Petroleum Engineering Master’s Degree

By Dan Tashlykov, BSME

Imagine having the ability to contribute to our world’s energy needs directly, from extracting resources hidden beneath the earth’s surface to pioneering new sustainable alternatives for the future.

Fortunately, you have an incredible opportunity to pave the way towards your dreams with a petroleum engineering master’s degree, and to enroll in an advanced program that equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to make a meaningful impact on society’s energy landscape.

If you’re up for the task, there’s no question that petroleum engineering can be both an exciting and rewarding career path for those who crave a challenge.

As a master’s graduate, you’ll have the opportunity to work in a variety of industries, including oil and gas production, renewable energy development, and environmental management. You’ll also likely be responsible for designing, managing, and optimizing processes that extract natural resources efficiently and sustainably; this means having the potential to make a difference in major projects around the globe and shape the future of energy consumption for generations to come.

Now that you’ve caught a glimpse of the possibility that lies ahead with engineering master’s degrees like PE, let’s dive deeper into what the journey to a graduate degree in this field of engineering might look like.

In the following sections, we’ll walk you through what you can expect in a petroleum engineering master’s degree program, including core courses, concentrations, and other essential aspects that will build a strong foundation for your career.

Let’s uncover the opportunities that await you and unlock your potential in the field of petroleum engineering. Remember, the future is yours for the taking – let’s get started!

What Is Petroleum Engineering?

A petroleum engineer designs and develops methods for extracting oil and gas. Depending on your role and the problem you aim to solve, you will work in an office or at active drilling sites. Travel is often a significant component of this job, which many engineers enjoy, especially when accessing remote places they wouldn’t have an opportunity to see otherwise.

Petroleum engineering overlaps with other engineering disciplines, including civil, chemical, and mechanical engineering. These disciplines play a role in the many unique tasks petroleum engineers are responsible for, such as designing equipment to extract oil and gas from onshore and offshore reserves. Once oil and gas are discovered, you may work with geoscientists to better understand the rock formations that contain the reservoir.

Although oil and gas are the primary focus among petroleum engineers, this field also covers developing petroleum-based products, including the plastics used in consumer products and medical devices. As a petroleum engineer, you will apply scientific understanding and technology in extracting and managing hydrocarbon resources, while also aiming to preserve the environment.

Master’s in Petroleum Engineering Online Program Overview

As you embark on this exciting journey towards a master’s in petroleum engineering, you might be curious as to what you can expect.

We’re here to give you an inside peek into petroleum engineering master’s programs and the concentrations you could tackle to suit your interests and career goals.

Pursuing a master’s in petroleum engineering online is a great option for many, especially if you juggle work, family, or other responsibilities.

With an online degree program, you gain the flexibility to learn at your own pace, while still receiving a high-quality education tailored to your needs. The online learning experience allows you to expand your knowledge and skills in a way that fits seamlessly into your lifestyle.

Potential Concentrations for a Master’s in Petroleum Engineering

Listed below are some of the potential concentrations you can pursue while studying petroleum engineering as a graduate student.

The field of petroleum engineering offers various concentrations, allowing you to specialize in an area that aligns with your passions and aspirations. Some of the most common concentrations include:

Reservoir Engineering:

This concentration focuses on maximizing the recovery of hydrocarbons from subsurface reservoirs. You’ll learn about reservoir rock and fluid properties, flow mechanisms, performance prediction, and well testing.

Drilling Engineering:

With an emphasis on drilling processes and technology, this concentration equips you with the knowledge and tools for optimizing drilling operations. You’ll study drilling practices, well placement, casing design, mud systems, and well-control techniques.

Production Engineering:

Dives into the optimization of hydrocarbon production from wells. You’ll learn about artificial lift methods, productivity enhancement techniques, workover operations, and well-management strategies.


If you’re fascinated by Earth and its natural resources, this concentration may just be the perfect fit for you. It explores the geological aspects of petroleum engineering, combining the study of geology, geophysics, and petrophysics. You’ll learn about sedimentology, structural geology, stratigraphy, and reservoir characterization techniques.

Why Earn an Online Master’s Degree in Petroleum Engineering?

Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking to advance your career or someone exploring the possibilities of the industry, pursuing an online master’s in petroleum engineering can be a wise decision.

An online degree allows you to continue working or managing other commitments while gaining valuable expertise in this field.

There’s no question that one of the biggest benefits of earning your master’s degree online is flexibility. You can fit your studies around your personal and professional schedule without sacrificing your current job or commitments.

Not only that, but with advancements in technology, online degrees now provide quality education and resources comparable to campus-based programs. You’ll get the same in-depth knowledge and skills that are vital for success in the petroleum engineering sector.

Here are just some of the benefits (out of many) you can experience by pursuing your master’s in petroleum engineering degree online:

Career Growth Opportunities:

A master’s degree can open doors to higher-level positions within the industry, such as reservoir or drilling engineer, project manager, and even leadership roles. This means greater responsibility, more challenging projects, and, of course, higher salaries.

Networking Potential:

By pursuing your degree online, you’ll connect with peers and professionals from diverse backgrounds and locations. This expands your reach and allows you to build a valuable network of contacts that can help boost your career prospects.

Contribution to a Sustainable Future:

As a petroleum engineer, you’ll be at the forefront of energy production, working on innovative solutions to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact. With knowledge gained from a master’s degree, you’ll be better equipped to develop new technologies and practices that not only benefit the industry, but also contribute to a more sustainable future for our planet.

Master’s in Petroleum Engineering Curriculum and Common Courses

If you want to really understand the curriculum and courses that’ll shape your academic experience in Petroleum engineering graduate school and transform you into a skilled petroleum engineer, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this section, we’ll dive deep into the curriculum and highlight some of the common courses that’ll sharpen your technical expertise and broaden your industry knowledge.

Petroleum Engineering Curriculum & Common Courses

  • Reservoir Engineering: This course is designed to help you understand the fundamentals of reservoir behavior and management, including reservoir fluid properties, modeling, and simulation techniques. By the end, you’ll have the ability to make informed decisions in managing reservoirs effectively.
  • Drilling Engineering: Here, you’ll learn the ins and outs of drilling operations, including equipment selection, well planning, and drilling optimization. This course prepares you to tackle challenging drilling projects while ensuring safety and efficiency.
  • Production Engineering: Explore the essential techniques and methodologies involved in producing oil and gas from reservoirs. Topics include well completion, stimulation, well testing, and artificial lift techniques.
  • Petroleum Economics: Understanding the economic factors impacting the oil and gas industry is crucial. In this course, you’ll learn about risk analysis, project evaluation, cost estimation, and various economic models to ensure wise investment decisions.
  • Petroleum Geosciences: A solid grasp of geology and geophysics is vital for any petroleum engineer. This course covers topics like seismic interpretation, rock properties, subsurface mapping, and basin analysis, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of the Earth’s subsurface.
  • Well Logging and Formation Evaluation: Accurate evaluation of subsurface formations is essential for successful drilling operations. In this course, you’ll learn how to interpret well logs and analyze formation data to make informed decisions about drilling prospects and reservoir potential.
  • Fluid Mechanics and Transport Phenomena: This course delves into the fundamental concepts of fluid flow, heat transfer, and mass transfer in petroleum systems. You’ll learn about various fluid flow models and apply them to real-world problems encountered in oil and gas operations.
  • Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) in Petroleum Engineering: The safety of personnel, communities, and the environment is a top priority in the oil and gas industry. This course will teach you the importance of HSE regulations, risk assessment, hazard identification, and mitigation strategies to ensure safe and sustainable operations.
  • Unconventional Oil and Gas Resources: As the demand for energy grows, so does the need to explore unconventional resources. Learn about shale gas, tight oil, coalbed methane, and other unconventional hydrocarbons. Discover the unique challenges and techniques involved in developing and producing these resources.

Accreditation for Master’s in Petroleum Engineering Degree Programs

When you’re doing everything you can to further your education, it’s only natural that you want to make sure you choose the best program to boost your career prospects and set you up for success.

This is precisely where the importance of accreditation comes into play.

In this section, we’ll explore the vital role of accreditation in your program selection process and why it should be one of your top priorities.

