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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is temporary work authorization for an internship, co-op, practicum, or professional experience occurring prior to degree completion that is directly related and integral to an F-1 student’s major program of study as indicated in item 5 on the Form I-20; CPT cannot be authorized for  work in a minor or previous major.

Curricular Practical Training authorizations can be for full-time work (20+ hours) during official school breaks (e.g., Summer break and Winter break) and part-time work (20 hours or less) during the Fall or Spring semester if proper ESF approval is obtained. On-campus employment (including assistantships) and CPT together cannot amount to over 20 hours of work a week (reference: see 1.13) during the academic year. CPT is designed to provide work experience directly related and integral to a student’s degree. It is not intended for general, ongoing work authorization. Traditional volunteer work (e.g. at a soup-kitchen) does not require CPT. However any internship, even if it is unpaid, requires CPT authorization.

CPT Eligibility Requirements

  • A student must be in valid F-1-status and have been a full-time student for at least one academic year (Fall and Spring semesters) before participating in CPT.
    • An exception may be made for programs that require an internship from graduate students in their first year of study. This first year requirement must be documented in the advisor recommendation letter. Programs that allow for the internship to be completed after the first year of study would not be eligible for CPT authorization under this exception.
  • A student must have a written job offer on company letterhead before applying for CPT. The job offer must indicate the position, the exact dates of employment, the number of hours of work per week, and the company’s address.
  • A student must continue to maintain full-time student status for the duration of the CPT experience during the academic year.
  • A student must continue to make normal degree progress, as defined by their academic department and the Office of Instruction and Graduate Studies, while participating in CPT. This may require course-work during the CPT period. Students should verify that participation in CPT will not interfere with their ability to take courses required for degree completion that may not be taught in subsequent semesters prior to the program end date indicated on their I-20. CPT should not delay degree completion beyond the program end date listed on the Form I-20.
  • Departmental approval is required for CPT. Individual departments may have their own academic requirements for, or limitations on, participation in CPT. Examples include a minimum GPA, a pre-requisite course and/or a number of credits taken in the department’s curriculum.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time CPT

Since few academic programs at ESF require more than one or two semesters of work /service experience, most students will be eligible for only one or two semesters of CPT. CPT will not be authorized in situations where Optional Practical Training is more appropriate or for work to be done after the completion of your degree.

Duration of CPT

  • CPT is authorized by semester. Therefore, students must submit a new CPT request, including all necessary documents and proof of registration of at least 1 credit of professional/internship experience, for each semester, including summer session(s).
  • Participation in CPT may begin on or after the first day of the semester. CPT must end before the first day of the following semester. For example, CPT can be extended through the winter break, but must be complete before the first day of spring semester. Spring semester CPT must end before the first day of summer session.
  • Students who utilize an aggregate 12 or more months of full-time CPT lose their eligibility to engage in Optional Practical Training (OPT) at the current degree level.

CPT Application Process

To request authorization for CPT, please take the following actions at least two weeks in advance of your requested CPT start date:

  1. It is recommended that you attend a CPT workshop offered by the Office of International Education.
  2. Submit the following to the Office of Instruction and Graduate School (227 Bray Hall):
    • A Recommendation Letter from your Major Professor/ Academic Advisor Supporting the Academic Value of the CPT Work Experience: The letter must be printed on department letterhead and include the following information related to your academic program and proposed CPT work experience: your full name; program of study; expected date of degree completion/graduation; title of your position with employer; employer’s name; employer’s exact street address (this should be the physical work location); exact beginning and ending dates of the work experience; number of hours per week you will be engaged in the work experience; and course number, number of credits to be received (minimum requirement is one credit), faculty member supervising aforementioned course, and semester you will register for the course (must be the same semester of CPT experience). (You may want to bring a copy of the job description and your offer letter to your advisor when asking for a recommendation letter so that s/he can provide all of the required information in the recommendation letter.)
    • Enrollment Certification from the Registrar’s Office: Must indicate full-time enrollment for every semester you were in F-1 status; if it does not, seek guidance from the Office of Instruction and Graduate Studies.
    • Petition to the Faculty: The Petition should request permission to engage in a CPT work experience and should also include the course you will register for (e.g., EFB 898: Professional Experience). It must be signed by you, your Major Professor, and Department Chair or designee. Petition forms can be obtained at the Registrar's Office.
    • Graduate Students Only: Program of Study (3B Form): Your Program of Study Form must be updated to include the CPT course referenced in the departmental support letter and be registered for at least one credit as a required course for your academic program. You can go online and update your 3-B and resubmit it for approval. If you encounter any difficulties, please contact The Office of Instruction and Graduate Studies.

Upon submission, the Associate Provost will review your request; if it is approved, the the Associate Provost will endorse the bottom of your Major Professor's CPT Recommendation Letter.

3. Register for the course designated in the CPT Recommendation Letter. (e.g., EFB 898: Professional Experience)

4. Schedule an appointment to submit the following documentation to the Office of International Education:

  • CPT Recommendation Letter signed by your advisor and the Associate Provost of Instruction (227 Bray Hall)
  • Proof of registration in the CPT course for at least 1 credit
  • Enrollment Certification from the Registrar’s Office to confirm continuous maintenance of full-time status
  • CPT Job Offer Letter
  • Completed CPT Request Form (See "F-1 Students")
  • Originals of all of your I-20's since entering the US in your current F-1 status
  • Originals of passport, visa, and I-94 card
  • Proof of health insurance including Medical Evacuation and Repatriation coverage.
    • If you do not currently have health insurance that includes this coverage, it can be purchased at the Cashier's Office.
    • If you have ESF health insurance and do not currently have your insurance card, please request one at the Cashier's Office.

If all the submitted documentation is acceptable, a new I-20 authorizing CPT (on page three) will be issued. You are not eligible to begin employment until you have received the new I-20 and it is at least the start date indicated on the document.

5. If your CPT experience will require you to relocate, you must submit your new address to OIE@esf.edu with the following information: within 10 days in order to fulfill the US immigration maintenance of status reporting requirement.

Additional Resources


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