuable to students preparing for this exam. Topics include:

  • Ion Chamber, Proportional Counters, and GM’s
  • HPGe and semiconductor gamma and x-ray detectors
  • NaI and scintillation gamma and x-ray detectors
  • Fission chamber, He-3, and BF3 neutron detectors
  • Liquid scintillation counters for alpha and beta detection
  • Compensated and uncompensated ion chambers

Topic V – Robotics (intended for nuclear robotics students)

Typically, the graduate students typically take a combination of nuclear (1-2) and robotics related material (1-2). The robotics exam is primarily based on Mechanical Engineering material taught in Gateway to Robotics, Automatic Control and System Design (or ECE Automation Control) and Algorithms in Sensor-Based Robotics. Topics include:

  • kinematics, dynamics of serial chain manipulators,
  • fundamentals of mobile platforms
  • foundational control related to \robotics systems and actuators

Each written exam will be graded on a scale of 0 to 100.  The outcome for each written exam will be as follows:

Written Exam Grade



Fail – no oral exam offered


Oral exam required


Pass - oral exam not required

The Oral Exam Committee will assign a grade of Pass, Conditional Pass, or Fail for each topic tested at the end of the Oral Exam. Students must achieve a Pass in the three exam topics they choose in order to continue toward PhD candidacy.


A Pass requires no further action.

Conditional Pass

A Conditional Pass will require the student to perform additional tasks on the topic(s) assigned by the Committee. The tasks are intended to remedy a perceived deficiency in one or more subject matter topics and may include course work, independent study, lectures, or presentations, and/or teaching assistant duties.  Faculty and student shall agree upon a schedule for their execution; a full Pass is awarded once the supervising faculty member judges that they are successfully completed.

If the conditions for converting a Conditional Pass to a full Pass are not met within the predetermined schedule, the faculty reserve the right to convert the Qualifying Exam grade to a Fail.  The faculty may adjust the above if a consensus is reached, and the student is notified with adequate preparation time.


A Fail on a student’s first attempt at an exam requires the student to retake that exam in a future Qualifying Exam offering. A Fail on the second attempt will disqualify the student from continuing for a PhD.

Additional Information

Students who are conducting inter-disciplinary research may choose to mix qualifying exams from other Academic Areas or Departments with the Nuclear and Radiation Engineering Qualifying Exam.  Prior approval by the student’s academic advisor and qualifying exam committees of both Academic Areas or Departments are necessary for such situations.

Academic dishonesty is not tolerated on the Qualifying Exam.  The likely outcome will be expulsion from The University of Texas at Austin.

Accommodations will be made for students with disabilities.  However, the student must document their needs with the UT Austin Division of Diversity and Community Engagement’s Disability Access program and notify the Qualifying Exam Committee a minimum of 30 days prior to the scheduled oral exam date.  This notification comes in the form of an email from the Disability Access office.

Graduate students are expected to take the Qualifying Exam within the first two years of the start his/her academic courses. In the event of a total failure or partial fail, the Qualifying Exam must be taken again no later than two semesters (fall and spring).