Doctor of Philosophy with a major in Nuclear Engineering Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy with a major in Nuclear Engineering Sciences

Course Requirements
Research Advisor and Supervisory Committee
Qualifying Exam
Professional Development Requirement
Thesis Defense
Summary of the graduate degree requirements


Contact Information

NE Program Director

Andreas Enqvist, Ph.D.
100A Rhines Hall
(352) 294-2177

NE Graduate Coordinator

Justin Watson, Ph.D.
178 Rhines Hall
(352) 273-0241

Ph.D. Degree Program and Requirements

Individual Development Plan (IDP) for Graduate Students 

The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a requirement of the Ph.D. program and it is meant to help guide the Ph.D. graduate student through the entire process of their academic learning experience. The IDP helps to ensure the guidance needed to complete the Ph.D. process including interaction with their graduate committee. The IDP can be found on the Canvas site for all Ph.D. students. There are several action items that need to be completed. They are listed on the syllabus page on Canvas. The items include the following: 

  • Discuss your self-assessment summary and existing goals with your faculty advisor. Using the Action Plan Template, develop an action plan based on this conversation, to address your target goals, skills, and competencies for the next 12 months. Write this plan together, with the aim of updating and revising it as you make academic and personal progress during your graduate career. 
  • Discuss your self-assessment summary and existing goals with your faculty advisor. Using the Mentoring Plan Template, develop a mentoring plan to prepare for meetings with your Lead Mentor/Graduate Coordinator, Thesis Committee Group, Thesis Committee One-on-one, and Collaborators. Upload your completed mentoring plan to this assignment. 
  • Complete the Self-Assessment Survey and upload your final copy to this assignment. This self-assessment survey allows you to evaluate your current strengths and weaknesses. Please check the boxes according to your ability (1 being low; 3 being high). Use these scores to guide your discussions with your advisor. You may identify targeted goals for this year by using the Goal checkboxes in the relevant skill categories. You may leave the Goals column and Priority column blank if the skill is not one of your goals. You should bring a copy of the completed survey to your advising appointment. 

As you implement your IDP, remember to adjust your plans as your circumstances change. It is expected that you regularly meet with your faculty advisor to discuss your progress and achievements. Be sure to verify that your annual meetings with your faculty advisor and committee members have been scheduled and that previous meetings have been noted on your student record in GIMS.

Course Requirements

The MSE Department offers a Ph.D. degree, which requires 90 credits of course work.

  • 21 of the 90 credit hours must be graded (A-E) lecture or lab courses with numbers 5000+ with any engineering, science, math, or statistics prefix excluding ENU 6936 Special Projects in Nuclear and Radiological Engineering Sciences.
  • 15 of the 21 credit hours must be graded (A-E) lecture or lab courses with numbers 5000+ with the nuclear engineering (ENU) prefix.
  • The remainder of the credits may be graded courses, courses used to fulfill the Professional Development Requirement research credits, including ENU 7979 (Advanced Research) and ENU 7980 (Doctoral Research). ENU 7979 is to be taken prior to achieving candidacy and ENU 7980 after. Passing the oral qualifying examination (dissertation proposal) marks the achievement of candidacy.

Students must complete the following course in a semester prior to that in which they defend their dissertation:

  • ENU 6935 (Nuclear and Radiological Engineering Seminar) – 1 credit

Finally, students must satisfy the Professional Development requirement (section 3.3.4).

Research Advisor and Supervisory Committee

Each Ph.D. student has a supervisory committee whose members guide and supervise the student’s research program. This committee is solely responsible for setting specific degree requirements, conducting and reporting on oral examinations, and approving the student’s doctoral dissertation. The student should meet at least annually with their supervisory committee to discuss their progress towards the Ph.D. degree.

The student’s supervisory committee is usually chaired by his/her research advisor, who must be a Graduate Faculty in Nuclear Engineering Sciences. Students must affiliate with a research advisor within the first semester. The other three members of the supervisory committee are selected by the student and the advisor and typically complement the student’s research interests. One committee member must be from outside the Graduate Faculty of Nuclear Engineering Sciences.

The qualifying and comprehensive oral examinations and the oral defense of a thesis, project or dissertation may be conducted using video and/or other appropriate forms of telecommunication. The candidate and the supervisory committee chair or cochair must be physically present together at the same location. With approval of the entire committee, other members may attend the defense remotely, using modern communication technology.

Students need to create their Supervisory Committee no later than the end of their second semester of study or after 12 credit hours in order to be able to register for a third semester. Use the Appointment of Supervisory Committee form to complete this step. Changes in membership of the supervisory committee can be made by submitting a Committee Change Request form to the ASO office. 

Qualifying Exam

The qualifying exam consists of both a written and an oral part.


