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Ph.D Program

The Energy Resources Engineering department offers two distinct degree programs at both the M.S. and Ph.D. levels.  One program leads to the degrees of M.S. or Ph.D. in Petroleum Engineering, and the other leads to the degrees of M.S. or Ph.D. in Energy Resources Engineering.  The Engineer degree, which may be offered in either Petroleum Engineering or Energy Resources Engineering, is an extended form of the M.S. degree with additional coursework and research.

Doctor of Philosophy - Petroleum Engineering

The Ph.D. degree is conferred upon demonstration of high achievement in independent research and by presentation of the research results in a written dissertation and oral defense.

Basic requirements include a minimum of 135 units of satisfactorily completed graduate study. Students must take at least 90 units beyond the 45 units required for the master’s degree. The 90 units are composed of a minimum of 36 units of research and a minimum of 36 units of course work. The student’s record must indicate outstanding scholarship. The student must pass the department’s qualifying examination, submit an approved research proposal, fulfill the requirements of the minor department if a minor is elected, and pass the University oral examination, which is a defense of the dissertation. The student must prepare a dissertation based on independent research and that makes a significant contribution to the field.

The specification of 36 units of course work is a minimum; in some cases the research adviser may specify additional requirements to strengthen the student’s expertise in particular areas. The 36 units of course work does not include teaching experience (ENERGY 359), which is a requirement for the Ph.D. degree, nor any units in research seminars, which students are required to attend, nor summer work experience (ENERGY 355). All courses must be taken for a letter grade, with an average grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.25 in the 36 units of course work. Incoming Ph.D. students who earned their master’s degree at another institution are required to take at least 36 units of course work. No more than four of the seven courses that make up the strategic requirements for the Ph.D. qualifying exams are included in these 36 units (ENERGY 175, 221, 222, 223, 227, 240, 251). The 36 units of course work may include graduate courses in Energy Resources Engineering (numbered 200 and above) and graduate courses from other science and engineering departments. Other courses may be substituted with prior approval by the adviser. In general, non-technical courses are not approved. Students are encouraged to take the class Engineering 202W - Technical Writing, although it does not count within the 36 unit minimum.

Doctor of Philosophy - Energy Resources Engineering

In Addition to the
University Doctorate requirement, Energy Resources Engineering PhD has the
following requirements:

  1. Students must complete a minimum of 36 course units and a minimum of 36 research units, with a total unit requirement of 90 units. At least half of the classes must be at a 200 level or higher and all must be taken for a letter grade. Students with an M.S. degree or other specialized training from outside ERE will generally be expected to include the classes ENERGY 293ABC, ENERGY 221 and ENERGY 240 or their equivalents.
    The number and distribution of courses to be taken is to be determined with input from the research advisers and department graduate program committee. The program should contain a level of breadth (at least 4 courses, including ENERGY 293 A and B and C) in energy-related subjects in addition to coursework that supports the area of the student's focus
    (see number 5).
  2. Prior to beginning of the qualifying procedure, the student must have completed 24 units of letter-graded
    course work.
  3. To be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, the student must pass a qualifying examination. During
    the exam, students must present and defend their proposed thesis research
    work.  Candidates will be questioned on their research proposal as well as
    on their academic skill sets, as appropriate for the area they are working in.
  4. The research advisers and two other faculty members comprise the dissertation reading committee. Upon
    completion of the thesis, the student must pass a University Oral Examination in defense of the dissertation.
  5. 12 of the 36 required course units must be completed from the following list of courses. If the student has not taken ENERGY 293ABC or their equivalent during the MS, then these courses must be taken during the PhD (they will satisfy 6 of the required 12 units).

