NMT - New Mexico Tech New Mexico Tech Petroleum Engineering

The New Mexico Institute of
Mining and Technology

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

In order to be admitted to the Ph.D. program, a student must meet the requirements as set forth by the Graduate College and have completed an M.S. program with thesis. A doctorate degree requires a minimum of 60 credit hours past the Masters degree. The following criteria are provided to develop and complete their degree plan:

  1. At least 30 credits must be a combination of regular1 courses and Directed Study (581). At least 12 of the 30 credits must be taken as regular 500 level petroleum engineering graduate courses.

  2. All students must take a minimum of 6 credit hours (in addition to the M.S. requirement), taken outside of petroleum engineering2 in either engineering or science disciplines.

  3. A maximum of 9 credit hours of Directed Study, PE 581.

    1. Directed study may not be included in the 12 credit minimum of 500 level petroleum graduate courses.

    2. No more than 6 hours of Directed Study offered by the same professor may be included in the degree plan.

  4. A minimum of 24 credit hours and maximum of 30 credit hours of research, PE 595.

  5. Registration in Graduate Seminar, PET 570, is required to maintain a student's academic good standing.

Students may not receive credit toward their degree for courses taken at New Mexico Tech that have a course content equivalent to a course that was used to satisfy the requirements of another degree. The department chairman and advisor will decide whether or not these courses have essentially the same content.

The student's committee is composed of at least four members. A minimum of two members, including the committee chairman, must be regular Petroleum Department faculty and one member must be outside of the regular department faculty and the PRRC personnel. If the student is performing research primarily under the supervision of a faculty member that is not a member of the regular Petroleum Department faculty, this faculty member may co-chair the student's committee. Note that adjunct PRRC personnel are not considered regular departmental faculty.

Preliminary Examination

The purpose of the preliminary examination is to test the student's knowledge of undergraduate fundamentals in Petroleum Engineering. The Ph.D. student must take this examination by the end of the first year of the student's residency in the Ph.D. program. Students with degrees in fields other than Petroleum Engineering must complete all "Additional Requirements" listed in Section 5 and take the examination no later than the end of the second year of their residency. Written petition to the department is required if a student cannot meet the above time-lines. A student must notify the department of his/her intention of taking the examination within the first month of the semester. The department will try to schedule an examination during the following semester.

The examination is a written examination of the following five basic subjects:

Drilling and Completion EngineeringDrilling Engr., Well Design (PETR 311, 413)
Production EngineeringProduction Engr./Design (PETR 424, 425)
Reservoir EvaluationReservoir Evaluation (PETR 370)
Reservoir EngineeringPetroleum Fluids, Reservoir Engr. I & II (PETR 245, 345, 445)
Petroleum EconomicsEngr. Economics (ES 316)

The grade on each subject will be PASS or FAIL determined by the faculty giving the test. Overall pass/fail criteria, consequences, and the required actions, if necessary, for the student, faculty, and department are:

  • Pass: Pass all five subjects.

  • Conditional Pass: Fail any one of the five subjects. The student is required to do make-up work for the failed subject. The faculty member responsible for the subject needs to:

    1. determine the nature of the make-up work (e.g., retaking the course, directed study, ...),
    2. inform the academic advisor and chairman of the department about the nature of the make-up work, and
    3. provide a pass/fail grade to the department chairman after the completion of the make-up work. If the student fails again, the entire preliminary examination is equivalent to "Fail" as described below.

  • Fail: Fail any two or more categories. The student is required to repeat the entire examination at the next scheduled time. If a student fails the examination a second time, the department will terminate his/her continuing of the Ph.D. program.

The written examination will include questions and problems on petroleum engineering fundamentals and their applications as addressed in the core courses listed above. The examination will be prepared and administered by the regular Petroleum Engineering faculty under the supervision of the department chairman or his designate. Each professor is responsible for preparing and grading his or her portion of the exam.

The individual instructors decide upon the design of the questions for the test; however, the test time allocated for each category is approximately 3 hours and should be adhered to. The procedures of the test are determined by the department chairman or his designate and should be communicated to the students well in advance of the test.

Each instructor has two weeks from the day the exam question was given to grade and return the results to the chairman/designate. The chairman/designate has two weeks after that date to compile and present the results to the faculty for approval.

The preliminary examination must be cleared completely from the department to be eligible for Candidacy Examination.

Candidacy Examination

The Petroleum Engineering Department requires a candidacy examination. The candidacy examination consists of two parts:

  • Written research proposal and oral presentation and defense of the research proposal (and any preliminary research) (Part I)
  • Comprehensive written and oral examination (Part II)

The candidacy exam may be taken after completion of one year of residency in the degree plan, but no later than one year before the student's dissertation defense. However, the student is advised to schedule the candidacy exam as soon as possible. If the student fails the exam after spending several semesters performing his research, this time will have been wasted. The oral portion of Part I is open to the public.

Each committee member can request a written and oral examination (Part II) of the candidate at the time of the proposal defense. This request can be waived by each of the members if he or she believes the candidate has sufficient knowledge to proceed to the dissertation. The candidate has up to two months to complete the assignment and meet with the committee member.

The decision on passing and admitting the student to Candidacy must be made unanimously by the student's advisory committee and the Department chairman and shall be provided in writing to the student within two weeks of the Part II presentation.


The doctoral dissertation recognizes the student's capabilities to perform independent research and provide the discipline with novel solutions to complex problems. Oral defense must be before the Tech faculty committee under the guidance of the student's advisory committee.

A minimum of 24 and a maximum of 30 hours of dissertation are permissible. A student can register for dissertation hours only after successfully completing the candidacy exam.

Requirements for manuscript preparation and submission can be found in the Graduate Program discussion of the New Mexico Tech catalog.