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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Definition: Curricular practical training (CPT) is employment pursuant to an internship requirement or internship elective which is an integral part of the established curriculum of your school, which will be counted towards completion of your degree.

Eligibility to engage in CPT: You must be a degree candidate who has been in lawful status for at least one academic year. You must have been offered a specific training opportunity that must fall into one of the following categories:

  • to satisfy an internship requirement expected of ALL students in your program and necessary for completion of your degree.
  • to satisfy an internship elective which counts towards completion of your degree. The internship elective must be listed in your school’s bulletin and must state in the official course description that it is specifically designed to allow students enrolled in the course to engage in off-campus internships.
  • the internship may be done to engage in research necessary and integral to the completion of the doctoral dissertation.

Restrictions: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations do not place an absolute limit on the amount of CPT you may utilize. However, if you engage in one year or more of full-time CPT, you will lose your eligibility to engage in Optional Practical Training (OPT).

CPT is always part-time during the academic year (maximum of 20 hours per week) unless the student is engaged in doctoral dissertation research and has completed all degree requirements except the dissertation. CPT may be full time during the annual vacation.

CPT taken with academic year coursework should, as with all other courses, be approved at the beginning of the semester in which the course is taken. In no case will the OIP approve CPT for employment that begins later than 7 weeks prior to the end of classes. Your academic unit may require an earlier start date. The CPT must also be completed during the same semester.  CPT taken without coursework does not sustain F-1 non-immigrant status.

Do not begin CPT employment until after your SEVIS record has been updated by an OIP staff member and a SEVIS I-20 has been printed with approved employment indicated on it, and you have picked it up. The endorsement will indicate the precise details of the authorized training, including the name and location of the employer, the specific dates of the training period, and whether it is full-time or part-time.

Procedure: Submit the following documentation to the OIP as early as possible before you wish to begin employment. If this internship is tied to a specific course, you must register for the course before you apply for CPT and must apply for curricular practical training before or during the normal registration period.

  1. Your current and all previously issued I-20s
  2. Your passport and I-94 card
  3. Letter from the faculty member who will supervise your internship stating:
  1. the specific internship opportunity
  2. the specific degree requirement or elective course (e.g. G7621y) that it satisfies
  3. the minimum requirements to complete the internship
  4. a reasonable period of time needed to complete the internship (e.g., satisfying the requirements of a 1 semester, 3 credit course would normally be done in 1 semester or less )
  5. If CPT is for dissertation research, the student’s adviser should provide a detailed letter stating the dissertation topic, what research will be carried out, and why it is necessary for the dissertation.
  1. Letter offering internship employment from your employer including the following information:
  1. beginning and ending dates of employment
  2. how many hours you will work weekly
  3. a description of duties in sufficient detail to clearly show them as appropriate to meeting the requirements for your degree
  4. location where employment will take place

The Office of International Programs staff will:

  1. Review your application for eligibility
  2. If you are eligible, update your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record, print a SEVIS I-20 form indicating the approved employment and give it to you. Your employer will need to see this authorization to put you on the payroll.

Special Considerations:

  • You are still required to register full-time if you are authorized for curricular practical training during the academic year.
  • Curricular practical training that exceeds 20 hours per week constitutes full-time CPT. Students who engage in full-time CPT for twelve months or more prior to graduation will not be eligible for optional practical training (before or after completion of studies).
  • You must have received a grade for any course-related CPT done in a prior semester to be eligible to apply at this time.

We strongly encourage you to contact the OIP if you have questions.