CPT and OPT: the difference

What’s the Difference Between OPT and CPT?

The major difference between OPT and CPT is the time in which you are eligible for these programs and the type of work allowed in each program. OPT can be completed before or after graduation, while CPT must be completed before graduation. CPT employment is part of your major curriculum that allows students to work in a paid or unpaid internship, practicum, or cooperative (co-op) education program. CPT must be required by your major and if it is not, you must receive course credit. Only certain employers participate in CPT. Alternately, OPT is not employer specific and allows work, not an internship or co-op, and you do not need to earn course credit.

  • All F1 students are eligible for 12 months of OPT after the completion of the degree 
  • If you use 12 months of full-time CPT, you will lose all 12 months of OPT at that level of study.
  • No student at Cleveland State will have authorization to use CPT for 12 full months
  • Please note: CSU academic programs do not require CPT every semester to complete degrees. 
  • CPT in most programs is limited to 1 semester course that will count towards credits for graduation. Repeat of the internship course will not be counted towards graduation and therefore no additional CPT will be approved.
  • CPT will not be authorized unless it is necessary to graduate and complete your degree.