The written qualifying requirement is comprised of successful completion of course work; students must select 4 courses from the list of approved graduate courses, declare them as selected core courses prior to completion of the third course and before registering for the fourth, and complete them by the end of their second year in the program. The student must earn a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher and no course grade less than B in the 4 Nuclear Engineering Core Graduate courses (1 attempt per course) to fulfill this requirement.

If, following completion of all four courses, a student has a GPA below 3.3 and/or exactly one course lower than a B, the student may select a fifth course (prior to the end of drop/add in the semester in which the fifth course is taken), with the student’s grade in that course replacing one of the original four.

Additionally, students must have completed the written qualifying requirement before the oral qualifying exam is held.

In their first semester of UF enrollment, students who transfer into the graduate program should talk to their advisor and graduate program coordinator regarding their academic record for completion of this requirement.

The approved graduate course list consists of any graded (A-E) ENU lecture or lab course of three credits or more with numbers 5000+ excluding ENU 6937 Introduction to Nuclear Engineering.


Students must make the first attempt at the oral component of the exam no later than the last semester of their second year (semesters include fall, spring, and summer), i.e. students admitted during Fall 2020 must make the first attempt no later than Summer 2022. During the oral qualifying exam, the student will present the proposed dissertation research including (1) a review of the relevant research literature and (2) progress made and future plans for completing the proposed dissertation research. In conjunction with the oral exam, the student should prepare a document serving as the dissertation research proposal and distribute to the supervisory committee at five days prior to the oral exam.

The student’s advisor must approve the student attempting the exam. The student’s supervisory committee will administer the oral exam.

The student’s advisor must approve the proposal format. Additionally, students are required to submit the Admission to Candidacy Form a minimum of five business days before the exam. The supervisory committee will evaluate the student’s proficiency in the proposed research area and the potential to complete the proposed research project successfully. The committee may recommend changes to the project scope, require additional course work, or make recommendations for techniques or collaborations that may expedite the research effort. The supervisory committee will deliver a Pass or Fail evaluation at the end of the oral exam.

A student who does not pass the oral qualifying exam on the first attempt will be allowed a second attempt. The second attempt must be taken during the semester following the first attempt. A student who does not pass after the second attempt will not be allowed to continue in the Ph.D. program. In very limited and unusual circumstances students may request to delay the first or second attempt or may be allowed to attempt the oral qualifying exam a third time.

Requests in extenuating circumstances must be made through the Graduate Program Coordinator to the Graduate Petition committee. Students should make every effort to follow the required schedule as exceptions to this rule are extremely rare.

The Qualifying Exam is graded pass/fail separately for the writing and oral components. An overall passing grade requires passing both the writing and oral component. All work for the doctorate must be completed within 5 calendar years after the qualifying examination, or this examination must be repeated.

Professional Development Requirement

In addition to completion of their dissertation research, core courses, and credit hour requirements, students who entered the Ph.D. program in Fall 2017 or later are required to complete Professional Development activities equivalent to 6 credits (approximately 300 hours). For all students, 1 of the 6 credits must be Presentations and Pedagogy for Nuclear Engineering Sciences (official course number to be assigned, referred to herein as ENU 694y). This course is offered in Spring and must be taken in the student’s first or second (usually first) spring in the Ph.D. program.

Supervised Teaching Options
Most students will complete the remaining 5 credits through assisting faculty with the teaching of nuclear engineering courses. The following options may be available to reach the minimum of 5 credits.

  • 2 credits of ENU 6940, Supervised Teaching, may be earned by students acting as a Teaching Assistant for a lecture-based ENU course. Duties expected of lecture course TAs will include holding office hours and/or teaching selected lectures, at the discretion of the faculty member in charge of the course, as well as grading of coursework.
  • 3 credits of ENU 6940, Supervised Teaching, may be earned by students acting as a Teaching Assistant for a laboratory ENU course. Duties expected of lab course TAs will primarily involve supervision of laboratory sections. Assigned duties may also include holding office hours and/or teaching selected lectures, at the discretion of the faculty member in charge of the course, as well as grading of coursework.

Only one of these options may be available in any given semester. In particular, assignment to laboratory vs. lecture-based courses will be based on the qualifications of the student (including undergraduate degree, UF coursework, and research performance/specialization), program needs, as well as the preference of the student. Some students may be assigned as a lab TA twice or as a lecture TA thrice, for a total of 6 credits. In this case, all 7 credits (6 from ENU 6940 and 1 from ENU 694y) will count towards their degree. (Students who are assigned as a lecture TA twice are encouraged to consider Student-Arranged Activities, as described below, in lieu of a third semester of lecture TA duty.) Some Ph.D. students are interested in pursuing careers in engineering education, through faculty positions or other means. Students interested in this path may complete, in addition to one semester of either option above:

  • 4 credits of ENU 694x, Advanced Pedagogy in Nuclear Engineering Sciences, which may be earned by students acting as a co-instructor for a lecture-based ENU course. Duties expected of a co-instructor are to hold the majority of lectures, to hold regular office hours, and to develop the majority of coursework (exams, projects, and homework) in collaboration with a faculty member who has previously taught the course.

