“It’s very technical, and I think it’s a field women are moving into,” she said. “But women haven’t been traditionally” in the nuclear engineering field over the decades.

Active-duty and reserve service members specializing in nuclear technology, LeClair said, are “realizing some of their lifetime goals” because those courses are available online and don’t require several trips to a classroom or lecture hall every week.

“It does give them an opportunity to move forward … and we really do encourage and develop a community online,” she said, adding that online learning skeptics should take note that even complex subject matter like nuclear engineering can be taught in a web-based setting. “What you know is more important than how or where you learned it.”

Excelsior’s nuclear program is one of only four in the U.S. to receive accreditation from ABET, an organization that reviews and accredits science, computing, engineering, and technology education.

Other accredited programs are Lakeland Community College in Ohio, Three Rivers Community College in Connecticut, and the University of North Texas, according to ABET’s website. However, the Lakeland and Three Rivers nuclear engineering programs are associate degree level, making Excelsior one of two bachelor degree nuclear programs.

There are 11 colleges and universities offering nuclear engineering technology programs nationwide – accredited and unaccredited — according to College Board.


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