Mining and mining engineering can be lucrative fields, even for recent college graduates. It’s not uncommon for a student to leave a mining engineering program and walk right into a job that pays $70,000 per year.
But programs tailored to the needs of the mining industry are few and far between: In the United States, there are only a handful.
Here’s the thing: If you are a high school senior who is interested in minerals, engineering, sciences and/or hard hat industries, you have some incredible college opportunities. The schools that do have such programs are excellent, there are abundant scholarships, and there are plenty of employers competing for the students who graduate from these programs.
Here are 17 such programs in the US and Canada.
Safety, Health and Industrial Hygiene at Montana Tech
Occupational health and worksite safety will always be ongoing challenges in the mining industry. Montana Tech’s Safety, Health and Industrial Hygiene program offers a few tracks for students looking to earn a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree, either of which can set you up for a long career in health and safety.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health makes grants and scholarships available to students, and Montana Tech also has a couple of endowed scholarships set aside each year for female students.
Mining and Metallurgy at the University of Nevada, Reno
The Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno has several options for students, from a mining engineering minor to a Ph.D. program in geo-engineering. The department also has several merit-based scholarships available every year.
One other bonus: The University of Nevada, Reno has its own Mine Systems Optimization and Simulation Laboratory, where companies can run simulations and test models in interactive environments with the help of students and researchers. This could be a great way to meet and network with industry leaders.
Mining Engineering at the University of Utah
Officials at the University of Utah say graduates of the school’s mining engineering undergrad program often find themselves with two or three job offers upon graduation. This immediately sees Utah grads entering fields such as mine design, mine production and organizational management, and starting salaries typically fall in the $60,000–70,000 range.
On campus, mining engineering students can connect with student organizations and professional organizations such as the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration Inc. and the Society of Women Engineers for excellent networking opportunities.
Mining Engineering at Penn State
Penn State‘s mining engineering program boasts a 100 percent placement rate upon graduation. In Happy Valley, students pursue lines of research such as geomechanics, acoustic emission and microseismic techniques, using VR as a training tool, and sustainability issues pertaining to mining.
On campus, you’ll find a laboratories for studying ventilation, rock mechanics, dust and particles, and mineral processing, among others. The schools also has some 15 endowed scholarships set aside specifically for qualified first-year students.
Materials and Metallurgical Engineering at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City has a world-class program for materials and metallurgical engineering. “From generating electricity to constructing our cars, buildings, and machines, metals are the foundation of our modern world,” administrators write.
“As a metallurgical engineering student, you’ll study the processes that transform mineral resources and metals into useful materials that improve the quality of our lives.”
A handful of specializations are available, including mineral processing, extractive metallurgy and materials transformation (“everything from spacecraft to thin diamond films”).
Also, automatic scholarships are available to students who are admitted early (by mid-January for the upcoming fall semester) and who have excellent ACT or SAT scores.
Mining Engineering at Southern Illinois University
SIU Carbondale has a mining engineering department as part of its College of Engineering, and there students can earn a B.S, an M.S. or a Ph.D. in the field. At the undergraduate level, expect an emphasis on fundamental of engineering, plus a focus on coal and aggregates.
“The undergraduate and graduate programs, because of strong departmental research emphasis, have special strengths in rock mechanics and ground control, coal processing, surface coal mining, environmental problems related to mining and processing, and systems analysis with recent increasing emphasis on management (disposal/utilization) of coal combustion by-products,” school officials write.
The school provides some excellent facilities for students, including laboratories and access to the Illinois Coal Development Park. Also, note that the department hands out more than $75,000 each year in scholarships.
Mining Engineering at West Virginia University
The West Virginia University mining engineering program in Morgantown dates back 150 years, when it originally started out as a mine surveying course. Several program tracks are available:
a B.S. in Mining Engineering,
a B.S. in Mining and Civil Engineering,
and a B.S. in Mining Engineering and Geology.
Also, WVU’s Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources makes merit-based scholarships available to students with high ACT scores and high school GPAs. You don’t even need to apply separately; the admissions team will determine eligibility as part of the application process.