ABET Accreditation

When it comes to engineering degrees, ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accreditation is the gold standard. ABET is a globally recognized organization responsible for ensuring that engineering, computing, applied science, and engineering technology programs meet rigorous quality standards.

ABET accreditation guarantees that the program you’re considering aligns with industry requirements and best practices.

Picture this: you’ve spent years dedicating yourself to your master’s in petroleum engineering, only to find out that your degree isn’t recognized by potential employers. That’s a nightmare scenario none of us want to experience. That’s why it’s crucial for you to prioritize finding an ABET-accredited petroleum engineering degree program right off the bat.

Employers value ABET-accredited degrees because they know graduates of these programs possess the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in their careers.

Not only that, but an ABET-accredited program often plays a significant role in meeting eligibility requirements for professional licensure and certifications.

What Can I Do with a Master’s Degree in Petroleum Engineering?

When you’re pursuing a master’s degree in petroleum engineering, you’ve probably wondered what careers await you after graduation.

The good news is that this specialized field opens the doors to numerous opportunities across multiple industries, ranging from energy and environment to research and policymaking. With your master’s degree in petroleum engineering, you can choose to explore careers in reservoir engineering, drilling engineering, production engineering, or even branch out into environmental management and policy.

But that’s not all – don’t be surprised if your degree takes you beyond the oil and gas industry, as your unique skill set is also sought after in geothermal energy, carbon capture and storage, and even renewable energy sectors.

Let’s dive into the different types of rewarding careers that could be yours with a master’s in petroleum engineering, and explore the career prospects of each.

Petroleum Engineer

As a petroleum engineer, you’ll work closely with other professionals to locate, evaluate, and extract oil and gas reservoirs. Your expertise helps optimize production from existing sources and discover new ways to extract resources efficiently; a petroleum engineer plays a crucial role in the exploration and development of oil and gas fields.

Average Salary (BLS): $130,850

Reservoir Engineer

If you choose to be a reservoir engineer, your primary focus will be on maximizing oil and gas recovery. You’ll accomplish this through the analysis of field performance data, reservoir modeling, and developing strategies for enhanced oil recovery, and your work will significantly impact the long-term viability and profitability of reservoirs for your company.

Average Salary (BLS): $141,570 (combined with Petroleum Engineers, oil and gas extraction category)

Drilling Engineer

As a drilling engineer, you’ll be responsible for designing and implementing drilling plans for new wells. You’ll collaborate with geoscientists, drilling crews, and service companies to ensure that drilling operations are safe, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly. You’ll also be at the forefront of developing new drilling technologies and techniques to increase efficiency.

Average Salary (BLS): $131,020 (for Mining and Geological Engineers under the oil and gas extraction category, which includes drilling engineers)

Production Engineer

A career as a production engineer means you’ll focus on optimizing the extraction of petroleum from wells. You’ll oversee well completions, develop necessary modifications to the production equipment, and monitor well performance. By working closely with reservoir engineers, your efforts will improve production rates and reduce operating expenses.

Average Salary (BLS): $99,340 (for Industrial Engineers, which can include Production Engineers in the oil and gas industry)

Completion Engineer

As a completion engineer, your expertise will be vital in designing, testing, and executing well-completion techniques. You’ll work with drilling and production engineers to develop the best methods for preparing wells for production, such as perforating, sand control, and hydraulic fracturing. Your role is essential in ensuring wells are completed effectively, safely, and with minimal environmental impact.

Average Salary (BLS): $131,020 (for Mining and Geological Engineers, which includes completion engineers)

How Much Do Petroleum Engineering Graduates Make?

As a petroleum engineer, you’ll play a crucial role in the exploration and production of oil and gas. But how much can you really expect to make in this field? Let’s look at the numbers and find out what your wallet might look like after completing your graduate degree.

Starting Salary for Petroleum Engineering

If you’re fresh out of college with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering, you can expect a fairly attractive starting salary. On average, entry-level petroleum engineers earn around $78,390 up to $110,115 a year. That’s not too shabby for just starting out in the workforce, but it’s just the beginning – your earning potential will only grow from here.

