Curricular Practical Training

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an academic program to allow students to participate in either an internship or training required of all students obtaining that degree, or employment that is for degree credit and is an integral part of the degree program.

Am I eligible for Curricular Practical Training?
If you have been enrolled in school full-time for two semesters and have maintained F-1 status for that period, you may be eligible for Curricular Practical Training. 
Graduate students in programs that require immediate participation in Curricular Practical Training are exempt from the 9-month in-status requirement. 
Students in English Language Programs are not eligible for Curricular Practical Training. 

What are my options for Curricular Practical Training?
There are two types of Curricular Practical Training: 

  • "Required" Curricular Practical Training is an internship or practicum that you MUST complete to earn your degree.
  • "For-credit" Curricular Practical Training allows you to earn degree credit for employment in a job that is an integral part of your degree program. Cooperative education and some internship programs may fall into this category. 

If I participate in Curricular Practical Training, will I lose my opportunity for Optional Practical Training?
Only if you do one year or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training. CPT for shorter periods does not affect your Optional Practical Training. Part-time CPT does not affect your Optional Practical Training.

What is the difference between Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training? 
Optional Practical Training authorization is given by Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) to allow a student to be employed in his/her field of study to gain work experience.
Curricular Practical Training is an academic program that provides an employment or training opportunity for experience either required for the degree, or as an integral part of the degree program.  Authorization is given by the Designated School Official at International Student and Scholar Services. 

Do I need to register for credits when using Curricular Practical Training? 
Yes.

Do I register even in the summer?
 Yes.

How do I know what course to register for?
Consult your academic or graduate advisor to determine the appropriate course in your department that has a training component.

How many credits do I have to take? 
Part-time CPT students (even if you are working up to 20 hours on campus and 20 hours CPT) register as a full-time student.
Full-time CPT students register as a part-time student.

How many hours can I work?
Part-time CPT is 20 hours or less per week. Full-time CPT is more than 20 hours per week.

Can I work 20 hours per week on campus and 20 hours per week on CPT?
Yes. Students who work on campus for 20 hours a week may also have part-time CPT (20 hours or less). The student’s total work hours for each type of employment (on campus and part-time CPT) may not exceed 20 hours while school is in session. Please keep in mind, this is only for students who will have part-time CPT. This does NOT apply to full-time CPT students.

I have an unpaid internship or I'm volunteering. Do I need CPT?
If you receive any kind of compensation, even in-kind compensation such as meals, housing, or insurance, USCIS would consider it to be employment. You would then need to apply for CPT.  The definitions of an intern and volunteer are very strictly defined here.

What will International Student and Scholar Services do to give me my CPT?   
If the position meets the requirements for Curricular Practical Training and you are eligible, International Student and Scholar Services will authorize the Curricular Practical Training on page 2 of a new I-20.

When can I start my CPT employment? 
You may start employment on the begin date listed on page 2 of the I-20. Your authorization is specific to a begin date, an end date, and a specific employer. Any employment before or after these dates is unauthorized employment and will cause a big problem for you. Be careful!

How will my employer know I am authorized to work for Curricular Practical Training? 
 The I-20 (page 2) indicates the dates that you are authorized to work for that employer.

What is the procedure for obtaining Curricular Practical Training authorization?

  1. Discuss academic program with academic advisor to determine that Curricular Practical Training is an integral part of your program.
  2. Contact the Career Center to speak with an Internship Coordinator to find out about how to obtain employment and credit for your internship.
  3. After receiving job offer, complete forms included in the CPT packet.
  4. Submit completed packet to International Student and Scholar Services.
  5. When International Student and Scholar Services has completed your employment authorization, they will contact you to pick up your I-20 which will contain the employment authorization.
  6. Failure to remain enrolled in the appropriate course results in illegal employment. 
  7. Remember, you may not begin employment until you have employment authorization.

Where can I find forms for Curricular Practical Training?

I'm currently finishing my OPT. Can I come back to UNT and have Full Time CPT in my first semester?
No, you will be required to be a full time student. No full time CPT will be granted in this scenario.