Mining & Materials Engineering at Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech’s undergraduate mining and materials engineering program features a low student-to-faculty ratio so students can receive one-on-one mentorship and advising. Also, via endowments and private contributions, the program has several scholarships and funding options available to first-year students. In fact, more than 60 percent of students qualify for some kind of funding up to $3,000 per year.
And for graduating students, the program has an excellent job placement program that brings recruiters to campus for one-on-one interviews with students.
Mining Engineering at Missouri S&T
Missouri S&T mining engineering department lets students follow a number of academic paths, including:
mining health and safety,
and environmental impacts of mining.
Further, the school has an experimental mine it shares with companies in the minerals industry where “students are introduced to current equipment and mining practices, enabling them to develop an understanding of some of the engineering problems that occur in actual mining situations.”
Mining Engineering at the University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky’s Department of Mining Engineering builds upon a solid foundation of math and science, then introduces students to applications of those disciplines in mineral processing, surface mining, explosives and several other fields.
For incoming first-year students, the department has a scholarship, the Thomas Lester Scholars Program, that automatically offers funding to students who have strong ACT or SAT scores, plus high unweighted high school GPAs. That scholarship is worth $12,000 over four years.
Mining Engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
“Alaska is a resource state, and its future is linked intricately to the development of its vast land,” school officials at the University of Alaska Fairbanks write.
This is America’s northernmost mining engineering program, and it offers students a chance to explore mining against the backdrop of one of the world’s great frontiers. Specializations include exploration, mining and mineral beneficiation.
What’s more, the College of Engineering and Mines says each of its graduates typically receive job offers, and starting salaries can reach $100,000.
Mining Engineering at the University of Arizona
The mining engineering program at the University of Arizona allows students to pursue tracks (chosen in their third year) in mine operations, geomechanics, sustainable resource development and mineral processing.
What’s more, the Department of Engineering is pioneering a vast amount of research into environmental and sustainability concerns. “We are world leaders in desert and dry environments and in water research,” school officials say. “A focus on the diverse populations of the southwest, especially American Indian and Hispanic issues, is another distinctive opportunity for UA environmental scholars.”
Mining Engineering at Michigan Tech
Michigan Tech introduced a new mining engineering program in the fall of 2016, and it reaches across the university’s entire College of Engineering.
“[The] program includes courses from Civil and Environmental, Chemical, and Mechanical Engineering, and the School of Technology, in addition to courses from core Mining and Geological Engineering programs,” school officials write. “This multidisciplinary Mining Engineering degree prepares students to address the challenges of modern mining practices and positions them for a leadership role in the mining industry.”
Mineral Engineering at New Mexico Tech
New Mexico Tech provides its students with a strong scientific foundation in its mineral engineering course before getting into concentrations such as earth minerals, environmental issues, and mine design and operations.
Senior-year students have large-scale design projects in which they must apply their engineering skills to a business question, or they must design and plan major works such as a mine or a solid waste landfill. This is an excellent program for hands-on learning.
Mining Engineering at Queen’s University, Canada
At Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, all engineering and applied science students follow a common curriculum that then serves as a foundation for when they get into specific fields.
For the mining engineering option, students learn how to design, operate and manage a mine. For the mineral processing and environment engineering option, students learn how to design, operate and control plants that turn ore into valuable materials. And for the mine mechanical engineering option, students learn about heavy equipment, and how to design, modify and maintain this equipment at a worksite.
Mining Engineering at McGill University, Canada
McGill University in Montreal is home to Canada’s oldest mining engineering department, founded in 1870. However, it’s only been in recent years — since 2013 — that students have been able to take all courses in English. That’s due to demand from out-of-province and international students, most of whom don’t speak French.
There is also a co-op program in which students can get hands-on learning, and get paid in the process, while working in research labs.
Mining Engineering at the University of British Columbia, Canada
The University of British Columbia in Vancouver has an excellent mining engineering program that builds a foundational knowledge base and skill set among students, then gives them ample opportunities to shine.
These opportunities include a co-op program that goes for 20 months total (it takes five years to graduate if you do the co-op) in which students are placed in companies around the world.
And for graduating students, there is a field trip in the last year of studies to a mining site somewhere overseas (the class of 2017 chose South Africa and Botswana). “It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that for many students these trips are probably one of the best experiences of their lives,” school officials write.