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Mirza Hamedulla Baig M.Sc. (Systems Engineering) 2010 - 2012

The views & opinions expressed in the document are based only on my experiences as a student at KFUPM.

This document is solely intended to provide a brief overview of a students

KFUPM experience.



History of KFUPM Courses oered Academics & Research Requirements Application Procedures Types of visas

Admission Procedures Student Life

On campus housing Graduate coursework Thesis

Job Opportunities for Graduates

Prospects for KFUPM graduates Job availability



History of KFUPM
King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) was officially established by Royal Decree on 23 September, 1963. The first students were admitted a year later, on 23 September, 1964, when 67 young men enrolled in what was then named the College of Petroleum and Minerals (CPM). Since that time, the University enrollment has grown to a level that is expected to exceed 10,000 by the 2012-2013 academic year.

However many in India are not well aware of the academic standing and research carried out at KFUPM. As you read through we hope you would get a clearer picture about this university.

Courses Offered
DISCIPLINES Architectural Engineering Chemical Engineering Chemistry City & Regional Planning Civil Engineering Computer Engineering Computer Science & Engineering Computer Networks Construction Engineering & Management Electrical Engineering Geophysics Geology Information and Computer Science Mechanical Engineering Petroleum Engineering Systems Engineering Telecommunication Engineering DEGREE M.Sc. Ph.D. & M.Sc. Ph.D. & M.Sc. M.C.R.P. Ph.D. & M.Sc. M.Sc. Ph.D. M.Sc. M.Sc. Ph.D. & M.Sc. M.Sc. M.Sc. M.Sc. Ph.D. & M.Sc. Ph.D. & M.Sc. Ph.D. & M.Sc. M.Sc.

The credit hour system
A Graduate Student has to complete 8 courses and his thesis (6 credit hours) as a mandatory requirement for his M.Sc. Degree. Each course counts for 3 credit hours, so the entire M.Sc. course requires completion of 8 x 3 + 6 = 30 credit hours. Every semester, a full-time graduate student is required to register at least 9 credit hours (3 courses). Exception is granted if he is left with only 2 courses remaining for the completion of his degree requirements. The maximum full-time load for a graduate student is 12 graduate credit hours (4 courses) per semester, not counting credit for the masters thesis1.


I highly recommend sticking to a maximum of 3 courses per semester as the work load for 4 courses can be overburdening.

The grading system

The basic unit of measure of academic quality, or achievement, in instruction is the Grade-Point System.

The term Grade Point Average (GPA) is used to quantify the performance of a student. All Graduate students are expected to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3 per semester. If you fail to do so, you will receive a strict academic warning or you may also have to face dismissal.
Letter Grade A+ A B+ B C+ C D+ D F IC Points 4.0 3.75 3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0 Grades in English Exceptional Excellent Superior Very good Above average Good High Pass Pass Fail Incomplete

The entire curriculum at KFUPM is research oriented. So the graduate students should have the flexibility to learn new stuff (Subjects & Software tools). They should also have the persistence to solve problems and good interpersonal skills so as to work well with the faculty. The in particular is fully research oriented. The key points to bear in mind are: 1. Selection of thesis advisor - Before you select a thesis advisor make sure youve done a good survey about the faculty in the department, and then select carefully. 2. Independent Research/ Project Work There are several research projects undertaken by the university. You can either choose to work for these projects as a part of your thesis or choose an independent topic to base your thesis research on. If you choose to work on a project, you get paid every month but in return the work is slightly more demanding and strictly time bound (owing to the project deadlines).

MS thesis

Admission procedures

Admission Requirements
1. A four-year Bachelors (B.S.) Degree in engineering or science from a recognized institution. 2. A Grade-Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 or higher on a scale of 4.00 or equivalent, and a GPA of 3.00 in the subject of the major field. (Official transcripts and degree certificates are required for final admission.) 3. Completion of TOEFL with a minimum score of 68 (IBT). The TOEFL score must be sent directly to the Deanship of Graduate Studies (KFUPM code is 0868). IELTS is also acceptable (min 6.0). 4. Acceptable General Graduate Record Examination (GRE), which should also be reported directly. (Minimum required GRE score is Quantitative: 700, Analytical: 4.0 and Verbal:300) 5. At least three letters of recommendation from the faculty who taught the applicant university-level courses. [to be submitted through the online recommendation system] 6. A Statement of purpose - One page essay outlining your previous research and/or practical experience. You should also indicate your academic and research interests during your graduate program at KFUPM 7. Satisfactorily meeting any additional departmental or university admission requirements.

