Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is authorization for off-campus training that is either:

  • Required for all candidates for a degree; or
  • Required for a course (e.g. Internship, Practicum, Experience Credit, etc.) in a degree program; or
  • Required for dissertation research.

CPT is designed to provide work experience directly related and integral to a student’s program of study. It cannot be in a minor field of study or a previous major. It is not intended for general, ongoing work authorization. Traditional volunteer work (e.g., at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, etc.) does not require CPT. However, any internship, even if it is unpaid, requires CPT authorization.

Types of CPT

An internship is a required part of a structured degree program; everyone in the program must do an internship or they will not be able to complete their program. In this case, a student does not need to register for credit for the CPT experience but this requirement must be published in the course catalog.

An internship is not a required part of the program's curriculum, but the internship is considered integral to the curriculum. For example, a program requires you to take a certain number of elective credits, and an internship, practicum field experience counts towards some of those credits. In this case, a student must register for at least one credit per semester of CPT experience.

A doctoral student must engage in off-campus work to complete research necessary for a Ph.D. dissertation. In this case, a student must register for GRD 998 and/or a department-specific dissertation credit and file a Certificate of Full Time Status. The academic department’s recommendation letter must specifically indicate that this CPT experience is for dissertation research.

CPT Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for CPT, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be in valid F-1 status and physically present in the U.S.
  • Have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year (two semesters) from inside the U.S. before the CPT can begin.
  • Have a written offer letter on company letterhead. The offer should indicate the position, the exact dates of employment, the number of hours per week and the company’s address.
  • Have academic department approval. Individual departments may have their own academic requirements for, or limitations on, participation in CPT. Examples include a minimum GPA, a prerequisite course and/or a number of credits taken in the department’s curriculum.
  • Be able to continue to maintain full-time enrollment if participating in CPT during a Fall or Spring semester (full-time enrollment is not required during the summer).
  • Be able to continue to make normal progress towards your degree, as defined by your department (and the Graduate School, if a graduate student), while participating in CPT. This could require coursework during the CPT period. Students should verify that participation in CPT would not interfere with their ability to take courses required for degree completion that may not be taught in later semesters prior to the program end date indicated on their I-20. CPT should not delay degree completion beyond the program end date listed on the Form I-20.

Duration of CPT

  • CPT can either be part-time (working 20 hours per week or less) or full-time (working more than 20 hours per week).
  • CPT is authorized on a semester by semester basis (Fall, Spring, or Summer). Therefore, students must submit a new CPT request, including all the necessary documents, for each semester, including summer session(s).
  • Participation in CPT may begin on or after the last day of the previous semester and must end before the first day of the following semester. For example:
    • Fall semester CPT can start any day after the final day of the summer session and can extend through winter break, but must end before the first day of the spring semester.
    • Spring semester CPT can start any day after the final day of the fall semester, but must end before the first day of the Summer Session I
    • Summer Session CPT could start any day after the final day of the spring semester, but must end before the first day of the fall semester.
  • If participating in CPT in your final semester, your CPT must end on or before the final day of your final semester. CPT cannot extend beyond your program end date on your I-20.
  • A student may participate in CPT as much as their program will allow and their academic department will authorize. However, a student will be ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) if they participate in more than 364 days of full-time CPT.

How to Apply for CPT

Secure an internship/practicum/field experience and complete the required paperwork with your academic department. Save a copy of your internship offer/placement letter confirming your internship. You will submit this letter with your CPT application.

Obtain a Recommendation Letter from your academic advisor or departmental chairperson that indicates that this CPT internship experience is an integral part of your degree program. (Please include all information indicated in the sample.) You will submit this letter with your CPT application.

If you are applying for CPT that is integral to your degree or required for dissertation research, register for the corresponding course as indicated in your departmental recommendation letter. CPT applications will not be processed if you are not yet registered for the corresponding course.

  • Log in to the International Student and Scholar (ISSS) Portal through MySlice. If you do not have access to the portal please email the Center for International Services with a detailed description of the issue (include screenshots if possible) or visit the Center for International Services during walk-in advising (Monday–Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
  • Go to the Student Request Center.
  • Find the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Request.
  • Complete the Questionnaire.
  • Upload the Required Documents:
    • Advisor’s Recommendation Letter
    • Internship, Practicum, Field Experience Offer Letter
    • Proof of Enrollment
    • Most recent I-94
  • Read the Next Steps and Confirm.
  • Submit Request.

Within 3-5 business days you should receive an email that your CPT I-20 has been processed and is available in the ISSS Portal. You should download your new I-20, print it and sign it. Your internship site may need to see this I-20 as proof you are eligible to work.

After Applying for CPT

  • To begin working on CPT you must have CPT approval and it must be the day of or any day after the CPT authorization start date.
  • You must stop working on or before the CPT authorization end date, unless you have been approved for an extension of your CPT and have received a new I-20 extending your CPT.
  • If you want to end your CPT or change internship on CPT please contact us. You will need to obtain documentation from your academic department that your internship has ended and/or that you have been recommended for a different internship.