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HU Offers New Oil and Gas Management Degree


Las Vegas, NM – New Mexico Highlands University is offering the first oil and gas management bachelor’s degree program in the state at its Farmington Center beginning this semester.

The university’s School of Business, Media and Technology is offering the new BBA degree as well as an MBA with a concentration in oil and gas management.

“This new program targets students who are working in the oil and gas industry, with the goal of preparing them for management positions,” said Margaret Young, School of Business dean. “We are providing a degree path for these students to advance their careers and earning potential in high-wage jobs.”

Young said the online interactive oil and gas courses are taught in the evenings to make it convenient for students, most of whom work full time in the industry. More than 30 students have already expressed strong interest in the program.

Industry professionals will teach most of the oil and gas courses, with offerings for fall semester including titles like oil and gas finance and oil and gas value chain management.

Young said the demand for the new degree is high.

“The San Juan Basin area is gearing up for an oil and gas production boom that could rival the one 50 years ago when the industry first entered the area and became a major employer,” Young said. “This new program will meet a workforce development need that exists in San Juan County, and the region.

“Similar to other industries, there are large numbers of baby boomers in oil and gas who are retiring, creating a big demand for well-trained managers. Opportunities exist for technical workers who have experience in the industry but need a bachelor’s degree in order to move into management,” Young said.

She added that statistics show that the oil and gas industry provides nearly 29,000 jobs in New Mexico, with this number projected to grow.

Young said environmental responsibility and sustainability are important components of the oil and gas curriculum.

“Highlands has the opportunity to impact the worldview of oil and gas industry managers by providing them with an understanding of resource extraction and scarcity issues, and imparting knowledge of how to effectively balance these two issues in sustainable ways,” Young said.  

Highlands is working in partnership with San Juan College to offer the oil and gas management degree in Farmington. The Highlands Farmington Center is located at the two-year college, where Randy Pacheco is dean of the School of Energy.

“Highlands is a pioneer in offering this new Oil and Gas Management Program, and I believe it will revolutionize the way industry companies promote people within their organization,” Pacheco said. “When we developed the School of Energy at San Juan, we focused on educating entry-level field techs. Our students graduate from our program understanding oil and gas production. Now they’ll graduate from the new Highlands program understanding management in the industry.”

Young said the new program was a year and a half in the making, with Donna Brooks, the management professor at the Farmington Center who coordinates the center’s Business Program, playing a key role ­– from working with San Juan College to finding faculty.

“San Juan College has a very successful School of Energy that prepares students to work in the oil and gas industry with an associate degree,” Brooks said. “We could not ask for better partners than San Juan College. Together, we want to provide additional oil and gas career opportunities for the people who live and work in this community.”

Brooks added that because the oil and gas courses are offered online through distance education, prospective students from New York to California are also expressing interest. Global interest is also anticipated.

Gilbert “Buddy” Rivera, the new director for the Farmington Center, said Highlands is finalizing several guaranteed transfer agreements – also called articulation agreements – with San Juan College that allow students to transfer seamlessly to Highlands to complete their bachelor’s degree.

“The transfer agreements include every area of San Juan’s existing oil and gas curriculum, including natural gas compression, petroleum production and operations, advanced petroleum production and operations, and occupational safety,” Rivera said.

He added that Farmington community leaders and area oil and gas industry professionals have embraced the new Highlands management program.

Fall semester began at Highlands Aug. 19 and the last day to register for classes is Aug. 26. 

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