Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Description

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) work authorization allows F-1 students to gain practical experience in their major or academic program prior to graduation.

Eligibility

  • You must be in good academic standing as certified by your academic advisor and have been enrolled full-time for one year (two semesters). Academic programs that require their students to complete an internship during their first year might be exempted from this rule (such as the MAcc or Public Policy program).
  • If you are an undergraduate student, you must have already declared a major.
  • You must continue to be enrolled full time in F-1 status during the period of employment.

In order to qualify for CPT, the employment/training must meet one of the following conditions:

  • It must fulfill an optional or required internship in your major/academic program, OR
  • It must fulfill the requirements for a regular course or independent study in your major/academic program, OR
  • If you are in the thesis or dissertation phase of your program, the work must contribute "materially and substantially" to the final paper or project - i.e., your thesis would benefit substantially from the work or "deemed integral to the program curriculum". (If you are in in the thesis or dissertation phase of your program, you may only be authorized for CPT under this category.)

Employment

  • The work must be related to your major/academic program and fulfill the requirements of a course in your program.
  • The work may be paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time, which take place off-campus.
  • CPT is granted for a specific position, employer, and period.
  • You are not required to obtain work authorization to engage in bona fide (legitimate) volunteer activities or unpaid internships. However, if possible, we recommend that you apply for CPT if you are engaging in an unpaid internship. Please see our page on “Volunteering and Unpaid Internships” for more information.

Duration

  • Please see “Duration of Authorization” below for more information.

Effect on other work

CPT and On-Campus Employment

During the fall and spring semesters, you may not work more than a total of 20 hours per week (15 hours a week for Law students). Thus, if you are working on campus 12 hours per week during the semester, the Reves Center will only authorize CPT for 8 hours per week. The only exception to this is for students who are in the thesis/dissertation phase of their program and students in the DC Semester Program or MAcc winter field experience program.

During official university breaks, all students are eligible for full-time CPT with the endorsement of the academic advisor.

CPT and Assistantships

Many assistantship contracts prevent a student from accepting other employment. If this is the case with your department or program, CPT will not be granted without explicit consent from your academic advisor/program director.

CPT and OPT

You can use an unlimited amount of part-time CPT and still get 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT), following completion of studies. However, if you use more than 12 months of full-time (over 20 hours/week) CPT, you will no longer be eligible for OPT.

Application Process

  • You must receive authorization from the Reves Center before work begins.
  • CPT authorization is noted directly on page two of a new I-20. You should submit your CPT request to the Reves Center at least a week before your employment begins.
  • There is no cost to apply for CPT.

Other Reminders

  • Working at a CPT position at any time outside the authorized CPT period (even for 1 day!) is a violation of F-1 status and your immigration record will be terminated. You may be required to leave the U.S. and your future employment eligibility (e.g., OPT) and academic program may be impacted.  
  • If you wish to continue work beyond the expiration of your CPT, you must apply to extend it before it expires. CPT is not granted retroactively.


CPT Duration of Authorization

  • CPT can only be granted one semester at a time and only for full-time or part-time work as authorized. If the internship will span two or more semesters, the student must apply for a new CPT authorization for each semester. The only exception to this is for students who are in the thesis/dissertation phase of their program. These students are eligible to apply for one year of CPT with their advisors' approval.
  • The start and end dates of employment cannot exceed the beginning and end dates of each semester or break.  
  • Part-time CPT is for employment 20 hours per week or less. During the fall and spring semesters, students may only be authorized for part-time CPT (see “Full-time CPT” below for exceptions). If the student has an on-campus job, the on-campus job and CPT employment cannot exceed 20 hours per week. Law students can only work a maximum of 15 hours per week during the fall or spring semesters.
  • Full-time CPT is for employment over 20 hours per week. Students may only be authorized for full-time CPT during official school breaks (spring, winter, and summer breaks only). The only exception to this is for students who are in the thesis/dissertation phase of their program and students in the DC Semester Program or MAcc winter field experience program.
  • Students must be registered for the appropriate CPT course for each semester of authorization. See chart below:

Period of internship/employment

Semester of CPT course registration

Fall semester

Fall semester

Winter Break (including internships that started in fall semester)

Fall semester & carry the course as an Incomplete through the winter break

Spring semester

Spring semester

Spring break

Spring semester

Summer session (including internships that started in the spring semester)

* Law students are required to enroll for the appropriate CPT course during the period of work. For example, if you work during June and July, then you must register for the CPT course and pay tuition for the Summer term.

For all other students:

1. If the internship began in the spring semester, you can either register for a course(s) during the:

a) spring semester & summer session OR

b) spring semester & carry the course as an Incomplete through the summer session

2. If the internship will begin during the summer, you can either register for a course during the:

a) spring semester & carry the course as an Incomplete through the summer session

b) summer session OR

c) following Fall semester


Dissertation/Thesis Students

The same rules as above apply except that they only need to show registration for dissertation or thesis research credits. Students in the dissertation/thesis stage can engage in full-time CPT during the semester and are eligible to apply for one year of CPT with their advisors' approval.