Schools for Aspiring Petroleum Geologists

Petroleum geologists and scientists use seismic and geological data to explore the Earth's oceans and terrain for gasoline and oil deposits. A master's degree in geology is usually required for employment as a petroleum geologist, though a bachelor's degree can qualify graduates for some entry-level jobs in the field.

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How to Select a Petroleum Geology School

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most government agencies and private companies prefer to hire petroleum geologists with a master's degree in geology (www.bls.gov). Many universities across the country offer both bachelor's and master's degree programs with concentrations in petroleum geology. An undergraduate major in geology is not necessarily required for admission to a relevant graduate program.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Faculty and laboratories
  • Area of focus

Faculty and Laboratories

Master's programs at universities with leading petroleum geologists on faculty, devoted laboratories, advanced subsurface research stations and data archives may be the most desirable for those interested in the field.

Area of Focus

Students may also want to consider a program with a concentration option in petroleum geology or petroleum geochemistry in addition to general geological study. Although a specialization in petroleum is more common at the graduate level, some undergraduate programs offer the concentration.

Several universities offer professional master's degree programs focused solely on petroleum geology. These programs are designed for working geoscientists or those with a bachelor's degree looking to enter or advance in the petroleum industry. They often can be completed part-time.

Petroleum Geology Program Overviews

Bachelor's Degree in Geology

Baccalaureate programs in geology focus on general geological research and instruction and some offer courses in petroleum geology. Many programs also require students to complete a summer fieldwork course with local affiliated organizations or through school-sponsored research projects. Course topics often include:

  • Advanced math
  • Earth sciences
  • Hydrology
  • Petrology

Master's Degree in Petroleum Geology

Master's degree programs in geology with a specialization in petroleum geology can take two years of full-time study to complete. Some schools offer an option of a research thesis, project or comprehensive examination for graduation. Professional organizations in the industry offer additional funding and scholarship opportunities for graduate students devoted to petroleum geology. Courses include:

  • Seismic interpretation
  • Petrophysics
  • Petroleum exploration
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