Average Salary for a Master’s in Petroleum Engineering

Considering going the extra mile and obtaining a master’s degree in petroleum engineering? The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average salary for someone with a master’s degree in this field is around $141,570 per year. That’s a significant bump up from an entry-level position, showing how investing in your education is well worth it.

What’s the Most a Petroleum Engineering Graduate Makes?

As you gain experience and progress through your career as a petroleum engineer, your salary will continue to climb. At the peak of your career, you could potentially bring in over $208,000 per year! That’s what we call a rewarding career path.

Tips for Increasing Salary Potential

If you’d like to boost your salary potential in the world of petroleum engineering, here are some practical tips to help you reach your goals:

  • Acquire more work experience: The more experience you have under your belt, the more valuable you become to employers. Seek internships and co-op programs to kick-start your career early.
  • Develop your skills: Growing your skillset in areas such as project management, data analysis, and simulation software can make you a more versatile and in-demand professional.
  • Network, network, network! Building relationships within the industry can lead to job opportunities and pave the way for career advancement. Attend conferences, join professional organizations, and connect with peers and industry leaders.
  • Get professional certifications: Obtaining certifications, like the Professional Engineer (PE) license or the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) certifications, can demonstrate your expertise and commitment to the field.

Continuing Education After a Master’s in Petroleum Engineering

Congratulations – you’ve gotten your master’s degree in petroleum engineering! But you don’t have to stop there.

If you’re looking to advance your career further and expand your expertise, there are many different continuing education options available to you. Whether you choose to pursue advanced certificates or dive deep into a doctorate in petroleum engineering, the possibilities are virtually endless.

In this section, we’ll explore these options and help you discover the path that’s just right for you.

Advanced Certificates

If you’re interested in continuing education after you’ve already got your master’s, did you know that advanced certificates can help you gain even more specialized knowledge and expertise in your field?

Going after these certifications can be an excellent way to stay current with the latest industry developments and technologies, giving you a competitive edge in the job market. Some potential advanced certificates to consider might include reservoir engineering, drilling engineering, or production engineering – just to name a few.

Doctorate in Petroleum Engineering

If you’re looking to dive even deeper into the world of petroleum engineering, a doctorate (Ph.D.) may be the perfect choice. Pursuing a doctorate in petroleum engineering allows you to conduct groundbreaking research, contribute new knowledge to your field, and develop innovative solutions to complex challenges facing the oil and gas industry.

This advanced degree can lead to opportunities as a lead research scientist, a professor in academia, or even a high-ranking leadership position within both the private and public sectors.

Scholarship and Financial Aid Information

Pursuing a master’s in petroleum engineering can be an exciting undertaking, but we know the costs can be intimidating.

Fortunately, there’s a world of scholarships and financial aid opportunities waiting for you!

In this section, we’ll give you a head start on finding the right resources to help you navigate the financial aspects of your educational journey. So let’s dive into the details and get you on your way to earning that coveted degree without breaking the bank.

Financial Aid

One of the most commonly sought out forms of financial aid is applying for Federal Grants and loans by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). FAFSA allows you to be considered for various funding opportunities, which may include grants, loans, and work-study programs depending on your eligibility.

Aside from federal aid, many universities offer financial assistance to their engineering students, so be sure to check with your chosen institution for any school-specific aid available. Don’t hesitate to reach out to professional organizations in the petroleum industry, as they might also provide financial aid programs or sponsorships.

Interestingly, some employers may also be willing to support your master’s in petroleum engineering studies. Companies often invest in their employees’ education as it not only improves their knowledge base but also provides potential career advancements within the organization. Consider discussing educational support opportunities with your employer.


Scholarships are another fantastic way to fund your master’s in petroleum engineering. These are typically merit-based or need-based awards that don’t require repayment, making them an ideal source of financial support. Various scholarships are available through universities, private organizations, government agencies, and industry associations. To increase your chances of receiving a scholarship, start researching opportunities early and pay close attention to application deadlines.

When applying for scholarships, be prepared to provide documentation of your academic achievements, financial need, or any other specific eligibility criteria outlined by the sponsoring organization.

