Nuclear Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University

Graduate student prepares a depleted uranium salt ingot for a corrosion study sponsored by the DOE-NE. (Photo by Dan Wagner, VCU Engineering.)
Graduate student prepares a depleted uranium salt ingot for a corrosion study sponsored by the DOE-NE. (Photo by Dan Wagner, VCU Engineering)

Nuclear engineering at the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Engineering is a landmark program for the state, region and nation.

VCU Engineering faculty are making robust research contributions in areas including reactor design, advanced materials, fuel cycle technology, nuclear security and nonproliferation. We have strong relationships with academia, industry and nuclear engineering advocacy organizations. Therefore, nuclear engineering research at VCU has a significant impact on the national and global engineering community.

Our commitment to meaningful student research opportunities means that undergraduate and graduate students work alongside faculty as they develop breakthrough technologies with applications for clean energy, nuclear safety and more.

We are located in a vibrant capital city that is home to 39 companies that made the 2021 Fortune 1000 list. This means that some of the nation’s biggest companies look to us for new research collaborations — and new talent. 

What else do you need to know about nuclear engineering at VCU?     

  • VCU offers the nation's only combined doctorate in mechanical and nuclear engineering.
  • VCU is Virginia’s only program to offer undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering.
  • VCU's location is at the hub of the heaviest concentration of nuclear engineering enterprises in the nation.
  • VCU Engineering’s founding professor of nuclear engineering was recently appointed director general of the World Nuclear Association, based in London, England. 
  • VCU is a key source of new talent for the region's many nuclear engineering enterprises.

Research Specialties

VCU Engineering’s internationally recognized nuclear specialists are leaders in their fields. Our researchers focus on cutting-edge investigations in the following areas:

  • Plasma physics for space exploration
  • Nano-radioisotopes for medical applications
  • Neutron transports
  • Thermal fluid science and molten salt chemistry for advanced reactors and nuclear fuel cycles
  • Nuclear safeguards for protecting our future supply of safe and clean energy


Research breakthroughs from VCU Engineering’s nuclear engineering program are centered in state-of-the-art labs. These include:

Our teaching facilities have the equipment and expertise needed to keep our students on the forefront of engineering education. These include:

Recent nuclear engineering honors for VCU:

  • Graduate program ranked number 22 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Online master’s program ranked number 5 in the nation by Best Value Schools.
  • 2021 Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Award
  • 2020 Lewis F. Moody Award

Our work is supported by major research grants from funders including:

  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • The National Science Foundation
  • The Defense Threat Reduction Agency
  • Industry, including Dominion Energy, Newport News Shipbuilding, Lightbridge and Framatome
  • U.S. National Laboratories