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In 1950s, the national economic construction starved for oil resources and the country was in great need of professionals for petroleum industry. Under this circumstance, in 1953, with the Petroleum Engineering Department of Tsinghua University as its basis, as well as the petroleum-related faculties and facilities of other leading institutions such as Peking University, Tianjin University and Dalian Institute of Technology, Beijing Petroleum Institute was established and became the first institution for higher education of petroleum in China.

As a historical feature of the 1950s and 1960s, teachers and students of the Institute were present in the development of the oilfields in all parts of China from east Sichuan Province in the south to Daqing in the north. In the following ten years, the Institute turned out nearly ten thousand qualified personnel for the petroleum industry of New China. In 1960, the institute was ratified as a key institution by the State Council.

In 1969, Beijing Petroleum Institute was moved to Dongying in Shandong Province, the site of the Shengli Oilfield, and renamed East China Petroleum Institute. Here, despite the turbulent years, a new campus was constructed, and the higher education for the country’s petroleum industry was sustained.

In 1978, with the reform and opening up of China, the institute stepped into a new period of growth, and became a multidisciplinary educational institute with majors covering science, engineering, and management. In 1988, it was renamed as University of Petroleum.

At the beginning of the new century, with the approval by China’s Ministry of Education, a formal graduate school for masters and doctors administration was established which reflected the university’s emphasis on graduate education. A new campus was built beside the beautiful Tangdao Bay in Qingdao. In 2005, the university adopted its current name “China University of Petroleum”. It celebrated the 65th anniversary in October 4, 2018. Now, with the new beautiful campus and advanced facilities, the university has turned a new page for its evolution.