Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What’s the job market like in the energy industry?
The job market is VERY strong right now across all sectors of the energy industry. The energy industry is among the top two or three for job growth, and energy industry jobs are among the highest paying. About 20 years ago the industry entered a depressed cycle when oil prices plummeted, resulting in restricted operational activities and hiring. As a result, there is a significant gap in the age and experience distributions of industry workers at all levels. Many younger individuals are entering the industry, but many of the older ones are also near retirement age. Hence, most companies are actively recruiting employees with experience and advanced training in order to plug the growing employment gap. This trend is widely expected to continue for several years, with demand for employees possibly even growing as worldwide energy demand increases.
- How can this program help me in my career?
The primary goal of the Master of Energy Business is to provide the necessary training for individuals who are already employed in the energy industry to move more rapidly into managerial jobs and other positions of corporate leadership and responsibility. Energy companies tend to promote from within; but while the best candidates may have strong technical skills and experience, they often have no formal business training or knowledge of how energy companies work on a more macro level. For individuals who are interested in positioning themselves for enhanced career opportunities, either within their existing companies or with competitors, the Master of Energy Business provides solid, broad-based training in the multi-faceted aspects of energy company operations. Graduates leave with a total system perspective of the energy industry and possess the knowledge and skills they need to flex their careers as the industry evolves. For individuals who are not currently employed by energy companies and who desire to move into the industry, the Master of Energy Business is an excellent mechanism with which to make the transition because of the breadth of training it provides.
- How is the Master of Energy Business different from an MBA?
The Master of Energy Business is a professional graduate program that is distinctly focused on the energy industry. It is not an MBA. An MBA is typically more general, in the sense that it provides knowledge and skills that can be applied to many different industries. The curriculum for the Master of Energy Business contains several of the same topics and courses that would be found in a traditional MBA (e.g., management, accounting, and finance), but they are all presented in the specific context of energy. This material is complemented by concepts, ideas, and issues presented in courses that are more specifically focused on the energy industry itself. The combination provides an extraordinary educational experience that helps prepare individuals to meet the energy challenges of the 21st century.
- What is the instructional format of the program?
The Master of Energy Business is offered in a technology-enriched, online environment to accommodate the schedules of working professionals. Except for a minimal number of residency seminars offered over long weekends in Tulsa or at other centers of energy activity, all courses are delivered online. Online courses are not correspondence courses. In online courses, students still complete the same kinds of assignments found in traditional courses, but there is no physical classroom presence. Students have ready online access to full course lectures (both audio and video), along with all other course materials; and they regularly interact among themselves and with the instructor to complete assignments. If anything, there may be more interaction among students and faculty than in a traditional classroom setting. Such interactions are facilitated by contemporary communications technology, social media, computer conferencing, Skype, email, and other mechanisms with which students are already familiar in their existing work environments.
- How long does it take to complete the program?
The Master of Energy Business is a 34 credit hour program. Because it is offered in an online environment primarily for working professionals, it is essentially a part-time graduate program. Students enter in the fall or spring semester and enroll in two courses per term year-round (fall, spring, summer). Only one course is required during the last summer term. If this schedule is maintained, the program can be completed in 24 months. Of course, students who cannot maintain this schedule should expect the program to take longer to complete. Most courses are offered only once per academic year.
- Is a thesis required?
No. This is a professional masters degree as opposed to a research degree. No thesis is required; and, at present, there is no formal capstone project.
- Is the program restricted to those who are currently employed?
No. Anyone who has an undergraduate degree and satisfies all other admission requirements can apply to be admitted to the program. However, as noted above, the Master of Energy Business is not a full-time program.
- Is there an experience requirement?
Yes. Applicants are expected to have a minimum of two years of working experience, preferably in the energy industry.
- Is the GMAT required?
Yes. The GMAT is required. The standardized test requirement may be waived for experienced candidates who can clearly demonstrate post-baccalaureate scholastic achievement through other means such as patents, professional licensures and certifications, refereed publications in industry-specific journals, expert testimony, and documented evidence of career advancement and developing expertise. The evaluation committee looks at every candidate from a holistic perspective, and a standardized test score is just one piece of evidence. It is the applicant’s responsibility to request the waiver and to submit justification in support of the request. The waiver request must be filed no later than June 1 (for fall admittance) or November 1 for spring admittance. Applicants who already have a graduate degree or a law degree from a qualified university are automatically exempt.
- Is the program open to students who are just finishing their undergraduate degrees?