Some scholarships may require essays, letters of recommendation, or interviews as part of the application process. Make sure to prepare thoroughly and thoughtfully present your case for why you deserve the support.


The best way to get the valuable hands-on experience required for success in this industry is through internships.

Here we’ll introduce the concept of internships for petroleum engineering students and explain their importance; let’s dive into the details in the next section.

Why Pursue Internships

Real-world experience:

Textbooks and lectures can only take you so far. By participating in internships, you’ll get to apply the knowledge you’ve gained in the classroom to real-world projects. This hands-on experience will help you develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that employers value.

Networking opportunities:

An internship is a fantastic way to meet professionals in the petroleum engineering field. You’ll get the chance to learn from experts, ask questions, and forge valuable relationships that could lead to job opportunities or mentorship.

Building your resume:

In today’s competitive job market, having internship experiences on your resume can make you stand out from the crowd. Additionally, completing multiple internships will show employers your dedication and passion for the industry.

Potentially securing a job offer:

Many companies use internships as a pipeline for full-time employees. Performing well during your internship could lead to a job offer after graduation, making the transition from student to professional seamless.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

How Much Does a Master’s in Petroleum Engineering Cost?

The cost of a master’s in petroleum engineering can vary significantly, depending on the school, its location, and any financial aid options available. On average, you could expect to pay between $14,066 (in-state) and $64,415 (out-of-state private universities) for the entire program. Keep in mind that factors like choosing an online program or attending a public university can reduce overall costs. It’s wise to research different schools and programs to find one that fits your budget and financial needs.

Is a Master’s in Petroleum Engineering Degree Worth It?

Obtaining a master’s in petroleum engineering can be a great investment, depending on your career goals and aspirations. A master’s degree often leads to better job opportunities, higher salaries, and career advancement within the petroleum industry. Not only will you gain advanced knowledge and expertise in your field, but you’ll also expand your professional network and increase your marketability. It’s important to weigh the potential returns against the investment you’ll make in your education.

How Long Does it Take to Earn an Online Master’s Degree in Petroleum Engineering?

Typically, it takes about two years to complete an online master’s degree in petroleum engineering. However, this timeline can vary based on factors such as the program’s structure or if you choose to attend part-time. Some programs also offer accelerated options, allowing you to earn your degree in a shorter time frame.

Is a Master’s Degree Required to Advance in Petroleum Engineering?

While a master’s degree isn’t always required to advance in petroleum engineering, obtaining one can undoubtedly open up more opportunities for growth and leadership roles. Many professionals with a master’s degree find that they can progress faster in their careers and may have access to specialized or managerial roles. In addition, a master’s degree can help you differentiate yourself in a competitive job market and demonstrate your commitment to the field.

Are Petroleum Engineering Jobs in Demand?

Petroleum engineering jobs, like many professions, are subject to fluctuations in demand due to factors such as economic conditions, government policies, and industry trends. While the field can experience periods of high demand, it is also susceptible to downturns when the oil and gas sector faces challenges. However, over the long term, the need for skilled petroleum engineers is expected to remain steady as the world continues to rely on oil and gas resources.

What Industries Are Hiring Petroleum Engineering Graduates that have a Master’s Degree?

With a master’s degree in petroleum engineering, you’ll find opportunities across a variety of industries related to oil and gas exploration, extraction, and production. Some of these industries include:

  • Oil and gas companies
  • Engineering consulting firms
  • Government agencies
  • Environmental organizations
  • Research institutions

In addition to traditional petroleum engineering roles, your advanced degree may also qualify you for positions in project management or even academia.

Is an Online Master’s in Petroleum Engineering the same as an On-Campus Degree?

An online master’s in petroleum engineering is generally equivalent to an on-campus degree in terms of course content, learning outcomes, and recognition by employers. The primary difference is in the mode of delivery, with online programs offering greater flexibility and convenience for those with busy schedules or geographical constraints.

While the online format may seem different from an on-campus experience, both types of programs are designed to provide you with a solid foundation in petroleum engineering principles and advanced skills necessary to excel in your career. Ultimately, the decision between an online or on-campus program should be based on your personal learning preferences, schedule, and location constraints.


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