Undergraduate Program

Mines Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum Engineering Program Description

Are you interested in joining an essential field that truly powers the world?

The Petroleum Engineering Undergraduate Program at Colorado School of Mines prepares students for success in an energy industry that serves the oil and natural gas industry but is also quickly evolving into one exploring many different energy sources, such as geothermal energy and hydrogen. Rewarding careers in petroleum engineering are in high demand as we strive to meet the world’s ever-increasing need for energy and carbon management in a sustainable manner.

Our undergraduate students immerse themselves in a comprehensive program addressing the full scope of this field. At Mines, we value hands-on learning, which is why we offer two unique field sessions for students that take them to functioning oil fields in Colorado and across the world. And with active student organizations and annual conferences, you’ll have the opportunity to network with fellow students and industry leaders.

Learn more about joining one of the top petroleum engineering programs in the world!

Areas of Focus

Graduating class of 2023


We know where the oil is, now what? Reservoir engineers study how the different types of rocks, liquids and gases interact to figure out exactly where the oil is and how to get it out. They create models to help predict the best ways to get oil and gas out of the ground.

Students working on a computer


It’s more than just digging a hole; it’s knowing how to plan the well, what equipment to choose and how to utilize it effectively. Drilling engineers focus on how fluids, pressure and other factors affect your drilling.



Once a hole is drilled, how do you finish it? Completions engineers address problems like what pipe designs to use, how to stimulate the well to produce more or how to analyze and prevent possible environmental damage.



Know how to get liquids out of the ground and where you want them to go. Production engineers can focus on how to use pumps to extract oil and gas or on the various transportation methods and surface facilities.


Data Analytics

There are huge quantities of data in all stages of development, and we need data analytics engineers who can analyze that data to provide insights on how to make petroleum resource acquisition more economical, safe and environmentally friendly.

Faculty instructing student on computer

Students looking at drill bit on ground.

We strive to offer students a fully immersive and comprehensive education.

That’s why, in addition to learning about core components of petroleum engineering, our curriculum incorporates a variety of fields, including:

    • Math
    • Computer science
    • Data analytics
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • The humanities
    • Technical communication
    • Report writing and public speaking
    • Environmental issues
    • Corporate social responsibility

    Current Students

    In addition to the support of our faculty and staff, please use this page as a key resource during your time at Mines. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.

    More Information

    Summer Sessions

    Our undergraduate program offers two distinct summer sessions: one after the sophomore year and one after the junior year.

    Summer Field Session 1: this one-week session is designed to introduce students to the petroleum industry. Not only do we highlight various career opportunities, but we also introduce students to petroleum field and office operations and geology where they’ll learn about health, safety and environmental awareness. Historically, these sessions have been hosted in the Permian Basin, Rocky Mountain Region, Alaska, Canada, Europe and other locations.

    Summer Field Session 2: after their junior year, students will engage in a two-week summer session focusing on geologic settings and their importance in oil and natural gas production. This includes an in-depth study of the Rangely Oil Field in Western Colorado. The Rangely Oil Field is the largest in the Rocky Mountain region and has undergone primary, secondary and enhanced recovery processes. Field work in the area provide the setting for understanding the complexity of geologic systems and the environmental and safety issues in the context of reservoir development and management.


    Non-petroleum engineering majors may choose from one of the two following minors. Petroleum engineering majors are eligible for the Data Analytics minor:

    Students may also learn more about our minors here.

    Complimentary Minors

    There are many programs across campus that work well with a petroleum engineering degree, including:

    • Corporate Social Responsibility
    • Geology
    • Geophysics
    • Computer Science
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Economics

    Combined BS & MS Programs

    Petroleum Engineering

    Here at Mines, students can earn a combined bachelors and masters degree in Petroleum Engineering. This program allows you to double-count six credit hours in both the undergrad and graduate programs. Students choose from a Masters of Science (research and thesis) or Masters of Engineering (no thesis).

    Petroleum + Engineering and Technology Management

    Mines’ 4+1 Petroleum Engineering BS and Engineering and Technology Management (ETM) MS combine a deep understanding of engineering fundamentals with practical business knowledge and leadership skills. Build upon your technical depth with management and decision-making tools to enhance your knowledge, marketability and career potential.

    Students can double count six credits of approved courses toward their ETM degree.

    Students can double count six credits of approved undergraduate courses (such as EBGN 425/525 or PEGN 438) toward their ETM degree.

    Check out this flyer for more information, or go to etm.mines.edu.

    Professional Organizations

    To help our students take that next step in their careers, our petroleum engineering department partners with various professional organizations. These partnerships help students learn more about the professional industry of petroleum engineering and offer important networking opportunities.

    The Petroleum Engineering Department encourages involvement with the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the American Association of Drilling Engineers, and the American Rock Mechanics Association. The department provides some financial support for students attending the annual technical conferences for these professional societies.