Before selecting this option, students should consider their workload for the targeted semester, gain the approval of their advisor, and evaluate their own maturity relative to that expected of an instructor at the university level. Interested students are required to apply for this assignment; applications will be reviewed in light of the student’s qualifications and the needs of the program. Students must have completed their written qualifying requirement prior to the semester in which they take ENU 694x. With rare exceptions, students must have completed their oral qualifying requirement prior to the semester in which they take ENU 694x and may not be enrolled in any lecture-based or laboratory courses in the semester in which they take ENU 694x.

For students who complete ENU 694x, all 7-8 credits (2-3 from ENU 6940, 4 from ENU 694x, and 1 from ENU 694y) will count towards their degree.

Student-Arranged Activities
Students who are not interested in teaching or who are legally prevented from teaching due to their source of funding (e.g.; some fellowships) may request a waiver of up to 5 credits of the professional development coursework requirement (ENU 6940 and ENU 694x) on the basis of completing other professional development activities. Waivers are not automatically granted on the basis of funding status alone. The onus to arrange these activities is on the student, not the program or the student’s advisor.

Examples of such activities include:

  • Completion of internships at national laboratories or in industry. Typically, a full-time summer internship will be taken as the equivalent of up to two credits, with a full-time, fall or spring semester internship as the equivalent of up to three credits. In general, completion of 2 summer internships will not, alone, be sufficient to meet the five required credits. However, students who have fellowships that require two such internships/practica and which forbid the student from teaching should petition to have the final credit waived.
  • Regional, national, or international leadership positions in professional societies or conferences, such as ANS Student Director. As a guideline, one credit of waiver will be offered per 50 hours of student effort. Waivers are not available for leadership positions within UF.
  • Completion of UF coursework relevant to professional development. Such courses could include advanced technical writing or oral presentations courses (particularly for students whose first language is not English), foreign language study, and/or completion of the FIDEF (Florida Institute for Development of Engineering Faculty) courses. Students should be aware that the number of credits of the professional development requirement waived will be at the discretion of the program and, particularly for foreign language study, may be fewer than the number of course credits.

Waivers for other professional development activities, including those completed prior to enrollment in the Ph.D. program, may be requested, such as time spent in industry, national laboratories or other research, military service, or teaching. Approval for all professional development activities other than supervised teaching is at the discretion of the NE Program Director, in consultation with the NE Graduate Coordinator, the student’s advisor, and the NE faculty. Approval will be based primarily on the professional development needs of the student but may also consider the NE program’s need for Teaching Assistants.

Thesis Defense

The final Thesis Defense examination for the Ph.D. degree is in the form of a public defense with open questioning followed by a closed session with private questioning by members of the supervisory committee. At the time of the Thesis Defense, the written dissertation must be completed in all respects and editorially acceptable for final approval, though it may be modified as a result of the exam. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all requirements of the Nuclear Engineering program and the Graduate School have been successfully completed in order to be awarded a Ph.D. degree.

The Thesis Defense must be announced online at least one business day prior to the defense. Fill out the Oral Examination Announcement (M.S.-Thesis or Ph.D.) form to complete this step. If you have any internal substitutes (maximum of two), then indicate the substitution on the form. The entire Supervisory Committee must attend and examine the student. Two internal MSE members may be substituted if necessary, excluding the chair, cochair and external member. Final examination forms must be returned within five business days of the defense or ASO will process as a failed examination.

The student must submit the completed Electronic Thesis or Dissertation (ETD) signature page to ASO no later than three business days prior to the Graduate School Editorial Office’s deadline. If the ETD signature page is not completed at the final examination, then the student will be given the ETD page for completion. The defense should be no more than six months before the Ph.D. degree is awarded.

The successful completion of the Final Examination must be updated into GIMS by the deadline defined by the UF Graduate School, which is posted on the UF Academic Calendar for each semester. Note that this deadline is typically several weeks prior to the end of classes for that semester. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that their Final Examination Report is submitted to their Supervisory Chair with sufficient lead-time to permit review, feedback, modification, assignment of final grade, submission of Final Examination Report Form and uploading of this form by the GAO.

If the student receives a U grade in the Final Examination, the student must retake the exam in the next semester. The Final Examination may be retaken only once. If a second U grade is awarded, the student will be released from the program.

Summary of the graduate degree requirements

SCH (Semester Credits Hours) Requirements
Master (Thesis)
Master (Non-thesis)
Doctor of Philosophy
Total SCH
NE Core Requirements
Graded 5000+ Credits
ENU Graded 5000+ Credits
Professional Development
Research/Special Project
Supervisory committee members (minimum number)
Qualifying Exam
Final Exam
Oral Defense and Written Thesis
Oral Defense and Written Thesis
Time limit for completing degree
7 Years
7 Years
5 Years