Points to be noted
1. Your application will be evaluated only upon completion of all the above mentioned requirements. 2. The evaluation will be put on hold even if one of the above mentioned requirements (Transcripts, GRE score, TOEFL score etc.) remain unfulfilled. In short, start your online application procedure only once youve completed your bachelors degree and written the GRE & TOEFL. 3. The application procedure takes a long time (several months) to complete considering the large number of applications received each year. Therefore, patience is very necessary. 4. If the status of your application shows Application Approved, it doesnt mean you are necessarily ready to travel. The longest delay occurs in the issuance of the visa. 5. The visas for Research Assistants (RAs) are very limited, therefore it can even take 1 - 3 years for you to get an RAs visa1. 6. Student visas, however, are issued in relatively larger numbers. So you can expect to get a visa sooner if you apply as a full time student1.


While considering which position to apply for (Full-time Student/ Research Assistant) please make sure youve read all the pros & cons of applying for each position.



1 6 months

Once you complete your online application, wait for it to be approved



Once your application is approved, wait for your visa to be sent


1 2 months

Once the visa Is received, proceed for certificate attestation & get the visa stamped on your passport


1 2 weeks

Once the visa is endorsed, you are ready to book an air ticket & fly


Online Application
1. To begin your online application you need to create an application ID (online account) on the graduate studies website of KFUPM ( 2. Fill in all the required fields, scan and upload all the necessary documents: Transcripts Degree certificate GRE & TOEFL score sheets1 Statement of Purpose Passport copy Any additional documents requested 3. The Letters of Recommendation however, have to be sent directly to the Deanship of graduate studies from the official e-mail ID of the respective lecturers (Referees). 4. For a detailed overview of the online application procedure, visit the graduate studies website of KFUPM and check for the Prospective Students tab.


While writing your GRE & TOEFL exams, you can choose to send a copy of the score sheets directly to KFUPM. The university code is 0868

Research Assistants
Benefits provided
1. Monthly stipend of SR 1725/2. No tuition fee. 3. Flight ticket to KFUPM while flying for the first time and while flying back after completion of course. 4. 1 month paid leave annually. 5. Free student housing (1 room shared by 2 for M.Sc. Students & 1 room for 1 Ph.D. student). 6. Subsidized meals at the student cafeteria (SR 4 per meal for lunch & dinner / SR 2 per meal for breakfast). 7. Free textbooks for all courses. 8. Free internet at anywhere in the campus (including housing). 9. Free basic medical care. 10. Transferable job visa.

Besides your studies you will be required to do some departmental duties. You maybe asked to help in teaching, conducting exams, grading answer sheets, administrative work etc. This is very nominal work & in most cases you will not be burdened too much.

Full-time students
Benefits provided
1. Monthly stipend of SR 890/2. No tuition fee. 3. Flight ticket to KFUPM while flying for the first time and while flying back after completion of course. 4. 3 months of paid leave annually + return flight ticket. 5. Free student housing (1 room shared by 2 for M.Sc. Students & 1 room for 1 Ph.D. student). 6. Subsidized meals at the student cafeteria (SR 4 per meal for lunch & dinner / SR 2 per meal for breakfast). 7. Free textbooks for all courses. 8. Free internet at anywhere in the campus (including housing). 9. Free basic medical care. 10. Non transferable visa.

You do not essentially have any duties to be fulfilled. However, if you wish to make some money, you can opt for duties similar to that of RAs and get paid for the additional work separately.


Student Housing
The students at KFUPM are housed in fully airconditioned buildings, strategically placed relevantly close to the academic buildings, student cafeteria, sports &recreation facilities. The climate in Dhahran is very dynamic with temperatures soaring to 50 degrees Celsius in summer and falling to a mere 4 degrees Celsius in winters. This makes it very necessary for the housing to have not only good cooling but good heating facilities as well. Every room has a telephone so you can call anywhere in the campus without restrictions. Local calls to landlines are also free. Upon arrival at KFUPM, every new student is given a new blanket, a new mattress, a new pillow and a set of towels. With the housing being relatively comfortable, most students end up with a bad habit of sleeping a lot after coming to KFUPM. In fact, with all the classes for graduate students scheduled in the evening, most students wake up only at lunch time. Hardly 15-20% of the students wake up for breakfast that is served between 06:00 08:00 am. Additionally, there are no restrictions whatsoever for students going out of campus.

Food & Dining

The food served at the student cafeteria is typically Arabic style. You have a usual buffet with chicken, mutton, fish, rice, soups, roti, drinks, desserts and salads served for lunch & dinner. Lunch & dinner costs you SR 4/- per meal. For breakfast however scrambled eggs, milk, coffee, tea, French cake, chicken nuggets etc. are served. Breakfast costs you SR 2/- per meal. Sounds good when heard for the first time. Also tastes good when eaten for a few days, but the real problem arises when the same menu repeats every week & you are served the same repetitive menu for months & months together. Usually the students tend to get bored. But there is a solution to that. There are other hotels on campus that you can visit (They also provide room delivery service). Problem number two, most of us Indians are used to eating hot & spicy food. The food served here has zero spices. That again takes a lot of time to get accustomed to & most students just end up trying throughout their stay at KFUPM. However, there are Indian restaurants outside campus where you can visit occasionally to taste Indian food.