Yes and no. As noted above, the Master of Energy Business is essentially a part-time graduate program, with a minimum work experience requirement of two years. In this sense, it is probably not appropriate for most students who are just finishing their undergraduate degrees. That being said, students who have had a series of internships in the energy industry during their undergraduate years may be able to qualify, particularly if they expect to be employed relatively soon after completing the baccalaureate degree.
- What about applicants whose undergraduate degrees are in disciplines that are more traditionally aligned with liberal arts?
All applications will be considered. Students who do not have training and/or experience in disciplines that are closely aligned with the energy industry, such as geology and petroleum engineering, may be required to complete leveling courses prior to enrolling in the Master of Energy Business. Depending on individual circumstances, this requirement may be waived for applicants who posses a liberal arts degree but who already have considerable energy industry experience and can document/demonstrate industry knowledge.
- Are there any other kinds of prerequisites that are required?
Some of the courses in the Master of Energy Business are quantitative in nature. Hence, all applicants will be expected to possess fundamental background knowledge in economics, mathematics, statistics, and information systems. Candidates without such background knowledge may be required to complete one or more leveling courses prior to enrolling in the program.
- In what ways can a leveling requirement be satisfied?
With prior approval of the Program Director, the leveling requirement may be satisfied in a number of ways, such as:
• Completion of traditional classroom courses on the campus of The University of Tulsa or at another university
• Completion of online courses offered through The University of Tulsa or another university
• Completion of approved commercially-available or industry-sponsored short courses
• Passing a proficiency exam following self-study preparation
- Who teaches in the program?
All the courses are taught by seasoned full-time faculty from across The University of Tulsa, many of whom have direct energy company experience, along with industry practitioners and other experts. Instructors from various academic units teach in the program, including the Collins College of Business, the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences, the College of Law, and the National Energy Policy Institute (located at The University of Tulsa). In addition, selected courses are available through an alliance with Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen, Scotland, and RGU faculty teach those courses. The online instructional environment also permits The University of Tulsa to use experts from around the world to enhance the quality of course offerings.
- How are exams and other kinds of assessments handled in the online instructional environment?
The manner in which exams and other assessments are conducted is always at the discretion of the instructor. However, the online instructional environment does pose challenges, particularly when students are geographically located around the world. Computer technology is available to assist instructors in conducting exams and maintaining the integrity of the examination process. At the graduate level, many assessments involve written analysis and reflection rather than short-answer, objective-type questions (e.g., multiple choice). Assessment can also be conducted verbally in the form of online group presentations, development of video presentations that clearly demonstrate authorship, online discussion of group-prepared PowerPoint presentations, and the like. Courses that are more quantitative in nature may require a higher level of skill demonstration, which can also be done in a “live” presentation mode if necessary. Some instructors maay require proctored exams, and in these cases, students must secure their own proctors and pay for proctoring services.
- Is the program primarily focused on oil and gas?
The University of Tulsa and the community of Tulsa, Oklahoma have a long association with the oil and gas industry. For many years the City of Tulsa was known as the "Oil Capitol of the World," and it still has a robust energy economy focused on the oil and gas sector. However, it is no secret that the global energy industry is evolving, with rapid diversification into many other sources, even while oil and gas are expected to be the primary drivers for years to come. Consequently, the Master of Energy Business is closely aligned with the oil and gas sector, but the curriculum also reflects the evolving sentiment that other sources of energy must be pursued. The program reflects the philosophy that the energy industry is a total system and must be viewed from that perspective if long-term viability is to be achieved. The curriculum is designed to provide students with knowledge and skills that are transferable across energy sectors, allowing graduates to flex their careers as the industry evolves.
- What does the program cost?
The University of Tulsa charges “regular” tuition for the Master of Energy Business; that is, there is no added premium beyond the tuition rate posted on the website. Because The University of Tulsa is a private school, there is no differentiation between in-state, out-of-state, or international tuition. For the 2013-14 academic year, the tuition is $1,087 USD per credit hour. The Master of Energy Business is a 34 credit hour degree program; so, at the above rate, the tuition cost would be $36,958 USD spread over two years. Students pay for tuition “as they go,” rather than paying for it all upfront. There are the usual instructional expenses, such as the cost of books; but there are no additional fees other than the $40 application fee. There will also be some travel expenses associated with attending the two required weekend residency seminars. The best guess at today’s prices is that the total program will cost somewhere between $38,000 and $41,000 USD, which is less than for competing programs. If leveling courses are required before enrolling in the program, or if additional work is required in lieu of other program elements, then the total cost will be commensurately higher.
- Are scholarships or other kinds of financial aid available?
