Undergraduate Energy Business Program at Houston Recognized by Business Week

Michael Giberson

In its annual ranking of business schools, Business Week takes a look at a few programs that distinguish themselves by offering an industry focus. At Florida State University for example, graduates from the Professional Golf Management program are in high demand. In Texas, universities naturally feature the state’s energy industry, and Business Week singles out the University of Houston:

Houston is home to the U.S. headquarters of oil giants BP, ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell, as well as hundreds of other smaller energy companies. But until 2001, when the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business launched the Global Energy Management Institute, there were no business school programs nearby that focused on the industry. “The energy industry is desperate for trained people,” says Christine Resler, director of mergers, acquisitions, and new ventures at Smith International, and executive professor in the GEMI program. “They’re fighting over each other for employees, so they are excited to have a program like this.”

It’s not only the oil companies competing for GEMI grads. Many students get jobs as commodities traders at investment banks such as Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) and garner salaries in the $50,000 to $60,000 range, considerably more than regular business students at Bauer, whose average starting salaries are about $43,000.

In an associated story, BusinessWeek.com noted that, “to keep up with changes in the business, the [GEMI program] is developing new electives focused on alternative energy. The first course, Carbon Trading, will be taught next spring.”

Of course Houston isn’t the only Texas university with an energy industry program. Texas A&M features the Reliant Energy Trading Center and the University of Texas in Austin has the Center for Energy Finance Education and Research.

Texas Tech University’s Center for Energy Commerce, located in the midst of West Texas oil fields and wind farms, offers an undergraduate business degree in energy commerce. Like Houston’s GEMI, Tech’s program has expanded beyond oil and gas to include classes in alternative energy.