Schools with Petroleum Engineering Programs: How to Choose

Petroleum engineering programs train students to design technologies that deal with extracting petroleum from the earth while focusing on safety and cost. Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in petroleum engineering are available at 4-year colleges and universities. However, they aren't as common as degrees in other engineering disciplines.

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Though there are relatively few petroleum engineering programs in comparison to other engineering specialties, programs do exist at the undergraduate and graduate levels, many of which are offered by schools on the west coast.

10 Schools With Petroleum Engineering Programs

The following universities all offer programs in petroleum engineering:

College/University Location Institution Type Degree Types Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)*
Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $17,514 (in-state), $31,346 (out-of-state)
University of Kansas Lawrence, KS 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $10,825 (in-state), $26,659 (out-of-state)
University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $5,674 (in-state), $17,303 (out-of-state)
Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $8,028 (in-state), $17,388 (out-of-state)
Montana Tech of the University of Montana Butte, MT 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $6,539 (in-state), $19,571 (out-of-state)
Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $9,714 (in-state), $26,877 (out-of-state)
Marietta College Marietta, OH 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $34,300
Texas A&M University College Station, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $10,176 (in-state), $28,768 (out-of-state)
University of Tulsa Tulsa, OK 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $39,521
New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology Socorro, NM 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $6,613 (in-state), $19,137 (out-of-state)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

When selecting a petroleum engineering program, there are a number of factors that are relevant in the decision. Students may want to keep these considerations in mind:

  • Students should ensure that the program they enroll in is accredited by ABET and the Society for Petroleum Engineers (SPE) to make sure the programs meet industry standards for training new engineers.
  • For individuals interested in receiving financial aid, they may wish to check out which programs offer scholarship opportunities to students.
  • A school's corporate research endowments typically represent companies that offer students co-operative internship opportunities, so students may want to find out which companies their school is affiliated with.
  • If a student has a particular interest within the field of petroleum engineering, such as drilling or reservoirs, they should look for programs that offer various specializations.

Bachelor's Degree in Petroleum Engineering

Bachelor's degree students should complete most of their general educational courses in the first two years of the program. The final two years should be predominantly petroleum engineering courses, although some courses will be borrowed from other fields, such as electrical, mechanical and materials engineering. Most programs conclude with either a senior project or technical presentation. Coursework for the major covers areas like petrophysics, reservoir engineering and drilling.

Master's Degree in Petroleum Engineering

Master's degree programs are an option for those seeking management positions or who have a bachelor's degree in another field of engineering and want to specialize in petroleum engineering. Some schools offer tracks that include courses from the college of geosciences or business. The coursework consists of advanced production and drilling courses, and students are given the option of either completing a thesis or research project.

Doctoral Programs in Petroleum Engineering

Ph.D. candidates in a petroleum engineering program complete a dissertation based on original research, which could be done in an area like production engineering, reservoir engineering, and drilling engineering. They must also pass diagnostic examinations in several areas.

To summarize, individuals can study petroleum engineering at the undergraduate and graduate levels, though coursework for bachelor's degree programs might be slightly more general in nature than curricula for master's and doctoral degrees.

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