Pursuing a PhD in Petroleum Engineering
Doctoral degrees position individuals to make significant research contributions to their field. With one of the 15 Best PhDs in Petroleum Engineering, students can help engineer the future of petroleum for 2020.
Individuals interested in the most advanced details of the petroleum engineering field may benefit from one of Grad School Hub‘s 15 Best PhDs in Petroleum Engineering. Doctoral degree programs are heavily research-based and designed for those with a strong foundational understanding of and interest in their field. Most of the following degree programs require applicants to hold a Master of Science degree for Petroleum Engineering or a closely related field. Some programs admit those who hold relevant Bachelor of Science degrees if they complete additional qualifying coursework.
The Petroleum Engineering programs listed include research-based courses in the field. The field of Petroleum Engineering can be loosely categorized into areas of drilling, production, and reservoir engineering. A significant portion of these doctoral programs is devoted to supervised research in areas of students’ particular interest or expertise. Most Ph.D. programs require qualifying, or comprehensive examinations, as well as research theses, projects, and dissertations. Doctoral dissertations generally require a proposal, extensive research and a subsequent report or project, and a written or oral defense.
Doctoral degrees position graduates to pursue research-based or academic positions in the field of petroleum engineering. Doctoral students may go on to work as professors or laboratory researchers in the field. In general, petroleum engineers examine, design, and develop methods for extracting petroleum, oil, and gas from the Earth. Petroleum engineers may work at drilling and well sites, or in a behind-the-scenes capacity in offices or research labs. According to the most recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, petroleum engineers had a 2017 annual salary of $132,280. The demand for petroleum engineers is growing at a projected rate of about 15 percent. This is much faster than the industry average, as gas prices can lead to increased investment in oil-related production and exploration.
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Accredited Online College Programs
Best PhDs in Petroleum Engineering
||Colorado School of Mines
||Louisiana State University
||Baton Rouge, LA
||Missouri University of Science and Technology
||Texas A & M University
||College Station, TX
||Texas Tech University
||The University of Texas at Austin
||University of Alaska Fairbanks
||University of Houston
||University of Louisiana at Lafayette
The staff of Grad School Hub has compiled the following 15 Best PhDs in Petroleum Engineering for the 2019-20 academic school year based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Data contributed from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Department of Labor plays a significant role in how graduate degree programs are ranked because institutional transparency is essential for deciding which career path is right for you. Based on this data, GSH organizes information into five weighted categories, which are:
- Alumni Feedback: 20%
- Continued Enrollment: 20%
- Degree Selectivity: 10%
- Graduate Expenses: 25%
- Projected Annual Salary: 25%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible through our Ranking Methodology page.
Here are the 15 Best Ph.D.s’ in Petroleum Engineering for 2019 – 2020!
The Colorado School of Mines offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Petroleum Engineering. The program is open to students who hold a Master of Science degree in petroleum engineering or a related discipline. Students must complete a minimum of 54 credit hours beyond the master's degree, with at least 30 credit hours spent on research. All students must also write and defend a graduate research thesis. The interdisciplinary curriculum focuses on areas such as fluid and rock behavior, well testing, artificial lift, and economic evaluation. The department is home to a state-of-the-art computer lab, drilling fluids and simulator laboratories, and a reservoir characterization laboratory. Students are encouraged to get involved with the American Association of Drilling Engineers, the American Rock Mechanics Association, and the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Students also have opportunities to study abroad in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, France, or Austria.
Colorado School of Mines is devoted specifically to applied science and engineering, and it has expertise in areas relating to natural resources. The institution runs the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum and hosts the Colorado State Science Olympiad. It also hosts an international oil shale symposium each year.
Louisiana State University
Louisiana State University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Petroleum Engineering. Applicants must hold a Master of Science degree in petroleum engineering or an MS in a related engineering or science field plus additional coursework. The degree requires 21 core credit hours in drilling, formation evaluation, engineering mathematics, and reservoir engineering. Students must also select a concentration. Coursework includes milestone exams periodically throughout the program.
