Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

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Students required or choosing to participate in internship programs to successfully complete their degree requirements can engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience in his or her field of study by obtaining permission to work off-campus. This type of employment is called Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

The work performed while on CPT must be directly related to your field of study as listed on your current I-20. In addition, you must receive academic credit and a grade for the work experience. The work can be paid or unpaid.  

To be eligible for CPT employment authorization, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Currently hold valid F-1 status, and
  • Be enrolled at a college or university in F-1 status on a full-time basis for one complete academic year (fall + spring), and
  • Be enrolled in a degree program that requires the completion of an internship or off-site work experience or be enrolled in a degree program that accepts an internship or off-site work experience for class credit.
All students with an off campus internship or work experience class are required to have CPT approval before beginning the course. You must have CPT approval for both a paid or unpaid internship. 
Students may engage in CPT only for the specific employer, location, and period approved. The work can be done anywhere in the U.S.
The approval period should coincide with the term for which the student is enrolled in the internship course. The CPT authorized period cannot cross semesters. You must get a separate CPT authorization for each semester you are on CPT. 

CPT can be approved part-time (20 hours per week) or full-time (21 hours or more per week).

  • While on CPT, you must maintain a normal full course of study, which is 9 graduate or 12 undergraduate hours. 
  • CPT authorized during recognized vacation periods, such as the summer vacation, can be full-time and does not require maintaining a full class load in addition to CPT. 
  • CPT authorized during a student's final semester before graduation can be full-time and requires that you maintain a full class load for a graduating student. 
  • If you accumulate 12 months of full-time CPT, then you are ineligible to apply for OPT.
Must be an integral part of an established curriculum in the student's field of study as listed on the current I-20. 
To be approved for CPT employment authorization, complete the application and schedule an appointment with the ISS.

NOTE: You must complete the approval process PRIOR to beginning work. You must have the CPT I-20 in order to begin work. Working without CPT approval is working without employment authorization. This violates your F-1 status and you could face termination of your I-20 for working without authorization.