While it is commonly accepted that a job in petroleum engineering (PE) typically involves international traveling and assignments abroad, PE curricula around the globe still tend to reflect country-specific traditions and the needs of the local oil and gas industry.

Historically, oil and gas schools had a focus on local market needs, but more recently, several US and UK institutions have opened campuses in the Middle East, which mirror their original curricula at home. These initiatives were a response to local needs for qualified PEs to international standards.

Today, PE programs compete nationally and internationally to recruit top students and deliver top graduates. Inevitably, this makes one wonder whether the oil and gas industry would benefit from a standardized, international PE curriculum. For example, the SPE has already put significant effort into the harmonization of PE studies.

The paper sets out what the industry believes it wants from its PE graduates regarding their skills and behaviors. Then, based on the authors' own experience of selected PE curricula from USA and Europe and, by focusing on the Master of Science (MS) level, it compares the relative benefits of having a 1-year or 2-year MS program. It asks whether these programs should produce rounded PE graduates or specialized practitioners in given sub-disciplines. Finally, the paper discusses whether the industry would benefit more from a standardized, international PE curriculum or from region-specific programs, reflecting the traditional expertise and local technical priorities.

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