Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

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. 

CPT is usually used to support a Co-Op or departmental internship opportunity. It may also be used for doctoral students requiring field experience for their dissertation.

Students are eligible for CPT after completing one academic year in their program of study and prior to degree completion. For work authorization after graduation, learn more about Optional Practical Training (OPT).

CPT is part time (20 hours or fewer) during the spring and fall semesters. CPT may be full-time (over 20 hours) during the summer or in a student’s final semester. Note: If full-time CPT is requested, the application for CPT must include two letters, one from the student and another from the faculty advisor. The letters will describe the academic necessity of the full-time practical training authorization and a statement that the student will continue to prioritize his or her academic studies and continue to make academic progress toward a degree objective.

Students should apply for CPT once after receiving a job offer and meeting all the eligibility requirements as listed on the CPT application. CPT authorization is the final step, but students should begin asking questions early to make sure the opportunity qualifies for CPT.

CPT is approved through the International Student Services without sending an application to USCIS. There is no fee and the processing time is two weeks. F-1 students are not permitted to begin working without the I-20 showing authorization for Curricular Practical Training. To engage in paid or unpaid work beyond the authorization dates listed on the I-20 is unlawful employment.

To learn more about CPT view the Understanding CPT Powerpoint or attend a CPT Seminar hosted by International Student Services and offered at least once per semester.

Eligibility

To be eligible for CPT, F-1 students must:

  1. Have completed one academic year of full-time study prior to CPT authorization. If a graduate program requires immediate work authorization, consult an international adviser.
  2. Receive a training or job offer related to your major area of study.
  3. Establish a curricular requirement for work authorization using one of three options:
    • Option One: Enroll in a course
    • Option Two: Required for degree completion
    • Option Three: Essential for research
  4. Maintain full-time enrollment or receive authorized reduce course load for the semester of CPT.

Application Procedures

  1. Attend a CPT Seminar either in person or view the Understanding CPT powerpoint online.
  2. Meet with the Office of Cooperative Education and Internship Placement  to learn about Co-Op opportunities or talk with your academic department for work-related degree requirements
  3. Obtain an offer letter from your potential employer. Letter must include name and address of the employer, job description, dates of employment and how many hours per week you will work.
  4. Meet with your academic or dissertation or Co-Op advisor to review your job offer to
    • Confirm that the work experience is directly related to your course of study
    • Establish the academic necessity of your work authorization and
    • Complete the advisor portion of the CPT Application.
  5. Submit the completed CPT application along with your job offer letter to the front desk of International Student Services.
  6. If you meet all qualifications and have submitted all materials, an international advisor will issue you an updated I-20 and a Social Security  request letter, if needed. Allow one to two weeks for OIS to review and issue new I-20 for CPT authorization, if approved.

Deadlines and Timeframe

Start gathering information early to make sure you meet the eligibility for CPT. Then apply for CPT work authorization after you have the job offer and established the academic component.

Submit your application for CPT at least two weeks prior to your first day of work.