Petroleum Geology Graduate Programs

Petroleum geology is a concentration in the larger graduate program of geology. You will find that much of the coursework revolves around both natural geologic systems and the technology used when dealing with issues such as oil reservoirs.

Program Coursework

Coursework in petroleum geology is centered on understanding the surface and subsurface of the earth. Petroleum geology graduate programs are primarily master's-level programs that require approximately two years of work and the completion of around 34 to 36 hours of courses. The following are only a few of the courses you can expect to find in your program.

Petroleum Geology

This course examines the processes that distribute fluids throughout the earth's crust. This course also includes a discussion of topics such as hydrocarbon reservoirs, hydrocarbon seals, and geochemical modeling. Students develop an understanding of trap configurations, reservoir rocks, the value chain and mapping.

Structural Geology

Structural geology is the study of the deformations in the earth's crust. Coursework in this area requires students to learn about the forces that shift the earth's crust, causing it to shift, fold, and fault. In addition to these topics, students learn about tectonic patterns, interpreting geological maps, and fault system geometry.


Studies in stratigraphy involve the study of the origins of sedimentary rock. Students are expected to gain in-depth knowledge of depositional systems, stratigraphic nomenclature, and geologic time, among other topics. This course can also include laboratory work in which students measure sedimentary sections and employ a variety of stratigraphic techniques.

Basin Studies

Studies into sedimentary basins involve research into the tectonic origins of those basins, including the processes that unfold in their creation. Part of basin research also involves studying terrestrial and marine deposition systems and how they relate to one another. Students will also go in-depth with geologic literature and the collection of geologic data.

Flow and Transport

Flow and transport course study the fluids that travel through the subsurface of the earth. Students learn how this subsurface flow impacts the environment and how to evaluate it using mathematical modeling processes, equations and a variety of quantitative tools.

Admission Requirements

A graduate program in petroleum geography typically has a few common requirements that you will need to meet prior to admission. All schools ask that you submit your transcripts, with some basing their admission decisions on your GPA, among other requirements. You may also find schools that don't require a stated minimum GPA required of students. Some schools require you to submit your GRE scores for entrance into the program, while others may only ask for GRE scores for scholarship considerations, if not for admission entirely. You will also need to submit letters of recommendation stating why you should be admitted to the program and vouching to your character.

A program in petroleum geology is designed to acquaint you with all areas of the field, from the study of basins to the subsurface flow of fluids. Your work in the program will also adequately prepare you to use the tools and devices common to this field.

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