The nuclear engineering program at Virginia Tech is a multi-disciplinary program with activities in nuclear power, nuclear nonproliferation and security, radiation therapy and diagnostics, and nuclear policy. The program utilizes its main campus in Blacksburg, and satellite campuses at Virginia Tech Research Center at Arlington, VA, and Center for Advanced Engineering at Lynchburg, VA, for offering education, research and outreach activities.


In 1956, under the guidance of Professors T. Marshall Hahn (subsequently a President of the University) and Andrew Robeson, Virginia Tech was one of the first universities in the Nation to start a nuclear physics program, located in the Physics Department. In 1960, the program built a research reactor in the basement of the newly opened Robeson Hall. Later, the program was renamed and moved to the Mechanical Engineering department where nuclear engineering was offered as an option within the department. In 1985, the program was terminated and in 1990, the reactor was decommissioned.

In response to the growing demand from nuclear industry in Virginia nuclear, in August of 2007 Virginia Tech restarted its nuclear engineering program (NEP) within the Mechanical Engineering Department, and began again to offer undergraduate and graduate nuclear engineering courses. In July of 2013, the program was re- authorized by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to again offer MS and PhD degrees.

In addition to core nuclear engineering faculty, NEP draws on expertise and courses from the Mechanical in CFD and Materials Science and Engineering Departments in nuclear materials, and expertise from the Physics Department in neutrino physics and accelerated driven system, School Public and International Affairs (SPIA), and Department Science and Technology Studies in nuclear policy. It has initiated discussions with College of Veterinarian Medicine for its activities in radiation therapy and diagnostics.



Fellowships and Student Support

Interested or current Nuclear Engineering students are encouraged to consider the following funding opportunities.

Nuclear Forensics Graduate Fellowship Program (NFGFP)

This fellowship program encourages these students to seek advanced education in technical areas related to nuclear forensics and provides incentives for universities to invest in and further develop radiochemistry and other nuclear forensics-related academic programs. The NFGFP gives highly motivated students an exceptional opportunity to apply their knowledge to enhance U.S. national security. As a key component of the broader National Nuclear Forensics Expertise Development Program, the NFGFP enables fellows to gain unique, hands-on experience through laboratory practicums and close interaction with technical and policy experts throughout the nuclear forensics community.

Complete award documentation can be found here.

Rickover Fellowship Program in Nuclear Engineering (RFP)

This program is designed to meet the needs of the Naval Reactors Division of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for appropriately trained personnel for the maintenance and development of science and engineering technology as it pertains to naval nuclear propulsion. The program will assist in preparing students for roles in naval nuclear propulsion and will support the broader objective of advancing fission energy development through the research efforts of the fellows. The technical areas with greatest interest include reactor physics, nuclear materials science and engineering, radiation shielding technology, thermal hydraulics, and computational fluid dynamics. The principle emphasis is on students seeking Ph.D. degrees in nuclear engineering, or in closely related fields.

Complete award documentation can be found here.

Nuclear Nonproliferation International Safeguards Fellowship Program (NNIS)

This program is designed to meet the needs of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for appropriately trained personnel in research and development in areas pertinent to Nuclear Nonproliferation and International Safeguards (NNIS). Increasing costs for graduate education and a high demand for nuclear-related scientists and engineers with a bachelor’s degree have had a negative impact on the number of well-qualified students seeking advanced degrees in nuclear technologies and sciences. This problem has been particularly acute in programs in nuclear materials, engineering, nuclear science and engineering, radiochemistry and health physics, which has resulted in the closure of several programs and declining graduate school enrollments over the past two decades. This fellowship seeks to build collaboration between the leading nuclear technology programs and the schools studying the policy aspects of nuclear nonproliferation. The primary emphasis of this fellowship is to produce doctoral graduates who are familiar with both the technical and policy aspects of nonproliferation and international safeguards.

Complete award documentation can be found here.


Program Information

haghighatAlireza Haghighat, Professor
900 North Glebe Road
Arlington, VA, 22203
Tel: (571) 858-3333
Fax: (571) 858-3015

Graduate Admissions

Cathy Hill
Mechanical Engineering
105 Randolph Hall
Blacksburg, VA, 24061
Tel: (540) 231-7460
Fax: (540) 231-9100