The Catholic University of America


Nuclear Environmental Protection


CUA’s MS Program in Nuclear Environmental Protection provides students with a solid foundation in nuclear technology with particular emphasis on the role of environmental protection.  

Nuclear energy plays a major role in electricity generation – contributing nearly 20% of total output in the US and nearly 80% in France. The US operates the largest number of commercial nuclear reactors but that total has remained unchanged for over three decades. However, energy sustainability and climate change concerns are driving a resurgence of interest in nuclear energy as a crucial player in the energy mix. As with any industry, along with the potential benefits comes the obligation for responsible environmental stewardship. How does one weigh the potential benefits of nuclear power as a low-carbon energy source against the challenging issues of safe nuclear waste treatment and disposal? What is the appropriate role of nuclear fuel recycling (reprocessing)? What technologies are needed to address legacy wastes from the nuclear defense program, dating back to the Manhattan Project, which have left a huge environmental burden facing the Nation? This program will provide students with the background necessary to appreciate the complexity of these and other pressing issues and the ability to contribute to their solution in their future careers. 


Broader Mission

The development of CUA’s MS Program in Nuclear Environmental Protection program was supported by grants from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Such grants are intended to strengthen the US nuclear educational infrastructure to meet the needs of the US “nuclear renaissance.”


Unique Resources

The MS Program leverages the unique expertise, facilities, and infrastructure available in CUA’s Vitreous State Laboratory, which is actively involved in numerous nuclear environmental R&D projects in the US and abroad.
Emphasizing experiential learning and practical applications, the program is taught by experts and professionals in the midst of ongoing R&D projects conducted for the nuclear industry. The importance of this aspect is further emphasized by the requirement of a final project and internship.

Program Overview

Key program components include:
  • Health physics
  • Radiochemistry
  • The nuclear fuel cycle
  • The nuclear regulatory framework
  • Material science of waste forms
  • Nuclear waste generation, management, treatment, and long-term disposal options.
 The 30-credit-hour curriculum:
  • Seven core courses
  • One elective course
  • A 6-credit-hour final project (summer internships at either VSL or in industry or a topical research paper).

The program can be completed in twelve months for full time students and in two to three years for part time students.