With the growth of the internet, a few major schools began offering online petroleum engineering degrees, also known as distance learning. The advantages of these programs include being able to complete the degree from any location, and accessing the course materials and lectures online to complete their degree requirements.
Distance learning continues to grow as a viable learning option as more and more universities realize the larger pool of students they can access, especially those that are not able to relocate to attend on-campus classes. In most cases, these programs tend to offer longer completion periods due to the fact that many people who are interested in online degrees either have jobs or other obligations.
However, there is no distinction made between online and on-campus degrees, and a student seeking to pursue a petroleum engineering degree online can obtain the same level of recognition as any other degree holder. Yet, as with the traditional degree, your online school must have the same level of accreditation as per ABET guidelines to ensure professional acceptance of the qualification. Let’s take a look at some of the best accredited online programs in petroleum engineering.
Best Schools to Obtain Your Petroleum Engineering Degree Online
University of Southern California
One of the leading universities that provide an online program for petroleum engineering is the University of Southern California (USC) through its Viterbi School of Engineering’s Distance Education Network. As an online graduate program for the engineering field, it is currently ranked #4 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings and its online delivery platform is considered one of the best in the country.
The university currently offers the basic online petroleum engineering degree, as well as two specialized degrees with one that includes Geosciences Technologies and Smart Oilfield Technologies. The course curriculum is similar to that of an on-campus student, but online students are given the extra flexibility to finish the degree in a longer time frame.
Viterbi’s platform offers students a variety of ways to complete program content online including through Skype and Cisco WebEx, as well as a number of online collaboration tools so that students can participate in online lectures and classes. All course assignments can be done online, but tests and examinations will need to be scheduled at regional testing centers. USC currently does not offer online bachelors in petroleum engineering.
University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota’s College of Engineering & Mines offers another great distance learning program. It meets the accreditation requirements as outlined by ABET and it offers a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering with the flexibility to take up to six years to complete the degree.
The objective here is to allow students to continue with their existing career while committing to a curriculum of online courses as well as periodic on-campus visits to participate in required labs and examinations as determined by the university. These visits are pre-planned with the student and are usually scheduled during the summer period to have less impact on both work and study requirements.
Courses are the same as on-campus students and all materials are accessible online with the necessary software tools. In addition, college lectures are recorded and can be viewed via the internet either live, or as a recorded webinar at a later, more convenient schedule. Online students have the same requirements to qualify for their degree, but do have the flexibility to discuss with their instructors time frames for completion of their courses and assignment. The University of North Dakota does not currently provide its master’s program online.
Texas A&M University
Another university that has the option of distance learning is Texas A&M University with its masters of engineering degree in petroleum engineering. The program follows a track which does not require a researched thesis. If you require pursuing a track with a thesis, this will yield a Master of Science degree but it is not available as an online degree due to on-campus research requirements.
Texas A&M’s online petroleum engineering program can be completed in a period of four years, but the student is also allowed the flexibility of up to seven years depending on their ability to devote time to complete the course material. The degree follows the exact same curriculum as an on-campus student, but all materials are available online for access, study and completion of assignments at times convenient to the student.
The course outline is designed with the working petroleum engineer in mind so that the course work builds on his or her experience to make the degree more valuable and educational. There is a requirement to complete one project report under the guidance of a senior faculty, and this can be based on issues faced by the student in their current work environment. One unique point of this program is that it requires no on-campus visits by the student as all requirements can be fulfilled online. Texas A&M University, however, does not provide their bachelor of science in petroleum engineering online.
Is an Online Petroleum Engineering Degree Right for You?
Distance learning is a great option for students looking to earn their petroleum engineering degree but not willing to relocate, as well as existing petroleum engineers who cannot afford to give up their current job due to family and other limitations. If this sounds like you, then you should definitely consider obtaining your degree online.
While online schools are a dime a dozen, ones that offers an accredited petroleum engineering degree are quite limited. This is due to a number of reasons including unique requirements that require in-person classes, and the sheer cost of running an online program. The school would need to invest in technology and infrastructure, as well as gain accreditation to ensure the program is valuable and recognized to entice prospective students. However, due to the ever increasing demand for petroleum engineers it may only be a matter of time before more options become available in the future.