F1 Curricular Practical Training

F1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of off-campus work permission for F1 international students who study in the US and want to gain experience in their fields of study. CPT is not available after a student completes a degree program. Students are eligible to apply for an unlimited amount of CPT. However, if 12 months or more of full-time CPT is used, a student loses all of the Optional Practical training after graduation. Accrual of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.

Watch a short video on F1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

Student Eligibility for CPT

To obtain CPT, a student must:

  • Be in valid F-1 immigration status and be enrolled as a full time student for at least two semesters prior to the CPT (except graduate students who must work immediately as a requirement for their degree).
  • Still be a continuing student in the program of study (cannot have completed the program already).
  • Secure a job offer related to the student's field of study.
  • Have a curricular requirement for the internship or employment (degree requirement, course credit, dissertation research).
  • Obtain CPT authorization from the ISSO BEFORE beginning employment; authorization cannot be back-dated.

Types of Curricular Practical Training

Degree Requirement

CPT may be authorized when an internship is a requirement of a degree program (i.e. all students in the program must complete an internship to obtain the degree). Authorization can be for full-time or part-time employment, depending on the academic department's requirement.

Course Credit

CPT may be authorized for students who enroll in a course that requires employment to earn a grade, or a course where students write a paper or design their own research project based on the employment. Enrollment in the course is usually after the employment but can be concurrent (the course can NOT be prior to the employment). Employment may take place in Fall, Spring or Summer. Authorization will be granted on a semester-only basis.

Required for the Dissertation / Thesis Research

CPT may be authorized if the work the student will be doing for the employment is a required part of the research for the dissertation or thesis. The employment cannot simply be related to the dissertation topic, but will actually be an integral research component of the dissertation / thesis project.

CPT Timing

Summer CPT

This is the most common time for students to use CPT. Full-time (20 hours or more per week) employment is allowed for all continuing students in the summer. Authorization can be granted from the day after spring semester officially ends up to the last day of the summer (day before fall classes begin). For full time summer CPT, the related course credit would generally be taken in the fall semester.

Fall and Spring CPT

Employment is limited to part-time (20 hrs/week or less) during the Fall and Spring semesters. Occasionally a student takes a leave of absence for a semester to pursue an internship which is integral to the degree program. If the student is on leave of absence, and meets the other criteria of eligibility for CPT, the student may be authorized for full time CPT.

The CPT Application Process

  • Print the CPT application from the ISSO website here.
  • Complete the “Student Information” section CPT Application.
  • Ask your academic advisor or professor with whom you will complete the academic credit to complete the “Academic Advisor” portion of the application.
  • Submit the CPT application to the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO). ISSO advisors will review your application and your eligibility. If approved, the authorization is granted by issuing an updated I-20 with the employer's information notated on page 2 of the document.
  • You will receive an email when your CPT has been granted and the I-20 has been updated and is ready to pick up. It will take the ISSO 3 to 5 business days to process your application.
  • Pick up your updated I-20 at the ISSO. The I-20 is shown to the employer as evidence of work authorization.

Professional Students in Law, JGSM, or ILR (masters in ILR)

For Law, JGSM or ILR students, there are internship courses specifically for you that allow for Curricular Practical Training. Please follow the link related to your program below (or to the left). You must register for these courses online starting in late-February.