Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

On This Page: CPT Tutorial Hours and DurationEligibility CriteriaCPT CondtitionsHow to ApplyCPT Offer Letter RequirementsHow many times can I participate in CPT? • How does CPT authorization affect my on-campus employment? • Maintain Your Status on CPT • Social Security and Taxes

The information here is subject to change pending updated guidance from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.


Curricular Practical Training is a type of employment authorization that allows eligible F-1 students to work off-campus during their studies. CPT can only be authorized if the experience is directly related to your major area of study and is a required or integral part of your program’s established curriculum. CPT cannot be used solely for career development or to facilitate employment.

IMPORTANT CPT is required for both paid and unpaid positions. Working off campus without authorization is a violation of your status which will result in your I-20 being terminated without the option for reinstatement.

CPT Tutorial

Click to watch CPT tutorial

Watch our CPT tutorial to learn more the requirements and application process.

Hours and Duration

In general, CPT is authorized for one semester at a time. CPT is limited to part-time employment (up to 20 hours/week) during the fall and spring semesters* and can be authorized part-time or full-time (more than 20 hours/week) during official school breaks.

*If you are a graduate student who has completed all coursework you may be eligible for full-time CPT during the fall and spring semester.

If you complete 12 or more months of full-time CPT, you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Eligibility Criteria

  • You are in F-1 status.
  • You have been enrolled full-time for one full academic year (consecutive fall and spring semesters) in valid U.S. immigration status. If you are studying remotely without an active I-20 record, you must enter the U.S. in F-1 status and enroll for one full academic year before becoming eligible for CPT.*
  • You meet the minimum cumulative GPA requirements:
    • Undergraduates: 2.0
    • Graduates: 3.0
    • Law: 2.0
  • You have reached advanced standing or professional admission in your major (for applicable undergraduate programs).
  • Your CPT experience meets one of the conditions below and you are registered for the required units.

*There are exceptions to the one-academic year requirement for graduate students in programs that require immediate participation in curricular practical training for all students. Meet with an international student advisor for more information.

CPT Conditions

Condition #1

  • Purpose: To fulfill a graduation requirement for all students in the program
  • Registration requirement: Register for any units required by your program for the experience.

Condition #2

  • Purpose: To collect data or conduct research for your thesis, dissertation or master’s project
  • Registration requirement: Register for thesis, dissertation or research units. If your CPT is over the summer, you must register for thesis, dissertation or research units either in the summer or the following fall semester. Master’s project students must enroll in master’s project summer units for summer CPTs.

Condition #3

  • Purpose: To participate in an experience that is not required but is an integral part of your curriculum. IBM Co-op students should apply under this condition.
  • Registration requirement: You must register for at least one internship, practicum or independent study unit during the same term as your CPT experience.

How to Apply

IMPORTANT We review and approve CPT requests on a case-by-case basis. We strongly encourage you to meet with an international student advisor to discuss your eligibility for CPT before you sign any offer letter or commit to an off-campus position.

  1. Complete the CPT Tutorial.
  2. Submit the CPT e-form at least 2 weeks before your proposed start date.
  • Upload an offer letter, printed on company letterhead, with the required information (see below).
  • Enter the name and email address for your academic advisor, so they can confirm your degree completion date and explain how the CPT experience is integral to your program of study.

Normal processing time is 10 business days from the date your academic advisor submits the advisor portion of the e-form.

CPT Offer Letter Requirements

The offer letter that you upload with your CPT request must include the following information:

  • Job or position title
  • Position duties
  • Company information
  • Hours per week
  • Start and end dates
  • Supervision plan (if working remotely)

Your employer can use our CPT Offer Letter Template (must be printed on company letterhead) or provide their own letter, as long as it includes the required information.

How many times can I participate in CPT?

The number of times you can participate in CPT depends on your major and degree requirements. If you have already done CPT and would like to do another CPT, you must submit a new request in MyGlobal. As part of the new request, we will ask your academic advisor to provide additional information about what learning outcomes were met during the previous period of CPT and what will be accomplished during the next CPT. We must be able to document that the additional CPT fulfills a required or integral part of the curriculum and is not solely for career development.

How does CPT authorization affect my on-campus employment?

CPT and on-campus employment are separate types of work authorization. You may be employed on campus and off campus through CPT at the same time. 

Maintain Your Status on CPT

While on CPT you must:

  • Make normal progress towards your degree
  • Maintain full-time enrollment
  • Work only during your authorized CPT dates
  • Work only for your authorized employer

While on CPT you may not:

  • Delay completion of your degree to participate in CPT
  • Begin working before your CPT has been approved
  • Work beyond your authorized CPT dates
  • Work for an employer or at a location not authorized on your I-20

Social Security and Taxes

If your CPT experience is paid and you don’t already have a Social Security Number, you can apply for one after your CPT is approved (up to 30 days before your internship start date). For more information about how to apply review Social Security Number.

Your earnings are subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes. You must file a tax return on or before April 15 each year, which will determine if any of the withheld taxes can be refunded. In general, F-1 students who have been in the U.S. less than five years are exempt from Social Security (F.I.C.A.) taxes.