    Local Chapters:

    Exchange Programs

    Undergraduate and Graduate students in the Petroleum Department have the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs with the following institutions:

    • King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran Saudi Arabia
    • IFP-Petroleum Economics and Management, Rueil-Malmaison, France
    • Montanuniversitat, Leoben Austria
    • Khalifa Institute, Abu Dhabi, UAE
    • University of Nicosia, Cyprus
    • University of Aberdeen, Scotland
    • Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway


    Interested students, please contract the Office of Global Education about specifics for each program.


    Career Opportunities

    A career in this industry may begin anywhere—a small town in the Rocky Mountains, a large U.S. city, or a remote location in any oil, gas, and geothermal producing area of the world. Most petroleum engineers are employed in the exploration for and the production of oil and gas. Others pursue related careers in geothermal energy production, environment protection, and hazardous waste remediation and disposal.

    Most jobs involve a combination of office work and the use of expensive, computer-oriented, state-of-the-art technology, plus opportunities for trips to the field to supervise projects that the petroleum engineer has designed. In both cases, they use the state of the art technologies in a wide spectrum of disciplines from earth sciences to engineering, social sciences, management, and economics. Petroleum engineers are typically employed by

    • major, fully-integrated international oil companies;
    • smaller independent operators;
    • specialized companies that provide services for the producing companies;
    • or consulting firms in oil and gas or the environmental arena.

    Recent graduates are working in production and operations, research, and consulting, and some have university faculty positions. In addition to exciting careers in the petroleum industry, many graduates find rewarding careers in other areas including

    • Law
    • Medicine
    • Business
    • Systems engineering in renewable energy enterprises

    New jobs exist in some surprising fields. An example is the current research being conducted to transfer earth drilling technology to space drilling on the moon or mars, using lasers for oil and gas drilling on earth, and ice coring in the Antarctic.

    Career Path

    A typical career path begins with the new engineer working for a well-established corporation for training and exposure to the company’s businesses. The entry-level engineer will work on integrated multidisciplinary teams, later moving into middle management or other positions of team leadership. Many engineers then accept upper management within the same company, or begin work with a new company or consulting firm. Petroleum engineers by nature are risk takers, and start up many companies at various stages of their career. In this industry, it is common that one’s career path will include a variety of assignments in many locations around the U.S. or the world. (Overseas assignments are readily available for all who are interested.)

    Skills and Education

    To be successful in the petroleum industry, it is best to have a solid educational foundation in petroleum engineering—and today this means possessing the requisite interpersonal skills. Teamwork and communication are essential for success and satisfaction. Top professionals enjoy working with integrated multidisciplinary teams on meaningful projects with significant consequences, such as deciding whether or not to spend $1.0 billion on an offshore platform and, if so, where to place it and how to design it.

    After graduation, the petroleum engineer begins a path of lifelong learning, facilitated initially by membership as students in professional societies like the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the American Association of Drilling Engineers or the American Rock Mechanics Association, to keep abreast of the latest technologies. Petroleum engineers may specialize during their career in drilling, completions, reservoir or production engineering, or they may move from one area to another as the opportunities present themselves. Petroleum engineers must estimate and manage risk, including operational, and technical risks, or the uncertainty in future oil and gas prices.

    Future Opportunities

    Several worldwide trends ensure that the strong demand for petroleum engineers will continue. The ever-increasing population of the earth, combined with the growing thirst for energy in the developing countries, is putting significant upward pressure on the demand for oil and gas production. This increasing demand for energy, and the simple fact that oil and gas resources are limited, places the petroleum engineer in a strong position now and for many years to come

    The recent shale developments, first in the United States and then across the world, will demand many petroleum engineers to successfully produce hydrocarbons in an economic and environmentally responsible manner. The era of “easy oil” is over, and more engineers will be required with innovative ideas to produce the energy needed by the world’s growing population, and manage energy price volatility. These new engineers will work closely with other geoscientists in multi-disciplinary teams, and will need good communication skills to convey their ideas to various stakeholders, including their colleagues, investors and the public.

    The ever-increasing integration of multidisciplinary teams of professionals—including petroleum engineers, geologists, geophysicists, and others—is another trend shaping the future of the industry. Joint ventures and partnerships among companies, and outsourcing of projects are opening new opportunities and new ways of doing business. These business trends are accelerating simultaneously with technological advances in the areas of computer simulation of underground oil and gas reservoirs, geophysical seismic techniques, horizontal drilling, and offshore drilling and production.

    In summary, these trends, in combination with others, indicate that both the short and long-term demand for petroleum engineers will be high; PEs will be provided with expensive tools, and they will be expected to design significant projects in a global environment. In many ways, the atmosphere for petroleum engineers today is more exciting and satisfying than ever before.


    The Petroleum Engineering Program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, https://www.abet.org, under the General Criteria and the Petroleum and Similarly Named Engineering Programs Program Criteria

    The enrollment and graduation data for the Petroleum Engineering program and other Mines programs can be found on the homepage of the Mines Office of Institutional Research.

    Petroleum Engineering Undergraduate Program

    Preparing students for success!