    ENERGY 104 Transition to Sustainable Energy Systems
    ENERGY 253 Carbon Capture and Sequestration
    ENERGY 256 Electronic
    Structure Theory and Applications to Chemical Kinetics
    ENERGY 260 Modeling Uncertainty in the Earth Sciences
    ENERGY 269 Geothermal Reservoir Engineering
    ENERGY 291 Optimization of Energy Systems
    ENERGY 293A Fundamentals of Energy Processes
    ENERGY 293B Fundamentals of Energy Processes
    ERERGY 293C Energy from Wind and Water Currents
    ENERGY 301 The Energy Seminar (may be repeated for credit no more than 3 times)
    CEE 176A Energy Efficient Buildings
    CEE 176B Electric Power: Renewables and Efficiency
    CEE 268 Groundwater Flow
    CEE 272P Distributed Generation and Grid Integration of Renewables
    CEE 268 Groundwater Flow
    CME 206 Introduction to Numerical Methods for Engineering
    CME 302 Numerical Linear Algebra
    CME 306 Numerical Solution of Partial Differential Equations
    EESS 221/CEE 260C Contaminant Hydrogeology
    CHEMENG 130 Separation Processes
    CHEMENG 310A Microscale Transport in Chemical Engineering
    CHEMENG 340 Molecular Thermodynamics
    EARTHSYS 247 Controlling Climate Change in the 21st Century
    ECON 250 Environmental Economics
    ECON 251 Natural Resource and Energy Economics
    GES 170 Environmental Geochemistry
    GES 171 Geochemical Thermodynamics
    GES 217 Faults, Fractures, and Fluid Flow
    GES 231 Contaminant Hydrogeology
    GES 253 Petroleum Geology and Exploration
    GEOPHYS 182 Reflection Seismology
    GEOPHYS 202 Reservoir Geomechanics
    GEOPHYS 262 Rock Physics
    ME 131A Heat Transfer
    ME 150 Internal Combustion Engines
    ME 260 Fuel Cell Technology
    ME 335ABC Finite Element Analysis
    ME 370A Energy Systems I: Thermodynamics
    ME 370B Energy Systems II: Modeling and Advanced Concepts
    MATSCI 156 Solar Cells, Fuel Cells, and Batteries
    MATSCI 316 Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology
    MS&E 248 Economics of Natural Resources

Ph.D. Degree Qualification

The procedure for Ph.D. qualification is identical for individuals who entered the department as an M.S. or a Ph.D. student. For students completing an MS in the department, the student formally applies to the Ph.D. program in the second year of the M.S. degree program. The student is considered for admission to the Ph.D. program along with external applicants. The admission decision is based primarily upon research progress and course work.

There are two steps to the qualification procedure. Students first take a preliminary written exam that is offered at the beginning of Autumn Quarter. The exam focuses upon synthesis of knowledge acquired from core courses in ERE or PE. Exams are different for ERE and PE Ph.D. students, but share a goal of having students exhibit capability to solve an engineering problem. Students continuing within the department take the exam at the beginning of their first quarter as Ph.D. students. Students who completed their M.S. outside of the department take the exam at the beginning of their fourth quarter as PhD students. A student who does not pass the exam may not be allowed to take the exam a second time.

Any student who does not pass the written exam is considered to have failed the qualifying exam. Any student who is deemed to have not made sufficient research progress may not be allowed to take the preliminary exam and research progress shall be taken into account for pass, fail, and retake decisions.

A written Ph.D. proposal and oral defense are the main components of the second step. The written proposals are reviewed by three faculty members. Students are provided a template of what constitutes an acceptable proposal. Students subsequently make an oral presentation of their proposal to three faculty members including material such as a literature review, identification of key unanswered research questions, proposed work outline, and an oral presentation.

Following the presentation, the student is questioned on the research topic and general field of study. The student can pass, pass with qualifications requiring more classes or teaching assistantships, or fail. Students who completed their MS in the department prepare and defend their proposal in their third quarter (not counting summer) as a Ph.D. student. Their advisor may request an additional quarter given extenuating circumstances such as a major change in research focus between M.S. and Ph.D. programs. Students who completed their MS outside of the department complete the proposal in their fourth quarter (not counting summer) of study.

Ph.D. Minor

To be recommended for a Ph.D. degree with Petroleum Engineering as a minor subject, a student must take 20 units of selected graduate-level lecture courses in the department. These courses must include ENERGY 221 and 222. The remaining courses should be selected from ENERGY 175, 223, 224, 225, 227, 240, 241, 251, 280, 281, and 284.

The specification of 36 units of course work is a minimum; in some cases the research adviser may specify additional requirements to strengthen the student’s expertise in particular areas. The 36 units of course work does not include teaching experience (ENERGY 359), which is a requirement for the Ph.D. degree, nor any units in research seminars, which students are required to attend, nor summer work experience (ENERGY 355). Students are encouraged to take the class Engineering 202W - Technical Writing, although it does not count within the 36 unit minimum. All courses must be taken for a letter grade, with an average grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.25 in the 36 units of course work.

PhD students entering ERE are required to hold a MS degree in a relevant science or engineering discipline, although it need not be in ERE.