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Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 12:00 am

A new online master’s program geared toward the energy industry may be the answer in the Permian Basin as companies need qualified people for management.

In the fall, the University of Tulsa will start its online master of energy business program. The program was created for employees, who have at least two years of experience in the industry, to continue working while taking two courses a semester year round.

Timothy Coburn, professor of energy and management at the University of Tulsa and program director, traveled to Midland and Odessa on Wednesday and Thursday to talk to energy companies about the masters program.

“It’s really ideally suited for Midland and Odessa,” Coburn said.

He said back in the 1980s there was a bust in the oil business and a lot of companies stopped hiring. Now, those people are nearing the retirement age and need people with master degrees to fill their positions. Additionally, the market is up and companies have to compete with one another to keep employees.

“This program is really geared toward companies,” Coburn said, to help employees move up instead of just being retained in the same position.

Coburn said this program is different from receiving a general master degree through a business program.

“These courses are all energy related,” Coburn said.

 There are only three other masters energy programs in the country, Coburn said, and none are completely online. One is offered through the University of Colorado at Denver, a part online and part in class program, another is at Tulane University in New Orleans and the last is at Oklahoma City University.

Drew Kennard, executive recruiter for Preferred Personnel in Midland, said agreed that there are a high percentage of employees in the industry reaching retirement age. He said he thinks an online masters energy program would be good for the area.

“I’ve met a lot of people looking for a leg up,” Kennard said.

Coburn said the online course fees are the same or lower than similar programs, costing about $35,000 to $37,000 total. Coburn said he will both teach and serve as director of the program, which he hopes enrolls 25 to 35 students initially. Coburn said he is most looking forward to sharing his love for the oil and gas industry with future students.

“I’m excited about talking with the students,” Coburn said. “I love talking about my experiences (in the oil and gas industry).”

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