Not at this time. Because the Master of Energy Business is largely designed for individuals who are already working in the energy industry and is offered online to accommodate their work schedules, it is essentially a part-time program. For graduate programs, financial aid typically involves the awarding of an assistantship to provide on-site support for campus-based faculty. The online, part-time delivery mode precludes this kind of arrangement. Most students should be able to request at least partial reimbursement for the tuition cost from their employers as an educational benefit, and The University of Tulsa has mechanisms in place to facilitate this process.
- Since the program is essentially part-time, how long can someone take to complete it?
Because the Master of Energy Business is designed to enhance the career potential of graduates, the greatest potential can be realized if the program can be completed as soon as possible. The typical student will take two courses each term year-round (fall, spring, summer), with only one course in the last summer term. If this schedule is maintained, the program can be completed in 24 months. However, students who cannot maintain this schedule should anticipate having to spend more time in the program. Each course is offered only once per academic term. All students are expected to complete the program within six years from the first date of enrollment. Students who do not make satisfactory progress may be dismissed from the program or asked to re-apply.
- Are the residency seminars required of all students?
Yes. All students are expected to participate in the residency seminars. Each student will be expected to attend two executive-style residency seminars offered over a long weekend in Tulsa or at some other center of energy activity (e.g., Houston). Professional master's degree programs such as this one typically require residencies, and two such residencies completed over the course of a two-year program is a very minimal requirement. The residency seminars also take the place of a thesis requirement. The first residency seminar is conducted over the weekend immediately preceding the first week of fall classes. The second residency seminar may be conducted in conjunction with the annual meeting of a professional association that most students might already be planning to attend. The purpose of the residency seminars is to provide the students with greater access to industry experts and leaders of energy companies. They also provide students with opportunities to interact and network with colleagues and faculty in a face-to-face setting. In very extreme situations, it may be possible to create alternative experiences for students located at international sites, but the provision of such experiences cannot be guaranteed.
- What kind of technology is required and what are the technology literacy needs for students?
All students need to have access to a relatively new laptop computer with sufficient memory and hard drive space to hold/process moderately large data files. High speed Internet access is also required. The latest version of Microsoft Office should be installed on the computer (no earlier than 2007), along with Java and Microsoft Silverlight. At a minimum, students should be very proficient in the use of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and should have a strong working knowledge of file creation and manipulation in these software environments under the Windows operating system. Access to a tablet device, such as an IPad, is a plus. Some courses will require the use of special software. Information about such products will be communicated at the appropriate time. Students should also be familiar with contemporary social media and communications technology, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Skype, and they should be able to create videos using YouTube or a similar product. Other capabilities may be required for individual courses. Students who do not possess strong Excel skills may be required to complete additional training prior to enrollment.
- Can courses completed at other universities be transferred to The University of Tulsa and used as electives for the program?
The University of Tulsa will accept up to six hours of transfer credit for a masters degree. However, permission to transfer the credit must be obtained in advance from the program director to insure the prior work is applicable. All policies of the Graduate School at The University of Tulsa pertaining to transfer credit apply. These policies are published in the Graduate Bulletin. Candidates are strongly encouraged to review the policies in advance.
- I am already enrolled in another graduate program at The University of Tulsa. Can I change to the Master of Energy Business?
Maybe. While it may be possible to change programs, it must be understood that the Master of Energy Business is a part-time program offered online. Changing degree programs may also add to the time needed to graduate. The decision really depends on the actual courses that have already been completed and whether or not there is a good match with those required in the Master of Energy Business. Inquiries of this nature should be directed to the Associate Dean of the Collins College of Business and the Director of the Master of Energy Business program.
- What kinds of jobs are available to graduates of the Master of Energy Business program?
Most students pursuing the Master of Energy Business will already be employed, many of them in some sector of the energy industry. Their intent for pursuing the degree is to expand their opportunities for advancement within the current companies or to move to a position of more responsibility in a competitor company. Hence, many of the jobs into which graduates will migrate will be managerial in nature. Others will involve very specialized business functions that require strong analytical, planning, development, communication, and strategic decision making skills. The ultimate goal of the Master of Energy Business is to propel graduates into leadership positions that can support continued corporate growth and security.
- What is the weekly time commitment for each course?
All courses in the Master of Energy Business curriculum are regular semester-long courses. As such, students should expect to have at least three hours of "seat" time per week as if they were in a regular on-campus course. This "seat" time encompasses lectures and other activities that the instructor would normally lead. Students should also expect to spend at least the same amount of time outside of class reading, studying the material, completing assignments, taking quizzes, etc. Most students report that their total time commitment is at least 7-10 hours per course per week.