Petroleum Engineering

Graduate Program at Colorado School of Mines

Petroleum Engineering

Graduate Program at Colorado School of Mines

Petroleum Engineering Program Overview

Petroleum engineering students in the fieldCandidates for the non-thesis Master of Engineering in Petroleum Engineering degree must complete at least 30 hours of graduate course credit. This coursework-intensive program allows students to exponentially build on their skill set and advance their career, and can also serve as an excellent entry point into the oil and gas industry for engineers who earned a degree other than petroleum engineering.

The Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering requires at least 24 credit hours of coursework and a minimum of 6 hours of research credit. Earning this degree demonstrates an ability to observe, analyze and report original scientific research and prepares graduates for similar work in their careers or pursuit of a PhD.

Candidates in the Doctor of Philosophy in Petroleum Engineering program must complete at least 48 hours of graduate course credit and a minimum of 30 credit hours of research beyond the bachelor’s degree, resulting in a written dissertation. Graduates are prepared to work in academia, conduct research in commercial or government laboratories as well as make scientific discoveries that advance the industry.

Also fully online, the 12-credit Graduate Certificate in Petroleum Data Analytics provides a comprehensive overview of the fundamental building blocks of the digital oilfield. Class time is dedicated to topics such as data science and advanced analytics, as well as reviewing how to apply data analysis to areas such as drilling and completions, production operations and reservoir management.

Program Requirements

MASTER’S NON-THESIS

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Required
  • GRE: Not Required
  • Letters of Recommendation: Required – two letters. Letters of recommendation are not required for current Mines students. 
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV): Required
  • Statement of Purpose: Required
  • Transcript(s): Required. Must be submitted for all schools attended (unofficial transcripts accepted for admissions review and must show successful completion of any required prerequisite course(s).
  • For international applicants or applicants whose native language is not English, please review the ENGLISH PROFICIENCY requirement.

MASTER’S THESIS

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Required 
  • GRE: Required
  • Letters of Recommendation: Required – three letters. One letter of recommendation is required for current Mines students or Mines alumni.
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV): Required
  • Statement of Purpose: Required
  • Transcript(s): Required. Must be submitted for all schools attended (unofficial transcripts accepted for admissions review and must show successful completion of any required prerequisite course(s).
  • For international applicants or applicants whose native language is not English, please review the ENGLISH PROFICIENCY requirement.

DOCTORATE

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Required 
  • GRE: Required
  • Letters of Recommendation: Required – three letters. One letter of recommendation is required for current Mines students or Mines alumni.
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV): Required
  • Statement of Purpose: Required
  • Transcript(s): Required. Must be submitted for all schools attended (unofficial transcripts accepted for admissions review and must show successful completion of any required prerequisite course(s).
  • For international applicants or applicants whose native language is not English, please
  • review the ENGLISH PROFICIENCY requirement.

 

For additional information about these admissions requirements, please refer to the Admissions Requirements page

The Petroleum Engineering Department conducts research into the following areas:

  • Rock and fluid properties, phase behavior, and rock mechanics
  • Geomechanics
  • Formation evaluation, well test analysis, and reservoir characterization
  • Oil recovery processes
  • IOR/EOR Methods
  • Naturally fractured reservoirs
  • Analytical and numerical modeling of fluid flow in porous media
  • Pore-scale modeling and flow in nanopores
  • Development of unconventional oil and gas plays
  • Geothermal energy
  • Gas Hydrates
  • Completion and stimulation of wells
  • Horizontal and multilateral wells
  • Multi-stage fracturing of horizontal wells
  • Drilling management and rig automation
  • Fluid flow in wellbores and artificial lift
  • Drilling mechanics, directional drilling,
  • Extraterrestrial drilling
  • Ice coring and drilling
  • Bit vibration analysis, tubular buckling and stability, wave propagation in drilling tubulars
  • Laser technology in penetrating rocks
  • Environment, health, and safety in oil and gas industry

The department is home to a research institute, the Unconventional Natural Gas and Oil Institute; two research centers, the Marathon Center of Excellence for Reservoir Studies and the Center for Earth Mechanics, Materials, and Characterization; and two research consortia, the Fracturing, Acidizing, Stimulation Technology Consortium and the Unconventional Reservoir Engineering Project Consortium.

 Colorado ResidentOut-of-State Student
Tuition**$17,676$39,618
Fees*$2,520$2,520
Room & Board$17,496$17,496
Books & Supplies$1,500$1,500
Misc. Expenses$1,800$1,800
Transportation$1,300$1,300
Total$42,473$64,415
**Cost per credit hour$982$2,201

*Allowance for fees based on mandatory fees charged to all students. Does not include fees for orientation, library, yearbook, refrigerator rental, voice messaging, ect.

At less than 4.5 credit hours, you may be ineligible for financial aid.

