Curricular Practical Training (CPT)


Curricular Practical Training is work experience which is either required of all students in a specific degree program or, alternatively, which is listed in the course catalog as offering credit that will directly count toward a student’s degree requirements. This may, but will not always, include for-credit internships and cooperative education programs. In very rare cases, it may also include independent study and/or graduate research.

To meet the definition of CPT, the employment must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • The employment is part of a formal Cooperative Education program. 
  • The employment satisfies a required internship or practicum which is clearly detailed in the catalog as required for all students in a particular program.
  • The employment will yield crucial data which is absolutely necessary to complete the student’s required thesis or dissertation, i.e., it would not even be possible to complete the thesis or dissertation without this employment.
  • The employment is absolutely necessary for the student to complete a project for which he or she will receive academic credit that directly counts toward the student’s formal degree requirements. It will be impossible for the student to complete the project without this particular employment, and the project will earn credits that will fulfill a specific degree requirement in the student’s program.
  • The employment is absolutely necessary to complete an assigned project which is mandated by the professor for all students in a particular course, and the course is both required by the curriculum and listed in the course catalog.
  • Students who will be fulfilling an employment requirement outside the United States, should carefully consult with the ISSS regarding any implications of a leave of absence.

The first step in applying for CPT is to complete the mandatory CPT workshop online.  This is a self-enrollable Canvas course.

An application for CPT must be accompanied by a form from the adviser which certifies, among other things, specifically how the training will be evaluated and why the employment is absolutely necessary to fulfill a degree requirement.

You may begin working on the first day indicated in the CPT authorization. No additional employment authorization from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is required for the Curricular Practical Training.

Curricular Practical Training is authorized for one semester at a time. You must reapply for any subsequent semesters of CPT by submitting a new application packet to ISSS.  

Curricular Practical Training of 20 or fewer hours per week is considered part time and requires concurrent course work during the academic year in order for you to maintain status as a full-time F-1 student.

Employment of more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time Curricular Practical Training. Students who use 12 months (365 days) or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) are ineligible for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) upon completion of an academic degree.  NOTE: it is the responsibility of the student to keep track of how many days they work full-time while on CPT.

It is important to note that immigration may question you if you have repeated part-time CPT authorizations; this is a USCIS decision.  OPT approval is at the discretion of USCIS.

Curricular Practical Training Application Packet

Check with an ISSS international student adviser if you're not sure whether your proposed training falls into this category.


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