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Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 Students

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a form of off-campus employment for students prior to the completion of their degree program. Authorization is required before an F-1 student is able to participate in off-campus employment, internship, or volunteer work. Examples of such employment are: internships, practicum, field placement, Co-op, or work service experience that is integral to your curriculum.

USCIS defines employment as any type of service for which a benefit, including academic credit, is received. Therefore, even if you will not be getting paid for your internship, you still need to obtain CPT authorization.

What type of service / employment qualifies for CPT?

  • It is an internship, practicum, field placement or other type of employment/service that is required for your degree, or is a necessary component of the field of study or concentration that you have chosen within your major.
  • It is taken for academic credit toward the degree.
  • The employment / experience will be evaluated by a faculty member, will be graded and will appear on your transcript.
  • You will be registered for the appropriate course and credits in the semester during which the employment will occur.
  • Summer registration is required for summer internships.

What if my department does not offer an internship?

If your academic department does not offer an internship, practicum or Co-Op, then you may not be able to pursue this type of employment. CPT is directly linked to the curriculum of your department and degree program

Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students

Optional Practical Training is an F-1 student benefit granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It allows you to work off-campus in a job related to your major. It is meant to supplement your academic experience with practical experience.

To be eligible for Optional Practical Training, you must document that:

  • you are currently in valid F-1 status AND
  • you have been a full-time student for at least one full academic year (two semesters)

For more detailed information on CPT and OPT and how to apply for authorization, review this informative PowerPoint presentation below.

CPT/OPT Workshop

Last Updated 11/20/18

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