How Do I Get a Petroleum Engineering Degree?

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  • Written By: Bobby R. Goldsmith
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2019
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To get a petroleum engineering degree, you will need to follow one of several paths, depending upon the type of petroleum engineering degree you want to obtain. If you want to earn a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering, the process can be completed much more quickly than if you want to obtain a PhD. Generally, the type of work that you want to pursue at the conclusion of your petroleum engineering degree program dictates which type of degree you should seek. Depending upon the degree type, you may need to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), successfully complete and defend a research or engineering project and maintain a high grade point average in all coursework that you undertake.

For an undergraduate petroleum engineering degree, you must first complete the first two years of coursework, which is approximately 80 credit hours. Though there will be introductory courses in engineering, general science, and math, you will also be required to take courses in language arts, social sciences, and other subject areas outside of your major in petroleum engineering. To qualify for a bachelor's degree program, you must have a high school diploma, a general education diploma (GED), or an associate's degree from an accredited community college. Generally, a minimum grade point average of 2.0 is required.


When you successfully complete the lower division portion of an undergraduate petroleum engineering degree, you will move into the upper division segment. The upper division courses will focus material and research projects that deal with petroleum extraction, refinement, distribution, and disposal. Some of your courses will also focus on the manufacturing processes and equipment used in petroleum extraction or in refinement facilities.

If you want to earn a post-graduate degree in petroleum engineering, you must complete a bachelor's degree first. During the final year of your bachelor's program, you can apply to schools that offer a master's or PhD program in petroleum engineering. Most schools require that you complete the general portion of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

You must earn a competitive score on the GRE exam in order to qualify for admission to the graduate school to which you are applying. Send official transcripts from the school that conferred your bachelor's degree, as well as three letters of recommendation from instructors. Each letter must attest to your academic aptitude and likely ability to excel in a post-graduate petroleum engineering program.


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