Curricular Practical Training

Curricular practical training (CPT) is defined as alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education or any other type of required internship or practicum offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. CPT is not supplemental training experience, but rather an integral part of an established curriculum.

CPT is required for:

  • Unpaid training or internships
  • Paid training or internships
  • Fieldwork
  • Offsite experiences with a sponsoring employer

CPT Must:

  • Undergraduate students are not eligible for CPT if they have not yet declared a major
  • Be integral or required for your major field of study
  • Be registered for course credit (talk to your academic advisor to see if you are eligible)
  • Last no longer than one quarter unless approved by your academic department
  • Be applied for and approved prior to start of employment

CPT Offer Letter requirements:

  • Include a signed offer letter on company letterhead
  • Include the work site address
  • Include your start and end dates that must not pre-date or exceed the current quarter
  • Include hours/week
  • Include a detailed description of job duties

An offer of employment or work contract is not the same as a CPT offer letter. Start/end dates and purpose of the training must align with the curricular requirement. If your training is not curricular, please look at OPT.

Important to Note:

CPT cannot be issued retroactively. CPT must be applied for and approved prior to start of the corresponding employment. Working without authorization and having received your updated I-20 with CPT approval added is considered a serious violation of your F-1 status. This violation will result in the termination of your F-1 status, without grounds for reinstatement, and the possibility of barred reentry to the United States.

*Please do not assume you can accept volunteer or unpaid work without CPT. ISS finds students frequently need CPT work authorization in most cases.


Complete the Curricular Practical Training request at the international student portal.