USC Viterbi - School of Engineering

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Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering (Geoscience Technologies)

Program Description: 
Petroleum Engineering involves the technology of economically developing and producing subterranean reservoirs of oil, gas, steam, and hot water and designing underground waste disposal facilities. This technology relies on basic concepts of physics, chemistry, mathematics, geology, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and economics. Because more than 300 products are derived from petroleum, it has become a vital part of our everyday life. The petroleum industry is one of the largest and most prominent in the United States today, and the companies involved are dependent on the services of petroleum engineers to explore, discover, and produce oil and gas to meet energy needs.
The USC Viterbi School of Engineering's Petroleum Engineering program is one of the oldest in the country with considerable industry support and interaction. Its assets are numerous - the advantages of a relatively small, friendly program, combined with the University's impressive academic and research facilities; its proximity to major oil fields in California; and a quality education provided by experienced and nationally renowned faculty.
Application Info: 

Application Criteria

An undergraduate degree in Petroleum Engineering (or other engineering, math, or hard science with assigned deficiencies) from a regionally accredited college or university.
Satisfactory cumulative undergraduate GPA (grade point average)
Satisfactory GRE and TOEFL test scores. All scores must be officially reported to the university directly by ETS.
Satisfactory performance in previous coursework related to the intended major.

Application Materials for All Applicants

DEN@Viterbi Summer 2016 and DEN@Viterbi Fall 2016 Applicants: All applicants must complete and submit the USC Online Application. 

Spring 2017 and Fall 2017 Applicants: USC Online Application will be available July 1, 2016. Visit our Application Deadlines page for more information.  

Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.
GRE General Test: Satisfactory and valid test scores. Valid GRE scores must be dated within five years of the start of the intended application semester. The fall semester starts in August, and the spring semester starts in January. Official scores must be reported from ETS directly to USC using ETS school code 4852. A department code is not required.
Letters of Recommendation (3 Required): Letters of recommendation should be from faculty or others (supervisors, professional colleagues, etc.) qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study. 
Statement of Purpose (Required): The statement of purpose should describe succinctly your reasons for applying to the proposed program at the Viterbi School of Engineering, your preparation for this field of study, study interests, future career plans, and other aspects of your background and interests which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study.
Résumé or CV (required)

Additional Application Materials for International Applicants

English Language Proficiency: In addition to the general admission criteria listed above, international students whose first language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or IELTS examination to be considered a candidate for admission.  There is no minimum TOEFL or IELTS score required for admission to the Viterbi School. For possible exemption from additional language requirements, you must achieve an Internet Based TOEFL (iBT) score of 90, with no less than 20 on each section or an IELTS score of 6.5, with no less than 6 on each band score. For more details on English Proficiency Criteria for the University of Southern California, please visit USC Graduate Admission - Proficiency in English.
Program Details: 
Please Note: Requirements for graduation, course offerings, course availability, track offerings and any other degree requirements are subject to change. Students should consult with an academic advisor prior to registering for any classes.


  • A minimum of 34 units is required to earn the M.S. in Petroleum Engineering (Geoscience Technologies) degree
  • Required core courses: 30 units
  • Elective courses: 4 units
  • Some deficiency courses may be required
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for graduation


       Curriculum               Schedule of Classes       
Available Online: 

This program is also available online to professional engineers through the Distance Education Network (DEN@Viterbi). Because the DEN@Viterbi program provides a fully equivalent academic experience, the degree a USC engineering student earns is the same whether they are on-campus or online.

If you are interested in beginning classes as a DEN@Viterbi student next semester, explore the requirements and steps to enrolling as a Limited Status Student

More information about DEN@Viterbi

DEN@Viterbi Online Course Offerings

The following courses and program requirements serve as program planning for DEN@Viterbi students. Course offerings and availability are subject to change. Please consult with advisor if you have any questions.

Required Courses

All Courses Required - 30 units total.
PTE 502 | Advanced Reservoir Characterization
PTE 503 | Technology of Unconventional Oil and Gas Resources Development
PTE 504 | Geophysics for Petroleum Engineers
PTE 505 | Inverse Modeling for Dynamic Data Integration
PTE 507 | Engineering and Economic Evaluation of Subsurface Reservoirs
PTE 508 | Numerical Simulation of Subsurface Flow and Transport Processes
PTE 517 | Testing of Wells and Aquifers
PTE 531 | Enhanced Oil Recovery
PTE 555 | Well Completion, Stimulation, and Damage
PTE 582 | Fluid Flow and Transport Processes in Porous Media
Elective Courses
Students must take 4 units of electives, 1 unit of PTE 590 (Directed Research) plus a three unit course such as PTE 572 (Engineering Geostatistics).
Students without a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering must complete the following prerequisite courses: Introduction to Transport Processes in Porous Media (PTE 411x), Petroleum Reservoir Engineering (PTE 412x), Formation Evaluation (PTE 461), Petroleum Geology (PTE 466), and Computational Reservoir Modeling (PTE 500) before beginning the M.S. program. Units from these courses cannot be applied towards the degree. Other prerequisite courses are to be decided on a case-by-case basis upon consultation with the Department Advisor.