Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or other type of required practicum that may be available to F-1 students. It is an opportunity for F-1 students to participate in off-campus employment during their program of study to gain practical experience in their major field of study. The employment/training must be an integral part of the school’s established curriculum and relate directly to the student’s major field of study. This means that the student must be enrolled in an appropriate internship course, or the internship is required for the degree program.

Employment (Paid and Unpaid)

Employment is defined as any situation where one party provides services that benefit another, and in exchange receives some type of benefit from the party to whom the services were provided. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor consider both monetary and non-monetary compensation in exchange for services as employment. Thus, both paid and unpaid positions are considered "employment" and will need authorization before the start of the work experience.

In some circumstances, students may participate in limited unpaid volunteer activities without employment authorization (i.e., volunteering at a service or humanitarian organization).  If you are interested in volunteering, more detailed information may be found in the Volunteering section of our website. Before volunteering, please consult the ISSO to find out if authorization is required.

Failure to obtain proper authorization, even for an unpaid position, can result in a violation of status.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time

During the academic year (required semesters), CPT is limited to part-time (no more than 20 hours per week) and you must continue to be enrolled as a full-time student. Full-time CPT (more than 20 hours per week) is generally available to students only during the summer break or vacation semester. 

Ph.D. candidates may pursue full-time CPT when they are in their dissertation stage if approved by their Faculty Advisor.

Non-Degree Seeking Students

Non-degree students or students enrolled in Post Baccalaureate Program are not eligible for CPT.

CPT Application Process