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Career Outcomes

  • Acquisitions and Divestitures Engineer
  • Analyst
  • Application Engineer
  • Certification Engineer
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Commissioning Engineer
  • Completions and Production Engineer
  • Design Engineer
  • Drilling Engineer
  • Exploration Engineer
  • Field Engineer
  • Gas Engineer
  • Gas Pipeline Integrity Reliability Specialist
  • Gas Processing Engineer
  • Gas Risk Engineer
  • Geologist
  • Geosciences Engineer
  • Geotechnical Engineer
  • Geothermal Engineer
  • Hydraulics and Pipeline Systems Engineer
  • Hydrogeologist
  • Instrument Engineer
  • Integration Engineer
  • Interdisciplinary Engineer
  • Midstream Facility Engineer
  • Natural Gas Engineer
  • Oil Drilling Engineer
  • Oil Exploration Engineer
  • Oil Well Engineer
  • Petroleum Engineer
  • Petroleum Reservoir Engineer
  • Planning Engineer
  • Plant Process Engineer
  • Process Engineer
  • Production Engineer
  • Professor
  • Project Engineer
  • Research Engineer
  • Reservoir Engineer
  • Simulation Engineer
  • Systems Design Engineer
  • Systems Engineer
  • Technical Analyst
  • Well Engineer
  • Well Planner
  • Well Testing Engineer
  • Aera Energy
  • Anadarko
  • Antero Resources
  • Aramco
  • Baker Hughes
  • Bonanza Creek Energy
  • BHP
  • bp
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Caliber Midstream
  • California Resources Corporation
  • Callon Petroleum Company
  • Campos EPC
  • Chevron
  • Cimarex Energy
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Crestwood Midstream Partners
  • DCP Midstream
  • Enable Midstream Partners
  • EnLink Midstream
  • EOG Resources
  • ExxonMobil
  • Halliburton
  • Hess Corporation
  • Kahuna
  • Kiewit
  • Kinder Morgan
  • Liberty Oilfield Services
  • Marathon
  • Meritage Midstream
  • Neptune Energy
  • NexTier Oilfielt Solutions
  • Noble Midstream Partners
  • Occidental Petroleum
  • Ovintiv (formerly Encana Corporation)
  • PBF Energy
  • PDC Energy
  • Petronas
  • Phillips 66
  • Rio Tinto
  • S&P Global Platts
  • Sakhalin Energy
  • Schlumberger
  • Sempra LNG
  • Shell
  • Suncor
  • Tallgrass Energy
  • Total
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Venture Global LNG
  • Western Midstream
  • Williams Companies

Mines Career Center

The Mines Career Center helps students chart their career paths and prepare for job searches, holds networking events and brings hundreds of employers to campus, among a host of other services.

Scientific Journals

Research and Trade Publications

Professional and Industry Organizations

The oil and gas industry’s challenges aside, if you have a job as a petroleum engineer, chances are you are being paid well.

Indeed.com reports that petroleum engineer was the highest-paying engineering job in the U.S. in 2020, with an average annual salary of $94,271.

PayScale pegged the average petroleum engineer salary even higher, at $101,575 per year. Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for petroleum engineers was $137,720 per year in May 2019.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of petroleum engineer jobs in the U.S. as of 2019—18,720—are located in Texas, according to the BLS. Salaries are on the higher end there, at an average of $172,890. California is a distant second with 2,440 petroleum engineer jobs, followed by Oklahoma, Colorado and Louisiana.

The top-paying states, on the other hand, may not be what you expected. Indiana was at the top, with an average annual wage of $198,170, followed by New Jersey, with $183,550. Texas, Colorado and Alaska round out the top five.

Chicago, not exactly thought of as an industry hotspot, was the highest-paying metropolitan area for petroleum engineers. Texas took the next three spots with Houston, Beaumont-Port Arthur and Wichita Falls, followed by Denver (just 15 minutes away from Colorado School of Mines, in Golden, Colorado).

Through 2019, petroleum engineer salaries were on an upward trend. The Society of Petroleum Engineers’ membership salary survey found that base pay increased an average of 29.1% in the U.S. from the previous year. Salaries in 2018 were also up from 2017.

Prior to the pandemic, the BLS had predicted a 3 percent increase in jobs from 2019 to 2029—about as fast as the average for all jobs. There were 33,400 petroleum engineer jobs in 2019.

While a bachelor’s degree is sufficient to enter the industry, an advanced degree does provide an earnings advantage.

In 2018-19, Mines students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering received an average salary offer of $87,853. Master’s graduates that year received an average offer of $128,333, a $40,480 premium.

Salaries will likely only increase when the industry recovers from the pandemic. According to OilPrice.com, “the current crisis and the tens of thousands of layoffs every month since March are setting the stage for a massive talent shortage in just a few short years.”

“When the industry enters the next boom cycle, it may not need all these jobs—some of them could be eliminated due to greater efficiency and automation. But while it might not need all those employees, it will need many,” the article continues.

This labor shortage means companies will compete for the best engineers available, and offer even more incentives for employees with the background to help the industry overcome its unique challenges.

Tom Blasingame, incoming 2021 president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, said the industry will have plenty to offer current college students, in an interview with the Journal of Petroleum Technology published in September 2020.

“Enrollments are shifting and have been for a while, but my crystal ball says that in the 2022–2024 time frame we will face a significant workforce shortage,” he said. “It is reasonable to expect that, at present, enrollments will suffer, but ultimately we will be a (very) attractive destination for the rugged individualist who likes to get up early in the morning and change the world.”

Degree Options

Certificate

Master’s Non-Thesis

  • Master of Engineering in Petroleum Engineering

Master’s Thesis

  • Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering

PhD

  • Petroleum Engineering

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