Center for International Services & Programs

Curricular Practical Training

All students who are interested in doing CPT or OPT have to attend a practical training workshop conducted by International Students Advisor. All application materials will be given out at the workshop. For more information on CPT workshop schedule click here. For more information on the OPT workshop schedule click here.

Click here to go to CPT FAQ

Basic eligibility

1. You must be in lawful F-1 status
2. You must have been a full time student for at least one academic year
3. The proposed employment must be an integral part of your studies.

What is Curricular Practical Training?

DHS defines Curricular Practical Training as employment that is an integral or important part of your curriculum. This may be an internship, a thesis, or required practicum. You must receive academic credit for the work experience during the same semester that you are applying for CPT. Permission is granted by the International Student Advisor (ISA) and then reported to the DHS in the SEVIS system.

1. If a student uses all 12 months of CPT, he/she will not be permitted to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT ).
2. The DHS defines full-time employment as work more than 20 hours per week.
3. Registered full-time students may not exceed 20 hours of employment per week.
4. It is possible to work full-time if you are not registered as a full-time student. This should occur only in summer semester or near the end of your program of study.
5. Curricular Practical Training is not designed for permanent or long-term work  opportunities.
6. The work period should be as close to the beginning and ending dates of the semester as possible
7. An incomplete does NOT allow you to continue to work or to work between semesters.

How to apply?

1. Obtain a letter of offer from the employer. The letter MUST BE:
      a. On original company letterhead, not faxed or emailed
      b. Include a detailed job description
      c. Include the beginning and ending dates of the employment
      d. Include the number of hours to be worked per week
(see example given below).

2. Have your advisor complete the CPT (beige) memo form.
3. Submit the following at the front desk of The Center for International Services and Programs.
     • Beige form
     • Original Company Letter
     • Practical Training Application (Green) Form

4. There is no application fee
5. The ISA will process your application within 5 (five) full working days
6. You will receive a new SEVIS I-20 with the employment permission and this will be your new  I-20

Sample offer letter

Original Stationary of the ABC Company
123 Main Street
Any town, USA, 11111

July 25, 2011

International Student
2355 Global Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44115

Dear Mr./Ms. Student:

The ABC Company is pleased to offer you a position as Assistant Gizmo Designer. Your employment will begin on August 28, 2001 and will end on December 15, 2001. You are expected to work 20 hours per week in our Cleveland offices. This offer is pending the presentation of appropriate work authorization.

The job duties of this position include updating, upgrading, designing and potentially re-designing the existing Gizmo product line. Your research of competitive products will be conducted in tandem with the Department of Sneetches. You will provide comparative financial analysis when data allows and develop strategic orientation when possible.

We look forward to working with you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at (216) 555-9999.


Horton Hoot

Curricular Practical is not designed for long-term work opportunities. The job duties must meet specific objectives of the course in a tangible, concrete manner. In effect some aspect of your job must be demonstrated to be a percentage of your grade. For further information contact:

Curricular Practical training(CPT) FAQ

What is the difference between Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

CPT provides employment or training opportunities for students while they work on a degree. It is an integral part of the curriculum, authorized by the CISP, and is usually for a period of a semester.

OPT provides employment or training opportunities for students after they complete a degree. It is authorized by the immigration service in the form of an EAD card and lasts up to one year. Attend one of the CISP OPT workshops for more information.

Will my CPT time affect my Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation?

Full-time CPT may total one year without affecting OPT. Full-time CPT that continues for more than 12 months makes the student ineligible for OPT. Part-time CPT does not affect a student's OPT.

When can I pick up my CPT authorization (on form I-20) and when can I start working?

You can submit your CPT application to the CISP Office at any time; however, students are encouraged to apply 5 days before their CPT starts. If you submit your application after on time, your authorization may be picked up after 3-5 working days. CISP will send you an e-mail when your CPT application is approved. You may only work for the days authorized on your I-20. You may not begin working until your I-20 has been authorized and picked up from the CISP. Any work done before CPT is approved is unauthorized employment and a violation of your F-1 status.

If I am doing a CPT extension or a continuing CPT, do I need to be reauthorized?

There is no extension; you must apply for the CPT with current documents.

Can CPT be authorized for either full time or part time?

CPT may be either full- or part-time. Part-time CPT is limited to 20 hours or less per week. Full-time CPT is anything more than 20 hours per week. You cannot be a full-time student if you are working full-time.

Do I have to be registered?

Yes. CPT is given so that students may meet an academic objective associated with a specific part of your curriculum. It must be credit bearing and counts towards the completion of your degree. Typically, internship courses, project courses, thesis or dissertation are relevant. Undergraduate engineering students who are enrolled in the co-op track may also apply for CPT.

Can I work on campus while doing a CPT? Can I keep my teaching or research assistantship?

It is unlikely that this will work, especially if you are working full-time. Please discuss this matter with you International Student Advisor.

Can I get CPT authorization first and then find a job?

No. CPT work authorization is granted for a specific employer and for a specific period of time, usually corresponding to a semester.