Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

What is CPT?

CPT is an authorization provided by the ISC so that you can engage in an approved off-campus internship; paid or unpaid. Your internship must be first approved by your academic program, and you also must be registered for your internship credit before the ISC can authorize your CPT. In addition, you must have maintained F-1 status for 3 consecutive quarters before you are eligible for CPT.

**Exception: if your academic program REQUIRES you to do an internship before you have reached 3 quarters of full-time study, we may be able to make an exception. Contact your immigration advisor if this applies to you.

CPT Application Process

To apply for CPT authorization from the ISC, you must submit the following to the ISC at least 1-2 weeks before your intended start date:

1. Job offer letter from a specific employer on company letterhead indicating

  • Location of employment
  • Job title
  • Start & end date of employment
  • Number of hours of work per week
  • Description of responsibilities
  • Supervisor name

2. Letter from academic advisor/faculty, who is knowledgeable of the internship, should include:  

  • Internship employer
  • Location of employment
  • Job title
  • Dates of employment
  • Number of hours of work per week
  • Indication that internship is an integral part of the curriculum. It must be listed in the school's Course Catalog.
  • Objective(s) for the internship
  • Number of credits, course number, and the name of the sponsoring faculty member
  • *Letter must be on official department letterhead

3. Proof of your registration for your internship course

Once you have the above two letters, bring/send them to the International Student Center at least 1-2 weeks before your intended start date. The ISC will review your records and documentation for Curricular Practical Training. If you meet all requirements according to immigration regulations, we will authorize CPT. You have to receive the new I-20 before you start your internship.

Please Note: Curricular Practical Training will require concurrent full-time coursework (except during summer quarter) to maintain lawful status as a student. Also note restrictions in amount of CPT: If you engage in 12 months or more of full-time CPT, this makes you ineligible for OPT. This means that you should only use CPT for an amount of time LESS THAN 12 months full-time. 


Unpaid CPT vs. Volunteer Work

If your desired internship is unpaid, you may be wondering if you still need the CPT authorization to engage in your unpaid internship. Read below for some more detailed information to help understand the differences between volunteering and an unpaid internship:

What is Volunteering?

Volunteering is donating your time with an organization without payment of any kind. In addition, this volunteer work must follow the below guidelines:

  • The organization's primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian (such as a non-profit organization)
  • You don't receive any kind of compensation
  • The activity is unrelated to your field of study or intended profession

If your desired position fits all of these points above, then you likely do not need CPT authorization and it is considered volunteer work. However, if your role is directly related to your major and integrates your academic learning with practical experience, this will likely require CPT authorization. If you need help understanding whether your desired position is volunteer work or CPT, please contact your immigration advisor or email