Doctor of Philosophy in Petroleum Engineering (Ph.D.)

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Admission to the University of Houston Ph.D. Program in Petroleum Engineering will require the following:

  1. GRE — An acceptable score within the Cullen College of Engineering standard on the Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical portions of the Graduate Record Examination. 
  2. LETTERS — Three letters of recommendation from recognized professionals who can attest to the applicant’s capability for independent and creative thinking for the graduate level research in petroleum engineering.
  3. STATEMENT — A written statement of the applicant’s professional goals.
  4. APPROVAL — Approval by the Petroleum Engineering Graduate Committee.

In addition, students required to submit a valid TOEFL/IELTS score, must achieve the minimum Cullen College of Engineering requirement. Click here to learn more about the English Language Proficiency Requirements.


Degree Requirements

Paths to PhD — There are two Paths to the PhD Degree:

  • B.S. to Ph.D. — Direct from B.S. to Ph.D., bypassing the M.S. degree, or by
  • M.S. to Ph.D. — Obtaining an M.S. degree first at UH (or elsewhere).

Both B.S. and M.S. degrees must have been obtained from an accredited institution in Petroleum Engineering or a relevant engineering or scientific discipline. The applicants must maintain a Grade Point Average of 3.4/4.0.

The chart below demonstrates course requirements for either path to PhD.

Category Semester Credit Hours
Semester Credit Hours
Required Courses 18 6
Seminar 6 6
Advanced Electives 12 12
Research and Dissertation 30 30
TOTAL 66 54

Students without sufficient background for the required courses must complete leveling courses that will not count toward the degree. Each Ph.D. student must maintain a Grade Point Average (GPA) above 3.00 throughout the Ph.D. program.



The Ph.D. in Petroleum Engineering will require a dissertation. 

  1. Ph.D. Dissertation Committee: During the third semester after the student is enrolled in the Ph.D. program, a dissertation committee will be formed by the advisor with approval of the Director of the Petroleum Engineering Department. In consultation with the student and the advisor, the Petroleum Engineering Department Director will recommend a Chair of the Dissertation Committee. The Chair will be a tenured, tenure-track or research faculty member associated with the Petroleum Engineering Department. The committee shall consist of at least five members including the Chair. Among the committee members, three members should be associated with Petroleum Engineering Program and one member should be from outside the Department.
  2. Preliminary Examination/Research Proposal: The student must pass the preliminary examination that includes a dissertation proposal and an oral presentation by the end of the second academic year. The student is required to write a dissertation proposal of his/her proposed research to the dissertation committee members. After the submission of dissertation proposal, the student must give a public oral presentation of the proposed research to the dissertation committee and the public.  Each committee member must indicate acceptance of the preliminary examination with “Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory”. A unanimous “Satisfactory” by the committee members will grant the student the status of “Ph.D. Candidate”.
  3. Dissertation Defense: The Ph.D. candidate must provide the committee members with the final version of the dissertation after the completion of his or her research. After consultation with the committee members, the Ph.D. candidate will defend his or her dissertation at a public oral defense.  The dissertation committee will make the final judgment of the acceptance of the dissertation defense and the contribution of the work to the existing knowledge base of petroleum engineering.




Prefix and Number Required Courses SCH
PETR 7320 Fundamentals of Rock Properties 3
PETR 7306 Fundamentals of Thermodynamics and Hydrocarbon Fluid Behavior 3
PETR 7340 Fundamentals of Fluid Flow in Porous Media 3
PETR 7302 Fundamentals of Petroleum Mathematical Analysis 3
PETR 7x98 Doctoral Research 24
PETR 7x99 Doctoral Dissertation 12


Prefix and Number Prescribed Electives SCH
PETR 6368 Drilling and Completion I 3
PETR 6316 Drilling and Completion II 3
PETR 6397 Special Topics 3
PETR 7322 Advanced Formation Evaluation 3
PETR 7324 Fundamentals of Geomechanics 3
PETR 6304 Evaluation of Petroleum-Bearing Formations :  Core Analysis 3
PETR 6312 Evaluation of Petroleum-Bearing Formations : Well Logging 3
PETR 6372 Production Operations 3
PETR 6308 Advanced Petroleum Production Operations 3
PETR 6320 Enhanced Oil Recovery 3
PETR 7342 Advanced Reservoir Simulation 3
PETR 7304 Advanced Numerical Analysis 3
PETR 6302 Reservoir Engineering II 3
PETR 6314 Pressure Transient Testing 3


Prefix and Number Free Elective Courses SCH
PETR 6310 Petroleum Economics 3
PETR 6325 Integrated Reservoir Characterization 3
PETR 6326 Applied Reservoir Simulation 3
PETR 6330 Fundamentals of Hydraulic Fracturing 3
PETR 6332 Petroleum Deterministic Reserve Estimation 3
PETR 6334 Petroleum Statistical Reserves Estimation 3
PETR 6350 Natural Gas Engineering 3
PETR 6380 Petroleum Project Management 3
PETR 7397 Special Topics 3
GEOL 6333 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics 3
GEOL 6372 Petroleum Geochemistry 3
GEOL 6373 Petroleum Systems Analysis 3
GEOL 6387 Reservoir Geophysics 3
GEOL 6390 3-D Seismic Exploration I 3
GEOL 7324 Rock Physics 3


Prefix and Number Leveling Courses SCH
PETR 6328 Petroleum Fluid Properties and Phase Equilibria 3
PETR 6351 Introduction to Petroleum Engineering 3
PETR 6362 Reservoir Engineering I 3
PETR 6364 Origin and Development of Oil and Gas Reservoirs 3