Oil and Gas Management Degree Program Options

Explore degree program options in oil and gas management. Get information about the entrance requirements and the topics that students might learn. Review the employment outlook and salary projections.

Essential Information

Bachelor's and master's degree programs are available in oil and gas management. A bachelor's degree program might include business-related coursework. Students could choose an area of concentration. They might also gain practical knowledge through an internship experience.

With an emphasis on global energy concerns, master's-level programs prepare students to take on larger professional roles. The prerequisites for these programs include a high school diploma and, in the case of the master's program, a related undergraduate degree.

Bachelor's Degree in Energy Management or Commerce

Bachelor's degree programs in energy management or commerce that emphasize oil and gas combine an education in business administration with broad preparation for employment in the petroleum industry. Programs are typically interdisciplinary, including business, law, economics, petroleum engineering and natural sciences. Energy management or commerce majors may be able to choose a further concentration in oil and gas.

Most programs maintain close ties to companies in the energy industry, such as oil companies. These companies may sponsor scholarships and subsidize student attendance at industry events. The close relationship between the programs and industry helps to ensure that the education provided meets employers' needs. Degrees conferred may be Bachelor of Science in Business Administration or Bachelor of Business Administration.

Education Prerequisites

Incoming students typically hold a high school diploma and have passed a college entrance exam, like the SAT. They often require an essay describing the applicant's interest in, and suitability for, the program. Programs expect applicants with extensive college preparatory work and a good math and science aptitude.

Admission is highly competitive as there are typically more applicants than openings. Programs often have minimum high school grade-point average and entrance exam test score requirements that may be exceeded by the records of students who are admitted. Some programs report that incoming freshman were often in the top ten percent of their high school class.

Program Coursework

General education courses, such as composition, are required. Industry internships are common. Students also typically take calculus and statistics. Coursework for the major may include:

  • Information technology
  • Petroleum engineering
  • Geology
  • Natural resources
  • Energy policy
  • Energy commodities trading
  • Energy industry financial reporting
  • Petroleum land titles, records and management
  • Investment and portfolio management
  • International energy business

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that all management occupations in the oil and gas extraction industry earned a mean wage of $154,630 in May 2012. That year the mean annual wages of general and operations managers in the oil and gas extraction industry were $151,670.

Continuing Education Information

A bachelor's degree in energy management will strongly qualify graduates for oil and gas management employment. Students who work in land management may pursue professional certification from the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL). The AAPL awards the sequential Registered Landman (RL), Registered Professional Landman (RPL) and Certified Professional Landman (CPL) designations. Certification requires professional experience, sponsorship from three CPLs and passage of a comprehensive exam. The AAPL requires that those holding certification renew it every five years through continuing education.

Students who would like to further their college education, enhance expertise or improve their qualifications for advancement to management positions might consider a master's degree.

Master of Science Degree in Energy or Petroleum Management

Master of Science (M.S.) programs in energy or petroleum management explore concepts in business administration and economics with an emphasis on the global oil and gas industry. Programs prepare students for executive and leadership roles in international petroleum exploration, production and trading. Students are often mid-career petroleum industry professionals whose goals include advancement to executive positions. Some schools tailor their degree programs to the needs of specific energy industry companies, enabling students to be highly recruited by employers.

Education Prerequisites

Programs generally consider an applicant's employment experience, academic achievement, leadership potential and aptitude for the curriculum. Programs may require a related bachelor's degree and substantial experience in the energy industry. They may also require either a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score. Letters of recommendation and an essay describing the applicant's previous experience and how the program will enhance the applicant's career goals are also often required.

Program Coursework

While some elective courses are offered, the curriculum may be less flexible than many other graduate degree programs because energy management programs are often tailored to specific industry needs. Programs offered within business schools will emphasize management and finance while those offered within engineering schools will provide a more technical curriculum.

Students frequently work in teams to replicate the collaborative nature of energy industry employment and to facilitate knowledge sharing. Coursework may cover the following topics:

  • Global energy issues and economics
  • Renewable and alternative energy
  • Energy industry environmental, legal, regulatory and political issues
  • Accounting for global energy markets
  • Finance and hedging strategies for global energy markets
  • Operations management
  • Leadership and decision-making
  • Land management and contracts
  • Organizational behavior
  • Energy production management
  • Asset management

Popular Career Options

Oil and gas management professionals fulfill a wide variety of roles in the petroleum industry. They may work in oil exploration, production or commodities trading. They are often involved in land management, the side of the business that secures a company's right to extract oil. They are familiar with the business, financial and regulatory concerns of the energy industry.

M.S. program graduates may be qualified for energy industry leadership roles in both private and public spheres. They may be employed by energy firms such as oil companies, government agencies or investment banks. Potential positions may include:

  • Associate landman
  • Management consultant
  • Risk consultant
  • Project manager
  • Strategy consultant

Continuing Education Information

As with the bachelor's degree in energy management, graduates of master's programs who work in land management may pursue professional certification from the AAPL. Those who want to move away from oil and gas management to become researchers or college teachers may pursue a related doctorate degree, such as petroleum engineering. Candidates for the doctoral program without a degree in petroleum engineering may have to complete additional coursework in petroleum engineering, engineering science or geology. They may also have to pass a preliminary examination demonstrating proficient knowledge in petroleum engineering within a certain amount of time after admission to the program.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The BLS reported that petroleum engineers could expect moderate growth in job opportunities during the 2010-2020 decade, with oil prices a main determinant. Petroleum engineers earned an average salary of $147,470 in May 2012. Post-secondary engineering teachers/researchers overall earned an average salary of $100,100 in the same month.

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