Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training is work (paid or unpaid) that forms a part of an established curriculum and is expected of all students who are completing a specific degree program that requires an internship. Because it is part of the educational program, the U.S. government allows F-1 students to participate even though their visa status does not normally permit off-campus employment.

Applying for CPT is a fairly simple process, does not require any fee, and can be completed on campus, but there are some conditions and limitations:

  1. You must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year (unless you are in a graduate program that requires immediate curricular training).
  2. It is available only while you are in F-1 status.
  3. It is not available to students in English language training programs
  4. It requires a specific employer and location and is effective only during the period approved and recorded by a DSO in SEVIS
  5. It must be an integral part of an established curriculum in your course of study.
  6. The work must fulfill the requirements for the course.
  7. You must receive written authorization from a DSO before the work begins.
  8. You must continue to maintain a full course of study during the employment period.

There is no specified limit on either the number of times or the length of time a student may engage in either part-time or full-time curricular practical training. This is governed by the nature of the training and the requirements of the student’s program. However, use of full-time CPT for one year or more eliminates eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT) (link to Optional Practical Training doc). Use of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.

Students interested in obtaining authorization for CPT should:

  1. Register for a course in your program of study that has an internship component.
  2. Talk with your instructor about the kind of placement that will fulfill the requirements of the course.
  3. Request from the prospective employer a letter describing the work that you will do.
  4. Take the letter to your academic advisor, along with the Academic Advisor’s Form for CPT and obtain your advisor’s signature.
  5. Take a copy of the employer letter and the CPT Request form to the Office of International Student Services for authorization and registration in SEVIS.
  6. Obtain a new Form I-20 showing the CPT authorization to show to your employer.