Sports & Recreation

The sports and recreational facilities at KFUPM are top class. You have two gymnasiums where you can workout. Sports facilities include a football stadium, football fields, street football fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, squash courts, volleyball courts etc.

With the campus being relatively large & the buildings far from each other, there is an intra-university bus service to transport students from one place to the other.

There is a well equipped medical center within the campus which provides all the essential medical care and diagnostic services. The consultation fee for KFUPM students is entirely waived off, however, we are expected to pay 50% of the amount charged for medicines.

Graduate Coursework
I had made a brief mention about the usual routine of graduate students at KFUPM, lets discuss it in detail now. For all the graduate students, it is a must to take up a minimum of 9 credit hours (3 courses) per semester as a part of their coursework. All the classes for the graduate courses are scheduled in the evenings, 05:00 09:15pm, from Saturday Tuesday. That effectively gives us a 3 day weekend. For each course there are usually 2 classes per week, each having a duration of 75 minutes. Therefore, you dont end up spending much time attending classes. Most of the work is done independently. You have to prepare for the regular tests, mid-semester and final exams, and work on the course projects.

To help carry out all this study independently, the university has an enormous library housed in a four storey building. It has a huge collection of books, research journals, newspapers & internet resources to access online journals & books.

We should bear in mind that the graduate curriculum at KFUPM is highly research oriented. Research is the only reason why the university selects the best international students for study here & provides all the above mentioned facilities. Therefore it is very important for students to keep their mind focused (throughout their graduate coursework) on the research to be carried out in the thesis. It is good to narrow down your interests to a particular field of study & select courses suitably to provide sufficient knowledge in the required field. Following the area of specialization, the second matter of concern is the selection of a thesis advisor. Before selecting an advisor, get acquainted with all the faculty in the department. See for yourselves the professor whom you feel comfortable working with and then decide cautiously. I would like to mention here that the two things you need to have in plenty while working on your thesis are perseverance and patience.

While considering all the above mentioned factors, it is also important that you keep the time constraints in mind (your contract is valid only for 3 years for an RA and for 2.5 years for a full-time student). This is because research can often be unpredictable and time consuming. Deciding the thesis objectives is yet another aspect to be carefully looked into. When you decide your objectives, try to ensure that the objectives are reasonably valid and attainable. If you plan on something too ambitious and fail to deliver it, that can prove to be a hindrance in the completion of your degree requirements on time. During the course of the research, what sometimes happens is a change in the plan of action. The professor sometimes finds some more potential in your work and asks you to extend your work beyond your objectives. The best you can do to avoid this is to make sure you communicate your objectives very clearly at the very beginning. Define your boundaries, and be polite yet reasonably assertive.

Job Opportunities for


The bad news begins when it comes to job opportunities for KFUPM graduates. The reasons behind this are as follows: Limited availability of jobs in the Arabian market (compared to India). Lack of industrial graduates. experience with fresh

The most significant factor here is of course the Nationalization policies being strictly implemented in the GCC countries in the recent past. Though we do have a Career fair at KFUPM, every 6 months, with several Multi-national Organizations visiting the university, the focus has recently shifted to hiring local talent owing to the nationalization policies. Sadly, there is nothing much that the university can do to help. Therefore it is left to us to plan a proper course of action keeping our aim in mind. To help you decide the specialization of your study at KFUPM (provided you plan to start working after you graduate), a rough estimate of the job availability has been provided on the next page.






* The data represented in the chart is a rough estimate based on the hiring of KFUPM graduates in the recent past.

For now the best way to handle the problem of finding a job after graduating is to have an year or twos experience in the industry before coming to KFUPM. This would provide you an added advantage when you start looking for jobs after you graduate. The way to go about it is to apply to KFUPM online once you have completed your undergraduate studies (bachelors degree). Owing to the large number of applications, the admission procedure is bound to take some time. Instead of staying jobless and waiting for the response from the university, you might as well start working temporarily for some organization. Once you receive a visa from the university, you can discontinue your work and prepare yourself for travelling. While at KFUPM the right time to start looking for jobs is approximately 2 months before your thesis defense. It would be better if you schedule your defense towards the end of the year because a vast majority of the companies hire new employees at the start of a new year.

Hope you have a great career ahead

Good Luck!
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