Curricular Practical Training is specific work authorization to give F-1 international students permission to work off campus in paid or unpaid positions when the work meets an academic requirement.
Applying for CPT
Step 1: Complete the CPT Seminar in person or online.
Step 2: Establish the academic necessity for CPT.
Step 3: Receive a job offer for your practical training.
Step 4: Complete CPT Application with advisor approval.
Step 5: Meet with International Student Advisor to receive CPT authorization.
Frequently Asked Questions about CPT
What is CPT?
CPT is specific off-campus work authorization to engage in practical training that comes from an academic necessity.
What counts as an academic necessity?
Academic necessity is when a course or degree program requires or facilitates practical experience for successful completion of the course or degree. The most common forms of academic necessity for CPT are from an internship course, practicum course, Co-Op course or final project course. Further, doctoral students will have an academic necessity of the work performed through practical training is integral to the student’s dissertation.
How can I get practical experience if my degree program does not offer any academic necessity for work experience?
Students who do not qualify for CPT can pursue pre-completion OPT. This will allow them to have general work authorization for a short duration of time, usually the summer. Be advised that pre-completion OPT will detract from post-completion OPT.
Can I have CPT in my first year?
Students are only eligible for CPT after successfully completing at least one academic year (one fall and one spring semester) in their program of study. Students who graduated from an undergraduate degree and begin a master’s degree, just complete one academic year in their masters before becoming eligible for CPT.
What are the dates of CPT?
The dates of CPT will align with the dates of the course necessitating practical training. If the nature of the practical training requires dates to be outside the course dates, the student’s academic advisor must explain the academic necessity for CPT to be authorized outside the dates of the course.
Must I have a job offer to receive CPT?
Yes. CPT gives work authorization for a specific employer. A job offer must first be extended before authorization can be granted.
What should be included on the job offer letter?
The job offer letter should be addressed to the student on company letterhead, signed and dated. The letter should contain a brief description of the opportunity along with the hours per week and the anticipated start date.
When should I apply for CPT?
Apply for CPT at least 2 weeks before your expected practical training start date. Students without a SSN should apply for CPT 4-6 weeks before their target start date.
How will my employer know I have the right to work?
Unlike OPT or other off-campus employment authorization, students on CPT will not receive an Employment Authorization Document. Rather their I-20 will be updated to reflect the work authorization. Students must not begin working until their I-20 has been authorized for CPT.
Can I change my employer after receiving CPT?
Students can only change employers if the change comes from an academic necessity. CPT is not transferrable, so another CPT application must be submitted.
How many hours can I work per week?
During the spring and fall semester, authorization is limited to 20 hours per week. During the summer authorization can extend to 40 hours per week. However, if there is an academic necessity for work beyond 20 hours per week, a specific request must be made by the academic coordinator.
Can I have CPT after graduation?
No. CPT is only for currently enrolled F-1 students in good academic standing.
How will CPT affect my OPT eligibility?
CPT will not affect OPT eligibility unless a student uses 12 months of full-time CPT in one academic level. In this case the student will lose all OPT eligibility. Most students will not come close to one year of full-time authorization, however, International student advisors will monitor CPT time duration to make sure full-time authorization is below one year.
How will CPT affect my on-campus work authorization?
During the spring or fall semesters, students must limit their total employment to 20 hours per week. If students work 10 hours on campus, they may have 10 hours of CPT. Please note that Graduate Assistantships claim an exclusivity agreement, therefore students with Graduate Assistantships may not have any other employment.
I have a J-1 visa. Can I pursue CPT?
CPT is only for F-1 visa holders. However, J-1 students can explore off-campus work authorization through Academic Training.