Rickover Fellowship Program Obligations


During the Fellowship period, Fellows are expected to be registered and enrolled as full-time graduate students and must perform study and research at their university within the objectives of the Fellowship program. During the summer months, Fellows conduct relevant research, enroll in summer classes, complete a practicum assignment, or perform a combination of any of these activities.

Terms of Appointment

Each Fellow must agree to the terms and conditions delineated in the letter of appointment and Terms of Appointment document including provisions for obtaining and maintaining a security clearance. A Fellow must agree that at the end of the Fellowship appointment period, he or she will become employed by the company operating the NNL at either the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory (located near Pittsburgh, PA) or Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (located Albany, NY region). The required employment period will be one month for every two months of Fellowship support with a minimum obligation of one year. The employment obligation will be rounded up to the nearest whole month.

Fellows must inform the SCUREF of changes in address and must complete any evaluation/assessment questionnaires for Fellowship information and/or evaluation.

Annual Renewal of Fellowship

Each Fellowship appointment is renewed annually through a renewal application process. Each renewal is based upon the Fellow’s maintaining excellent performance and professionalism including, but not limited to, passing examinations in pursuit of a doctoral degree required by their academic department, progressing research toward completion of a doctorate degree, and otherwise maintaining eligibility for a doctoral degree (for example, maintaining necessary grade point average and good standing with their academic department and university). Renewal forms along with supporting references and current official transcripts must be submitted to the SCUREF each year. Unless approved by SCUREF and the sponsor, obtaining a DOE security clearance is required prior to renewal. All awards and renewals are subject to the continuing availability of funding.

Security Clearance

At the beginning of the Fellowship appointment, all Rickover Fellows will be required to complete applications for an “L” clearance with the DOE. This clearance will allow the Rickover Fellow to interact more freely with NNL engineering and scientific staff and to become a part of the Naval Reactors nuclear propulsion community. In most cases, it will take approximately six months for a Rickover Fellow to receive clearance. If clearance is not granted within one year of application or if the Fellow is notified that clearance processing cannot be completed, Fellowship support may be discontinued prior to the end of the current appointment year. It is expected that Fellows will maintain their security clearance for the duration of their Fellowship appointment.


Rickover Fellows are required to participate in one practicum for at least 10-weeks in order to gain applied experience. The practicum will be performed at either the NNL Knolls site or Bettis site. As described above, a DOE security clearance must be obtained prior to the first practicum and maintained throughout the duration of the Fellowship. The practicum is normally held during the summer at the end of the first year or second year of the Fellowship. Prior internships or similar appointments to DOE facilities may NOT be substituted for the practicum requirement associated with this Fellowship. A required physical exam, including drug screening, will be conducted at the Laboratory where the practicum will be performed. If a separate trip to the Laboratory is necessary to complete the physical exam, the Fellow will be reimbursed for travel per the GSA guidelines.

Fellows may perform more than one practicum, if desired. No expenses are paid for food or lodging at the practicum site, though practicum travel may be reimbursed as discussed above. The Fellow’s basic stipend is augmented by an additional $800 (prorated) dislocation allowance each month during a practicum.

Rickover Fellows are encouraged to spend all or part of their time working on thesis/dissertation research at the Bettis or Knolls site. At the nearing of the postdoctoral defense date, each fellow will plan a pre-employment visit to the lab during which they will work in order to further familiarize oneself with the laboratory and complete HR onboarding processes.

Required Approvals of Research Information

Research sponsored by the Rickover Fellowship Program in Nuclear Engineering can be published after appropriate review and approval. External public releases such as, but not limited to, journal publications, conference proceedings/posters, and thesis documents are coordinated through the Laboratory advisor. Each Fellow will work with their Laboratory advisor to submit information for formal review and approval no less than 25 working days prior to the required date of submission (e.g., conference submission deadline, defense date, or submission for graduation). The Laboratory advisor will assist the Fellow in obtaining required approvals.

Publication Acknowledgment

DOE and SCUREF encourage Fellows to publish reports and articles in scientific and engineering journals. All publications must receive prior approval from the NNL. The publication must show the joint affiliation of the Fellow with the university and, if appropriate, with the Laboratory at which the research was conducted, and should acknowledge Fellowship support. Fellowship support should be acknowledged in the following manner:

This research was performed under appointment to the Rickover Fellowship Program in Nuclear Engineering sponsored by Naval Reactors Division of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Thesis Research

Rickover Fellows must perform their doctoral thesis research in one of the Qualified Academic Areas, or in a related field with the approval of NNL, SCUREF, and the Fellow’s host university. All thesis topics must be unclassified.