LSU is a public state university in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It is the flagship school of Louisiana and the flagship institution of the Louisiana State University System. A land-, sea-, and space-grant institution, it has conducted research in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university No. 140 in National Universities and No. 70 in Top Public Schools. It is also ranked No. 10 in graduate Petroleum Engineering.
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Missouri University of Science and Technology offers students the choice to pursue either a Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Engineering degree in Petroleum Engineering. The program emphasizes mechanical earth modeling as a specialty and is ideal for students with a background in geological engineering and geomechanics. The program's research specialties include hydraulic fracturing, gel treatments, and geomechanics of petroleum recovery. Students also have access to lab equipment such as viscometers, tensiometers, and liquid parameters.
Missouri S&T is a public university in Rolla, Missouri is known primarily for its engineering school. The university is a member institution of the University of Missouri System. It operates the Missouri S&T nuclear research reactor, the first operational nuclear reactor in the state. The university offers ongoing projects in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Guatemala through its Engineers Without Borders chapter. A land- and space-grant research university, Missouri S&T's other significant projects include a house sustained by solar energy, a remote-controlled airplane, and a human-powered vehicle. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university No. 157 in National Universities, No. 80 in Top Public Schools, and No. 67 in Doctorate Engineering Programs.
Stanford University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Petroleum Engineering. The degree program requires 90 units beyond the Master of Science degree, including 36-course units and 54 research units. Each student is also required to act as a teaching assistant at some point during their candidacy. Course offerings include Energy Efficient Buildings, Fuel Cell Technology, Groundwater Flow, and Technology in the Greenhouse. All students must also complete a written Ph.D. proposal and defense.
Stanford is a private research university in Stanford, California. Its campus includes the Stanford Research Park, the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. The university has made significant discoveries in the realms of business and the sciences, including DNA synthesis, the laser, Google, and Yahoo!. U.S. News & World Report ranks Stanford No. 7 in National Universities, No. 5 in Best Value Schools, and No. 5 in Most Innovative Schools. It is also ranked No. 2 in Best Engineering Schools and No. 3 in Petroleum Engineering at the graduate level.
Texas A & M University
College Station, TX
Grad School Hub's top-ranked doctorate program in Petroleum Engineering is offered by Texas A&M University. The university's Doctor of Philosophy in Petroleum Engineering requires 64 hours beyond the master's level. At least one year of the program must be completed in residence on the Texas A&M campus. Students must also complete two to four courses outside the petroleum department and two credits of internship. Required coursework includes a preliminary exam, a research proposal, a doctoral dissertation, and a final exam.
Texas A&M University is a public state flagship university in College Station, Texas. Its student body is the largest in the state of Texas and the second-largest in the United States. A land-, sea-, and space-grant research institution, A&M is a member of the Association of American Universities. The university researches projects funded by organizations such as NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university No. 66 in National Universities, No. 44 in Best Value Schools, No. 37 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 24 in Top Public Schools. The site also ranks the university No. 15 in Best Engineering Schools and No. 2 in Petroleum Engineering at the graduate level.
Texas Tech University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Petroleum Engineering. Qualified applicants should hold a Bachelor of Science degree in petroleum engineering. The doctoral program requires a minimum of 72 credit hours beyond the BS level. The curriculum is organized into five core areas: Computational, Drilling Engineering, Formation Evaluation, Production Engineering, and Reservoir Engineering. All students must complete a two-part qualifying exam. The exam includes an assessment on undergraduate-level petroleum engineering curriculum and an oral defense of a dissertation proposal.
Texas Tech University is a public state university in Lubbock, Texas. It is the flagship institution of the four-campus Texas Tech University System. The university conducts prominent research projects in areas such as epidemiology, atmospheric sciences, and wind energy. It has also made numerous contributions to NASA research efforts. U.S. News & World Report ranks Texas Tech No. 187 in National Universities, No. 100 in Top Public Schools, and No. 87 in Doctorate Engineering Programs. It is also ranked No. 9 in Petroleum Engineering.
