Top Petroleum Engineering Schools in the US

Petroleum engineering is a very rewarding career choice that is always in demand. If you have decided you want to be a petroleum engineer, the next logical step is gathering information on different petroleum engineering curriculum to help you choose the best petroleum engineering school.

What is Petroleum Engineering?

It is the process of discovering, managing, refining and extracting petroleum based hydrocarbons like crude oil, natural  gas and other sources of energy from underground reservoirs.

The process is so complex that sub-disciplines are formed to focus on different key aspects of accessing petroleum and removing them.

A student taking a petroleum engineering degree will be taught to perform tasks from evaluating potential gas and oil reservoirs to overseeing drilling activities, implementing recovery schemes to using advanced computer systems.

Top Petroleum Engineering Schools in the US

We did the groundwork for you, researched deep and came up with the best petroleum engineering schools in the US.

Our ranking system is based on various factors with different levels of importance assigned to these factors. The most important factor is the how many petroleum engineering degrees were awarded by the school as it indicates the school has a better curriculum.

The other factors are acceptance rate, graduation rate, retention rate, student to faculty ratio and total cost of the program.

Petroleum engineering field is a highly sought after profession hence getting a degree from these top petroleum engineering schools is crucial to a successful career.

The Top Petroleum Engineering Schools in the US

  • University of Texas at Austin – 79% Graduation Rate
  • Texas A&M University – 79% Graduation Rate
  • Colorado School of Mines – 70% Graduation Rate
  • Pennsylvania State University – 85% Graduation Rate
  • University of Tulsa – 69% Graduation Rate
  • University of Southern California (USC) – 91% Graduation Rate
  • Stanford University Petroleum Engineering – 96% Graduation Rate
  • University of Oklahoma – 66% Graduation Rate
  • Texas Tech University – 59% Graduation Rate
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology – 63% Graduation Rate
  • Louisiana State University – 69% Graduation Rate
  • New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology – 44% Graduation Rate
  • University of Pittsburgh – 80% Graduation Rate
  • West Virginia University – 57% Graduation Rate
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette – 45% Graduation Rate

Why Choose a Petroleum Engineering Career?

The world needs energy and most of it comes from crude oil and natural gas. We require an effective way to find and extract energy to meet the demands of the world. Petroleum engineers are highly sought after and are highly paid.

What Do Petroleum Engineers Do?

There are four divisions of petroleum engineering and each speciality work together innovatively to carry out various tasks to extract petroleum products from the earth or ocean floor. You need to be able to work in a team, have excellent communication and problem solving skills for this field.

The four divisions are:

Petroleum Geologists

They have to find oil wells through analysing grounds by geological methods and come out with new methods to extract underground oil.

Reservoir Engineers

They use computers to optimise the production of oil and gas via well placement and oil recovery techniques.

Production Engineers

They perform tasks like perforations, artificial lift, sand control etc to coordinate the interface between reservoir and well.

Drill Engineers

Their focus is how to best access the oil from the underground wells. They oversee the entire drilling process while monitoring it for safety and cost effectiveness.

How Do You Become a Petroleum Engineer?

It is challenging to enrol into a petroleum engineering program, only a few applicants get selected. The industry requires academic skills like mathematics, chemistry, geology, physics etc. Aside from that, you should possess passion, curiosity and the ability to solve problems.

You should get into a program with experienced lecturers from a reputable school and it is a full-time 5 year course for most institutions.

With modern technology advancing, your institution need to have cutting-edge facilities so you have the opportunity to use advanced computer systems for simulation and analysis.

Though a lucrative profession, petroleum engineering comes with a price, you also need these qualities:


The environment in this industry changes quickly.

Calm Presence

Be calm and level headed to react and perform under any situation.


Make informed decisions yourself, take control and responsibility for the decision you made.

Willing to Travel

One of the hardest thing to do as you will be away from home for long periods at a time.

Finding Petroleum Engineering Internships

Work experience is equally important as academic studies and you should jump at the opportunity of an internship with well known companies like Shell, ExxonMobil and BP. If you did not score an internship with them, you can try applying at Marathon Oil or the relatively new Southernwestern Energy Company.

If not, consider foreign companies like Canadian Natural from Canada or Statoil from Norway to gain international exposure beside valuable work experience.

Salary and Prospects of Petroleum Engineers

The prospects for petroleum engineering is very bright according to the Bureau of Labor Statisitcs, the number of jobs is expected to grow u to 17% by 2020. As it is a skilled profession, those in this industry can look forward to a nice pay check which ranges from $70,000 to $187,000 yearly, an average of $130,000 per year.

Excellent prospect and high salary makes petroleum engineering jobs very attractive, however one must bear in mind the challenges and stress the job entails. Besides the necessary skills and technical know-how, patience and self-confidence are also needed to take on these difficult working environment.

It is a hard field to get into but your chances of gaining entry into this industry increases if you managed to secure a place in one of the top petroleum engineering schools in US in the list above.

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