Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

What is CPT?

Curricular Practical Training is a type of off-campus work permission for F-1 international students who are currently pursuing study programs in the United States and want to gain experience in their fields of study. CPT is not available after a student completes a degree program.

CPT is an academic experience and is not intended to be used for regular on-going off-campus work. Students should be mindful to keep all records of CPT and the academic work related to CPT, and how that employment is integral to the degree program. Students will need to retain copies of all previous CPT I-20s when applying later for OPT.

“Practical training” may include:

  • Internship experience (paid or unpaid)
  • Cooperative (co-op) education experience
  • Practicum participation


CPT authorization can be:

  • Part-time (20 hours per week or less)
  • Full-time (more than 20 hours per week)
  • During the regular academic year (you must also register for full-time credits)
  • During your annual vacation quarter

Students who accumulate 12 months (365 or more days) of full-time CPT authorization, lose their eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Part-time CPT authorization, or fewer than 12 months of full-time CPT authorization, does not affect OPT eligibility. Multiple overlapping, part-time CPTs will count as full-time CPT days for OPT eligibility.


  1. You have attended the CPT Information Session
  2. You are currently in valid F-1 status
  3. You have been enrolled full-time at a SEVIS approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary for at least one academic year
    • “One academic year” at CPP is defined as full-time enrollment in two semesters
    • An exception to the academic year rule is provided for graduate students whose programs require immediate participation in CPT
  4. You have an employment offer letter
    • The position is related to your major
    • CPT cannot be authorized based on a minor
  5. The employment letter must be typed on company letterhead and contain the following information:
    • Identity of student
    • Job description
    • Employment start date
    • Number of hours/week the student is expected to work
    • Employer contact information
      • Supervisor's title
      • Supervisor's name
      • Supervisor's telephone number
    • Signature and title of employer

Application Overview

Please plan ahead. Expedites are not available and we are unable to back-date CPT start dates.

Do not begin any employment until CPT has been approved and authorized on your I-20. Beginning or continuing employment without authorization is a serious violation of your F-1 status. Incomplete applications may cause CPT to be denied or delayed.


  1. Student submits the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Clearance form
  2. Academic Advisor reviews the submission
  3. International Student Advisor reviews the submission
  4. Student receives a decision via email
    • If approved: student comes to the International Center within 3 business days and picks up an I-20 with work authorization
    • If denied: student contacts their International Student Advisor for an explanation

Frequently Asked Questions 

  • CPT is employment that is an integral part of your major curriculum and allows you to participate in an internship, practicum or cooperative education program. CPT must be required or, if not required, you must receive course credit. CPT is employer specific and must be done before you graduate. OPT is optional for any student who meets the eligibility requirements.
  • OPT may be done before or after you graduate. Please refer the OPT page for more information.

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Students must maintain F-1 student status, which generally requires full-time registration. Most students are required to register as full-time students while on CPT.

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Students may use as much CPT as is required for their degree program. However, when authorized for a total of 12 months of full-time CPT, students are not eligible for OPT.

Multiple part-time CPTs would count toward this limit; otherwise, part-time CPT does not affect OPT.

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Students must have an offer of employment to apply for CPT since the authorization is for a specific employer.

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Students may change within the limits of part-time or full-time.

For example, students may change from 10 hours per week to 15 hours per week without a new authorization. However, students who want to change from part-time to full-time (or vice versa) must request a new authorization.

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Since CPT is employer specific, students must apply for a new CPT authorization before you work for the new employer.

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Students are authorized for specific dates of employment on their I-20. Students may not begin before the start date or continue after the end date. Students must apply for an extension with sufficient time to allow the assigned International Student Adviser to issue a new CPT authorization before continuing beyond the end date of the current CPT.

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You need a Social Security Number to be able to get paid.

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The International Center is unable to provide tax related advising. However, every year in March we host an Income Tax Workshop for international students where an on-campus Tax Specialist shares tips on filing income taxes and answers questions.  For more information on taxes, consult the Internal Revenue Service.

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No. The CPT authorization on page 2 of the I-20 is proof of employment eligibility and together with the I-94 record may be used to complete the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 required by an employer.

If an employer has questions about documentation required for I-9 purposes, please refer them to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ “I-9 Central” webpage, including the section about international students with training authorization.

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