The University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering. Applicants do not need to have a background in petroleum engineering and will be considered o long as they have a bachelor's degree in engineering, math, or sciences. Each student must complete background courses in drilling engineering, geology, production engineering, reservoir engineering, and well logging. Students research subjects such as artificial lift, drilling, logging, oil recovery, stimulation, and rock mechanics. All students must pass a written qualifying exam and an oral doctoral research proposal exam. They must then produce and orally defend a research dissertation.
The University of Texas at Austin is the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. It is a public space-grant research university. Located in Austin, Texas, it has the nation's eighth-largest single-campus enrollment. It is counted among the nation's "Public Ivy" institutions, meaning its educational quality is comparable to that of the private Ivy League. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university No. 49 in National Universities, No. 16 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 15 in Top Public Schools. The site also ranks the university No. 1 in Petroleum Engineering at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
University of Alaska Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers a concentration in Mining and Petroleum within its Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering program. Applicants must hold either a Bachelor of Science or Master of Science in Engineering to be accepted. The 36-credit curriculum includes concentrated course offerings in Coal Preparation, Mineral Valuation and Economics, and Mine Systems Simulation. Students are expected to achieve a minimum of three full-time semesters of on-campus study. Each student must also pass a written and oral comprehensive exam and a doctoral research thesis proposal, program, and defense.
UAF is a public land-, sea-, and space-grant institution in College, Alaska, and the flagship school of the University of Alaska system. The campus includes research institutes such as the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, the Geophysical Institute, and the Institute of Northern Engineering. It is noted for research specialties including Arctic biology and engineering and Alaska Native studies. The university is ranked No. 146 in doctorate Engineering Programs by U.S. News & World Report.
The University of Houston offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Petroleum Engineering. Interested students must apply with transcripts showing an acquired Bachelor of Science or Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering or a relevant engineering or scientific field. Courses include Artificial Lift, Geomechanics, Horizontal Wells, and Well Logging. Beyond required courses, the program of study includes a six-credit doctoral seminar, 12 credits of advanced electives, 18 research credits, and a 12-credit doctoral dissertation. Students must also pass a qualifying exam before advancing to candidate status. Students can choose to take three of the following four exams: Drilling & Completion, Formation Evaluation & Reservoir Characterization, Production Engineering, and Reservoir Engineering.
UH is a public state university and the flagship institution of the University of Houston System and is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a doctoral degree-granting research institution with "highest research activity." The university conducts interdisciplinary research in areas such as artificial intelligence, biomedical sciences, natural resources, space exploration, and superconductivity. U.S. News & World Report ranks UH No. 171 in National Universities and No. 91 in Top Public Schools. The site also ranks the university No. 69 in Best Engineering Schools.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette offers a Petroleum Engineering concentration within its Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Engineering program. The program is open to students with a Bachelor of Science or Master of Science degree in an engineering field. The program curriculum explores topics related to the systems of biofuels production facilities, biomass gasification units, coastal ecosystems, deep-water drilling operations, refineries, and more. The university is ranked No. 179 in doctorate Engineering Programs by U.S. News & World Report.
UL Lafayette is a public research university in Lafayette, Louisiana. It has the largest student enrollment of all nine constituents of the University of Louisiana System, and the second-largest in the state. It is categorized as a Doctoral University with Higher Research Activity by the Carnegie Foundation. As a member of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, LSU researches academic areas involving data science, visual analytics, and primates.
The University of Oklahoma offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Petroleum Engineering. Students must perform at least 12 hours of post-Master of Science coursework, as well as 36 to 48 credit hours of dissertation work. Petroleum Engineering courses include Enhanced Oil Recovery, Natural Gas Finance, Natural Gas Processing, Seismic Reservoir Modeling. In order to graduate, each student must publish a paper and give a presentation at a professional society meeting or department seminar.
