Is nuclear engineering hard( solved and explained)

if you ask if nuclear engineering is hard or not, this post is for you.

In this post, we’ve put all the hard subjects that nuclear engineering students study. So you have to read them to know what is awaiting you before going into this major.

Is nuclear engineering hard?

Nuclear engineering is one of the hardest engineering majors, nuclear engineers student study a lot of math including advanced calculus classes like multivariable. Also, a combination between physics, chemistry, and nuclear subjects.

The hardest subjects that students study in nuclear engineering

1 – Math

the first that you should count into is math, nuclear engineers study a lot of math, especially the hardest one that a lot of students run from which is calculus. in the nuclear engineering curriculum you will find:

  • calculus 1
  • calculus 2
  • calculus 3

Calculus 1

in your first year in nuclear engineering, calculus is awaiting you. So you will begin with the calculus 1 course that includes:

  1. Limits and continuity
  2. Derivatives
  3. Integrals
  4. Analyzing functions
  5. Differential equations

Normally In calculus 1 is not difficult, at this stage students revise all the high school, math classes. This is very important to build a foundation for more advanced calculus classes like calculus 2 and 3 in the upcoming years.

we will list in detail what you’re going to study in calculus 1 as a nuclear engineer.

Limits and continuity

As a simple definition of limits, limits are a mathematics calculation to determine how much the function is approaching a certain point. understanding limits is very important to not prevent sticking in calculus.

But this subject just requires some practice then things become easy and acceptable with time.


Derivatives are the second interesting topic that calculus is based on. in real life derivatives have unlimited applications.

In general, a derivative is a domain that studies a change, so anything that changes or moves can be calculated by derivatives.

Derivatives require a little bit of memorization and a lot of practice. As a result, this is what makes this subject hard for many people because it requires a lot of work and repetition.

Analyzing functions

in the analyzing functions, you will learn a lot of theorems like:

  • Mean value theorem
  • Extreme value theorem and critical points
  • Intervals on which a function is increasing or decreasing
  • Relative (local) extrema
  • Sketching curves

you might find some theorems complex to digest or understand, this is normal because they require practice and hard work.

this part is concentrating on how to analyze functions using these theorems, this subject is not very tough until we get to the next hard subject.


Integrals are one of the hardest subjects in calculus 1. What makes it hard is its dependency on the derivative. if you such or did not understand derivative you suffer in integrals.

In calculus 1 integral application are not complex as in calculus 2 or 3. But in calculus1 you will learn a lot of basics about this subject.

Differential equations

In calculus 1 you will discover differential equations and their introductions, and you will learn some interesting topics like:

  • Verifying solutions for differential equations
  • Sketching slope fields
  • Reasoning using slope fields
  • Separation of variables
  • Particular solutions to differential equations

theses subjects aren’t easy to digest they take effort to understand and require more engagement. But if you put them in the work by making a lot of exercises things will become easier and clear.

Calculus 2

In calculus 2 you will learn and go deeper into the math subjects you studied in calculus 1 class of nuclear engineering. you will go much deeper in integrals, the integral used in calculus 1 is easier than in calculus 2.

In calculus 2 you will learn some new theorems like the Fundamental theorem of calculus and definite integrals. the principal new subjects that you’re going to study in nuclear engineering are:

 Differential equations

In calculus 2 you learn some new things about differential equations like:

  • Approximation with Euler’s method: 
  • Separation of variables: 
  • Particular solutions to differential equations: 
  • Exponential models: 
  • Logistic models
Applications of integrals

the same thing with integrals, in calculus 2 and especially in integrals you will discover new topics that you haven’t studied before in calculus 1 like:

  • Integrating with u-substitution: 
  • Integrating using long division and completing the square: 
  • Integrating using trigonometric identities: 
  • Trigonometric substitution: 
  • Integration by parts: 
  • Integrating using linear partial fractions: 
  • Improper integrals

in calculus 2 you will continue what you have studied in calculus 1 about series you will discover new topics like:

  • Lagrange error bound
  • Convergent and divergent infinite series
  • Maclaurin series of eˣ, sin(x), and cos(x)

For those reasons, understanding the Series in calculus 1 will be crucial for you.

Calculus 3

calculus 3 subjects are the hardest math subject in calculus that nuclear engineering studies. In general, these are the hardest math subjects for students studying nuclear engineering. So in nuclear engineering calculus 3, you will study theses following subjects:

  • 1 Multivariable Calculus
  • 2 – Lagrange
  • 3 – calculating double and triple integrals
  • 4- vectors fields
  • 5 – line integrals
  • 6 – theorems of Green
  • 7 – curl and vector field
  • 8 – stoke’s theorem
  • 9 – divergence theorem
  • 10 Ordinary differential equations
  • 11 Partial Differential equations
  • 12 Tensor theorem
  • 13 Real-analysis
  • 14 Complex analysis
  • 15 Extreme Value Theory

you could find all of these subjects explained in detail by reading this article below.

Is calculus 3 hard?: all you need to know about

2 – Physics and chemistry

nuclear engineers focus also on physics and chemistry because both subjects have a big part in the nuclear engineering process. so as a nuclear engineer you will study a lot of physics and chemistry.

In chemistry, you will study chemistry 1 and chemistry 2 modules.

In chemistry 1, the majorities of its topics base on the high school classes. So you will study in the first year, as revision and recap to solidify all knowledge acquire in high school.

While in chemistry 2, things become serious when you start digging into some advanced chemistry subjects like:

  • stoichiometry
  • states of matter
  • and reaction kinetics.

In physics, nuclear engineers focus also on the principal topics like:

  • Thermodynamic,
  • fluid flow
  • science of material

These subjects require a lot of math and physics basics, especially 11th and 12th math and physic subject that you studied in high school. So having a solid foundation is crucial.

3 – Nuclear models

nuclear engineering students focus on nuclear engineering models or subjects such:

  •  Nuclear Reactions and Radiation
  •  Nuclear Reactor Theory
  •  Radiation Detection and Nuclear Instrumentation
  •  Design in Nuclear Power Technology and Instrumentation

all these subjects are specializations that you have the right to choose if you want to make a master’s in nuclear engineering.

But in general, these models explain how atoms behave under radiation. So you will learn a lot about atoms and use a lot heavier math and physic equation to understand this process.

This is not to worry you but just remembering or notifying you that nuclear engineering is heavy in math and physics. So you have to be good at both of them.

Is nuclear engineering for me or not? (final tough)

if you have a passion for scientific or stem subjects combined like physics, chemistry, and math nuclear engineering will be the best choice.

Nuclear engineering is a domain that requires a love of diversity and being flexible in studying complex subjects without any issues.

you cold watch this pretty video about nuclear engineering.


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.