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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

International Student Services

» Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows you to participate in an off-campus paid internship that is related to your major or field of study.

CPT is an academic program that is not for employment purposes. You must prove that the internship will benefit your academic program. In addition, you must:

  • Have been enrolled in a degree-seeking program for at least one year (fall and spring) before applying for CPT.
  • Have been in good status as an F-1 visa student for at least one academic year at the time they are applying.
  • Already have a job/internship offer to apply for CPT.

Once you receive a job offer, go to the Career and Professional Development Internship Portal to begin the process of registering your internship.

Also, please note:

  • Internships can be either paid or unpaid.
  • One year of full-time CPT eliminates your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

CPT steps

To apply for CPT, you must follow the steps listed below:

  1. Find an internship.
  2. Register your internship and complete the process through the Career and Professional Development Internship Portal.
  3. Wait to be notified after this has been processed.
  4. Pick up your CPT I-20 from the Career and Professional Development Office. You cannot start working until you have received this.

CPT is only authorized for a semester. You must apply again if you would like to continue with your program beyond that first semester.

For information on how to apply or any other questions, please contact International Student Services to set up a meeting to talk about CPT directly.


Understanding the differences between volunteering and employment 

  • Immigration regulations characterize employment as providing “services or labor for an employer for wages or other remuneration.”  The term “remuneration” is very broad and could include non-monetary benefits, such as free housing, food, gifts, etc.
  • The Department of Labor defines a volunteer as an “individual who performs hours of service… for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation or receipt of compensation for services rendered.”

To be considered a volunteer, the work performed by the individual must meet the following criteria:

  • No expectation of compensation.
  • The volunteer cannot displace a genuine employee, and the services provided by the volunteer should not be the same services for which he or she was previously paid and/or expects to be hired and paid for in the future.
  • Services are performed for non-profit organizations for the public service, religious or humanitarian objective.

International Student Services provides general guidance. Any advice provided to you by the ISS should not be construed as legal advice.

Additionally, due to the fluid nature of governmental interpretation, government agencies such as USCIS/ICE/CBP may change their interpretation of immigration laws/regulations and eligibility requirements for benefits at any time. We will do our best to provide the most current guidance.

Each case is fact-specific and it is advised that you contact an experienced immigration attorney if you have questions regarding your situation.