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Study a graduate program in petroleum engineering

What will I study on a graduate program in petroleum engineering?

Petroleum engineering is the strand of engineering concerned with the extraction, production and management of oil and gas from natural environments. Studying in this field will give you the technical and theological skills required to operate heavy machinery, manage computer systems and discover new sources of energy.

If you choose to study a graduate petroleum engineering program, you can expect to study a course where theory is put into practice and you spend a lot of time applying your knowledge in the real world. You can expect to study modules in topics such as the following:

  • Reservoir engineering
  • Petroleum geoscience
  • Drilling engineering
  • Petroleum economics
  • Production technology

You can expect your assessment to be in the form of projects, both as part of a group and as an individual, working on real field data and using real technology.

Length of program

The duration of your petroleum engineering program will depend on the country and type of course you choose to study. Most petroleum engineering programs contain a practical element. As with many engineering programs, you may be able to convert your undergraduate course into a Masters one.

As a guide, here are some of the lengths of program for a petroleum engineering program:

  • UK- 1-5 years
  • US – 2-3 years
  • China – 2-3 years
  • Canada – 2-4 years

Many Masters programs lead straight into PhDs, which will prolong your study by normally at least a further two years.

Entry requirements

It will almost always be necessary to have completed a relevant undergraduate course with at least a 2:2 honours before being accepted onto a petroleum engineering postgraduate course.

It will also be beneficial, if not mandatory, if you have completed some relevant professional work experience, as this will enhance your knowledge of how studying leads to a professional job.

If you choose to study in a country with a different first language to your own, you may need to take a language course/test before admitted.

However, bear in mind that you can convert to many graduate programs in petroleum engineering from an undergraduate course if you get the appropriate high marks during your first year of study.

Career development

Petroleum engineers are vital in maintaining our energy supplies, working at all levels of oil and gas production, from field evaluation to production and environmental concerns. Graduates from petroleum engineering programs will typical start out on training programmes with large recruiters.

It’s important to be flexible and mobile in this industry. You need to be prepared to work anywhere in the world and to be able to move around as and when required. The good news for graduates in this sector is that the industry is currently experiencing a shortage of well qualified and capable graduates, so there are plenty of roles up for grabs.

Graduates typically go on to work in the following fields:

  • Petroleum geologists – Search for new wells and sources of oil and gas
  • Reservoir engineers – Work out the potential of new sources and reservoirs
  • Production engineers – Monitor the production and extraction of oil and gas
  • Drilling engineers – Manage the technical aspects of drilling and production

Fees and funding

Engineering programs are usually at the more expensive end of the postgraduate tuition fee list. The tuition fees for your course will depend on where you choose to study and the in some cases the popularity and prestige of the program you choose to study.

Here are some examples of countries and how much their average petroleum engineering postgraduate course will cost you:

  • UK £5,000 - £16,000 (national or international)
  • USA - $13,000- $30,000
  • China – RMB 17,000 - 36,000
  • Canada - $17,000 – $25,000

What to do next

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