Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

F-1 students studying at an SEVP-approved “college, university, conservatory, or seminary” may be eligible to seek authorization for practical training to engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience directly related to their field of study.

The regulations state that a student may participate in a “curricular practical training program” that is “an integral part of an established curriculum” and “directly related to the student’s major area of study.” They define curricular practical training as “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” Source: [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)].

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.

Eligibility Requirements for CPT

Students are eligible for CPT when they meet the following requirements:

  • Have an active F-1 status.
  • Have been enrolled full-time for one full academic year.
  • Have been making normal academic progress.
  • Will continue to be enrolled for a full course of study during the CPT.
  • Have obtained a job/internship offer letter prior to submitting the CPT request.
  • Are registered for CPT credits for the internship.
  • CPT is an integral part of an established curriculum.”
  • CPT is “directly related to the student’s major area of study.”

Applying for CPT

Step 1: Complete the CPT Seminar online.
Step 2: Establish the academic necessity for CPT.
Step 3: Receive a internship offer letter for your practical training and review it with your academic advisor.
Step 4: Complete CPT Application with advisor approval.
Step 5: Submit your CPT application via our online request page here.

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?
CPT start and end dates must correlate to the published dates of the semester.

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.

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?
Federal regulations consider CPT and on-campus employment as independent forms of employment eligibility.

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.