OU is a public flagship research university in Norman, Oklahoma. A space-grant institution, it is classified as a research university with "very high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation. Its campus includes the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, which specializes in French Impressionism and Native American artwork, and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, which specializes in the state's natural history. U.S. News & World Report ranks OU No. 106 in Best Engineering Schools and No. 6 in Petroleum Engineering at the graduate level.
The University of Pittsburgh offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical & Petroleum Engineering through its Swanson Engineering School. Prospective students should already have a Master of Science degree and pass a doctoral preliminary oral exam to be admitted into the program. Curriculum requirements include a course in Issues in Chemical Engineering, an advanced graduate project, and a doctoral dissertation. Before completing the dissertation, students must take a comprehensive oral exam. All students must also take research methodology courses each term and complete a two-term teaching practicum.
Pitt operates four campuses in Western Pennsylvania in Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown, and Titusville in addition to its main campus in Pittsburgh. Pitt is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university No. 70 in National Universities, No. 55 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 26 in Top Public Schools. It is also ranked No. 47 in Best Engineering Schools.
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Petroleum Engineering through its USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Qualified applicants must have a bachelor's degree in engineering, math, or hard science. The program requires a minimum of 60 units at the graduate level, including research courses and a doctoral dissertation. Core courses include Enhanced Oil Recovery, Fluid Flow and Transport Processes in Porous Media, and Testing of Wells and Aquifers.
Founded in 1880, USC is the oldest private research university in the state of California in addition to being the largest private employer in Los Angeles. A sea- and space-grant institution, USC is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. Significant technological developments have been made at the university, including antivirus software, DNA computing, and the Domain Name System. Among the university's notable alumni are George Lucas, Frank Gehry, John Wayne, and Neil Armstrong. U.S. News & World Report ranks USC No. 37 in Best Value Schools, No. 28 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 22 in National Universities. The site also ranks the university No. 9 in Best Engineering Schools and No. 8 in Petroleum Engineering at the graduate level.
The University of Tulsa offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Petroleum Engineering through its College of Engineering & Natural Sciences. Prospective students must already have a Bachelor's degree in engineering, physics, or math. Ph.D. applicants without an undergraduate degree in petroleum engineering may be required to take additional courses. Students without a master's degree must complete the doctoral qualifying exams. The degree program requires a minimum of 78 credit hours above the baccalaureate level, including at least 20 credit hours of research and dissertation including a master's thesis. The curriculum includes three core courses: Advanced Reservoir Engineering, Advanced Production Design, and Advanced Drilling.
TU is a private research university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. Located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the university manages the Gilcrease Museum and The Bob Dylan Archive. TU is focused on energy, maintaining both the National Energy-Environment Law and Policy Institute and the National Energy Policy Institute. It is also home to the Tulsa Institute for Trauma; Abuse and Neglect, a research institute examining the impacts of trauma and adversity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university No. 106 in National Universities and No. 4 for Graduate Petroleum Engineering.
West Virginia University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering. Doctoral applicants must hold a Bachelor of Science or Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering. The 48-hour curriculum covers research areas such as the application of artificial intelligence, development of the unconventional oil and gas resources, drilling and completion, and reservoir modeling and simulation. Sample course offerings include Fluid Flow in Porous Media, Petroleum Engineering Problems, Pressure Transient Analysis, and Secondary Recovery of Oil by Water Flooding. Students must also complete graduate seminars and independent research each term. The program includes a qualifying exam, candidacy exam, and final exam.
WVU is a public flagship university in Morgantown, West Virginia. A multi-campus institution, it also operates campuses in the West Virginia towns of Beckley, Charleston, and Keyser. WVU is a land- and space-grant research-intensive university classified by the Carnegie Foundation as having "very high research activity." The university conducts significant research in areas such as Alzheimer's and biometric technology research. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university No. 205 in National Universities, No. 112 in Top Public Schools, and No. 116 in doctorate Engineering Programs.