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Petroleum Engineering

Program Description

Just the Facts

Petroleum Engineering. A program that prepares individuals to apply mathematical and scientific principles to the design, development and operational evaluation of systems for locating, extracting, processing and refining crude petroleum and natural gas, including prospecting instruments and equipment, mining and drilling systems, processing and refining systems and facilities, storage facilities, transportation systems, and related environmental and safety systems.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

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Related Careers

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Additional Information

Programs in petroleum engineering, or oil and gas engineering, teach students to design better ways of mining oil and gas.

"Today's petroleum technical engineer uses the most sophisticated electronic and computer technologies to find and bring to market the oil and gas we need," says Charles Bowman. He is a professor of petroleum engineering at Texas A and M University. "It is an exciting, rewarding and important career."

The first two years in Bowman's program emphasize fundamentals, including liberal arts, mathematics, chemistry, physics and a five-course sequence of engineering science, as well as the use of the computer as a problem-solving tool.

The third year focuses on the fundamentals of petroleum engineering -- formation evaluation, reservoir engineering and management, production, drilling, economics and investment risk analysis. The senior year emphasizes engineering design -- including a multidisciplinary team experience working with geoscientists.

Bowman says the curriculum also emphasizes communication skills and includes courses in the humanities and social sciences. The importance of teamwork and computers in this industry also is stressed.

It typically takes students four years to earn a bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering. The department also offers degrees at the master's and doctoral levels. In addition, the program offers options for courses in business administration or minors in other fields of the student's choice.

Most programs offer internships or paid work placements to give students a taste of what goes on in the field.

"Students should have an interest in and a good understanding of the basic sciences such as chemistry and physics and mathematics," says Bogdan Lepski, a former professor of petroleum engineering. "In addition, it is important they have good people and communication skills."

"Students in this field need to be creative and inquisitive, willing to work in an industry where much of what they do they will never see, because petroleum products must be found, reached and produced from miles under the surface of the Earth," says Bowman.

"They must be willing to accept challenges and to meet them, to take risks and accept the consequences. They must be ready to face adventure and adversity."


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Petroleum Engineers

The Job Beat
Energy, petroleum and gas industry jobs

Oil and Gas Browser
A research tool made especially for this industry


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